By Gary Carlson
The front cover to Big Bang #18 was penciled and inked by Dave Cockrum, featuring Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon fighting the Pantheon of Heroes. It should be noted that Cockrum’s original version contained Thunder Girl, but he was kind enough to provide me the Ultragirl art to patch on that I requested for some reason no longer known to me. Both versions are reprinted here.
I was a big fan of Dave’s, especially his run on the Legion of Super-Heroes, and this issue gave me the opportunity to provide homages to three separate eras of the LSH, one of my favorite comics growing up and of all time.
It was truly an honor for this fanboy to get the chance to work with Dave, and he was good natured enough to draw these Pantheon characters, designed by Mark Lewis and Darren Goodhart with an eye toward Cockrum’s work on the Legion and other projects over the years.
The time-bomb strapped to Savage Dragon’s chest has taken him on a journey through Big Bang’s history, but has finally landed him millions of years in the desolate future! At the end of Part Two in BB #14, Dragon met the Time Being, a seemingly benevolent immortal who has collected mankind’s greatest artistic and scientific achievements in his Palace at the End of Time. However, as that issue ended, Dragon discovered a machine that was draining the life and energy out of dozens of versions of Ultiman!
Now, as Big Bang Comics #18 opens, Dragon discovers that the Ultimen are not from various times and parallel Earths as he originally thought, but are replicants of Clone Boy, a hero from the future’s Pantheon of Heroes who has been forced to duplicate Ultiman’s DNA over and over so the Time Being can steal and stockpile the atomic energy. His plan – – to go back to the beginning of time to create his own Big Bang, establishing himself as God!
Chapter 1 in BB #18 is End of Time and was told in our best Jack Kirby/Fourth World style, penciled by Joe Zierman with inks by Steve Collins and Mike Matthew. And in true DC/Kirby tradition, I had Jeff Weigel redraw a number of Ultiman’s heads in his best Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson style and dropped them on top of the Kirby art.
In it, we (and Dragon) discover that the Time Being is actually an anomaly created when villain Grandfather Clock traveled through time and met himself. He was a watcher – unable to interact with the world at large until he stole the Infinity Orb, and became master of time and space.
Clone Boy turns himself into Ultiman one last time and then into the Time Being. Unfortunately, this also duplicates the energy of the Infinity Orb, causing an explosion that will travel back through time. Dragon escapes into a Time Tunnel, heading back to the past to stop this deadly future from unfolding, closely followed by the beautiful and deadly Oblivia, whose kiss brings not only death but erases the victim from ever having existed.
Now we check in with an appearance by two members of the Pantheon of Heroes from five seconds earlier. They are unaware of the Time Being, but have been keeping track of Dragon, who they call the Time Bomber, because the time device strapped to his chest has been weakening the time-stream. Unfortunately, Snowstar and Galactic Lad are the first victims of the Big Bang at the end of time. Art by Jason Howard.
The TimeStorm backlash moves on its way back through time, to wipe out an earlier era of the Pantheon in 2969. Clone Boy, Brain Boy, Anti-Matter Lad and the rest are destroyed, but Tele-Girl escapes to the past using a time-pill to find help. The art on this one pager was by Jeff Weigel.
Meanwhile, Dragon is racing back through time, harassed by the Time Being and chased by Oblivia. Just as she catches up to him and prepares to erase Dragon from existence, he snags a ride on a passing time ship and escapes – only to find himself facing the killer cyborg known as Berzerker in the year 2150. Ducking a fight, Dragon plays dead and hitches another ride on the time traveling cyborg’s time sphere in this section penciled by Jason Millet and inked by Jim Brozman.
And where Dragon went next is a mystery, in this issue anyway. The artist drawing the next chapter kept promising that it was coming – – but it never did. I’m reprinting the one page apology that ran in BB #18. One of the biggest black eyes to ever occur in Big Bang. I was sorry then and sorry now.
The chapter was eventually drawn by another artist and was finally printed in BB #33. It featured Tele-Girl from the Pantheon meeting up with Dragon and the New Whiz Kids and a host of Big Bang heroes in 1981 fighting the Time Being in the GodRealm. When things look bleakest, Dragon hitches a ride with the Golden Age Blitz to go back farther in time.
Ten years earlier, in fact – – to the GodRealm, where they join Ultiman and Venus to try to stop the creation of the Time Being at the spot where Grandfather Clock met himself. But they are thwarted because the Time Being exists in all times already, and he brings Oblivia to bestow her Kiss of Death upon Dragon. Artwork this time courtesy of Jason Millet with inks by Fred Gartner.
At the last second, the Blitz pushes Oblivia and she kisses the Time Being, who fades from existence. The cataclysm is over – because the Time Being never existed! Venus takes Oblivia back to the GodRealm to find out who and what she is, and Dragon heads back to Time’s End, where all is well.
Except – – the Pantheon of Heroes is waiting for Dragon at the end of time, to apprehend the villain known to them as the TimeBomber. Dragon is captured and sentenced to a prison planet for weakening the time-stream and endangering the universe. Even though the Time Being was wiped out in the 1970s, Dragon’s adventure with the timebomb started in 1963.
At the last second again, Ultragirl and Thunder Girl arrive from the past to vouch for Dragon who is sent back home to 1997 where it all started. He defeats the Wicked Worm who has taken over Mighty Man’s brain. The art for this chapter was by Joe Cooper, who had also provided the initial “modern” chapter back in Big Bang #12. The story, after three issues, was finally over. (Except for that damn missing chapter).
Big Bang Comics, Ultiman, Thunder Girl, Ultragirl, Venus, Pantheon of Heroes and all related characters are © and TM Gary S. Carlson and Chris Ecker. Savage Dragon, Mighty Man, Wicked Worm, Horde and all related characters are © and TM Erik Larsen.
Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store: