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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I think it was accidental. I remember reading that the spelling wasn't consistent. It's impossible to check this myself, since I don't have all those comics and most haven't been reprinted. But it stands to reason that a letterer could have mixed up two letters. Some people don't even know how to spell Goody Rickels or Ma Hunkel.

I think this is one of those E. Nelson Bridwell things, where it was later decided that Mxyztplk was Earth-Two and Mxyzptlk was Earth-One. It's interesting, however, that when they reprinted one of those Mxyztplk stories in the '60s they changed the spelling to Mxyzptlk--so as of that time they hadn't yet decided that there was an Earth-One and -Two difference.

But Grant Morrison's ideas were not easily communicated to the rest of DC. I wonder what it's like in Grant's brain. Is he really incapable of being straight forward? For example, could he write a memo to DC at large fully laying out his concepts in proper English?

 

Why should he?  DC paid him for the concepts in his own comics.  What other creators put in theirs wasn't his business, literally, in the sense that he didn't get paid for it.

 

Also, are you sayiing that Grant's ideas were so good that all creators who came along after him should have followed his masterplan?  Grant was good at making his own ideas work and he provided many entertaining books over the years.  Other writers do their own thing.  They'd have their own ideas for what to do with Wildcat or Plastic Man, or 5th Dimensional Genies.

 

This masterplan idea isn't conducive to good comics.  Different creators find different starting points in the backstories and set-ups of these characters that they can take off in directions that play to their strengths.  I think continuity is good, so long as it doesn't get in the way of good stories, and has to be respected sometimes even if it does.  It seems a fact that past continuities change from era to era anyway.  If you have one general status quo for 5 years then that's good, but then the past is reset again to something different and, and just about 100% of creators like it that way, in terms of doing their own thing when it's their turn.  Not all of them are happy to see the changes they thought were essential to the character being rewritten, but there you go.  They aren't creating the later stories.

 

Have you read Countdown?  There was a story where everything was laid down as to how the creative universe would unfold, and the writers just had to provide product that followed the plan.  There was no room for them to bring anything personal to the characters or the story.  Wasn't very popular.

 

It seems like most of the conflicts that arose around continuity in relation to Morrison could easily have been avoided if Morrison was able to articulate his ideas to other writers and editors at DC, so everyone would be singing from the same hymn book.

 

Morrison did set a tone and helped raise the bar for what DC were doing in the late 90s. I think that was a very productive era for good comics.  This JLA/JSA crossover helped to set the stage for Robinson/Goyer/Johns' very popular JSA series that was at least a core around which the Golden Age characters were given a cherished place in the DCU of this time.

 

And in a way, Morrison did provide the other writers with a template for a lot that went on.  His vision of the superheroes was that they weren't quite real characters (look at Hal Jordan's ridiculously non-static character-swings over the years, or the amount of backstory mere 20-something Peter Parker has)  but they were brands where each had something at the core.  The way Grant brazened out that his JLA was the core DCU characters even though several of them were apprentices or neophytes in-story, was an attitude that was carried through to how the JSA was made up.  The JSA followed the logic of the JLA in this way, and had its own logic and reason for being.  It wasn't there to be the Golsden Age JSA reconstituted, it was there to allow the different generations to co-exist, and add a bit of diversity and texture to the DCU whilst allowing a reverred palce for the old white guys.  You can say you didn't like that set-up for the JSA, but it acheived exactly what the creators set out to do outstandingly well.  In-story, Captain Marvel, as basically a young fella that needed mentoring was a perfectly logical addition.

 

Writers who respect continuity should only have to worry about what is in the actual comics, not what is in Grant Morrison's copious notebooks, or Roy Thomas' or anyone else's.  Some writers ran well with the '9 lives' idea for Wildcat, (whilst the anal retentive fan types starting counting down the lives! [headslap!].)  Grant was doing something else with the '9 lives' thing too, that future writers could run with or not.  It's in keeping with his vision of how superheroes work that you have to find some core to the character that was mythic or had some basis in the mass consciousness.  Thus Batman/Pluto, Superman/Zeus or Apollo, Kyle the Young Knight etc.  With the 9 lives thing Grant was pointing to how a generic, bland interchangeable Golden Age character could be given the attributes of a popular longstanding archetype, in this case the half-human/half cat beings that populate folk stories.  Now Wildcat can have all the an old tomcat's attributes - mysteriousness, love of fighting, love of 'getting it on' with the females, etc etc.  That's an instant key to giving Ted a personality and seperating him from other bland and generic Golden Age heroes.  (Ted is probably not the most bland and generic personality-wise of the GA heroes, but the principle being applied is good.)

