Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Golden-Age Related Books for Comic Week 02-28-2007

Or as I would like to call it The Birthday Edition of the Golden-Age Related Books for Comic Week 02-28-2007, but I won't because it isn't technically my birthday.

You see I am one of those oddities known as Leap Year Babies. I was born on February 29, 1976, so not only am I a Leap Year Baby but a Centennial Leap Year Baby to boot. So on the years where there isn't a February 29th I'm kind of in a limbo as to when my birthday should be observed, kind of like Lincoln and Washington's birthdays but without the day off from school. Is it February 28th, since that is technically the last day of February? Or, as my wife put it to me today, is it March 1st the day to choose because my mother had me the day after February 28th?

In the end I'm still another year older, so it really doesn't matter.

Besides, I have the same birthday as Superman, so how freaking cool is that?

(For those who may be curious, the Earth-2 Superman's actual birthday was February 29, 1916. I got that bit of trivia from an "interview" with both the Earth-1 and Earth-2 Supemen that was written by E. Nelson Bridwell and featured in the Amazing World of DC Comics Special Edition #1 Celebrating the Super DC Con '76, which took place on February 27, 28 and 29th of 1976. Weird little happenstance there.)

Disclaimer: These are the books DC has posted on their site as coming out on February 28, 2007. There is a slight chance that these books might not be at your local comic shop because, let's face it, DC has not been batting a thousand lately with getting their books out on time. This is not meant as a slam against DC, it's just how things have been for the past year or so.

I also claim no responsibility if your local comic shop sells out of the book if you wanted to buy it. Hold/Reserve boxes are your friend.

Action Comics #846
Batman #664
Batman Confidential #3
Blue Beetle #12
Fifty-Two #43
Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #9
Green Lantern #17
JLA Classified #35
JSA Classified #23
Justice #10
Showcase Presents: Green Lantern Vol. 2 TPB

For me it's kind of a light week comic book wise. I will definitely be picking up Action Comics even though I know the story is about to be interrupted. But Geoff Johns has done some great damage control on the lateness issue, so I'm cool. Mark Guggenheim takes over the Flash after the much panned run by Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, so that is definitely getting purchased. Also Green Lantern is finally coming out again, which makes me happy yet frustrated as well.

You could say that it is a good week if you have the word Justice or at least the letter J in your title. JLA Classified has been really good this past arc and JSA Classified has been consistently good with the possible exception of the Steve Englehart story.

And then there's Justice, which should be awesome.

I know it will never happen because Justice has pretty much been Alex Ross' love letter to the Super Friends, but a twelve issue Justice sequel featuring the Justice Society fighting an amped up Injustice Society would be all about some cool.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Update 02-27-2007: A Day Late

But still here, so I don't feel too bad about that.

What I do feel bad about is the fact that I haven't gotten another Dossier written, but I'm working on them.

So for this week all I got is the entry for Issue #5, the last for penciller Rich Buckler.

See you tomorrow for our ususal Wednesday meeting.

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.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Well Yes, I'll Take Three

Once again I get to be a standard comic book site and talk about references to my subject that are made elsewhere on the Internet. This one comes from Newsarama as part of their coverage of the New York City Con.

And I quote:

"Asked about All Star Squadron trades, Bob Wayne seemed to suggest that, based on audience response, they think they can do some large Showcase collections of the material."

As the subject of this post suggest, yes please. I'll take three.

I would prefer full color, but I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Golden-Age Related Books for Comic Week 02-21-2007

Another week, another slate of books released by DC Comics, another post about the books that I think are noteworthy because of their relation to DC's Golden Age characters or DC's characters from the Golden Age depending on how you want to look at it.

Disclaimer: These are the books DC has posted on their site as coming out on February 21, 2007. There is a slight chance that these books might not be at your local comic shop because, let's face it, DC has not been batting a thousand lately with getting their books out on time. This is not meant as a slam against DC, it's just how things have been for the past year or so.

I also claim no responsibility if your local comic shop sells out of the book if you wanted to buy it. Hold/Reserve boxes are your friend.

Atlantis: Sword of Atlantis #49
Birds of Prey #103
Brave and the Bold #1
Catwoman #64
Catwoman: The Replacements TPB
Checkmate #11
Checkmate Vol. 1: A King's Game TPB
Fifty-Two #42
Helmet of Fate: Black Alice #1
Ion #11
Justice Vol. 2 HC
Robin #159
Superman #659
Teen Titans: Titans Around the World TPB
Wonder Woman #4

You may notice that I included Robin and the Teen Titans trade this week, as well as Catwoman and her trade. Well, Robin (or Dick Grayson at any rate but the character Robin) was created in the Golden-Age as was Selina Kyle, so there you go. I may not buy the books but they are worth a mention.

Decent week overall. The new Brave and the Bold premeires and I am glad to see it. Team-up books rule and the fact that George Perez and Mark Waid are involved makes it even better. I may not read as many titles as I used to, but it will be nice to read a book with Batman in it again.

Yes I do read Superman/Batman, but when was the last time we saw that published?

Speaking of books that took their sweet freaking time Wonder Woman and Superman both come out this week as well. I am quite confused by the Superman issue since I thought this was going to be the Krypto issue, but hey at least Superman is coming out. Wonder Woman...well Wonder Woman is probably about to turn around with the new writer coming on, but Wonder Woman has to be DC's biggest flub as far as One Year Later is concerned. The story isn't bad but where has it been?

DC needs to get it's act together and get their books out on time, that's all I'm sayin'.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Update 02-19-2007: New Stuff

Well I'm at three weeks in a row now, which is very satisfying. I actually did four posts this week, five including this one.

First up was issue four of All-Star Squadron, which was an important issue to the series because it explained away why the heroes of Earth-2 didn't lay waste to the Axis forces five seconds after Pearl Harbor. Yeah the Holy Grail and Spear of Destiny might have been a little too convenient as a plot device to keep the heroes in check but it worked.

