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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Smash Comics #1 (May 1999): "Name Your Poison"

1)Line-Up: Doctor Mid-Nite, Hourman.

 

2)This one is set in Scotland in a germ-warfare plant, the disciple is a sort of living plague.

 

3)Much of this is taken up with Doctor Mid-Nite nagging Hourman about being a Miraclo addict, to the point where you want Tyler to smack McNider to shut him up. Also, Charles, if you're that hysterically attached to you pet owl, maybe you shouldn't bring him into dangerous situations like that.

 

4)That said, the scene of Hootie, all hopped up on Miraclo, flying straight through the heel's midsection, is one of the great absurd scenes that make up one of the major reasons I read comics in the first place.

 

Overall: OK, gains points for the "Hootie the Hour-Owl" bit.

As I recall at the time, in terms of writers on these one-shots, my order of preference went like this:

Tom Peyer

James Robinson

Mark Waid

Ron Marz

Geoff Johns

Chuck Dickson

The guys at the top of my list seemed to make better use of the concept, coming up with original plots. At least, that's what I remember--it's been a long time since I read those stories.

Star-Spangled Comics #1 (May 1999): "..A Terrifying Hour!"

1)Line-Up: The Sandman, Sandy.

 

2)Guest Heroes: The King, the Star-Spangled Kid, Stripesy.

 

3)This one is set in New York City. The disciple absorbs people's sanity, driving everyone crazy.  The King poses as the heel's father to distract him, while Stripesy and Sandy blow the baddy up.

 

4)The Sandman claims that Sandy is the one who talked him into the yellow-and-purple monstrosity, which makes sense, it looks like a kid's idea of a cool costumes.

 

5)The Sandman also muses about working on an invention which he calls a "silicoid gun", which is an amusing bit of continuity.

 

Overall:  I liked this one, it was pretty good. Despite being written by Geoff Johns, no one was decapitiated.

Thrilling Comics #1 (May 1999): "No More Tomorrows"

1)Line-Up: Hawkman, Wildcat.

 

2)Guest Heroes:  TheManhunter (Paul Kirk), the Tigress.

 

3)This one is set in Angola, the disciple has vaguely-defined "nature" powers.

 

4)The amusing bit in this is when Wildcat apologizes for doubting the Tigress, she doesn't particularly care.

 

5)The art on this is done by the legendary Russ Heath.

 

Overall: An OK story. By the last of these, I'm ready for the wrap-up.

Sensation Comics #1: It was a neat story though there was a lot of cheesecake scenes (Hippolyta needs a longer skirt!). Speed Saunders (from Flash Comics, naturally) was revealed to be Shiera Saunders' cousin here. They may have altered his name to do so. Surprised that they never got linked to Greg (the Vigilante) Sanders!

National Comics #1: It's all Mister Terrific here with the Flash always amazed by him. Terry Sloane knows that he's superior but he doesn't feel superior. He wants everything to be fair. I'm not sure if the Americommando is truly dead unless it was a way to say that The Golden Age will never really happen. Still the people at Hero Hotline can't be too happy!

Smash Comics #1: Funny that Doc was riding Rex so much. He already was retired! Great scene with Hooty whom I'm surprised has live that long!

Star Spangled Comics #1; I recall being amazed that they brought back the King, a master of disguise. I once theorized that it was he who trained the Unknown Soldier, the Human Target, Lili from the Secret Six, the various False Faces, Nemesis, Black Orchid, Catwoman and, of course, Batman.

What I took out of this was DC trying to mesh the Golden Age Sandman with Sandman Mystery Theartre.

Thrilling Comics #1 was the weakest of the bunch (though not artwise). The Tigress would soon become the Golden Age Huntress and plague Wildcat. I'm presuming that this happens after the "death" of Manhunter.

 

 

Philip Portelli said:

Speed Saunders (from Flash Comics, naturally) was revealed to be Shiera Saunders' cousin here. They may have altered his name to do so. Surprised that they never got linked to Greg (the Vigilante) Sanders!

Ah, the Roy Thomas Law of Relativity:  All characters with the same surname---no matter how common---shall be related to each other.

