EARTH 1958: "Slugger" Johnson

Type: Alternate Earth (actually a pocket of altered reality)

Environment: Earth-like; the small pocket of altered reality was spread over the five boroughs of New York City--and possibly slightly beyond--and was referred to as "The Nation." Most of the residents of the Nation had no knowledge of life outside of their warped reality, or that their reality had ever been altered.

Usual means of access: Reality warp; vibrational attunement

Dominant Life Form: Humanity; Shaper of Worlds

Prominent Inhabitants: Brain (Slugger)+ guards, Invisibles, Joe Kone, Senator McHammer, Patriots, Warhead, Wildman, Wild Ones

First Appearance: Fantastic Four I#136 (July, 1973)

 

 

History:
(Fantastic Four I#136) - The Shaper of Worlds seized upon Andrew "Slugger" Johnson's dreams of life in the 1950s--and the energies of the Eternity Machine--to remake the reality of Earth-616 (actually just New York City and perhaps some surrounding area) into the world of Slugger's dreams. The reality-altering wave swept out from Long Island and over the Fantastic Four as they were headed back to the Baxter building in Manhattan.

    The Human Torch and Medusa were strongly affected by the wave, and they quickly allied themselves with the Wild Ones against the Patriots, as well against Reed and Ben, who represented the older generation. The younger members went off with the Wild Ones, while Reed and Ben angered the Patriots by questioning what was going on. The Patriots had them placed in "isolation booths" and asked the "$64,000 Question": "Are you Youthie sympathizers?" However, rather than wait for an answer, the Patriots exposed them to energy that sent them into a trance and brainwashed them to think more like the Patriots.
    Meanwhile, Johnny and Medusa faced a similar onslaught from the Wild Ones: though their brainwashing involved loud Rock-n-Roll music, the effects were similar. Both pairs were programmed to head to the Brain's fortress and seize his weapon.

(Fantastic Four I#137) - The older heroes overcame the brainwashing more quickly, but they headed to the Brain's fortress nonetheless to learn what was going on. Reed and Ben overpowered the knights guarding the castle and forced their way in, but were soon attacked by Johnny and Medusa. Meanwhile, the Brain, frustrated with the inclusion of the Fantastic Four in his reality, convinced the Shaper to send the Warhead after the heroes. The Shaper changed the castle into a drive-in movie lot and changed the castle guards into Wild Ones, and then unleashed the Warhead. As the FF fought the Warhead, McHammer decided that their new allies had betrayed them, and he led the Patriots to fly out to enter the battle themselves. The combined power of the FF, the Patriots, and the Wild Ones overcame the Warhead, and Ben knocked it back into the movie screen, into which it vanished.

    With their common foe defeated, the Patriots and Youthies turned on each other again, but then a third party showed up: the Invisibles. Composed of African-Americans who were ignored by the other two groups, they banded together to stand up for their civil rights. The leader of the Invisibles proclaimed an end to the 1950s and the start of the 1960s, which resulted in the dissolution of Slugger's reality, and the return to the status quo.

 

    The Shaper revealed that Slugger's dreams had proven unworthy, and he had placed Slugger in a world where his violent dream would harm no one.

 

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, John Buscema, and Joe Sinnott.

When this story was written in the early 1970s, it was perfectly natural to have a guy in what would appear to be his thirties flashback to his glory days in the 1950s. Now that more than 30 years have passed, it seems a little more iffy (though a lot of people still like to try to think that the Punisher could be nearly 60 years old...). So, either Slugger was just older than he looked in that story and there was just some loose artistic license (that'll hold for another several decades!) or Slugger actually was just delirious and remembering stories from an older relative, or perhaps he'd just seen Grease, or Rebel Without a Cause.

    Though Slugger's world came to an end in these stories, it is highly likely that in another alternate world, Slugger's reality came to dominate his entire planet and took over as the new reality. Or the Shaper just placed him in another version of his previous reality, without the Fantastic Four or others to interfere with him.

    I'm not going to get into it in this profile, but there was obviously a lot of 1950s references, from celebrities, to politics, to game shows in these stories.