Next was the first entry in a new feature here at the Perisphere; the All-Star Dossiers. This feature replaces the Who's Who section I originally had and I think it is a marked improvement. I hope to add one each week with the first detailing the origin and early All-Star Squadron history of the Atom, who is my absolute favorite Golden-Age DC (or should I say All-American?) hero.

I also added a "Read Me First" post to catch people who may come to the site later up on how I do things with the dossiers.

Finally I wanted to post the very awesome variant cover to Justice Society of America #3. It's just a neat piece of artwork.

That's it for this week. See y'all on Wednesday for the New Comics Update.

For Anyone That Is Interested

Here's the variant cover to Justice Society of America #3.

Click on the image to see a larger size.

A neat if not bloody cover. The comic shop I keep my hold box at and call "home", Titan Games and Comics, has started pricing their variant covers somewhat reasonably so I picked this up.

Actually I would have probably picked it up anyway because it's the Justice Society. I have two exceptions to the Not Buying The Variant Cover rule; Superman and the Justice Society.

Yeah, I'm a sucker, but I'm a sucker with a neat variant cover so I think I can look at myself in the mirror in the morning.

And I should because my hair can get really funky.

All-Star Dossiers

Back when I originally conceived of this blog/site I knew that I wanted to include a Who's Who section. At that time I was content to simply re-type the original Who's Who: The Definitive Guide to the DC Universe entries in addition to including bits and pieces from a couple of Role Playing Source Books I've managed to acquire over the years. As I got deeper into making this blog my own I grew uncomfortable with doing this. Yeah there's a certain historical significance to the entries, but they weren't mine. So I decided to do something about that feeling of unease.

And thus was born the All-Stars Dossiers.

Yeah, the word dossier is a tad on the pretentious side but given the war-time setting of the book it seemed to fit. While it is going to be a bit of leg work getting all of the information together I think the end result will be more satisfying than simply copying somebody else's work.

So why have I asked you to check this entry out first before digging into the dossiers proper?

Well, as with everything I tend to do I am approaching these entries from a bizarre angle. Considering the fact that the index entries are coming out on a weekly basis it seemed fitting to have the dossiers unfold in a similar style. If the current issue in the index is number 19 then all of the entries will relate the history of the characters up until that time. The first entry is of the Atom and I posted it the same week I posted the index of issue four, so Al Pratt's history goes up to that point. Even though Al eventually married his college sweetheart Mary and developed super-powers and died during Zero Hour the entry has him listed as single, only possessing the abilities of a highly trained boxer and is very much alive. As the weeks and months go by information will be added to reflect the "current" issue.

Another thing; while everything is going to be honky dory in the beginning when the series catches up to the Crisis on Infinite Earths certain entries are going to get a bit...confusing. I do have a plan for this. When it gets to that point I'll simply make annotations regarding what is Pre-Crisis and Earth-2 and what is the "new" history. Again it could be a little disorienting but in the interest of being complete I believe I'll figure a way to do it. Eventually the entries will have what I hope to be some of the most comprehensive data on the Internet regarding these characters, which is saying something because you can find anything on the Internet. It's a challenge, but one I hope to meet.

So sit back, click on an entry (no matter how many are there) and hopefully learn something about these characters that you didn't know. As always if there are any factual errors or any bits of info you think I missed just let me know. I will cop to any mistakes I make and add the information with full credit given to the person who provides it.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Atom I

Real Name: Al Pratt
Occupation: Student, Costumed Adventurer
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: None Uncovered
Group Affiliation: Justice Society of America, All-Star Squadron
Base of Operations: Calvin College
First Appearance: All-American Comics #19 (October 1940)
Height: 5’1” Weight: Originally 90 lbs, now 150 lbs.
Eyes: Blue Hair: Red



Nothing of his early years is known but there is one thing that is certain; Al Pratt was short. There was no getting around it. Al was one of the original “90 pound weaklings” who spent most of his early college career getting picked on by some of his larger classmates. He couldn’t even defend his girlfriend Mary when the two are mugged by a seemingly unarmed man, an act that caused Mary to end their relationship.

Soon after Al buys a meal for a derelict and tells the stranger about his feelings of weakness and frustration at the fact that he couldn’t stand up for himself much less the woman he loved. The derelict turned out to be a down on his luck former boxer named Joe Morgan. Something about Al’s story gets to Joe and he offered to train the young man in the hopes of turning him into a professional fighter. The two men travel to Pratt’s family farm and Al begins a strict regime of weight and fight training. Within a year Pratt packed on sixty pounds of muscle and became quite adept at the “sweet science”.

Morgan and Pratt parted ways somewhat bitterly after Al refused Joe’s hopes for a boxing career. Sometime later Al went to visit his ex-girlfriend Mary and arrived just in time to see her being kidnapped. He follows the intruders and after discovering their intention to hold Mary for ransom he breaks in and savagely takes out the supposed kidnappers. Mary was blindfolded and never saw who her rescuer was and when the police arrived after receiving an “anonymous” tip they find the kidnappers tied up and a calling card from someone named “The Atom.”

The Justice Society

Soon after Al designed a distinctive costume and embarked on a crime fighting career while attending college and renewing his relationship with Mary. Later Al was “drafted” by Dr. Fate into joining a group of his fellow heroes to battle Hitler (who had summoned the mythic Valkyries with the Spear of Destiny) and halt a Nazi invasion of England. The fight was taken to the lawn of the White House and despite being the only non-powered hero Al was the one who leaped in front of a blast by one of the Valkyries intended to kill President Franklin D. Roosevelt. When the smoke cleared from that particular battle the Atom joined the other heroes to become a founding member of the Justice Society of America.

As a member of the Justice Society Al fought against the machinations of Nazi spymaster Fritz Klaver and helped smash the rackets of the mysterious Mister X. The Justice Society also raised a million dollars for war orphans before dealing with the madness of Dr. Elba. They even embarked on a mission to Latin America at the behest of the F.B.I. Chief to fight German and Italian spies. Things got even stranger when a simple battle with Fifth Columnists turns into a trip to the year 2442 to help a group of scientists develop a bomb defense formula.

