All-Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940):

1)I expect that if you've only read one Golden Age adventure of the JSA, this is the one.  It's not bad, but this first issue is more like an anthology than a team book, per se.

 

2)Line-Up: The Atom (Al Pratt), Doctor Fate (Kent Nelson), the Flash (Jay Garrick), the Green Lantern (Alan Scott), the Hawkman (Carter Hall), the  Hour Man (Rex Tyler), the Sandman (Wesley Dodds) and the Spectre (Jim Corrigan), with gate-crasher Johnny Thunder and the Red Tornado (Ma Hunkle), to whom Hourman says "Why, we meant to inviite you but we heard you were busy!" All white guys, of cours,e but only to be expected in those less progressive days. Nowadays, things are much different, since when the Justice League was recently revamped, the founding members were just mostly white guys. That aside, I have no real beef with the membership except the inclusion of Johnny Thunder, a character I've always loathed. If they had to have a "comedy" character on the team, I would've much preferred the Red Tornado.

 

3)The JSA gathers for a dinner. Johnny Thunder crashes the party and offers the suggestion that they each narrate an adventure to pass the time. During the dinner, the Flash is summoned to Washington, DC, to meet with Madam Fatal the head of the FBI.

 

4)No origin is given for the team - they all just sort of seem to know each other, already. Johnny Thunder is aware of the meeting, but the Sandman later says that the meeting is a secret. Although knocking out everyone in the lobby actually seems like it be more likely to draw attention than discourage it.

 

5)Doctor Fate: ""The Spectre and I do not touch food." Just as well, Doc, I wouldn't want to see you try to eat with that helmet on.

 

6)Superman, Batman and Robin and the Tornado are described as being "busy".  I find I don't miss Supes and Bats from the team.

 

7)The art is generally OK - nothing exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.

 

8)The Flash tells how he battled some pirates. A light-hearted story, particularly his encounter with a shark. Comics are far too serious these days to have a scene like that in it.

 

9)Hawkman tells of his battle with some fire people. Moldoff draws his wings REALLY HUGE.

 

10)The Spectre tells of his battle with Oom the Mighty, the goofiest demon ever.

 

11)Hourman tells of his battle with jewel thieves who all dress as Hourman.  Amusing because in the end, everyone thinks Rex Tyler was posing as Hourman when he actually was Hourman!

 

12)We have a brief interval where the Red Tornado drops by long enough for it to be revealed that she tore her pants. The Flash is aware of her as a comics character.

 

13)The Sandman tells of his battle of a mad doctor who creates giants in a particularly creepy tale.  I notice alot of these guys, their girlfirends know their secret ID's, with out it being the end of the world.

 

14)Doctor Fate introduces himself thusly:  " I am not human...I never was a child...I had no youth. The elder gods created me just as I am now, and placed me here on Earth to fight evil sorcery!"  I'm pretty sure this is the only place I remember the character's provenance being set out in this manner. anyhow, Fate tells of his battle with an evil sorceror.  Probably the most distinctive art style on this one.

 

15)Johnny Thunder, having suggested story-telling, says he's too shy to do it, "So the editors have written a story about something that happened to me."  So, he knows he's a comic book character, too. Anyhow, his adventure is a text pice about some silly damn thing he did.

 

16)The Atom battles a gang of gold thieves.  Whenever I see the Golden Age Atom's original costume I wonder why the crooks don't all just laugh themselves to death.

 

17)Green Lantern tells of his battle with some racketeers.

 

18)Cliffhanger: The Flash returns with the message that the head of the FBI wants to meet with them all!

 

Overall: This first issue holds up pretty well, all things considered. I still find it a fun read.

 

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But Clark, the whole purpose of DC and Marvel's royalty program was to encourage writers and artists to create new characters. Unfortunately financial compensation means little without creative control. Which was why the cast of Infinity Inc got decimated. Nor does it guarantee payment. While DC may push new versions of Doctor Mid-Nite and Mister Terrific, it hardly has any fiscal motivation to bring back Nuklon or Northwind. 

Exactly. The royalty program was meant to encourage writers to create new characters, but it didn't give them ownership, and thus wasn't enough of an incentive for everybody to flood the pages with new characters.

Oh it's encouraging to see that I'm not totally daft and some people had similar points of view. I seem to recall reading an intrerview with McFarlane where he explained that he was still trying to learn by doing on INFINITY, but he didn't yet have all the skills or experience, but the problem for a comic book artist at that time is that you had to make a splash and use some gimmicks to get attention.

I don't know if I read this in a local paper or not. Because he was featured a few times in our local paper.  I believe he had moved out here to the coast and was living somewhere like Abbotsford. I remember him coming by the local shops and being friendly with staff and customers and doing artwork for the stores.

It was a problem for artists in the '80s--because they didn't have time to learn and grow. They had to hit and gain a following or end up jobless. In the '30s and '40s, artists coming into comics had time to learn and work at their craft and get good. Look at the long learning curve for someone like Irv Novick. 

