Cover Date: September 1981
Cover Price: $0.50
Release Date: June 18, 1981
Story Title: “The World on Fire!” -25 pages
Writer: Roy Thomas (Co-Creator)
Penicller: Rich Buckler (Co-Creator)
Inker/Embellisher: Jeremiah Ordway
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Len Wein
Cover: Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano
Heroes: Atom I, Doctor Mid-Nite I, Hawkman I, Johnny Quick I, Liberty Belle I, Plastic Man (Earth-2), Robotman I, Shining Knight I
Villains: King Bee, Per Degaton, Professor Zodiak, Sky Pirate, Solomon Grundy, Wotan,
Supporting Characters: Danette Reilly, Firebrand I (as Ensign Rod Reilly), Harry Hopkins, Nameless Drones of King Bee, President Franklin, D. Roosevelt, Slugger Dunn, Tubby Watts, Winged Victory
Memorable Quote: “I want you of the Justice Society to mobilize every one of the nation’s costumed heroes—men and women—into a single, super-powerful unit—a sort of All-Star Squadron, so to speak—responsible to no one but myself!”- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
With a feeling of dread Hawkman flies towards the Justice Society’s headquarters, which is intensified when he sees that a window has been left open. Seconds after entering the building something grabs his leg and he fights back against his would-be attacker. After turning on the lights Hawkman discovers that he had just knocked down Plastic Man, who was there on Federal business under orders from F.D.R. They give the place a once over and then listen to a radio broadcast, which reports on the disappearances of the members of the Justice Society.
Plastic Man wonders why Hawkman is still running around and after admonishing him for being sarcastic Hawkman tells of the battle he, Doctor Mid-Nite and the Atom had with the Monster adding that before the creature’s other form disappeared he gasped out the word Degaton. Hawkman decides that if the President wants to see the JSA they should get to Washington as soon as possible.
During the flight the two heroes are attacked by King Bee and his drones. The battle is brief and ends with King Bee disappearing in an explosion which sends Hawkman hurtling to the ground. Plastic Man’s efforts slow their fall but they still hit the ground hard and lapse into unconsciousness.
At the White House Harry Hopkins is informed that there is still no word from the Justice Society. He orders his men to keep trying.
Elsewhere Shining Knight is taking a long overdue flight with his steed Winged Victory. He spots a smoldering volcano and takes his companion down to investigate only to find a campsite before Danette Reilly confronts him with a firearm. Introductions are quickly made and Danette explains that there is something funny about the volcano, which appeared only a few days before. Sir Justin makes an opening into the mountain and find a man made cave where Professor Zodiak and Solomon Grundy find them. Solomon Grundy makes short work of the two and later, after being mystically shackled by Wotan they are brought before the man who calls himself Per Degaton. Sir Justin accuses Degaton of being an Axis Agent, a charge Per Degaton angrily denies. Degaton announces that his goal is nothing short of the world and he has come to conquer it from the year 1947!
Meanwhile it is nearly eight in the morning at the Untied States Naval Base of Pearl Harbor. Ensign Rod Reilly thanks his friend and former servant Slugger Dunn for picking him up so he could keep his appointment with Captain Hendler. Suddenly the Japanese attack the base and the jeep the two are riding in is hit. They attempt to make a run for it to Reilly’s ship, the Arizona, when both men are shot from above.
At the same time in Washington D.C. the Atom and Doctor Mid-Nite are attending the Redskins/Eagles game when the constant paging of military officials prompts the heroes to see what is going on. They are quickly informed of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the fact that the President has been trying to reach them since the previous evening. Before they can leave for the White House Robotman makes his presence known. After more introductions Robotman scoops the two heroes up and literally runs them to the White House.
Outside of the White House Johnny Chambers runs into Libby Lawrence. The sudden arrival of the three heroes spurs them to change into their own identities of Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle and they make their way inside to meet with the other heroes. Soon they are brought to President Roosevelt who informs them that he wants them to mobilize every hero in the country into an All-Star Squadron. He then orders the group to fly to the West Coast to safeguard against a possible Japanese attack. After Liberty Belle makes a quick phone call to Tom Revere in Philadelphia to ask him to ring her namesake and announces to the confused room that she is fully charged the group heads off on their first mission.
Hours later a submarine silently lurks off the coast of San Francisco. The order is sent to launch the Zeroes and watertight planes burst into the sky and fly towards the city. Inside the sub Sir Justin tells Degaton that he won’t succeed. Degaton informs the captive knight that because of him December 7, 1941 will not be a day of infamy because of the attack on Pearl Harbor but because it will be the night that the American mainland was likewise attacked by a foe that has not only conquered time but means to conquer the planet as well.