The All-Star Squadron

On December 6, 1941 the Atom, along with fellow heroes Hawkman and Dr. Mid-Nite, visited Washington D.C. and while taking in Lincoln Memorial the group was attacked by a strange creature known as The Monster. The heroes managed to subdue the creature but were startled when the creature turned into an old man and disappeared in a flash of light after uttering the word Degaton. The next day the Atom joined Dr. Mid-Nite at a Redskins game during which Mid-Nite noticed a large number of military officials being paged away from the game. Mid-Nite and Atom investigate and are told about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Atom joined a group of heroes at the White House where President Roosevelt asked them to form a new team answerable only to him to battle against the enemies of the United States. Roosevelt christened the group the All-Star Squadron and wasted no time in giving them their first assignment. The first mission took the Atom and his fellow All-Stars to San Francisco, where they helped calm the population during a supposed Japanese attack. The real threat was Per Degaton, who had traveled from the year 1947 to begin his quest to rule the world. The Atom was among the heroes that stormed Degaton’s undersea craft, but due to the nature of the process that brought Degaton to the past the Atom, and the rest of the All-Star Squadron, could not remember who they had been fighting or why.

Later that day the Atom traveled to Pearl Harbor with the rest of the All-Stars and joined them after they decided to take the battle to the Japanese. Before reaching Wake Island the more powerful heroes of the team came under the influence of the Dragon King’s dynamo powered by the Holy Grail. Green Lantern dropped the Atom and the rest of the unaffected heroes on an occupied island and after Liberty Belle stunned GL with a handy piece of wood the Atom fought against the Japanese forces on the island. After coming around Green Lantern scooped up the Atom and his fellow heroes in an energy construct and followed Hawkman, who feigned being under the effects of the device and lured Green Lantern and the others to safety.

Justice Society Disbands

Soon after Al decided that he could best serve the United States by joining the armed forces. The rest of the Justice Society felt the same way and at their first meeting following the formation of the All-Star Squadron the Justice Society disbanded. Despite this Al, as the Atom, joined Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite and several other members of the All-Star Squadron on a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula to search for Hawkman’s fiancé. Once there he and the rest of the All-Stars are caught up in a zealot named the Feather Serpent’s attempt to conquer Mexico. The Atom was there when the Feathered Serpent was revealed to be a Nazi agent and not a native to that Mexico as he had claimed.

Al then entered the service and trained to be a Tank-Corpsman in Virginia. It was while he was there that Al received a summons from the President of the United States. On his way to the White House Private Al Pratt bumped into two men and the hot headed Al had some words for the larger of the two men and their apparent lack of manners. Nothing came of the situation, though what Al didn’t know at the time was that the men he ran into were Baron Blitzkrieg and his associate Zwerg. After changing into his Atom uniform Al met with the President and briefed FDR on the whereabouts of his fellow Justice Society members.

Afterwards FDR leads the Atom into the next room where Al is surprised to see the members of the All-Star Squadron who hadn’t joined the service standing there. The All-Stars are asked to help protect Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who is scheduled to arrive in the United States to meet with the President. The next day the Atom partners with Robotman at the Naval installation at Norfolk and joins his mechanical colleague in rushing on to the Duke of York, the vessel Churchill was traveling on, when an explosions rocks that ship. While the sailors at first think the Atom and Robotman are the enemy and attack the confusion is soon cleared up. After Robotman beaches the U-boat that had attacked the York the Atom suggests to one of the officers that the All-Star should take care of the Nazi sailors that are about to begin pouring out of the sub.

Later that night the Atom is present for the supposed meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill where Baron Blitzkrieg’s plot to replace the Prime Minister with a booby trapped robot double comes to fruition in a massive explosion. The heroes believe that the President had died but are relieved to find out that Plastic Man had impersonating FDR and survived the blast. Along the other All-Stars the Atom attempts to capture the Baron but fails. Two days later the Atom attends the tree lighting ceremony and is moved as he listens to the Prime Ministers speech.

Psychological Profile

Al suffered from what is commonly known as a “Napoleon Complex”. His small stature and history of being picked on by those bigger than him gave him something a chip on his shoulder. Working with a group of men who possessed powers and weapon beyond comprehension didn’t really help matters much and while Pratt could more than hold his own he always felt somewhat inferior to the other members of the Justice Society.

In battle Al was a fierce combatant. The training he received from Joe Morgan was used to a ferocious effect and Al took on the reputation of being a scrapper. This could be used against Al, especially when he would rush into a fight without anything resembling a plan.

Powers and Weapons

Al Pratt was trained by former boxing champ Joe Morgan to the near peak of physical condition. In addition to gaining strength and agility Al became a formidable hand to hand combatant with lightning quick reflexes.

All-Star Squadron #4

Cover Date: December 1981
Cover Price: $0.60
Release Date: September 24, 1981

Story Title: “Day of the Dragon King Chapter One” – 5 pages
“Chapter Two: Aftermath of Infamy!” – 8 pages
“Chapter Three: What Price Vengeance?” – 14 pages

Cover Artist: Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano

Writer: Roy Thomas (Co-Creator)
Penicller: Rich Buckler (Co-Creator)
Inker/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)

Dragon King, Unnamed Japanese soldiers

Supporting Characters:
Danette Reilly, Firebrand I (as Rod Reilly), Slugger Dunn, Unnamed American soldiers, Unnamed General

Memorable Quote: “We decided we’d arrive together, remember – not as the Justice Society, or as individual heroes and heroines – but as America’s newest bunch of Axis busters – the All-Star Squadron!” - Hawkman


The newly formed All-Star Squadron travel to Pearl Harbor and for the first time the heroes get to compare notes and talk about recent events. Two members are missing; Plastic Man, who had to get back to Washington and report to President Roosevelt and Phantom Lady, who had to find her rather worried father. When the All-Stars reach the Naval base shock and grief nearly overwhelm them as the full extent of the sneak attack becomes clear. The armed forces on the ground begin to fire on the All-Stars mistaking them for the enemy. With the help of Thunderbolt the hostilities end and the All-Stars meet with the military officials in charge. After some debate they decide, at Liberty Belle’s behest, to take the fight to the Japanese. With the exception of the Shining Knight the heroes head off to the Japanese aircraft carriers to the north.

