Wednesday, December 20, 2006

All-Star Squadron #0

Cover Date: August 1981
Cover Price: $0.50
Release Date: May 7, 1981

Story Title: “Special All-Star Squadron Preview”, 14 pages

"Cover": Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano

Writer: Roy Thomas
Penicller: Rich Buckler
Inker: Jerimiah 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 Thunder and Thunderbolt, Plastic Man (Earth-2, in shadow), Robin (Earth-2), Robotman I, Sandman I, Spectre I, Starman I, Superman (Earth-2), Wildcat I, Wonder Woman (Earth-2)

Villains: Monster, Professor Zodiak, Sky Pirate, Solomon Grundy, Wotan

Supporting Characters: Danette Reilly, Firebrand I (as Ensign Rod Reilly), Harry Hopkins, Johnny Quick (as Johnny Chambers), Liberty Belle (as Libby Lawrence), President Franklin Roosevelt, Tubby Watts, Winged Victory

Memorable Quote: "I’d hoped to have the powerful Justice Society with their formidable powers, standing by—forming some sort of All-Star Squadron to help out in the present emergency, but—" –President Franklin Delano Roosevelt


December 6, 1941. The time is just past ten o’clock at night and a shadowy figure tells Harry Hopkins that the time has come. Harry asks the man if he is certain and is informed that it may be past time. He sends out the call to the Justice Society of America but that call goes unanswered.

Meanwhile three time zones away in southern California newsreel photographer Johnny Chambers and his assistant Tubby Watts film Green Lantern, the Flash and Wonder Woman running in the Race of the Century, a charitable event for the March of Dimes. Wonder Woman wins and receives a trophy from Wildcat, who is standing in for Heavyweight Champ Ted Grant. When the audience becomes a little rowdy Lantern, the Flash and Wonder Woman leave and meet at Los Angeles’ Echo Park for a late night picnic. Their meal is interrupted by Solomon Grundy who claims to know the heroes despite the fact that they have never seen him before. Even with their combined power Grundy defeats the heroes prepares to kill Green Lantern. A voice tells him not to or he will pay the penalty and Grundy reluctantly agrees.

Back at the White House the man in shadow continues his quest to contact the Justice Society. Harry suggests that they may want to get in touch the new group of heroes known as the Law’s Legionnaires. His suggestion is shot down and the quest for the JSA continues.

A half hour later in New York City Wesley Dodds, Ted Knight and Johnny Thunder watch world famous Libby Lawrence on Wes’ new television. Wes wonders if he should zip over to Justice Society headquarters to see if any urgent calls have come in before spotting a pirate ship flying outside his window. Wes and Ted quickly change into their identities of the Sandman and Starman while Johnny summons his magical Thunderbolt to investigate. Once on the ship the heroes are attacked by the crew. The fight goes in the heroes’ favor until the ship’s captain, Sky Pirate, arrives and puts them to sleep with his ancient looking gas gun.

Fifteen minutes later Dr. Fate sees that his old enemy Wotan is flying towards his Tower in Salem, Massachusetts. Despite being less powerful than he was before Fate flies towards Wotan only to collide with his Justice Society teammate the Spectre. Wotan soon appears and gloats that he had tricked the heroes into seeing their most hated enemies thus knocking each other unconscious.

On a volcanic island off near Hawaii Ensign Rod Reilly tries to persuade his sister Danette to leave with him before the volcano erupts. Danette refuses but thanks her brother for talking his naval buddies into dropping him off for the visit.

At the same time in Gotham City at the opening of a new USO club Superman, Batman and Robin are attacked by the garishly dressed Professor Zodiak. Batman and Robin rush to face him but Zodiak tosses a few drops of a liquid at then which seemingly turn the Dynamic Duo into infants. When Superman flies at the villain Zodiak produces his Philosophers Stone. The Stone weakens Superman allowing Zodiak to capture the heroes with ease.

In Washington the Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite and Hawkman visit the Lincoln Memorial. The Atom suggests that they might want to get back to their hotel room when Dr. Mid-Nite pushes him out of the way from the beams of a death ray. The heroes turn to find the Monster firing at them. The Monster charges at them and despite defeating Hawkman and Dr. Mid-Nite the Atom manages to get the drop on him. The Atom demands to know why he attacked them and as the Monster transforms into a frail old man he says the word Degaton. The Justice Society members are shocked to see the old man disappear in a flash of light.

A short distance away a strange figure in a trench coat watches the battle and listens intently to what the heroes are discussing before turning around to walk away, his feet making a strange metallic sound on the concrete.

