Thursday, March 15, 2007

All-Star Squadron #7

Cover Date: March 1982
Cover Price: $0.60
Release Date: December 24, 1981

Story Title: “Carnage For Christmas”- 5 pages
“Chapter II: In Battle Joined!” - 6 pages
“Chapter III: Divided We Stand” – 8 pages
“Chapter IV: Tragedy and Triumph!” – 8 pages

Cover Artist: Joe Kubert

Writer: Roy Thomas
Penicller: Adrian Gonzalez
Inker: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Len Wein

Heroes: Atom I, Firebrand II, Hawkgirl I, Johnny Quick I, Liberty Belle I, Plastic Man (Earth-2), Robotman I, Shining Knight I

Villains: Baron Blitzkrieg, Zwerg, Members of the German-American Bund

Supporting Characters: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fala, Winged Victory, Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Memorable Quote: “This is a strange Christmas Eve; almost the whole world is locked in a deadly struggle. Let us cast aside for this night, at least the cares and dangers which beset us, and make for the children an evening of happiness in a world of storm. Let the children have their night of the fun and laughter; let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grow-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures, before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us…resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance…or denied their right to live in a free and decent world. And so, in God’s mercy…a Happy Christmas to you all!” –Prime Minister Winston Churchill


On a dark and cold December night two figures walk down the streets of Washington D.C. They bump into Private Al Pratt and though there words are exchanged between them they continue on their separate ways. The two men duck down a side street and after saluting the wall and giving a Heil Hitler Baron Blitzkrieg doffs his trench coat and complains about the soldier. He and Zwerg meet with members of the German-American Bund and they go over their plans to kill both President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill by using a robot double of the Prime Minister when Churchill visits his American ally.

Meanwhile Al Pratt changes into the Atom and meets with President Roosevelt. After reminiscing about their first meeting when the Justice Society formed the Atom briefs the President on what his fellow Justice Society members had been doing since they disbanded the team and enlisted into the military. Roosevelt asks the status of the non-JSA members, but the Atom does not know them quite as well. Melodramatically the President has the Atom wheel him into the next room and the Mighty Mite is shocked to see the very heroes the two were just discussing. The teammates catch up with one another before Roosevelt reveals the reason he called them together. A plan has been uncovered to kill the British Prime Minister who is bound for America on a British destroyer.

The next day the All-Stars patrol the surrounding area of the U.S. Naval Base at Norfolk, Virginia. Hawkgirl, Shining Knight, Winged Victory and Liberty Belle search the skies over the Atlantic while Johnny Quick and Firebrand patrol the surrounding road and Robotman and the Atom stand firm at the Naval installation itself. They spot the Duke of York, the destroyer that Churchill is traveling on and once it pulls into port there is a tremendous explosion, which Robotman suspects to be the result of a German electric torpedo. Robotman and the Atom charge into action but are mistaken as enemies and are attacked by the British sailors.

After the mistake is cleared up Robotman spies a German U-boat and with the help of Liberty Belle, the Shining Knight and the Atom he lassos the sub and begins to pull it onto the beach. Meanwhile, in the Prime Minister’s quarters Winston Churchill is shocked when confronted by Baron Blitzkrieg and his robot double.

Back on the beach Robotman succeeds in beaching the U-boat and when the Nazis come out fighting the All-Stars are there to take them on. Once the battle is over the All-Stars stick around to see the historic meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill. Liberty Belle tries to engage the Prime Minister in conversation based on their history but Churchill doesn’t respond. She realizes something is wrong and urges Johnny to do something. He is too late, however, and the Churchill robot explodes. When the dust clears the All-Stars realize that Plastic Man had been impersonating the President all along and that both men were sage.

Blitzkrieg escapes, but is chased down by Robotman. Much to Robotman’s surprise the Baron knocks him down. The rest of the All-Stars arrive and the Baron tries to fly away with Churchill. Realizing he can only escape alone he drops the Prime Minister, who is rescued by Hawkgirl. After hitting Winged Victory with a powerful eye blast Baron Blitzkrieg is able to get away clean. Soon after Roosevelt and Churchill finally meet at the Capitol Airport.

Two days later the All-Stars are present when Roosevelt lights the White House Christmas tree and listen to a stirring speech given by the Prime Minister.


-This issue kicks off with a quote from Winston Churchill. “So we had won after all! ...I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.” This was taken from Churchill’s writing and was his reaction to hearing the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

-A letter writer in issue #11 would point out some discrepancies with the photo of the Justice Society that appears on the front of the Washington World from the first page of this issue. Hourman is there though he was, by the time, no longer a member and the Sandman was wearing his gas mask and suit costume. It is very likely that the editor on the World went with a file photo which showed the charter members of the JSA minus the Spectre.

-On page three Baron Blitzkrieg and Zwerg stop before a wall that bears a poster for the MGM film Nazi Agent. The film featured Conrad Veidt who plays twins, one of which is a Nazi (Baron Huge Von Detner) and the other an American (Otto Becker) forced to help a group of German spies. Eventually Otto kills his brother, assumes his identity and exposes the spy ring.