Meanwhile Danette and Sir Justin visit her injured brother. The two run into Slugger Dunn, who leads Danette to her Rod’s bedside. He warns Danette that even though Rod is alive he is in a coma and that the doctors don’t know when he’ll come out of it.

After even more debate the All-Stars decide to head to Wake Island, believing that location is a likely target for Japanese attack. However on a small island between where the All-Stars were and Wake a Japanese base receives a visit from the Dragon King who had been sent by the High Command in anticipation of an attack by Superman and his ilk. With the help of the fabled Holy Grail the Dragon King uses a Dynamo powered by science and magic to magnify his powers and direct it. He activates the machine which sends waves of energy towards the oncoming heroes.

The effects of the energy wave are immediate. Superman, Spectre and Wonder Woman feel a sense of unease and dizziness while Dr. Fate attacks Hawkman and Green Lantern drops Johnny Quick and the other heroes he was carrying down on the island where a squad of Japanese soldiers is waiting. Superman wonders what has happened to them and where the sudden desire to see his comrades die came from. The Spectre theorizes that since he and Superman, along with Wonder Woman, are not human they have more of a resistance adding that they will soon pass under the spell of the strange emanations.

On the ground Liberty Belle uses a handy piece of wood to stun Green Lantern and allow the group to defend themselves. Back in the air Johnny Thunder takes off to attack the American forces at Wake Island with the reluctant Thunderbolt. The Dragon King watches this from his view screen taking pride in his achievement and when one of his men asks how long the heroes will be under their control he replies that the wave’s effects will last from the time they enter the energy zone until the time they leave.

Suddenly Dr. Fate chases Hawkman out of the energy zone and comes out of his murderous funk. Realizing what was going on Hawkman flies back into the zone and tricks the dominated heroes (including Green Lantern whom Hawkman convinces to grab Liberty Belle and the others) into following him to safety. Hawkman’s plan works, but the All-Stars realize that they can’t take the battle to Japan like they had planned to lest they become servants of the Axis.

Not far away the Dragon King escapes in a submarine. One of his subordinates asks why they don’t increase the range of the Grail’s power. The Dragon King calls the underling a fool adding that there are limits to their power, but only for the present. He vows that one day he will take the battle to America’s shores.

At the same time Hawkman muses on how he needs to get to the Yucatan to find Shiera, but not before he has to drop a bombshell on both the Justice Society and the All-Star Squadron.


- During the flight to Pearl Harbor Hawkman mentions the fact that he is worried about his fiancé Shiera Sanders who had been on an archeological dig in the Yucatan. This is a bit of foreshadowing to the next storyline that takes place in issue five and six.

- He also mentions the fact that he knows something about Axis activity in Mexico, which is a reference to All-Star Comics #9 (February-March 1941) where the Justice Society traveled at the behest of the F.B.I. Chief to fight German and Italian spies since the U.S. couldn’t act there officially.

-Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt makes his first appearance in the series, not counting the Preview in Justice League of America #193. As an entity subservient to Johnny Thunder he was never an official member of either the All-Star Squadron or the Justice Society, which is really a shame because Johnny would have been pretty useless to both groups without him.

- Libby steps forward and really takes charge in this issue, which may or may not have been a bit of foreshadowing to her time as chairwoman of the group. This particular scene is significant since Libby took on Hawkman, who was the chairman of the Justice Society.

- The Shining Knight notes that Danette is warm to the touch. This was yet another bit of foreshadowing as Danette would fully develop her powers and assume the role of the second Firebrand next issue.

-DC wanted to avoid the use of the word “Japs” despite it being rather common during the Second World War. For the first few issues they used the word “Nips” instead, which is short for Nippon, which is how the Japanese refer to their homeland.

- The Hostess Ad for this month has the Penguin using a parade of penguin puppets to distract people from noticing his theft of the Emperor’s Sword. When he stops to also steal some Hostess Fruit Pies the police nab him and reveal that they put the emperor penguins on parade and the Emperor’s sword together and used the pies as bait to catch him. On one hand it’s nice to see the Gotham City Police Department catch a criminal without the aid of Batman. On the other I wonder who came up with the idea to use the Fruit Pies. “Well you know, guys, the Penguin's fat and fat people like to eat so if we put out some pies he’ll obviously want to eat them. Take that, Dark Knight Detective!” I bet it was Chief O’Hara. He always seemed to have it in for fat people.

- Another bit of oddness surrounding this month’s ad is that fact that it was printed on a slicker paper than the rest of the issue, which is a shame because the ads should never have better production values than the story, but then again comics were printed on what amounted to be tissue paper for decades.

-Superman muses on how it had been only three years since he was the only active mystery man. This was a reference to the fact that Superman made his first appearance in the spring of 1938 and how all heroes derived from his debut.

-While mention is made of the near-simultaneous attacks on Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines as well as Pearl Harbor, but no mention is made of the attacks on British colonies in Thailand and Mayala.

- The Dragon King references Hitler’s possession of the Spear of Destiny in relation to Tojo’s acquisition of the Holy Grail. Hitler used the Spear of Destiny in an attempt to invade England, but was stopped by the heroes who would make up the founding members of the Justice Society of America. This story was told in DC Special #29 (September 1977).

- Later the Dragon King mentions Dr. Daka, who was the fictional head of the Imperial Japanese undercover operatives. Dr. Daka was taken from the 1943 Columbia Pictures serial Batman and was played by actor J. Carrol Naish.

-Despite his vow the Dragon King never appeared in another issue of All-Star Squadron.