They didn't alter the spelling of the name. Speed Saunders was Speed Saunders and Shiera Sanders was Shiera Sanders. The Saunders side of the family spelt the name one way and the Sanders side spelt the name the other way.

Not really so uncommon.

This allowed the introduction of Kendra Saunders--Speed's granddaughter--who would become the new Hawkgirl.

It was more people than Roy doing that, Commander like having Larry (Air Wave) Jordan [Air Jordan???] being Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan's uncle and Jim (the Guardian) Harper being Roy (Speedy) Harper's uncle.

Now Roy did have:

  • Ted (Starman) Knight be cousins with Sandra (Phantom Lady) Knight
  • Liberty Belle be the descendent of Miss Liberty
  • Dick (Robin) Grayson be related to Robotman's pal, Chuck Grayson
  • The Star Spangled Kid be Brainwave Jr.'s uncle (and the Brain Wave's brother-in-law!! Yikes!)

After all, that's why they changed Two-Face's name from Harvey Kent to Harvey Dent, to prevent anyone from saying that he's Superman's cousin! ;-)
 
Commander Benson said:

Philip Portelli said:

Speed Saunders (from Flash Comics, naturally) was revealed to be Shiera Saunders' cousin here. They may have altered his name to do so. Surprised that they never got linked to Greg (the Vigilante) Sanders!

Ah, the Roy Thomas Law of Relativity:  All characters with the same surname---no matter how common---shall be related to each other.

Well, some like schematic diagrams of secret headquarters and some like large family trees.

All-Star Comics #2 (Late May 1999): "Time's Arrow"

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, the Manhunter (Paul Kirk), Rose Psychic, Sargon the Sorcerer, Speed Saunders, the Star-Spangled, Stripesy, the Tigress, Zatara the Magician.

 

3)The Atom has his new costume and super-strength.  There is one panel where he looks just like Alfred E. Neuman.

 

4)The Stalker has built himself a castle in Antarctica, and is trying to cause the sun to expand.  He uses animated dinosaur skeletons to distract the heroes.

 

5)Doctor Occult and the Thunderbolt act like it's a big reveal that the latter is a genie. That's what I'd always thought he was.  I guess it's a sort of link to the story I'll be reading next.

 

6)The resolve is that Hourman uses the hourglass that the mysterious stranger gave him to defeat the Stalker. He gets visions of his own past and future - a battle with Baron Blitzkrieg, another with Solomon Grundy, himself with his yet-to-be-born son Rick and the JSA in limbo fighting Surtur.  It turns out that the hourglass was fileld with energized tachyons, which is why it was effective against the Stalker.  We flash-forward to Rex's death battling Extant. The mysterious stranger is revelaed to be the android Hourman from the Eight Hundred Fifty Whateverth Century.  As Rex dies, he is given a vision of the new JSA to come!

 

Overall:  An OK wrap-up to the story-line, it at least makes Rex's death battling Extant a bit more palatable, as we at least know that he saw that the legacy of the JSA would not die out, and that there were better things to come.

 

NEXT: I make one of my periodic attempts to figure out what's going on in a Grant Morrison story!

Robinson works hard to ensure that all of the heroes look good here, which I appreciate, as it's so easy to dump on the likes of the Atom and Johnny Thunder.  Sadly, the Red Bee is nowhere to be seen and rehabilitated.

Actually, I was one of the people who suggested that Roy Harper & Jim Harper were related, as that seemed to be the most logical (in comic book logic) reason that the Guardian's costume turned up in the Titans' store room in Teen Titans #44.

While Liberty Belle (Libby Lawrence) & Miss Liberty (Bess Lynn) didn't have family names in common, just similar heroic identities, I still can't see how Miss Liberty could be anyone's ancestor, since I'm pretty sure Roy showed her tragic death having occurred before she'd married or had offspring.

On the other hand, when Carter (Hawkman) Hall's son, Hector Hall was reincarnated as the son of Hank (Hawk) Hall on his way to becoming the new Dr. Fate, no one suggested that either of his fathers were related to each other, despite their shared last name and similar avian alter egos.

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