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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OK, thanks!

I've always (since the '60s) believed that Hawkman needed an upgrade to be a plausible superhero, but making him a brutal thug isn't what I had hoped for. And, in fact, he still doesn't strike me as a plausible superhero. But he would strike me, regardless!

The change from Winged Wonder to Hawkman the Barbarian was a big disappointment to me as it fit neither the Golden Age Chairman of the JSA nor the Silver Age Thanagarian Lawman.

They kept on trying with Savage Hawkman and we know that worked out!

JSA #57 (Late March 2004): "Black Reign"

1)Line-Up: Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, the Grene Lantern, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman, Mister Terrific, Power Girl, Stargirl, Wildcat.  (I'm a little slow, but I've just noticed that all of the female members of this team are called "(Noun) Girl". Have they no "women"?)

 

2)I note that Stargirl's cosmic rod is back to its old form without any explanation that I noticed. Our heroes argue about who should be chairman. In the end, Mister Terrific defers to Hawkman.

 

3)Meanwhile, in Kahndaq, Al is hearing a voice in his head telling him not to be a jerk, and Nemesis is sleeping with Eclipso. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide which one of them is violating the "Never sleep with anyone crazier than you are" rule.

 

4)Elsewhere, Adam warns Brain Wave not to mess with his or his friends' minds. We will see just how funny that statement is in a couple of issues.

 

5)Nabu hassles Hector again. 'Round about here, I decide that I am powerfully weary of the "Nabu harasses Hector" storyline. You know, sometimes Johns seems to me like a musician that really only knows how to play a handful of tunes well.  No matter how he tries to vary them, soner or later, you wish he'd learn something new.

 

6)Adam attacks the JSA's plane as it enters Kahndaq airspace. There is much fighting. We end with Al capturing MIchael and Pieter and proclaiming that in Kahndaq, he and his buddies are the "good guys".

 

Overall: Meh.

Hawkman #24 (Late March 2004): "Black Reign"

1)Line-Up: Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, the Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman (Rex Tyler), Hourman (Rick Tyler),  Mister Terrific, Power Girl, Stargirl, Wildcat.

 

2)Another all-fight issue. Hawkman mentions that he has an insider.

 

3)Nabu takes control from Hector.  Wearisome, wearisome, wearisome.

 

4)Nemesis carves up Rick, Rick switches places with his father, and we end with Rex re-appearing in the real world!

 

Overall:  More meh.  Johns' Law: Never tell a story in three issues, when you can drag it out to six.

JSA #58 (April 2004): "Black Reign"

1)Line-Up: Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, the Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman (Rex Tyler), Mister Terrific, Power Girl, Stargirl, Wildcat.

 

2)Al headbutts Stargirl, then takes her prisoner.  Billy has also been taken prisoner. One thing I notice they do here, is this business of implying that Solomon somehow talks to Billy the way Nabu does to Hector.  Bad enough they wreck one character with that nonsense, do they have to do it with another one?

 

3)Inside the amulet, Hector meets Lyta, who did not die and go to Heaven, after all.  He takes control back from Nabu, who will now be safely imprisoned until Johns can't think of anything else to do.

 

4)Alex Montez loses control of Eclipso - as we knew he inevitably would - and kills Nemesis.  In despair, Alex kills himself. 

 

5)We get the reveal that the voice Al was hearing was the Atom (Ray Palmer), who apparently decided to endanger his role as Hawkman's secret infiltrator by playing Jiminy Cricket for Al.  Ray then sneaks into Brain Wave's head.

 

6)Jay and Carter quarrel over the death of Alex and Soseh, but Jay backs down when Carter shows that he is a little teary-eyed. A bit unconvincing, that.

 

7)As Brain Wave disables the remaining JSAers, Ray discovers Mister Mind inside Henry's head!

 

Overall: More meh, redeemed somewhat by the appearance of Mister Mind, the World's Wickedest Worm!

Hawkman #25 (April 2004): "Black Reign - Conclusion"

1)Line-Up: Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, the Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman (Rex Tyler), Mister Terrific, Power Girl, Stargirl, Wildcat.

 

2)Al helps Courtney free Billy. Elsewhere, Mister MInd explains to Ray that Adam "provided" Henry to him in return for his help.  So much for Adams' line about not messing with his friends' minds!  Ray defeats him easily, and the JSA pigpiles on Adam.  Hector brings Fury back out into the outer world, but does not otherwise contribute much. Al, Courtney and Cap broker a truce, in which Adam will be allowed to stay in power in Kahndaq, as long as he doesn't bother anyone else. So, pretty much, the status quo ante bellum, except of course for Alex and Soseh, who appear to have died for no good purpose.

 

3)Henry is released into his mother's care, conveniently all better now. Carter leaves, because he has been asked to go. We end with Al, who stayed behind in Kahndaq, by himself out in the desert lookingwistful. Poor Al, did all them murders and still not happy.

 

Overall:  Well, that was unpleasant, but on the other hand, it was really violent.  I wonder if anyone ever told Courtney's mother, "Oh, by the way, we brought your daughter into a war zone. Hope that's OK."

If Nabu and Shazam want things done their way, they should get off their uber-geriatric @$$e$ and do it themselves without involving little kids or damaged people!

I always thought that they never made enough of Hawkman's ability to talk to birds. That gives him a worldwide intelligence  network. 

Also the conceit that they used medieval weapons because they didn't want Thanagarian weapons ending up in the hands of Earth criminals.  Just what did they have in that space ship that was so dangerous?

Of course, the big problem was that Shayera was 100 times more interesting than Katar.  She should have been either the feature character, or it should have been much more of a team.  Too many times Hawkman went solo and the stories went dull.

O

Captain Comics said:

I've always (since the '60s) believed that Hawkman needed an upgrade to be a plausible superhero, but making him a brutal thug isn't what I had hoped for. And, in fact, he still doesn't strike me as a plausible superhero. But he would strike me, regardless!

I've long felt with Johns that the emperor has no clothes there.  I know he has tons of accolades, and he has had some good ideas, but he's also had plenty of bad ones and it seems that he's the chieftain when it comes to killing characters for shock value.

The Baron said:

You know, sometimes Johns seems to me like a musician that really only knows how to play a handful of tunes well.  No matter how he tries to vary them, soner or later, you wish he'd learn something new.



Randy Jackson said:

I've long felt with Johns that the emperor has no clothes there.  I know he has tons of accolades, and he has had some good ideas, but he's also had plenty of bad ones and it seems that he's the chieftain when it comes to killing characters for shock value.

And since none of us believe any character who "dies" will stay dead, it doesn't even achieve shock value.

Except that Alex Montez and Soseh Mykros stayed dead.  Also, I would disagree they were killed for shock value.  Their deaths showed that there were terrible consequences to be paid for following Black Adam's philosophies.  I think Johns was saying pretty clearly that heroes should not kill.  Furthermore, Alex Montez paid a high price for his arrogance in trying to control Eclipso, which the JSA had warned him was dangerous and foolish.

 

 

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