- The bombshell Hawkman drops on his fellow heroes is his intention to retire from both the JSA and the All-Stars to join the service as revealed next issue.

- This issue sees the first appearance of the letters column dubbed “All-Star Comments”. This issue printed letters from readers of the All-Star Squadron’s preview effort in the pages of Justice League of America #193. Junior D. Kerns of Tooele, Utah both congratulates and thanks those involved for producing the series. Albert F. Feichenbach of Chicago, Illinois was glad that his initial fears about the series were unfounded and asks to see the Earth-2 Aquaman and if the Kryptonite exposure Superman suffered was the characters first. Mike Dennifer, also of Chicago, Illinois appreciated Rich Buckler’s art and puts in a request to see Steel the Indestructible Man, Quicksilver, Ultra Man and the Tarantula as either guest stars or members. Paul Baize of Glen Burnie, Maryland really hated the truncated helmet of Dr. Fate. Dan Coakley of Norwood Massachusetts was left totally confused by the time travel aspects that had not yet been revealed and wondered about the differences between Rod Reilly’s appearance in this title and his origin as revealed in Freedom Fighters #12. Dean K. Rollings of Athabasca, Alberta, Canada caught that the Flash/Wonder Woman/ Green Lantern race was a reference to Comic Cavalcade #1. Finally, Mark Lagasse of Hoosick Falls, New York felt that this was the book he was born to read and wondered how Libby Lawrence could have been on the television in 1941.

For his part Roy Thomas addressed the readers’ concerns thusly:

(1) Dunno about Earth-Two’s Aquaman for now – but this possibly was the Earth-Two Superman’s first encounter with Kryptonite. And no, he doesn’t know what did him in!

(2) Steel, Ultra-Man and the Tarantula are already penciled in for near-future appearances.

(3) The “Harry” in the preview, as revealed in issue #1, was not later Vice President Harry S. Truman, but Harry Hopkins, a friend and advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the 1930’s till FDR’s death in 1945. “Harry the Hop” as some called him…a New Dealer who moved into the White House the day after war broke out in Europe.

(4) The “Rod Reilly” introduced in ALL-STAR SQUADRON is, of course, not the one from Earth-X who appeared in FREEDOM FIGHTERS; nor is our Plastic Man the same as any other who has appeared in comics since his original title folded in the mid-50’s. In our view, all 1940’s DC and Quality Comics Group stories occurred on Earth-Two, even though some of these events were duplicated on Earth-One.

(5) Thanks to a few old-time comics buffs for noticing that the Flash-WW-GL race was indeed the cover scene of COMIC CAVALCADE #1, 1943 (with Wildcat a bystander then too). The scene of Superman, Batman and Robin at a USO was likewise from an early WORLD’S FINEST cover. Our theory is that the old-time heroes posed for such pix occasionally to help charity or the war effort…though that doesn’t mean others of those old covers weren’t simply conjured up out of an artist’s fancy!

(6) Don’t blame colorful colorist Carl Gafford for Dr. Mid-Nite’s golden gloves (or for Atom’s red-instead-of-orange lapels). These were conscious decisions made to keep down the number of colors in those characters’ costumes.

(7) As stated in the JLA #193 insert, regular TV broadcasting began in the U.S. in the middle of 1941. So, though few people had sets at that time, Libby Lawrence’s TV news show is, so far as we know, quite possible. Anybody have any better info?

(8) One of the most-objected-to aspects of ALL-STAR SQUADRON so far has been Dr. Fate’s truncated helmet. This is the one he was wearing by 1941, though…so it stays on. (Besides, it’s all a set-up for a later plot, so keep reading.) And Sandman did indeed wear his purple-and-yellow outfit, rather than his gasmask and business suit, by this period, so that’s how we’ll be depicting him.

- The back cover featured an advert for Fast 111’s from MPC. Apparently the success of kids racing the 111’s led to a demand to build the 111. I’ve never been into models so this desire escapes me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Golden-Age Related Books for Comic Week 02-14-2007

Another week, another slate of books released by DC Comics, another post about the books that I think are noteworthy because of their relation to DC's Golden Age characters or DC's characters from the Golden Age depending on how you want to look at it.

Disclaimer: These are the books DC has posted on their site as coming out on February 14, 2007. There is a slight chance that these books might not be at your local comic shop because, let's face it, DC has not been batting a thousand lately with getting their books out on time. This is not meant as a slam against DC, it's just how things have been for the past year or so.

It's also not my fault if the shop sold out of the book either, but that's what hold boxes are for.

Batman #663

Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told Vol. 2 TPB

Fifty Two #41

Green Arrow #71

JLA Classified #34

Justice Society of America #3 (2 covers)

Manhunter #28

Showcase Presents: Aquaman #1 TPB

Superman and Batman vs. Aliens and Predators #2

Superman: Camelot Falls TPB

Tales of the Unexpected #5

Trials of Shazam #5

Solid week for the Golden Age crowd. Manhunter comes out again, but it looks like DC is finally giving this title the ax, which is a damn shame really because it is an awesome book. Superman and Batman vs. Aliens and Predators got on the list on a sheer technicality and frankly the only reason I'm buying is the contract I signed back in 1993 to become a lifetime Superman fan. Luckily the Superman: Camelot Falls TPB is also coming out, so once again the universe is in harmony.

The highlight of this week is, of course, Justice Society of America #3 which comes in two flavors; regular and unnecessarily expensive. The book has been nothing short of exceptional and I don't think this month will be any different.

And then there's the cover.

Is it me, or is Maxine going commando here? Not that I'm passing judgment or anything. I was just curious.

Monday, February 12, 2007

All-Star Sighting: Helmet of Fate: Sargon the Sorcerer #1

I've been surfing the Internet since 1998 and in that time I've been to a lot of sites centered around comic books and comic book characters. One of the constants I've seen, especially on sites relating to the more obscure characters or those who are not currently being published, is that if that character or team is mentioned in a current book than a post is made about it on the site. It's not a hard and fast rule, just one I've seen more than once.