    At the conclusion of this story, the Shaper chose Thomas Gideon--whom he cured of his injuries--to become the new source of dreams. Thomas Gideon would later become Glorian.

    I would ASSume that the other people in Slugger's world were also natives of Earth-616, affected by the Shaper's reality wave, but it's also possible that they could be artificial creations of the Shaper.

"Slugger's" first name was revealed in Glorian's entry in OHOTMU A-Z Hardcover#4.

Clarifications:
The Brain, "Slugger" Johnson, has no known connection to:

Invisibles

Senator McHammer

Patriots

Warhead

Wildman and the Wild Ones


Brain

Andrew "Slugger" Johnson.

    The inspiration for this altered reality, he was a former employee of Gregory Gideon. After Gideon's defeat, Johnson dreamed of life in the 1950's. The power of his dreams--combined with the energy he had absorbed from Gideon's Eternity Machine--drew the attention of the Shaper of Worlds, who used the dreams and energy to alter reality. In this reality, "Slugger"--who had always envied those more intelligent than himself--was an Albert Einstein-like genius who lived in a fortress stronghold (in the form of a medieval castle), where he was believed to have developed an all-powerful weapon. The opposing groups--the Patriots and the Wild Ones--each sought the weapon so that they could use it against their enemies.

    However, as the Fantastic Four assaulted his castle, "Slugger" continued to be discontented and tried to convince the Shaper to destroy them via the Warhead. However, eventually the Shaper judged his dreams to be unworthy, discontinued the reality he had created for Slugger, and sent him to a world where his violent dream would harm no one.

    It is not clear whether the Brain actually had a super-weapon or not...because the Warhead was just supposed to be the guard of the super-weapon.

--Fantastic Four I#136 (136(fb-see comments), 136, 137

 


Invisibles

 

A group of African-Americans, they seemed almost invisible, as none of the others in the world of 1958 noticed they even existed. One of them, Marty, considered himself a Patriot, until he finally became sick of the others ignoring him. Heading out to the slums of the Nation, Marty gathered a group of African-Americans and exhorted them to fight for their rights. They followed him to the Brain's fortress, where they confronted the two other groups and that they would stand up for their civil rights, and would act as the conscience to the two white groups. With the existence of the civil rights movement, Slugger's world of 1958 came to an end.

 

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137

 

 

 


Joe Kone

 

One of the "Chief Protectors of the Nation," he was one of the heads of the Patriots and a close ally to McHammer. It was he that led the group to bring Ben and Reed back to McHammer for brainwashing.

 

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137

 

 


Senator McHammer

 

The leader of the Patriots, and would-be leader and "Protector" of the Nation.

 

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137

 

 


Patriots

 

They were the elder members of the Nation, fiercely--or perhaps excessively--Patriotic, and scornful of the younger group, the Youthies. They had a air similar to the radical anti-Communist movement of the McCarthy era.

 

They flew in flying Edsel cars, Named members included Senator McHammer and Joe Kone.

 

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137

 


Warhead

 

The immense guardian of the Brain's fortress, it was described as the body of King Kong with head of Sputnik. It was about 15' tall, had strength (Class 100) and durability, and fired laser blasts from its head.

 

    It was defeated by the combined power of the Fantastic Four, Patriots, and Wild Ones, and the Thing knocked it back into a movie screen, into which it vanished.

 

     --Fantastic Four I#136 (137


Wildman

 

Also referred to as the Wild One, he was the leader of the Wild Ones. He was clearly modeled after Slugger himself--or at least how he saw himself in the 1950s. He is also pictured in the top right image.

 

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137


Wild Ones

 

    Also referred to as the Youthies, they were the younger group, and enemies of the Patriots. Modeled after James Dean, they rode flying motorcycles and used ray-guns in the form of electric guitars.

 

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Appearances:
Fantastic Four I#136-137 (July-August, 1973) - Roy Thomas & Gerry Conway (writers), John Buscema & Joe Sinnott (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)


Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Last Updated: 10/02/11

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