 

Perceptive readers, and perceptive creators who followed him, could see what he was doing here, and the creators could run with it if they wanted to.  Arguably Goyer and Johns did. However, Grant's first loyalty is to the story at hand.  He can't bring that to a grinding halt just to show what he was doing with this 60 year old character.  That way lies Roy Thomas and soul-sapping infodumps that don't really relate to the story at hand.

 

It's clear too, that Morrison did influence a particular subset of young writers at DC while he was with them.  Peyer, Waid, Millar most centrally but others too.  They followed his vision in some ways, but his vision did specifically allow for other creators to go in directions that suited them, rather than Morrison.  As Philip says above, Morrison loved to plant seeds that others could run with, or not, or that he himself could come back to 10 years later and do something with.  That isn't restrictive or prescriptive, so it gives writers freedom.  The main point is that, as a creator, Morrison knew that the best way he could leave these concepts when he was finished with them was with more story telling possibilities, not less.  Your Roy Thomas-esque Bible, that strictly lays down what each character is about, would lead to a lot of story possibilities being closed off.

 

A good continuity thrives when it's given a little room to breathe.

As to how Grant communicates his ideas, you can read the notes to the 52 collections where all the other writers comment on how fast and frantically his mind works and how you have to concentrate to stay on board with hm.  As Grant's Batman once said - "“I think fast, and I work fast.  Can you keep up?"

 

For example, could he write a memo to DC at large fully laying out his concepts in proper English?

 

Gail Simone, John Byrne, those guys who did the new Blue Beetle, and many other creators followed Grant's notes and 'story bibles' just fine around the time of One Year Later, after Infinite Crisis.  A lot of those new series were based on Grant's ideas.  This time he was paid as an ideas man, and your expectation that he would clearly tell all the creators what those characters were about and their back-stories etc is a reasonable one.

 

The company using his ideas willy nilly without his acknowledgement or agreement is one of the sore points that led to him leaving Marvel btw...

Whatever. I wrote a longer response, but I decided it's not worth it and doesn't serve the thread.

Too bad. I thought a lot of what I wrote related directly to what Morrison was doing with those 5 issues of JLA the Baron introduced to his thread, and how the writer was setting up how the characters this thread is devoted to would be used in their own ongoing series.

 

But as you say...

 

Wrapping up the threadjack, the earliest image I can find (thanks to GCD) of Superman's favorite imp in his futuristic costume is the cover of Superman #96 (Mar'55). He is still identified with the original spelling, which contradicts Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, the costume and name changes happened simultaneously. Guess it was just a typo.

Some of your points addressed:

 

(The Martian Manhunter was on one of the covers, but I'll be blessed if I see him in the story anywhere.)

 

This was just at the start of the Martian Manhunter's own series by Ostrander and Mandrake.  Written into the early issues of that was a leave of absence for J'onn as they were trying to seperate him from the JLA and establish him having his own thing seperate from the team.  Ostensibly, J'onn went on his leave of absence because of his trauma at dealing with the destruction of Monte Video, caused by Vandal Savage in DC1m.

 

Ostrander's MM was a fine addendum to the JLA family of books, and expect some commentary on it from these quarters at some stage.

 

5)Thunderbolt comes from the same place as Mister Mxyzptlk.  That's new, isn't it?

 

The perfectly explicable Batman RIP gives us a little more detail on Morrison's conception of where these beings are really coming from.  5th dimensional beings continue with Morrison's study of higher level beings (4 dimensional comicbook writers) have supreme power over lesser beings (2 dimensional comicbook characters) whilst still being bound by certain rules.  (narrative rules in the case of Animal Man.)

 

And of course Grant's recent Action run gave us all this further dramatised and spread over many issues.

 

6)Johnny Thunder has Alzheimer's.

 

It's a shame you aren't able to cover how Ostrander's Spectre dealt with the JSA characters coping with the brave new world of the 1990s.  Very sympathetic and humane treatment of old age and encroaching irrelevance.  Great flashbacks too.  The late 90s writers put good flesh on the otherwise sketchy JSA characters, I thought, and updated them well for a new generation.  They used continuity well without being slaves to it.  (Ostrander even worked how continuity had been ruptured several times into his presentation of the characters in a realistic way.)

Jimmm Kelly said:

I think it was accidental. I remember reading that the spelling wasn't consistent. It's impossible to check this myself, since I don't have all those comics and most haven't been reprinted. But it stands to reason that a letterer could have mixed up two letters. Some people don't even know how to spell Goody Rickels or Ma Hunkel.

Just to push this threadjack one---hopefully, last---post further, most likely you are correct, Mr. Kelly.