-Not only do the members of the Justice Society, including honorary members Superman and Batman, appear in the flashback detailing the group’s origin but they also appear as the Atom, who had been training to be a Tank-Corpsman in Virginia, details how his former members were doing now that they’ve joined the armed services. Hawkman had joined the Army Air Corps on the West Coast, the Sandman was trained to use a 37mm Anti-Aircraft Cannon, Dr. Fate became a paratrooper, Dr. Mid-Nite joined the Army Medical Corps, Starman was in flight training at Fort Randolph near San Antonio, Johnny Thunder joined the Navy, the Spectre has been keeping busy at home and even Green Lantern enlisted.

-The Atom refers to Hawkman as a tyro or “dodo”. A dodo was a flyer in the Army Air Corps who had not yet soloed. The term tyro (alternatively spelled tiro) means novice or beginner and is taken from the Latin word tiro meaning a young soldier or recruit. The dodo handle is amusing when you consider all the solo flying the character had done.

-The Spectre couldn’t join a branch of the armed services because he was, well, dead.

-The Hostess Ad from this issue had Batman taking down a perp who was dressed like a giant dog in an effort to steal a group of canines from the Gotham Dog Show via a hypersonic whistle. The Dark Knight Detective distracts the would be Pied Piper (the guy from the story, not the Flash villain) with some Twinkies. In all honesty this is the weirdest Hostess Ad that has been used in this series. It’s a guy in a dog suit who believes that prize winning dogs are his key to Money Road but apparently suffers from some sort of emotional disturbance that makes him stop everything to eat Twinkies. I mean I like me some Twinkies. I really do, but I would be more likely to stop because I didn’t want Batman to use that martial arts he knows to put a serious hurt on me. Between the lame dog catcher joke and the fact that this guy looks like that weird dude from The Shining I have to say that I lost sleep because of this ad.

-This also appears to be the last Hostess Ad, at least for the next five months or so. Sad. Very sad.

-The Shining Knight and Hawkgirl discuss Liberty Belle’s swimming of the English Channel. This occurred in 1940 when the boat she was traveling on to escape the Battle of Dunkirk was shot out of the water.

-When the two leaders greet each other Roosevelt refers to Churchill as “Former Naval Person,” which was the Prime Minister’s codename in their correspondence in 1940. Churchill called Roosevelt “POTUS,” which is short for President of the United States.

-Churchill would make his Marvel Universe version of this trip in Giant Sized Invaders #1 (June 1975). That book was written by Roy Thomas. Go figure.

-All Star Comments featured a new logo and two letters this month, plus a decent sized footnote section.

Mike Christensen of Rockford Illinois gushed about the atmosphere of issue three and lent his voice to the question of where Hourman was. Roy told him to keep watching and mentioned that while the first three issues dealt directly with the war the pendulum would soon swing the other way.

Bill D. Middleton of Clovis, New Mexico complimented the writing and art but also mentioned the fact that the book meshes well with what Bill considered the newfound patriotism of the early eighties. Roy comments that DC never been ashamed of its heritage and that despite dealing with America’s lapses as well as successes this would be the direction the series would continue in. He finishes by writing that jumping on bandwagons or indulging in nostalgia was never their intention; just telling fun comic book stories.

And then there was Roy’s Fabulous Footnote:

FABULOUS FOOTNOTE DEPARTMENT: Remember how we told you in our first issue that we were going to relegate most “historical” or “nostalgic” footnotes to our letters page? Well, we haven’t been doing all that much of it so far, in the interest of printing more letters, but here are a few quickies, following this issue’s page number to which they refer:

Page 3: By coincidence, the MGM film, “Nazi Agent” with Conrad Veidt was released nationwide on Jan. 21, 1942. How’s that for timing?

Page 4: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill did indeed arrive in the U.S. on the new battleship Duke of York on December 22, 1941…and was met at Washington Airport by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that evening, after dark. We added the fog that pops up later—just as we added the Nazi U-boat and, of course, the All-Star Squadron itself. We’ve gotta have some leeway, don’t we? (And, as in out story, FDR actually served as President for over twelve years without most people ever realizing how really crippled he was. Time have changed…not in every way for the better.)

Page 6: Dala, FDR’s Scottish terrier, was the most photographed dog on earth during most of World War Two.

Page 27: Excerpts from Churchill’s speech on the While House lawn of Dec. 24, 1941, are authentic, of course.

Oh, and by the way—since those adventures didn’t occur until mid-1942 or later, this encounter with Baron Blitzkrieg is the earliest yet recorded, and precedes both those in the tabloid-sized Superman-Wonder Woman clash in ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION Vol. 7 (1978) and the baneful Baron’s two solo clashes with out amazing Amazon in the pages of WORLD’S FINEST COMICS.

-This month’s back cover features an advertisement for Monogram’s super scale plastic truck kit, molded in authentic color even.

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