- Hawkman, the Atom and Doctor Mid-Nite appear on the cover studying the photos of the following heroes; Wildcat I, Shining Knight (with Winged Victory), Green Arrow (Earth-2), (I’m assuming) Phantom Lady, Green Arrow (Earth-2), Johnny Quick I, Batman and Robin (Earth-2), Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, Vigilante I, Robotman I, Doctor Fate I, Sandman I, Superman (Earth-2), Crimson Avenger I, Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt, Plastic Man (Earth-2), Liberty Belle I, Tarantula I, Flash I, Captain Triumph, Spectre I, Green Lantern I and Wonder Woman (Earth-2). The only Justice Society member circa December 1941 not featured on the cover is Starman I.
- Dick Giordano inked this issue’s cover.
- Also Captain Triumph makes his one and only appearance in this series on this issue’s cover.
- The title of this story was “The World on Fire!” which is a reference to a recording that was apparently playing at the Pearl Harbor’s PX at the time of the Japanese attack and it has been reported that the song was played over and over that night. Some of the lyrics include “I don’t want to set the world on fire; I just want to start a flame in your heart.”
- Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Robin, Doctor Fate, Spectre, Starman, Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt and Sandman all appear briefly in flashbacks.
- Likewise the Vigilante, Crimson Avenger, Star-Spangled Kid and Green Arrow also appear in a cameo when Sir Justin is discussing his fellow Law’s Legionnaires.
- Hawkman appeared on the splash page because he has always been Roy Thomas’ favorite Justice Society member and Golden Age hero. Hawkman was the only JSA member featured in every one of the group’s 1940-1951 adventure and Roy came within one issue of having the character appear in every issue of this series if only in a cameo shot.
- In 1941 and 1942 Plastic Man was published by Quality Comics. His first appearance was in Police Comics #1 (August 1941) along with the Human Bomb and the Phantom Lady among others. Starting with #5 Plastic Man took over the lead feature in the book and stayed there through #102 (October 1950). He also appeared in his own title starting in 1943 which ran sixty-four issues. DC acquired the character in 1956 when Quality went out of business.
- The Hostess Ad for this issue featured Batgirl trapping a group of female criminals who were impersonating a performing trio known as the Magpies. Apparently these girls had something of an eating disorder because one of them admits to the fact that they starved themselves in an effort to look like the Magpies. The moral to this ad is that if you starve yourself for days before pulling a big job Hostess Fruit Pies will be your downfall.
- Per Degaton’s appearance in this story takes place between All-Star Comics #35 (June/July 1947) and his membership in the first Injustice Society of the World in All-Star #37 (October/November 1947).
- The character of King Bee first fought the Justice Society in All-Star Comics #18 (Fall 1943).
- There was a Washington Redskins game on December 7, 1941 with quarterback Sammy Baugh playing. The game was played at Griffith Stadium and the Skins won 20-14 over the Philadelphia Eagles. Sammy Baugh’s number, 33, was eventually retired.
- In 1975 Roy Thomas created another World War II based group at Marvel called the Invaders. In that title Prime Minister Winston Churchill christened the group so with the All-Star Squadron Roy decided to have President Roosevelt name the team.
- This issue contained a one page text piece by Roy Thomas. Below is a transcript of that text page.
An Open Letter to the Readers of All-Star Squadron #1
Hi! My name is Roy Thomas, and I’m the conceptualizer and writer of the comic-magazine you’re holding in your hands.
Maybe it’s because we’re longtime friends and associates—or maybe it’s just because he’s been up to his tousled beard in editorial crises lately—but editor Len Wein has kindly permitted me to say a few words about ALL-STAR SQUADRON, its milieu and its mission , as well as about its talented artists, Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway.
For my part, there’s almost nothing I’d rather do, since ALL-STAR SQUADRON, or something very much like it, is the single comic-book I’ve most wanted to do since I first discovered comics, a good third of a century ago. The original ALL-STAR COMICS, which introduced the legendary Justice Society of America and ran from 1940 to 1951, was and is my all-time favorite comic. And it was ALL-STAR’s successor, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, which led me to become a comics professional in the mid-1960’s, even though the fates arranged that the first fifteen years of my career were spent writing and editing for Marvel Comics.
Thus I was more than mildly-envious of my good friend Gerry Conway a few years back when he was able to revive ALL-STAR as a regular title, to compliment the JLA-JSA teamups which had become an annual institution at DC. As destiny would have it, though the 1970’s ALL-STAR fell victim to a general cutback two years ago; so I was both flattered and elated when DC’s ruling triumvirate of publisher Jenette Kahn, editorial director Joe Orlando, and coordinating editor Paul Levitz gave me a chance to write a return of the JSA!
However, a simple revival—or would have been a “re-revival’?—didn’t seem such a good idea. After all, it’s been well established that the Justice Society was formed in the forge of World War Two. Thus, even its youngest member, the original Atom, must be pushing retirement age by now. Rather, it seemed that a new mag was called for.
What new mag? The answer seemed obvious.
After all, it was from the period of World War Two—from 1938, when Superman first appeared in ACTION COMICS #1 while war-clouds hung heavy over Europe, to 1945, when the war ended—that most of the super-stars of the so-called Golden Age of Comic Book evolved. Not just Superman, but Batman—Wonder Woman—Captain Marvel – Plastic Man—all of them made their premier appearances during those star-spangled if violent days.
