Tuesday, February 27, 2007

All-Star Squadron #5

Cover Date: January 1982
Cover Price: $0.60
Release Date: October 29, 1981

“Never Step on a Feathered Serpent!”
-27 pages

Cover Artist: Rich Buckler and Romeo Tanghal

Writer/Co-Creator: Roy Thomas
Penicller/Co-Creator: Rich Buckler
Inker/Embellisher: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Ben Oda
Editor: Len Wein

Heroes: Atom I, Doctor Fate I, Doctor Mid-Nite I, Firebrand II, Hawkgirl I (as Shiera Sanders), Hawkman I, Johnny Quick, Johnny Thunder, Liberty Belle I, Robotman I, Sandman I, Shining Knight I, Spectre I, Starman I

Villains: The Feathered Serpent, General Saukel, Unnamed Nazi soldiers, Unnamed Bundists

Supporting Characters: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Slugger Dunn

Memorable Quote: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - - a date which will live in infamy - - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the Naval and Air Forces of the Empire of Japan. Now matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion the American people in the righteous might will win though to absolute victory. I ask that Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack -- a state of war exited between the United States and the Empire of Japan.” –President Franklin D. Roosevelt


At a meeting of the Justice Society Hawkman announces his decision to enlist in the United States Army in his real identity as Carter Hall. He expects a negative response but his comrades surprise him by giving their best wishes, an act Hawkman misinterprets as them not caring all that much for him. The Atom sets him straight by admitting that they had all decided that they were going to enlist but believed that Hawkman would try to talk them out of it. They finally call the meeting to order and vote to inform the President of their intentions and to disband the Justice Society for the duration. After the meeting Mid-Nite asks Hawkman if there was any word on Hawkman’s fiancé. Hawkman replies that there hasn’t been and that he is flying to the Yucatan in the morning to find her. Mid-Nite and then the Atom decide to join him but first the trio keeps Hawkman’s promise to check in on Danette Reilly.

Meanwhile in a stone temple located in the Yucatan Peninsula Nazi General Saukel pleads his case that the order to strike must be given at once. Sitting on his throne the Feathered Serpent counters that the stars tell him the time is not yet right. Saukel believes that any further delay could end in disaster, especially since Great Britain has fulfilled its agreement with the United States and declared war on the Japanese and the fact that Green Lantern had prevented a Nazi invasion of the East Coast. The Feathered Serpent refuses to listen adding that their alliance is not for the benefit of Nazi Germany but for the glory of Mexico and that he, as the living symbol of the old ways, will usher in a new age for his homeland with the sacrifice of the captured Shiera Sanders.

Back in New York Johnny Quick and Robotman answer a request from the police to help them with a group of saboteurs on Liberty Island. The two heroes take down the bundists and continue on to Danette Reilly’s apartment where they join Liberty Belle the Shining Knight, Dr. Mid-Nite, the Atom and Hawkman. While the others discuss her condition Danette wakes up and based on something she remembered in her dreams she investigates the key that Slugger Dunn had given her on behalf of her comatose brother. The key fits a bust that opens a hidden closet and reveals her brother’s secret life.

Outside the heroes continue their discussion when Johnny Quick begins to smell smoke. They quickly realize that the smoke is coming from Danette’s bedroom and the group rushes in only to find Danette surrounded by flame and wearing a strange costume. Danette passes out leaving Robotman and Johnny Quick to rescue her and put out the flames. After coming around Danette tells them about finding out her brother was the hero known as Firebrand and the sudden emergence of her powers. After that is settled Hawkman says his good-byes as he prepares to search for his fiancé but the Atom quickly volunteers everyone to help in his quest. Danette also agrees to go much to the chagrin of the Shining Knight.

The next day the heroes, in the civilian identities, arrive in Mexico and quickly set about finding Shiera Sanders. After spotting someone wearing his fiancé’s scarf Hawkman and the Shining Knight capture the man and coerce him into leading them to Shiera. The rest of the group is led to a warehouse where they are attacked by Nazi soldiers. The battle is brief but fierce and with the help of the new Firebrand the heroes defeat the Nazis and interrogate General Saukel.

Miles away Hawkman and the Shining Knight are led to an ancient pyramid only to be felled by a hidden electrical net. Soon afterward the two heroes revive only to stare in horror as the Feathered Serpent prepares to sacrifice Shiera Sanders!


-There was a bit of a snafu with this issue’s cover. The black arrow that read “Fire-Brand!” in flaming letters was mostly black, which while direct wasn’t the whole of the art that was supposed to appear on the cover. The original arrow looked a heck of a lot like this:

Apparently there was a flub somewhere between Chemical Colors, who did the color separations on the issue, and the public with the words “Introducing” and “The Hottest New Heroine of All” getting left off.