So in keeping with the tradition if the All-Stars are mentioned in a new comic that comic will get a mention here.

The first of these "All-Star Sightings" is from Helmet of Fate: Sargon the Sorcerer #1, written by Steve Niles with art by Scott Hampton. I've been following this series of one-shots mainly because of the Dr. Fate connection but I've rather liked what has been presented thus far. This particular one-shot gave the origin of the new Sargon, but there was one panel that I not only surprised me but put a big ol' smile on my face.

Go ahead. Click on the picture to get a better look. It's why I have a Photobucket account.

Now what surprised me more than anything was the fact that the All-Stars got mentioned at all. My take on the current attitude at DC is that they are wanting to move forward instead of looking back, which is why the current Justice Society contains new versions of older characters and even this book introduced the next generation of a Golden-Age dynasty. So the mention actually means something, which is always good.

If I spot any more of these I'll let you know. And if you see any that I miss just let me know. That's what the e-mail address is for.

Update 02-12-2007: Hey, I Did It Again

Amazingly I managed to get a post up on time. This is two weeks in a row, a new record.

Nothing to be proud of but a new record nonetheless.

So this week we have Issue 3, which ends the series' first story arc. I believe the All-Stars are one of the few teams that had an origin they couldn't remember. Still everything wrapped up nicely and thus a super team was born.

In terms of the site, well I think I have finally solved my Who's Who dilemma. Instead of merely copying what DC and other sources have done I settled on a format I liked.

What new format, you ask?

Well, I thought it would be easier to do entries on the members and villains as they come along and update them as the series progresses. I'm doing this for two reasons the first being that I am indexing the issues as I re-read them, so I'm not working from the standpoint of knowing absolutely everything ahead of time. With this format everything will be in synch. The Who's Who entries will reflect the index entries, which I think will work out just fine.

The second reason is that I want the content of this site (the indexes and so on) to be written by me. I know I'm working with material created by those with much more talent than I have, but at least with the "original" Who's Who entries I'll feel like more than a mere typist. Maybe down the road I'll type up the DC stuff just for the sake of being thorough, but for now it's all me, baby.

So look for those in the coming weeks. Once I get them up you'll be able to get to them either by looking at the control panel to the right or by clicking on the character's name in the index entries.

That's it for this week. See you on Wednesday with the Golden Age Related Books Comic Week 02-14-07 update.

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.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Golden-Age Related Books for Comic Week 02-07-2007

I'm announcing a new feature here at The Perisphere. Every Wednesday I will post a list of the Golden Age related books and trades that DC is putting out on that particular week. It seems like it would be kind of fun and give me something to add to this blog/site.

So what constitutes a Golden-Age character? Well, if a character or a version of that character was published in the Golden Age then it gets a mention whether it's the character or team itself or it's a legacy character. The tie may be tenuous, but hey it's my blog so I get to dictate the terms.

I'm a benevolent dictator though, so I'll keep a free press and give out easy cheese and chicken in a biscuit on a weekly basis to every man, woman and child because there is nothing quite as good on this Earth as easy cheese and chicken in a biscuit.

I may throw in some commentary as the mood strikes me as well.

Warning; the books listed here are most likely coming out. They've been announced and posted to various sources, including DC's own site. There is a chance, however, that a book listed here will not be at the comic shop when you get there because it didn't ship, so keep that in mind.

If the book sold out before you got there, well there isn't a whole heck of a lot I can do about that.

And here we go:

Pretty decent week from the look of it. I'm particularly looking for to Action Comics Annual #10, Justice Society Vol. 2, Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil #1 and Superman Chronicles Volume 2. I like the fact that DC is bringing back their annuals and having them have stories that matter instead of having it be part of some ill conceived crossover or poorly thought out theme. Sure the Elseworlds summer produced some neat stories as did Year One but I don't think that made up for Bloodlines or Legends of the Dead Earth.

I kind of dug JLApe. But maybe that's just me.

As much as I am enjoying Trials of Shazam I have to say that Jeff Smith's Captain Marvel story looks pretty neat. Some of the first comics I read were Superman and Batman stories from the Golden-Age, so the second volume of the Superman Chronicles is also a lock.

And I have to personally thank whoever green lit the Justice Society trades. Not only were they great stories (and this volume reprints the issues from when the series was really getting good) but now I don't have to dig into my back issues.

Plus the cover is really freaking sweet.


Monday, February 5, 2007

Update 02-05-2007: Things Slowly Go Back to Normal

So the wife is doing better and things are, as the title to this post suggests, slowly going back to normal. I had started the index to issue two before the accident and finally got around to finishing that and then cleaning it up. So that issue is up and if all goes well I'm back on a schedule.

There have been a few changes to the blog. I've altered the look a bit and that is still a work in progress. Also I added a house ad that DC ran mentioning the All-Star Squadron to the index for Issue 0 since the ad appeared in that issue of Justice League of America. Yeah it's thin but I'm trying to be complete about this. Also I added a new feature to the notes section showcasing the Hostess ads that DC ran for years back in the day. Why? Because I thought it would be amusing, that's why.

So hopefully this is the start of regular, weekly updates.

Unless something else happens.

All Star Squadron #2

Cover Date: October 1981
Cover Price: $0.50
Release Date: July 23, 1981

Story Title: “The Tyrant Out of Time!” -26 Pages

Cover: Joe Kubert

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

Heroes: Atom I, Doctor Mid-Nite I, Hawkman I, Johnny Quick I, Liberty Belle I, Phantom Lady I, Plastic Man (Earth-2), Robotman I, Shining Knight I

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

Supporting Characters: Danette Reilly, Dr. Everson, Dr. Zee, Senator Henry Knight, Unnamed Reporters, Unnamed Gangsters

Memorable Quote: “That means—before long, they may seek me out! Well, if they do, they’ll have no help from the Justice Society—BECAUSE THEY’LL ALL BE DEAD!”- Per Degaton


The new All-Star Squadron rush out of the White House headed for their first mission stopping only to talk to a few members of the press camped outside and to capture a gang of thugs that knocked over an armored car. Soon afterward the group is riding in an unarmed bomber with Hawkman in the pilot’s seat. With time on their hands the heroes reveal their secret identities and origins to each other. Their stories and concern over the fates of missing members of the Justice Society is interrupted by air chatter describing enemy aircraft approaching San Francisco.