The clock strikes midnight and in the White House the shadowy figure, revealed to be President Roosevelt, announces that time has run out. Harry asks him if he is certain that the JSA was so desperately needed. Roosevelt reminds Harry that he has read the decoded message that they’ve learned the Japanese will deliver to the Secretary of State tomorrow. The message was complete enough for Roosevelt to know that this means war.


-This story was a sixteen page (counting the “cover”, fourteen pages of story and an ad for the first issue) preview that took place in Justice League of America (vol. 1) #193. DC ran a good number of these inserts to promote new series or new directions for existing books. Some of these inserts featured the New Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, Night Force, Blue Devil and Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew.

-Behind the cover of Justice League of America (vol. 1) #193 was a house ad that promoted the then upcoming All-Star Squadron

-Instead of Starman the Shining Knight appears on the “cover” of this preview issue. The Knight was never a member of the Justice Society.

- Roy Thomas, Len Wein and letterer Gaspar Saladino worked together to create the logo of the “All-Star Squadron”. Their model was the logo appearing in All-Star Comics #43-57. Apparently Roy made certain a hyphen was inserted in “All-Star,” though apparently other writers and editors have left it out on occasion. The only change to the logo came in issue four where the “S” in “Squadron" went from looking like a backward Z to a more curved S.

(Original Logo)

(Final Logo)

(Original All-Star Comics logo circa issues 43-57)

-The March of Dimes race between Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Flash was inspired by the wraparound cover for Comic Cavalcade #1 (December 1942-January 1943).

-Solomon Grundy first faced off against the Alan Scott Green Lantern in All-American Comics #61 (October 1944) in the story “Fighters Never Quit”.

-Wotan first fought Dr. Fate in More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940). That was also Dr. Fate’s first appearance in “The Menace of Wotan”.

-Sky Pirate’s final Golden-Age battle with Green Lantern took place in Comic Cavalcade #25 (February-March 1948) in the story “The Roof of the World”.

-The USO gig that Superman, Batman and Robin attended was inspired by the cover of World’s Finest Comics #6 (Summer 1942).

-Professor Zodiak (also known as the Alchemist) made his first appearance in All-Star Comics #42 (August-September 1948) in the story “The Man Who Hated Science!”

-The Monster made his first appearance in All-Star Comics #20 (Spring 1944) in the story “The Movie That Changed a Man’s Life”.

-In one panel Rick Buckler apparently drew Robotman looking at the famous statue of the US flag-raising on Iwo Jima. This is a bit of an anachronism since the statue was based on the photo which wouldn’t be taken until 1945. Roy Thomas had Ordway alter it to the Washington Monument.

-Roy made his own gaff in that panel by having Robotman brace against the chill of the late-autumn wind, which wouldn’t have bothered him since he was, you know, a robot.

-The super-heroes in this story were drawn and colored to match the look of the characters from their appearances circa 1941-42. The exceptions to this were Hawkman wearing his 1946-era helmet (a personal quirk of Roy Thomas’), the red instead of orange lapels on the Atom (Len Wein insisted on this), Dr. Mid-Nite’s copper-colored gloves and boots and the Shining Knight’s chest-insignia.

-Danette Reilly shared a first name with the birth name of Roy Thomas’ wife Dann Thomas, who was also a red-head.

-The Hostess Ad from this issue features Green Arrow saving a bunch of kids from a damaged tram. Apparently Hostess Fruit Pies will distract the children enough to make them forget that they almost fell to their horrible, agonizing deaths.

-The Harry speaking to President Roosevelt is Harry Hopkins who was one of Roosevelt’s closet advisors. In addition to being one of the architects of the New Deal and directing the Works Progress Administration he was also one of the President’s chief diplomatic trouble shooters during World War II and was a key policy maker for the Lend Lease program that sent aid to the allies.

-For those of you who may not know Heavyweight Champ Ted Grant couldn’t attend the Race of the Century because he was already there in his guise as Wildcat.

-The Law’s Legionnaires were also known as the original Seven Soldiers of Victory.

-This story takes place before Wonder Woman was made part of the Justice Society in All-Star Comics #13 (October-November 1942) after the events “Shanghaied Into Space!” In that book they invite Wonder Woman to be their secretary.

-Prof. Zodiak uses Kryptonite against Superman to capture the Man of Steel. This pre-dates Superman’s first comic book exposure to the element which took place in Superman #61 (November-December 1949). The story was called “Superman Returns to Krypton!” where the rock was originally colored red.

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