-Sadly there was no Hostess Ad this month.

-The first scene in this issue retold events from All-Star Comics #11 (June-July 1942) where the members of the Justice Society resign and joined the armed services.

-The parallels to Roy Thomas’ run on Marvel Comics’ Invaders continued in this issue. In Giant Size Invaders #1 Roy put in President Roosevelt’s “date which will live in infamy” speech, though in the Giant Size Invaders version Roy accidentally wrote “day” instead of “date”, a mistake he rectified here.

-General Saukel talks of a Nazi attack on America’s East Coast with the aid of an experimental aircraft carrier that was thwarted by Green Lantern. This took place in Green Lantern #4 (Summer 1942), which had this awesome cover.

-The Feathered Serpent tells Saukel that he and his followers are not merely quisling-like puppets. The term Quisling comes from Norwegian leader Vidkun Quisling who helped deliver his country to the invading Germans in 1940. Soon after the word Quisling entered the lexicon in reference to someone who betrays his own people to an enemy.

The Feathered Serpent also mentions Hitler’s quest for the Ark of the Covenant (as well as the Spear of Destiny). The Ark comment is a tip of the fedora to the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark which featured some guy named Harrison Ford playing an archeologist named Indiana Jones.

-In the “Changed for Decency Department” the original art for page sixteen of this issue had a tastefully shadowed but nude Danette Reilly. Well, not exactly nude, but the original art did make it pretty clear that Danette slept sky clad. Colorist Carl Gafford was instructed to add underwear lines on this and another page before it was sent to the Comic’s Code Authority.

-After a message from Roy regarding the well-nigh unanimous positive response to the first issue this installment of All-Star Comments printed letters from the following readers:

Mike Gallagher of Memphis, Tennessee found the first issue thrilling and requested that the team have the most flexible membership ever seen.

Shepard Siegel of New York, New York realized halfway through the issue that the title of that issue was also the title of a song and asked if “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” really played through the attack on Pearl Harbor. Roy responded that it didn’t play during the attack but got a good deal of play that night at the Pearl Harbor PX.

Steven Utley of Austin, Texas was a bit put off by the submersible aircraft carrier but was pleased by the first issue adding that Roy was one of the few comic writers that could actually write. Roy responded that he was happy to hear from a professional science fiction writer and that there were rumors at the time of a Japanese submersible carrier which could have been used to launch the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The late Jerry Bails of St. Clair Shores, Missouri wrote in to compliment the creative team on the book despite the demotion of some of his favorites like Dr. Fate, Green Lantern and the Spectre. Roy responded to this letter as well, which makes sense since the two were friends. If you weren’t aware Jerry Bails is one of if not the founding father of comic book fandom and someone who I admired and respected.

Finally Andrew MacLaney of Lansing, Missouri was very fond of Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway’s art, which is in contrast to his feelings to Joe Staton’s work in All-Star Comics. Roy took this as an opportunity to sadly announce that this issue was Rich Buckler’s last for more contemporary pastures and that beginning next issue Adrian Gonzales would take over the penciling chores.

-Roy’s Addendum to this issue’s letters page was as follows:

Now, a few fast notes on your welcome responses to the questions we asked in #1.

1.) Nearly every DC and Quality hero we ever heard of was asked for, by at least one letter-writer—and if you and we and ALL-STAR SQUADRON stick around long enough, you’ll all get your wishes.

2.) Most readers want relatively few new heroes, unless they are minority characters or non Americans…which is what we had in mind ourselves, luckily for us!

3.) Readers seem equally divided on whether villains should be Axis-oriented or not, so we’ll keep mixing them up for the nonce.

4.) Most readers want to see more women in the group—and the introduction of Hawkgirl and Firebrand in this issue should show where we stand on that one! Keep writing, huh?

One last point: Though Roy and Rich are correctly listed as “co-creators” of the ALL-STAR SQUADRON, they want to acknowledge here what they’ve always felt—that the true inspiration for this mag, and so many others since it, was of course the original Justice Society stories edited by Shelly Mayer and written by Gardner F. Fox in the 1940’s. As far as we’re concerned each and every issue of ALL-STAR SQUADRON is dedicated to these two men—two of the most talented ever to grace the field!

-The back cover to this month’s adventures featured Challenge #8860 of Lego’s Expert Builder Series. On a very personal note I had an aunt that gave me a bunch of these for birthdays and Christmases when I was growing up. I don’t know if I had this one, but they were a ball to play with.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Story, i enjoyed sharing this.