Like Mr. Willis, I opted to investigate the matter myself and got a little bit more information. As Mr. Willis said, Wikipedia got it wrong when the entry on "Mister Mxyzptlk" insisted that the change in costume and the change in his name's spelling occurred in the same story. Wikipedia got it 'way wrong.

In terms of the imp's change in outfits, there are three stories of significance.  In "Superman's Magic Show", from Action Comics # 151 (Dec., 1950), Mxy is still wearing his original purple-suit-and bowtie garb.  Then there came his next appearance, which I will set aside for the nonce.

 

His next appearance after that came in "The Fourth Dimension Gazette", from Superman # 86 (Jan., 1954).  Here, Mxy appears in his subsequent, more well-known outfit.

 

The two stories I cited I was able to reference.  What I could not reference was the Mxy story that came between these two---"The Unemployed Superman", from Superman #  82 (May-Jun., 1953).  So I don't know if Mxy wore his original attire or his later one in this story.  It's either the last appearance of the former or the first appearance of the latter.

 

However, it is definite that Mxy was in his second outfit at least as of 1954 and Superman # 86.

 

 

As to the spelling of the imp's name, it was consistently rendered as "Mxyztplk" in all of his appearances, from his debut in Superman # 30 (Sep.-Oct., 1944) to Superman # 96 (Mar., 1955).

 

Curiously---and this, albeit obliquely, supports Mr. Kelly's assumption that the change was simply a spelling error that persisted---in the imp's next appearance---"The Magic of Mr. Mxyztplk", from Action Comics # 208 (Sep., 1955)---both spellings of the name appear in the story's copy.  This suggests that the letterer was having a difficult time keeping the spelling straight.

 

In the next Mxy appearance, "The Menace of Mr. Mxyzptlk", from Superman # 131 (Aug.,1959), the name is spelt "Mxyzptlk" all the way through the story, and for that matter, for the rest of his comic-book history.

 

So there you have it.  Mxy's costume change occurred no later than early 1954, while the change in the spelling of his name was permanently altered in mid-1959.  There's no way those two developments coïncide; thus one could not have been deliberately tied with the other, as Wikipedia suggests.

 

That's the best I could do, fellows.

 

 

 

 

So who's going to amend Wikipedia?  Someone here must be able to...

10)Wildcat taught Batman how to box, and knew Eel O'Brien when he was younger.  He claims to have "cat's eyes" and to have had nine lives since 1945.  This seems like a Morrisonian thing to me. I always thought it would be funny to explain Wildcat's apparent longevity by making him a Western version of one of these "Ascended Master" types you run into in manga and martial arts movies, sort of like the Kame Sen'nin in Dragon Ball.

 

Whatever.

 

9)Who's the guy beating up Triumph?  Are we supposed to know who he is? For that matter, who's Triumph?

 

Remember there are no bad characters, except for scratchey early 90s characters.

 

12)OK, so the Quintessence is Shazam, the Phantom Stranger, a Guardian (Ganthet?), Zeus and Izaya, is that right?

 

The Quintessence were in John Byrne's appalling Genesis, but I don't know if he created the concept. (He probably did though).  Way to nullify any of your godlike characters by schmooshing them together and rubbing our noses in how they don't belong in the same story, DC.

 

Overall: An OK story.  If it didn't leave me at least a little confused, I wouldn't've believed it was really Morrison that wrote it. I wasn't really all that wild about the art.

 

I'll have to read it now myself.  As it happens, I've just reached it in my JLA readthrough.

Not to jack the thread too much more I hope. But it strikes me that this thread is lacking some Doctor Who reference--so I think the Mxy mix-up is like the TARDIS mix-up. I believe Susan says it's--Time And Relative Dimension In Space. But in a later episode someone gets it wrong and says Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. 

The way I see it is that every other time after that they just checked what was said the last time it was said in the previous script. They didn't bother to go back to earlier scripts or broadcasts (if they even had those available). So the mistake just kept getting passed on--until someone decided to correct the error.

Since Mxy had been defunct for a few years--when he was brought back, they just checked the last story he'd appeared in to get the name right and they copied the error rather than the correct spelling. And the copy of the error kept going forward until someone like E. Nelson Bridwell took note of the error.

I am reasonably confident that the change from "Mxyztplk" to "Mxyzptlk" was purely a mistake on writer Jerry Coleman's part (in Superman #131), and not picked up by editor Weisinger.

Commander, you missed a Mxyztplk/Mxyzptlk appearance, in Superman #105 (May 1956). I have that particular issue, but will have to dig it up (if I can find it!) to confirm the spelling, as online sources (ironically) differ on the spelling used in the story.

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