Monday, February 12, 2007

All-Star Squadron #3

Cover Date: November 1981
Cover Price: $0.60
Release Date: August 20, 1981

Story Title: “The Dooms of Dark December!” -27 pages
Cover Artist: Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano

Writer: Roy Thomas (Co-Creator)
Penicller: Rich Buckler (Co-Creator)
Embellisher: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Len Wein

Heroes: Atom I, Batman (Earth-2), Doctor Fate I, Doctor Mid-Nite I, Flash I, Green Lantern I, Hawkman I, Johnny Quick I, Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt, Liberty Belle I, Plastic Man (Earth-2), Phantom Lady I, Robin (Earth-2), Robotman I, Sandman I, Shining Knight I, Spectre I, Starman I, Superman (Earth-2), Wonder Woman (Earth-2)

Villains: Per Degaton, Professor Zodiak, Solomon Grundy, Wotan

Supporting Characters: Danette Reilly, Eleanor Roosevelt, Winged Victory

Memorable Quote: “As long as you’re careful how you abbreviate it.”- Superman (Earth-2), upon learning the name of the new group was the All-Star Squadron.


From his submerged vantage point Degaton watches on his view screen as the All-Stars fight his hypnotized pilots and patrol the streets of San Francisco. Despite this momentary snag he is still confident that his plan will succeed with the fifteen fully armed Zeroes heading for the more suburban areas to the south of the city and the fact that because of his advanced technology the Justice Society are still his captives. To ensure that latter do not pose any future problems he presses the button to destroy the island where the mystically shackled Society members are being kept.

Meanwhile Sir Justin faces off against Solomon Grundy and then against Wotan and Professor Zodiak. Sir Justin’s sword absorbs Wotan’s magic and the Shining Knight manages to hold the villains off while Danette Reilly makes her escape. He succeeds and before making his own escape he slashes at the side of the vessel allowing the sea water to pour in. Wotan fixes the damage but not before Sit Justin and Danette are both gone.

The two surface quickly and find that Winged Victory is waiting for them. Moments later the trio head back to the island to free the Justice Society never suspecting that Wotan and Zodiak are following in Zodiak’s plane. Below Degaton, after a minor argument with Grundy, reflects on the time periods he plucked the villains from; Wotan from an extra dimensional limbo in the late forties, Zodiak from 1948 while escaping from the Justice Society, both Sky Pirate and King Bee from a conveniently shared jail cell, the Monster, in his more milquetoast form, from 1944 and Solomon Grundy from the construct Green Lantern had encased him in before plunging it deep underground in 1947. Degaton’s attention suddenly turns to Grundy, who is pointing to the screen showing the All-Stars approaching over head.

With Plastic Man acting as a human drill the Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, Liberty Belle and Phantom Lady burrow into Degaton’s ship. Mid-Nite detonates one of his “black out” bombs, which blinds Solomon Grundy allowing Mid-Nite to momentarily stun the creature. Degaton’s minions finally arrive and the ship erupts in violence as the heroes lay into the hypnotized underlings. Back on land Robotman, Hawkman and Johnny Quick face off against the approaching Zeroes. Johnny has Robotman toss him into the sky towards the plane before the metal hero takes advantage of a near-by attraction and begins to hurl cannon balls at the Zeroes.

Back on the supposed volcanic island Sir Justin and Danette are attacked by Wotan and Zodiak. The Shining Knight attempts to revive Superman but Wotan’s magic is too strong. Wotan hits Sir Justin with a slaying spell and then hits Danette with a similar bolt causing her to fall into the artificial lava. Suddenly the island erupts and the villains are sent back to their own time. Degaton watches this from his view screen and is soon shocked to see the form of the Spectre rise above the eruption as the Justice Society finally revive, along with Sir Justin and a glowing Danette Reilly. Realizing his only escape is to return to 1947 Degaton disappears and after the arrival of Robotman, Johnny Quick and Hawkman the monster known as Solomon Grundy goes back to 1947 where instead of being trapped underground he is instead stranded on the moon.

After Degaton’s ship also disappears the All-Stars are rescued by the Spectre and taken to the Golden Gate Bridge. The two teams compare notes and realize that they can’t remember whom they had just battled or why. The Spectre announces that it doesn’t matter with Dr. Fate chiming in that their immediate concern is the war. The heroes then watch, with the aid of the Spectre, as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt delivers an address to the nation and asks that all costumed heroes close ranks and join the All-Star Squadron. The announcement gives the heroes a new resolve and in unison the group cries out to remember Pearl Harbor.


- Joe Kubert drew a version of this cover with a similar scene, but Rich Buckler managed to convince Len Wein that as interior artist he should do the covers as well. Later, with Kubert’s blessing, Roy Thomas not only used the cover as an interior page in 1988’s Young All-Stars Annual #1 but also as the cover to the trade paperback Alter Ego: The Comic Book Artist Collection. Personally I prefer the Buckler version, which should not be taken as a slam or whatever against the legendary and extremely talented Joe Kubert.

- In All-Star Comics #42 (August-September 1948) Zodiak’s supposedly alchemically powered plane did not work properly and crashed, but it seemed to work like gangbusters in this story. Maybe Degaton or his minions did some work on it.

- This month’s Hostess Ad stars the Red Tornado and relates his epic battle with a thief who uses a giant vacuum device to steal Hostess Cup Cakes. You know, the Red Tornado had some serious self-esteem problems after joining the Justice League and I can’t imagine that coming to Metropolis and fighting a guy that steals freaking cup cakes made him feel any better about himself. I mean his last line is how the Hostess Cup Cakes were the real hero. How sad is that?

- Degaton’s flashback regarding Solomon Grundy explains why Grundy was shown returning from exile on the moon in Showcase #55 (March-April 1965). Grundy had been sent to the moon in All-Star #33 (February-March 1947) and this event had been superceded by Grundy’s fourth and final Golden Age appearance in Comic Cavalcade #27 (December 1947-Januaru 1948) where Grundy not only exhibited enhanced intelligence but was buried deep underground by Green Lantern.

- Degaton’s troops were apparently mesmerized by the same drug used to turn men into human robots in the Green Lantern tale from All-Star Comics #2 (Fall 1940).

-On a personal note the image of a revived Justice Society on the supposed volcanic isle was pretty darn awesome.

- As my selection of memorable quote suggests Roy Thomas used Superman to get past the fact that the abbreviation of the team’s name could be a bit…awkward in polite circles. As the All-Star Companion Volume 2 points out, though, the proper abbreviation for the team should be the A.S. since All-Star is one word.

- The speech by Eleanor Roosevelt on the evening of December 7, 1941 actually happened sans the mention of the All-Star Squadron of course.

- The text page this issue was taken up by an All-Star Squadron Super-Villain Fact File, which detailed some important information about the villains serving under Per Degaton. The text was by Roy Thomas with art by Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway. Just click on the image below for a more than readable size.

- The back cover this month detailed why MPC Model Cars are better than other model cars because with MPC options are apparently standard.

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