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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The Mister Terrific story in JSA ALL-STARS was about the only thing that I was interested in from that mini-series. I like the classic Mister T. It's funny how he was better appreciated after he died.

FWIW, here's a little more discussion from another thread, on the tastefulness or otherwise of the handling of the rapey aspects of Dove's backstory.

 

While reading through issues 45-51, I came across this wonderful FINAL PAGE SINGLE-PANEL SHOCK REVEAL!!!?! (tm Geoff Johns).  In it Eclipso presents the ass of unconscious recent rape victim Dove to the reader, in the manner of a butcher proudly presenting a particularly fine cut of meat.  Check out his handgestures and eye-contact.

 

 

"Pleased to meet you. Meat to please you", in the language of the trade, ... which is echoed in his greeting, funnily enough.

JSA #55 (February 2004): "Be Good for Goodness' Sake"

1)Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, the Green Lantern, Hawkman, Power Girl, Stargirl, Wildcat.

 

2)OK, I admit it.  I chuckled at "Wow. Catwoman needs a shave" on the cover.

 

3)The four JSA old-timers go up to a dreary, blasted wilderness New Hampshire*, where they help Santa Claus battle some department store robbers. Of course, the reveal is that "Santa Claus" is really Ma Hunkle, the original Red Tornado, who has been hiding out after testifying against some criminals.  The boys let her know that the last of the crooks that might have meant her harm has passed away, and they invite her to become the new curator of the JSA museum.  We end seeing her settled in as the new "house mother" of the JSA HQ.

 

Overall:  A nice, fun holiday story, bringing back an old favorite character of mine.

 

*Sorry, New Englander joke.

While I appreciated the kind intention, I wasn't too happy with them bringing back Ma Hunkel. For one thing, there are some characters that I think belong to their creators and they deserve to be left alone--with some Sheldon Mayer characters like Scribbly, the Red Tornado and Sugar & Spike, I just want to remember them the way they were. 

I didn't mind so much the inclusion of Red Tornado in flashbacks. That seemed appropriate enough, but including her in the present day just felt wrong to me. And whereas Jay, Alan and Ted all had good reasons for not aging--Ma was a much more down to Earth character and should have aged naturally and would be well over a hundred by then.

While I argued previously on this thread for a less than realistic approach to aging in comics and on Earth-Two--when it comes to folks like Ma Hunkel, I think they should be allowed to live out their lives naturally--especially given her creator had long since passed away.

The one rational argument against this that I could entertain is if using her in new stories could prompt DC to do a dedicated reprint of all Red Tornado stories by Mayer (and maybe all of his Scribbly work on the whole). In such a case, the trade-off would have been worth it, as I'd have those reprints books on my shelf right now. But that didn't happen.

JSA All-Stars #8  of 8 (February 2004): "And Justice for All"

1)Line-Up: Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, the Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman, Mister Terrific, Sand, Stargirl, Wildcat.

 

2)So, we wrap up with our heroes getting back together and realizing that the "Spectre" is a fake and is really Legacy.  "Legacy" is, in turn, the Wizarsd, who is trying to establish a "legacy" of his own.  Our heroes win by putting Fate's helmet onto the real Spectre, which makes him extra-omnipotent and allows him to send the Wizard off to his own private Hell, the way the Spectre tended to do.

 

Overall:  Well, it was nice seeing the Wizard again. His plan seems to me to have been a bit overcomplicated.  Why not just kill the JSAers once he'd captured them?

 

Next: I end up buying some issues of Hawkman.

Explain again how The Wizard can overpower The Spectre? 



Captain Comics said:

Explain again how The Wizard can overpower The Spectre? 

 

 

It's because of um... um...  (Points in one direction and yells) Oh, my God, look at the size of that distraction over there! (Runs away in opposite direction) 

We could pretend that, since the Spectre's mind is human, he's vulnerable to the Wizard's hypnotic/illusion abilities, and so only thought he was overpowered.  Makes more sense then his getting knocked out by a Nazi gas attack.

JSA #56 (Early March 2004): "Black Reign"

1)Line-Up: No one from the JSA at all!  Instead, it's Atom-Smasher, Black Adam, the Brian Wave, Eclipso, Nemesis, Northwind.

 

2)The cover features Black Adam and his merry chums.  For some reason, the Brain Wave is drawn to look alot like Robert Englund:

 

 

 

2)Well, it's back to the wars again as Team Black Adam takes over Kahndaq!    Adam mnologues about how the JSA believes in intervention, not prevention, and since they are men who have become gods, they should start acting like it. We then get in introduction to Adam's merry little band:

  • Northwind: "Northwind can no longer speak. But I do not need him to."  No apparent interest in having him speak, either. In fact, we will later see that the entire Feitheran race has effectively become sub-sentient cannon fodder. Ah, well, that's alright - people who can speak do have an annoying tendency to do just that, often speaking outside desired subject matter and at inconvenient times, too!
  • Nemesis: Since Adam killed off Soseh's father and his merry pals, "Nemesis no longer had a target for all that hatred. So I have given her a new target."  In other words, he's using her as a programmable weapon, just as her old man did. These are supposed to be his friends, but he's using them as tools for his own ends.
  • Eclipso: Like Nemesis, he is described as irrational.  "But I will make them heroes." Or at least, his definition of "heroes", whether he wants to be or not.
  • Brain Wave: He is shown killing casually and brutally, and thinking of humans as though he wasn't one. Adam thinks cryptically of how he "helped" Henry, which we will see pay off later as another case of Adam using a friend as a programmable soldier.
  • Atom-Smasher:  Adam thinks of Al as a brother, doing his best to stifle any moral qualms he may have: "They are not soldiers, they are criminals".  At Adam's urging, Al literally stomps the Saddam-surrogate to death!

 

3)We end with Team Black Adam standing triumphant, and Adam saying:  "Kahndaq belongs to us!" Which sounds familiar, somehow. And which, if you think about it, is pretty revealing - in the end, the first thought is about is about himself, and his friends (whom he seems to see as extensions of himself), and not the people of Kahndaq.

 

Overall: An interesting look at how one can justify doing all sorts of awful things in the name of what one believes to be "good".  It may be that Adam himself believes he is doing the right thing, which of course makes him more dangerous than any number of self-interested villains. The crook may tire, or decide he's had enough, or go look elsewhere for easier pickings, but the person who thinks that he and he alone knows what the common good is, he will never give up.



Dave Elyea said:

We could pretend that, since the Spectre's mind is human, he's vulnerable to the Wizard's hypnotic/illusion abilities, and so only thought he was overpowered.  Makes more sense then his getting knocked out by a Nazi gas attack.

 

True enough.

Hawkman #23 (Early March 2004): "Black Reign Part Two"

1)Line-Up: Well, Hawkman, actually. At least, he's the only one we see in costume.

 

2)Another interesting cover, as Jay Garrick looks an awful lot like Don Knotts on this one:

 

 

3)We see the JSAers in civvies, hanging out in St. Roch, which I am unfamiliar with, but it seems to be a surrogate for New Orleans.  Alan, Hector, Jay, Pieter and Ted are seen together. Ted is a party animal, Alan is a stick-in-the-mud, Jay doesn't drink, Hector argues with disembodied voices like a deranged homeless person, and Pieter goes off to help a young whore. It comes out that Kendra invited them all down in an effort to try to get Carter to lighten up.

 

4)Elsewhere, Courtney, Karen and Kendra are hanging out. Karen gets her palm read, and the palm reader is basically right, as they always are in these stories. Oh, well, magic is real in the DCU, so why shouldn't palm reading work?

 

5)Elsewhere still, Rick is hiding out in his hotel room because being someplace fun is too much for him, so he retreats into the ninth dimension to talk to Rex, who essentially tells him not to be such a little weed.

 

6)Elsewhere even more still, Hawkman maims the Matter Master for the heinous crime of being an old Silver Age Hawkman villain.  I must have missed the storyline where Hawkman became a brutal thug.  Criminy, if I wanted to read stuff where the protagonist goes around using excessive violence, I'd figure out where I put my old Garth Ennis Punisher books.

 

7)Even more elsewhere, we see the JSAers are at a party. Michael and Billy (in adult form) have joined them.  Jay frowns at Billy and Courtney getting all cozy with each other. Hawkman literally crashes the party, bringing the news that Team Black Adam have taken over Kahndaq. We end with Hawkman announcing that he's taking over as chairman!

 

Overall: I like there issues where they hang out trying to be real people, but seriously, when did Hawkman become such a jerk?

'round about when Geoff Johns's reins were let go at DC, or when Dan Didio came over.  Either way, Carter went from a reasonable reincarnation to--as you said--a brutal thug.  I'm sure it helped sales, after all, they didn't rename the comic to Hawkgirl for...27 more issues.

The Baron said:

 

Overall: I like there issues where they hang out trying to be real people, but seriously, when did Hawkman become such a jerk?

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