The third issue of the original Big Bang Comics mini-series from Caliber Press arrived in October 1994, but it wasn’t the third part of the Golden Age that had been promised. Instead, it jumped right up to the Silver Age, and introduced the main continuity and characters of the Big Bang universe.
What prompted the change, you ask? The crux of the matter was Caliber’s distribution deal with Walmart. I think it was an exclusive deal, and expectations were high that the exposure was going to put Caliber and especially Big Bang on the map.
At this juncture, the distributor wanted to be more of a partner and demanded a three-way split of the Big Bang copyrights between them, Caliber and Big Bang.
As far as Chris Ecker and I were concerned, that made us minority stockholders in our own company and we said no. This terminated the long-term deal and we were told that number 4 would be the last to go through Walmart.
As you may recall, the original plan was for a 64 page Golden Age issue, a 32 page Silver Age issue and a 32 page Modern Age issue. The Golden Ager had been split into three issues to accommodate ads which made for five issues. Chris and I decided to hold back the rest of the Golden Age material and finish the mini-series as originally intended, keying on the three different eras. The Silver Age issue was ready to go and so was moved up to issue 3.
And what a fun issue it was! Twenty years later, it remains one of my favorite Big Bangs of all.
In 1986, DC Comics had published its Crisis On Infinite Earths, in which they did away with the idea of multiple earths and most of the fun goofiness of things like Bizarro.
Since DC wasn’t doing those things any more, we decided to. (It should be noted that over the years, many of those concepts have returned to DC’s books in various forms only to be wiped out again and again and again . . .) We wanted Big Bang to be fun.
Solicitation info (and the inside front cover) gave the pitch: Two Ultimen? Two Blitzes? Two Beacons? Impossible, but true! The ghostly Dr. Weird informs the World’s Mightiest Heroes – the Round Table of America – about the existence of another Earth, nearly identical to our own, in another dimension! And someone has opened a portal to travel between worlds but the rift is getting wider and the Earths are on a collision course! Dr. Weird enlists the aid of the greatest heroes of both Earths to stop – – THE CRISS-CROSS CRISIS!
In a nutshell, the 1940s-era heroes from issues 1 and 2 (the Knights of Justice) were going to meet their 1960s counterparts (the Round Table of America) in this issue. Earth-B meets Earth-A.
All this, plus the fabulous Whiz Kids, who were the junior partners of three members of the RTA: Kid Galahad, Moray and Cyclone. Any resemblance to the Teen Titans, one of my two favorite books growing up (the other being the Legion of Super-Heroes) was purely intentional.
It had action, humor, pathos (the death of a major character), chimpanzees, plus Thunder Girl was stranded on Earth-A!!
Chris Ecker and I wrote the issue, which was penciled by Steve Adams, who had done great work with me on two (unfortunately as yet unpublished) issues of Vanguard and five or so issues of Berzerker. Jim Brozman inked it and Chris lettered it.
Plus, did I mention that the front cover was by the legendary Swanderson team of Curt Swan pencils and Murphy Anderson inks? Murphy’s studio had done the color separations for the Golden Age material and he was kind enough to ask Curt if he would pencil the cover (and let it be signed “Swanderson”). They were both gentlemen and both are sorely missed.
I’ve added pics to show the evolution of the cover, from Chris Ecker’s sketch, to Curt Swan’s pencils (and his fantastic misreading of the Human Sub) and the final cover.
Finally, an ad for the next issue – – 30 YEARS LATER! The Modern Age!
Note: This issue has been out of print since 1994, but we loved it so much that we reprinted it not long after and you can order it here for $3.00 if interested: