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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Not to jump the gun on seventy year old comics but  Hourman is quickly dropped from both the Justice Society and All Star Comics, replaced by Starman with whom DC had very high hopes for.

They also added Wonder Woman despite her having her own title to represent Sensation Comics by AA, yet there was never a hero from Star Spangled Comics, a DC book, making it the only "Big 8" not to be represented in the JSA.

All-Star Comics #6 (August-September 1941):

1)We begin with the announcement that the Flash has been "called to other duties", whatever that means, and is being relegated to honorary membership, like Superman and Batman. No in-story explanation is given as to what these "other duties" are.  (We know the "real world" reason is he got his own book.)  This is also the first mention of Superman and Batman being honorary members.  How times have changed - you'd never see a hero leave a team without a story revolving around it.

 

2)Johnny Thunder decides that he should be the Flash's replacement, and the JSA fobs him off by sending him to bring in Killer McPanzee, a "notorious criminal" who is only a legend in his own mind.  But of course, Johnny encounters actual crooks in the process, and the JSAers end up all going out after him to find him, encountering crooks as follows:

  • The Flash encounters a gang of counterfeiters.
  • Doctor Fate breaks up a robbery.
  • The Sandman breaks up a protection racket.
  • Hourman breaks up a gang of thieves.
  • The Atom deals with some crooked gamblers.
  • The Spectre encounters headless zombies. This is actually fairly creepy.
  • The Green Lantern deals with some hi-jackers.
  • Hawkman encounters some kidnappers.

 

3)More by chance than design, Johnny helps bring in the last crooks, and is inducted into the JSA - the ostensible reason being his "luck", although I suspect that  they felt sorry for sending him off on a wild goose chase in the first place. Perhaps they also thought it was better to have him where they could keep an eye on him.

 

4)There's also a short text piece featuring Doctor Mid-Nite.  It's OK, but these text pieces typically don't work for me.

 

Overall:  Another so-so story, although I'm probably biased since it revolves mostly around a character that I dislike. Notable for the first line-up change, I suppose.

 

 

One of my favourite lines from the Hawkman story in All-Star # 3 "Oh well, I'm dying" Not exactly a thriving will to live there. It's not even an "I'm dying? Shit!" LOL!

All-Star Comics #7 (October-November 1941):

1)Line-Up: The Atom, Doctor Fate, The Green Lantern, Hawkman, Hourman, Johnny Thunder, the Sandman and the Spectre.

 

2)We begin with the revelation that Green Lantern has been elected chairman to replace the Flash. (I hadn't really been aware that the Flash was the chairman, but whatever.) Again, it's interesting to see how things which would probably have their own story arc today are just sort of brushed off, here.

 

3)GL starts off by describing his recent tour of the war zones of Europe and Asia, and how was appalled by the plight of war orphans there.  (No mention is made of whether he used his magic ring to help anyone there or not. At some point soon, I'll get back to the whole "why didn't the JSA just go over and stop the war" issue.)   They decide to raise a hundred grand each for charity. In a moment of bravado, Johnny Thunder declares that he will raise three hundred grand to make it an even million.

 

4)The heroes raise their money thusly:

  • Green Lantern and Doiby Dickles rescue a rich man's crazy twin brother from kidnappers who think they've got the rich guy himself.  Setting aside the improbability of all this, I'd just like to take a moment to point out how much I loathe the tendency of Golden Age heroes to have comedy sidekicks. These guys were never entertaining - what did the writers and/or editors think they were adding to the stories?
  • The Spectre does various odd jobs helping people.
  • The Atom breaks up a gambling ring.
  • Doctor Fate catches crooks who run a contest on how to stop the perfect crime, planning to use the winning entry as a reverse blueprint to commit the perfect crime.  Another somewhat improbable idea.
  • Hawkman helps a newspaper threatened by foreign agents.
  • The Sandman gets the relatively reasonable idea of finding out which crooks have the biggest rewards out for their capture, and then capturing them.
  • Hourman more or less lucks his way into a share of an Aztec treasure. Rex Tyler's face is drawn really weird-looking in the first panel of this story.
  • Johnny Thunder fails utterly, because he is a moron.  (As an aside, it is made clear here that Johnny does not know how to summon the Thunderbolt.  Granted, he is a moron, but has it never occurred even to him to ask the Thunderbolt how to do it? Also, it is implied here that the Thunderbolt is available for only an hour after each summoning, which limitation I don't remember ever seeing mentioned anywhere else. What are the Thunderbolt's limits anyhow? Couldn't he have just magicked up the money for Johnny, or is that somehow unethical?) Ultimately, in a deus ex machina that would surely make Steven Moffat weep with envy, he uses the Thunderbolt to get honorary members Superman, Batman and the Flash to raise a hundred grand each. When he asks how they did it, they reply, in effect - "We'll explain later."

 

5)We end with an announcement that the Green Lantern is being bumped up to honorary membership, and that Hourman has been granted a leave of absence. The two are to be replaced by Doctor Mid-Nite (Charles McNider) and Starman (Ted Knight). Hawkman is to be the new chairman. Again, no explanation is given as to why GL (who leaves almost immediately after being made chairman) or Hourman are leaving the team.

 

Overall:  An OK story, though one does wish that we might have seen the members of the team actually working together more, rather than just separately. Interesting to see the book being used to promote a "good cause" rather than just be mindless entertainment, ans the readers are encouraged to contribute to charities themselves.

"comedy sidekicks. These guys were never entertaining - what did the writers and/or editors think they were adding to the stories?"

You'd have to watch CHARLIE CHAN, THE FALCON, and in a few instances, THE SAINT, to understand this.

Allen Jenkins, Edward Brophy, Paul Guilfoyle.. these guys were fabulous!

But perhaps the writing in comic-books just plain SUCKED?

I would agree with the second reason. Any character who drops a freighter on your front lawn (like he did at the end of the story) is DEFINITELY someone you want to be able to keep a watchful eye on.

The Baron said:

All-Star Comics #6 (August-September 1941):


3)More by chance than design, Johnny helps bring in the last crooks, and is inducted into the JSA - the ostensible reason being his "luck", although I suspect that  they felt sorry for sending him off on a wild goose chase in the first place. Perhaps they also thought it was better to have him where they could keep an eye on him.

True, BUT it did give Roy Thomas a great playground for his story in All-Star Squadron # 3 which also explains why Starman is there at the beginning of # 8 already a member having not appeared in the series before otherwise, it makes Johnny Thunder's entrance to the team seem the model of good manners in comparison. He also explains in there the change from the full helmet in the teaser at the end of # 7 for Doctor Fate to the half-helmet look at the beginning of issue # 8 and from there onwards.

Of course as of 1941, like you say, no explanation but then again, you didn't really have a large continuous following for comics like today, most would pick up an issue on the way to school or wherever and maybe pick up issue # 7 and not get another until issue #30. Strong continuity wouldn't hamper things to a great extent like today.

The Baron said:

All-Star Comics #7 (October-November 1941):


5)We end with an announcement that the Green Lantern is being bumped up to honorary membership, and that Hourman has been granted a leave of absence. The two are to be replaced by Doctor Mid-Nite (Charles McNider) and Starman (Ted Knight). Hawkman is to be the new chairman. Again, no explanation is given as to why GL (who leaves almost immediately after being made chairman) or Hourman are leaving the team.

Getting off topic a bit. I wonder what All-Star would have been like if they had gone to Red Tornado as comedy relief instead of Johnny Thunder. I suppose part of the logic was that they wanted to have some more big guns to mix in with a group mainly made up of costumed acrobats who hit stuff. Hey, I like Doctor Mid-Nite and Wildcat and the like but if something serious was going down and I could choose between them and Spectre, Green Lantern or Flash, I know with who I would feel safer. Well maybe not so much SAFE hanging around The Spectre but you know what I mean ;)

I dimly remember those "Roy Thomas explains it all" All-Star Squadron issues. Unfortunately, I think they (along with my copies of Infinity, Inc.) have gone the way of all fish.

 

You make a good point about the Tornado - while she certainly was tough, she didn't add much in the way of power.

To be specific, it was All Star Squadron Annual #3 that explained all that. It's a neat book for both comic history buffs and American history buffs.

Starman was being aggressively pushed by DC at that time. He took over the lead spot and cover of Adventure Comics and was being drawn by perhaps Superman's best Golden Age artist, Jack Burnley. They were hoping for another big success but it never happened. My theory was that he relied on his gravity rod. Had he had actual super-powers, he may have caught on more!

Also, they were high on Doctor Mid-Nite as well. While never a star, he remained with the JSA from #8 to #57 straight!

When did Johnny Thunder learn which words summoned the T-Bolt? Also we must remember that the early T-Bolt wasn't the sentient, wise cracking figure that we're familiar with. He was very primal and silent.

Johnny may have been comic relief but he was a dangerous comic relief!

The Red Tornado was tough but was she really that different from the Atom?

BTW, All Star Comics #7 was the first time Superman and Batman appeared in the same story!

Actually, by this point, the Thunderbolt is a sentient wisecracker, mouthing off to Johnny pretty regularly.

I meant to note that in issue #7, there was also a Hop Harrigan text piece.  Nothing too amazing. Aside from Scorchy Smith, I never was that much into aviator heroes.

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