'80s artists didn't have the luxury of time. I think that's what ruined many of them. There are some artists I remember--not very many but a few, who did amazing work with their first job--but then you would be looking for them to do the same stuff in their next job and they couldn't do it. They hadn't learned how to produce a consistent quality of work on schedule.

The shared creator ownership thing at DC was strange. There was a period there where writers and artists were producing new concepts--and it seemed to be something that would benefit everyone. Yet DC was unwilling to use those concepts going forward. So I think creators realized they weren't going to get anything out of it and they stopped giving DC their best ideas.

Even now you don't see a whole lot from the late '80s and early '90s being collected in TPBs. And I think that has something to do with the royalty agreements they had.


Philip Portelli said:

In that vein, I have to add that I liked Todd McFarlane's Infinity Inc. Was it great? Of course not but it was different than anything DC was doing at the time, even with Tony DeZuniga's inks overwhelming it. The Helix storyarc was great and DC had high hopes for him as he started both "Batman: Year Two" and Invasion!, though he soon left.

His work did improve at Marvel but his solo Spider-Man book? Five part stories that could have been done in two or even one! That's why I never bought Image! Artists drawing endless pages and not actually telling a coherent story!

And Roy Thomas has said numerous times that the reason why he kept using old names instead of creating new ones was the royalty rights. So he creates Infinity Inc under DC's new royalty plan and as soon as DC cancels it, they systematically eliminated every one of them or made them unusable.

All-Star Comics #1 (Early May 1999): "Time's Keeper"

1)Line-Up: The Atom, Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, the Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman, Johnny Thunder, Mister Terrific, the Sandman, Sandy, the Spectre, Starman, Wildcat, Wonder Woman (Hippolyta).

 

2)Guest Heroes: Doctor Occult, Merlin, Sargon the Sorcerer, Tor, Zatara the Magician.

 

3)So our viewpoint character in this story is Hourman. We see a young Rex Tyler being given an hourglass by a mysterious stranger, so we know that it will somehow turn out to be important later on.  Many years later we see him tracking down a group of Nazi cultists who attempt to call up a Lovecraftian horror.  Hourman calls in abunch of his magical buddies (Funny how DC had three backwards-talking magicians!), but it all goes wrong. Instead of Cthulhu, they call up The Stalker, who sounds like he should be pestering people's girlfriends but instead is an ancient warrior who's decided to eliminate war by killing everyone, reasoning that without people there can be no war.  Hourman summons the rest of the JSA, who confront Stalker, and hurt him bad enough that he runs away and sends some zombie stooges out  to wreak havoc while he has a sandwich or a nap or something.   Following the traditional JSA pattern, they break up into smaller groups to go after them...

 

Overall:  Not too bad, so far, a typical JSA runaround.  I've always thought that Robinson was an OK writer, though not nearly as good as some folks make him out to be. The art is not bad, either.

The Baron said:

they call up The Stalker, who sounds like he should be pestering people's girlfriends but instead is an ancient warrior who's decided to eliminate war by killing everyone, reasoning that without people there can be no war.

This isn't the first appearance of Stalker, though you wouldn't know it from this issue.  He starred as the hero of his own magazine, which ran to four issues in 1975 and 1976.  It was a sword-and-sorcery series, written by Paul Levitz and beautifully (of course!) illustrated by Steve Ditko and Wally Wood.

In the original magazine, Stalker was a slave who sold his soul to Dgrth, the demon lord of war, in return for the skills of an unbeatable warrior.  He intended to use these skills to get revenge on those who had betrayed and enslaved him, but was tricked.  Dgrth took his soul immediately, leaving him unable to gain satisfaction in his revenge.

At the point where the magazine was cancelled, Stalker had discovered that the only way to regain his soul was to destroy Dgrth.  Because the demon was lord of war, he would only die when no-one believed in him - in war - any more. The book ended with Stalker vowing "I shall do the impossible and banish evil from this world -- my soul shall yet be mine!"

It looks as though his project took a bit longer than he'd hoped.  Just possibly he took a wrong turning on the way!



Peter Wrexham said:

The Baron said:

they call up The Stalker, who sounds like he should be pestering people's girlfriends but instead is an ancient warrior who's decided to eliminate war by killing everyone, reasoning that without people there can be no war.

This isn't the first appearance of Stalker, though you wouldn't know it from this issue.  He starred as the hero of his own magazine, which ran to four issues in 1975 and 1976.  It was a sword-and-sorcery series, written by Paul Levitz and beautifully (of course!) illustrated by Steve Ditko and Wally Wood.

In the original magazine, Stalker was a slave who sold his soul to Dgrth, the demon lord of war, in return for the skills of an unbeatable warrior.  He intended to use these skills to get revenge on those who had betrayed and enslaved him, but was tricked.  Dgrth took his soul immediately, leaving him unable to gain satisfaction in his revenge.