Meanwhile Degaton’s craft surfaces and takes in some fresh air before returning to his prisoners, the Shining Knight and Danette Reilly. Sir Justin demands to know why Degaton is attacking the coast. Degaton decides to tell his tale, though he warns that even with his own time travel experiences Sir Justin may have trouble believing him. He relates to his captives a tale of the Justice Society and their battle with Axis spies who were attempting to abduct a gathering of America’s most brilliant scientists who were developing a bomb defense formula. Such a formula existed in the future and since the scientists were too frail the JSA travel to the future to secure it for them. Despite a successful first test of the formula Degaton, who had been acting as an assistant to one of the scientists, sabotaged the effort in a jealous rage and after a second failure the formula was discarded.

Degaton had stayed on as an assistant to Professor Zee and in 1947 the scientist continued with his experiments in time travel. Degaton shot Zee and attempted to use the device to conquer the world but was defeated by the Justice Society. Fortunately everyone, including Degaton, forgot about the incident after the timeline had been corrected. After a time Degaton realized that the bizarre dreams about conquering the world he had been having were real. This time Degaton killed Zee and used his machine to travel further into the future where he realized that with all of the technological advances a man would be a fool to try and take over the world after the end of World War Two. Degaton came up with a number of scenarios, but each time he saw the flaws they had and decided against them. Finally the time storm that had clouded the era between September 1939 and December 6, 1941 passed and Degaton realized that he could change history by tricking the Americans into concentrating on Japan instead of Germany and leaving the Americans and the Japanese fighting in one stalemate and Russia and England fighting Germany and Italy fighting another. To keep the Justice Society busy Degaton gathered some of the JSA’s future enemies to defeat them. After Degaton finishes his story Danette accidentally brushes up against Sir Justin’s sword, which frees her from Wotan’s mystical shackles. She quickly does the same to Sir Justin who reclaims his sword just in time to take on Solomon Grundy.

Meanwhile Sky Pirate leads the squadron of hypnotized Japanese pilots in an attack on San Francisco. On the ground Sandra Knight changes into her identity of Phantom Lady while Hawkman, Robotman and Johnny Quick take care of the pilots in the air. From the Sub-Sea Carrier Degaton watches Hawkman defeat his pilots and is incensed at the interference. Realizing they will soon seek him out Degaton realizes that he has to enact desperate measures and presses the button marked Volcanic Isle Detonator.


- At the beginning of this issue the reporters posted outside of the White House break into the Star Spangled Banner after the All-Star Squadron leaves. This was based on fact.

- The aircraft the All-Stars are flying in was a B-29 bomber. As a reader named Andy Glaess pointed out in a letter printed in All-Star Squadron #6 that particular aircraft didn’t go into service until 1944. Roy Thomas responded that the mistake was noticed but there wasn’t time to fix the error.

- The All-Stars revealed their origins to each other during the plane ride to San Francisco, though none of them had flowers in their hair. This was a rather neat little storytelling device and Roy Thomas’ ability to write the back of the trading card versions of who these characters were and how they came to be was rather impressive, as was Buckler and Ordway’s art on these pages.

- Liberty Belle didn’t wear a mask in her Golden-Age appearances. She let her Veronica Lake hair style hide her face.

- Sandman I, Starman I, Dr. Fate I, Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt and the Spectre I all appear in flashbacks in this issue, much like they did in the last one. Ten will get you one that when we see them next issue they’ll be glowing and unconscious. Then again I’ve read that issue, so I guess I’m cheating.

- The Hostess Ad this month related the amazing adventure of Batman versus the Crime Director. I wonder why this guy didn’t make it as one of the major bad guys in Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Maybe it was the fact that he was brought down with the assistance of Hostess Cup Cakes.

- One of the rules I have developed for this site (and by developed I mean I made it up right now) is that I will not, under any circumstances make fun of any plot elements from the Golden Age that Roy Thomas brings into the stories either through the actual plot or flashbacks. The stories are what they are, it was a different age and it is unfair to judge those stories from a modern standpoint. This is why you won’t read any pithy comments regarding the concept of a bomb defense formula.

- This issue had two text page pieces, the first of which was a one page Fact File on Per Degaton. His height is given as 5’4” despite the fact that he appeared taller in issue one. In All-Star Comics #35 (June-July 1947)) Degaton was clearly modeled in part on Napoleon. Here’s the page:

- The second text page had this piece by Roy Thomas.

The Secret Wartime History of the Justice Society of America

Welcome to the Orientation Lecture, courtesy of editor Len Wein, artists Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway, and myself—Roy Thomas, writer/creator of the series.

In issue #1, we promised that this time around, we’d tell you Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The World War Two History Of The Justice Society But Were Afraid To Ask. We’re here to fulfill that promise. And if we leave out anything else you want to know, be sure to let us know, okay?

The Justice Society came into existence on Earth-Two (an earth which is virtually a duplicate of our own and of the Earth-One inhabited by the Justice League of America – occupying the same space but vibrating at a different speed and thus occupying a different dimension) in 1940, as a result of events told in an important DC comics of a few years back, THE UNTOLD ORIGIN OF THE JUSTICE SOCIETY.

Its original membership roster included Hawkman, the Atom, Hourman, Sandman, the Spectre, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and the Flash—with Superman and Batman as honorary members. Soon afterward, Green Lantern and the Flash likewise became honorary members, being replaced by Johnny Thunder and Dr. Mid-Nite, while the Starman replaced Hourman, who took a still-unexplained “leave of absence.”

The JSA was founded partly through the efforts of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the U.S. from 1933 to his death in 1945. Soon afterward, it coordinated early anti-spy activities with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. The JSA fought sabotage in the days of 1940 and 1941, before war was officially declared between America and the Axis powers (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and military-dominated Japan.)

At one time or another, the Justice Society raised million of dollars to help war orphans (ALL-STAR COMICS #7, 1941), battled Axis influence in Latin America (ALL-STAR #9), and protected America’s foremost scientists from capture or assassination (ALL-STAR #10, as recounted last issue). These events, like all events in comics, happened months before they were chronicled and published in the pages of 1940-1941 comic-books in our world.

Then, on the morning of December 7, 1941, Japan’s military rulers attacked U.S. air and naval installations at their bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On Monday, Dec, 8, President Roosevelt asked for and got a Congressional declaration of war to avenge the “day of infamy.”

A couple of days later, Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy likewise declared war on the U.S., and the war which had already been raging between the Axis powers and the nations of the British Empire and the Soviet Union became World War Two.

As recounted in the first issue of ALL-STAR COMICS (#11) which was written after Pearl Harbor, the Justice Society disbanded shortly afterward. Every one of its nine regular members (except the Spectre, who was, after all, a ghost) enlisted in one branch or another of America’s armed services intending to serve their country as common soldiers, airmen and sailors. There were no thoughts of personal glory, only of preserving western democracy against the fascist threat.

Alas for their intentions, as revealed in ALL-STAR #11, published in early 1942, it was simply impossible for such heroes as the JSA to remain incognito in uniform, as opposed to costumes. One after another of them abandoned the khaki to assist America’s burgeoning but desperate armed forces. The events of ALL-STAR #11 spanned a period which, at a conservative estimate, covered the first several weeks after December 7, 1941—but by the end of the issue, America’s military leaders had seen the folly of allowing the JSA to fight individually against the enemy hordes.

Accordingly, the JSA members were gathered and asked to form a new and special group, which was to be called “The Justice Battalion,” for the duration of the war. It was to operate under direct orders from the War Department, as the Defense Department of the day was called.

The JSAers, being patriots first and heroes second, agreed—and their military careers, as such, were largely ended. Though they battled the Axis forces abroad from time to time, even storming Hitler’s “Fortress Europa” more than once, they did most of their fighting from that day forward on the American Home Front, against both Axis spies and the greed-crazed criminals who tried to benefit from the carnage of war. The last reference to the Justice Battalion as such appeared in ALL-STAR COMICS #16, published at the beginning of 1943.

The comic-book, ALL-STAR SQUADRON, was created to tell the story which the wartime ALL-STAR COMICS did not, could not tell.

These first few issues, for instance, relate events which occurred between those related in ALL-STAR #10, in which the JSA went into the far-flung future to bring back a Bomb Defense Formula, as related this issues—and the happenings related from ALL-STAR #11 forward, when the JSA temporarily disbanded and its members spent weeks if not months in the Army, the Navy, and the Army Air Corps (which was not yet a separate branch of the service in those long-ago days).

Nothing in this or future issues of ALL-STAR SQUADRON is meant to negate major events chronicled in the DC comics of the 1940’s or since. If minor inconsistencies pop up occasionally—and they inevitably will—the pop-art historians of the future may rest assured that they’ll be dealt with, sooner or later. Al things come to him who waits, and judges not.

What really matter to us, though, is the sheet enjoyment and excitement with which we hope to relate these adventures of a special group—the ALL-STAR SQUADRON—whose very existence has gone unheralded until today. “Now it can be told,” as the spy memoirs used to say.

Nothing could be more likely, given his temperament, than that President FDR would have attempted to marshal the potential power of all of America’s super-heroes by asking them all to join one greater group, responsible only to himself.

Thus, during this trilogy of stories which is complete next issue (and whose “prologue” appeared as a special insert in JUSTICE LEAGUE #193) we witness the birth of a super-group which is not the Justice Society, but which includes it…as well as the famous Seven Soldiers of Victory (the Shining Knight and company) and a host of heroes and heroines who never belonged to any other formal group.

And so, the ALL-STAR SQUADRON is born—forged in the fires of the Second World War!

One last batch of footnotes to fantasy, as promised on page 7 of this issue—a list of the FIRST APPEARENCES of the costumed stalwarts who appear in this trilogy-plus prologue, along with a listing of their SEPARATE ORIGINS, if any—and we thank JSA-ultra-fan Jerry Bails for help in this area:

Hawkman, the Flash, Johnny Thunder: FLASH COMICS #1, published for Jan. 1940.

Dr. Mid-Nite: ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #25, April 1941.

Robotman: STAR-SPANGLED COMICS #7, for April 1942 (but recounting events which happened earlier, of course).

Liberty Belle: BOY COMMANDOS #1, for Winter 1943.

Atom: ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #19, Oct. 1940.

Johnny Quick: MORE FUN COMICS #71, Sept. 1941.

Plastic Man, Phantom Lady: POLICE COMICS #1, August 1941 (no origin for the lady, alas).

The Shining Knight: ADVENTURE COMICS #66, Sept. 1941.

Superman: ACTION COMICS #1, June 1938.

Batman and Robin: DETECTIVE COMICS #27, May 1939, and DETECTIVE #38, April 1940, respectively.

Wonder Woman: ALL-STAR COMICS #8, Dec. 1941.

Green Lantern: ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #16, July 1940.

Starman: ADVENTURE #61 (no origin).

Sandman: ADVENTURE #40 (no origin).

The Spectre: MORE FUN COMICS #52, Feb. 1940.

Dr. Fate: MORE FUN #55, May, 1940, with origin in #67.

Wildcat: SENSATION COMICS #1 for Jan. 1942.

-The back cover of this month’s issue featured an ad for Tyco’s Magnum 440, a racing car that could reach speeds of 800 scale miles per hour and had a number of other features that made this the racing car to have in 1981.