Thus, we speedily decided to do a magazine called ALL-STAR SQUADRON, which would feature not only the JSAers themselves, but virtually every one of the great DC (and Quality Comics Group, of which more next month) heroes from those days.
Sure, it would require a lot of work – and even a few initial many-heroed issues—to get the mag going and yet keep it from becoming a mob scene. But this way, we could play down the Earth-Two heroes who have counterparts on Earth-One (such as Green Lantern, Flash, etc.) in favor of other, quite promising characters who have been ignored or underplayed for years.
If we lost the original GL, we gained the Earth-Two Robotman; if we dropped Jay (Flash) Garrick, we picked up on Johnny Quick; Liberty Belle could stand in for Wonder Woman till more super-powered ladies came along. We even tossed in an Earth-Two version of the venerable Plastic Man, whose series in ADVENTURE was just folding, to be an FBI liaison, reporting only to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself. And there are lots more surprises to come!
(Oh, just one quirk to explain away, for the sharp-eyed amongst ye: For personal reasons, I begged Jenette, Joe, and Paul to let me include as regulars my two childhood favorites, Hawkman and the Atom. I’d always identified with the undersized but powerful Atom-- and I’d long had a desire to see Hawkman’s twin-beaked helmet, which had virtually never been depicted since the 1940’s, return in all its bizarre glory. And since my new and esteemed employers are benevolent despots, after all, they agreed. Perhaps they just could stand to see a more or less grown man grovel.)
Now, perhaps, a few “thank-you’s” from editor Len and myself are in order. First, a tip of our hats to our artistic collaborators, Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway. Rich was far and away out first choice for penciler on ALL-STAR SQUADRON; and we likewise predict that newcomer Jerry Ordway will soon be a lot of people’s top choice for inker of various series, as well. A lot of reference-checking went into both this issues and our special 16-page “prevue” which appeared as an insert in JLA #193, and both guys certainly did their share—as did Mike Barr, who took time off from editing several DC titles to Xerox tons of back-issue pages for Rich and Jerry. Thanks too to consulting E. Nelson Bridwell for his comments and suggestions; Len and I yield to few in our awe of Nelson’s formidable knowledge of old comics of all kinds!
Next issue, as we await letters on both the “prevue” and on this month’s story, we’ll fill you in a bit on the Wartime History of the Justice Society—to help both those of you who are and those who are not longtime comic buffs to keep the series in perspective. We’ll show you where and how ALL-STAR SQUADRON fits into the chronology of the Justice Society itself—also how the Squadron squares with the concept of the “Justice Battalion” as the JSA was often called from 1942 until near war’s end. Rest assured, though—we’re not going to overturn forty-plus years of continuity, if we can help it!
Oh yes, and one more little innovation: We’ll even be handling the footnotes in ALL-STAR SQUADRON a little differently.
Since a series set in the early 1940’s requires a number of explanatory references not just to comics issues but to everyday events, military/political history of the period, etc… things that might be unclear to many newer or younger readers… we were worried that the mag might degenerate into a sort of Battle of the Footnotes. This, naturally, would cover up a large area of art – and also distract from the story itself.
Thus, whenever possible, if a footnote need be more than a few words long, we intend simply to refer the reader to that issue’s letters page, a part of which will be devoted each month to imparting such information as might enhance enjoyment of the story. And why not? After all, aren’t the footnotes in many a “real” book located in the back? Let us know, please, how you like this set-up… hopefully, after you’ve given it a few issues.
In fact, let us know everything you like and don’t like about ALL-STAR SQUADRON.
Which heroes/heroines would you like to see us play up more (or less) including some not yet in evidence?
Do you want us to introduce new heroes and villains, or stick to those which really existed in the old comics?
Do you want us to place the emphasis on costumed super-villains, such as Degaton, or on Axis-oriented baddies of the “Captain Nazi” strips?
Do you want to see more women, more minority heroes in the series? (Already next issue, you’ll see Phantom Lady from the old Quality group, and we have Hawkgirl and another surprise or three in store for you as well.)
We have ideas of our own on all of the above—and we’ll get into some of them next time—but it’s your vote that really counts!
One final aside: While naturally the events of the Second World War on Earth-2 didn’t totally coincide with those on Earth-One (let alone in our own space-time continuum, where no super-heroes at all appeared to bail us out of trouble, as your grandparents may have noticed at the time), we’ve tried to keep things fairly factual when dealing with the events of the war itself. Thus, there’s a lot of truth lurking behind the super-fictitious scenes of “The World on Fire!”—from the time sequence of the attack on Pearl Harbor to the paid attendance of the Redskins/Eagles football game that day.
Rich, Jerry, Len and I all had a ball working on ALL-STAR SQUADRON #1. We hope it shows—and we hope you like what we’ve done.
Thanks for listening!
- The back cover of this issue offered a membership to Icee Bear Club. Icees are awesome, by the way, but not as good as a Slurpee at 7-11.