At the point where the magazine was cancelled, Stalker had discovered that the only way to regain his soul was to destroy Dgrth.  Because the demon was lord of war, he would only die when no-one believed in him - in war - any more. The book ended with Stalker vowing "I shall do the impossible and banish evil from this world -- my soul shall yet be mine!"

It looks as though his project took a bit longer than he'd hoped.  Just possibly he took a wrong turning on the way!

 

Interesting, I had not known that. That adds a whole new dimension to the story.

The Baron said:

Funny how DC had three backwards-talking magicians!

Merlin and Tor were Quality characters. The backwards spells were a trademark of Fred Guardineer's, who created Zatara and Tor and also drew instalments of Merlin's series.

Adventure Comics #1 (May 1999): "Stars and Atoms"

1)Line-Up: The Atom, Starman.

 

2)This episode is set in Los Alamos. Starman knows Oppenheimer, who knows that Knight is Starman. Not too surprising, since Knight doesn't wear much of a mask.  Stalker's disciple here is nuclear-powered. 

 

3)The Atom spends most of this moping about feeling useless next to Starman, but ends up saving the day. He also survives an atomic blast, although his costume is destroyed, setting up his change of outfits.

 

4)We end with Doctor Occult summoning our heroes back to HQ.

 

Overall: An OK story, with some predictable "Are we doing the right thing in making this bomb?" stuff in it.

All-American Comics #1 (May 1999): "Cold Heart"

1)Line-Up: The Green Lantern, Johnny Thunder.

 

2)This one is written from the POV of a soldier writing home, an interesting device.

 

3)This one is set at the Big Three summit at Yalta.  Stalker's disciple is ice-based, because it's Russia, and Russia is famously cold, see? 

 

4)Johnny Thunder spends most of this moping about feeling useless next to the Green Lantern, but ends up saving the day.  "I'm detecting a pattern, Captain."

 

5)I'm not sure why Johnny doesn't have the Thunderbolt heal him when he's injured.

 

6)I like the Eduardo Barreto art on this.

 

Overall: Another OK episode.

 

 

The one-shots paired up two JSAers but usually let the least used of the pair in the spotlight, in this case the Golden Age Atom. However this would create a continuity blip later.

It also foreshadows Ted Knight's mental breakdown due to his guilt over the atomic bomb as seen in The Golden Age and Starman. His scientific importance is a Post-Crisis/Zero Hour improvement as Roy Thomas stated that not only did Knight not invent the Gravity Rod but that he paid people to upgrade it as the Cosmic Rod!
 
The Baron said:

Adventure Comics #1 (May 1999): "Stars and Atoms"

1)Line-Up: The Atom, Starman.

 

2)This episode is set in Los Alamos. Starman knows Oppenheimer, who knows that Knight is Starman. Not too surprising, since Knight doesn't wear much of a mask.  Stalker's disciple here is nuclear-powered. 

 

3)The Atom spends most of this moping about feeling useless next to Starman, but ends up saving the day. He also survives an atomic blast, although his costume is destroyed, setting up his change of outfits.

 

4)We end with Doctor Occult summoning our heroes back to HQ.

 

Overall: An OK story, with some predictable "Are we doing the right thing in making this bomb?" stuff in it.

This is probably one of the best, if not the best portrayal of Johnny Thunder since his Silver Age revival. Before he always seemed insulated by how the outside world saw him in a bubble of cluelessness. Yet now, he sulks, knowing that without his magic word (and the fear of letting him walk around unchecked), the JSA would have no use for him.

It may be his most rational moment of his life!
 
The Baron said:

All-American Comics #1 (May 1999): "Cold Heart"

1)Line-Up: The Green Lantern, Johnny Thunder.

 

2)This one is written from the POV of a soldier writing home, an interesting device.

 

3)This one is set at the Big Three summit at Yalta.  Stalker's disciple is ice-based, because it's Russia, and Russia is famously cold, see? 

 

4)Johnny Thunder spends most of this moping about feeling useless next to the Green Lantern, but ends up saving the day.  "I'm detecting a pattern, Captain."

 

5)I'm not sure why Johnny doesn't have the Thunderbolt heal him when he's injured.

 

6)I like the Eduardo Barreto art on this.

 

Overall: Another OK episode.

 

 

In following along and reading through these comics and this thread, it looks to me like Johnny wanted to rely on the Thunderbolt as little as possible., probably in an attempt to prove his worth without it.

Additionally, I've yet to see the Thunderbolt used for healing, at least not in the comics so far. You would think that would be a highly likely use, but in the All-Star run and afterwards, we don't see the Thunderbolt being used for this purpose. I'm surprised about this myself.

The Baron said:

5)I'm not sure why Johnny doesn't have the Thunderbolt heal him when he's injured.

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