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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Actually they all kinda knew that they were comic book characters!

I read this as a Famous 1st Edition tabloid and by far the Hawkman chapter was the best drawn.

Amazingly, the JSA put up with Johnny Thunder's nonsense. Obviously they're humoring him so he doesn't accidently "Say You" them to death!

The hammer Hawkman uses in his story and Oom the Mighty both reappear in All Star Squadron.

The premise, if you don't know, was to take two features each from four popular anthologies (two from the DC side and two from the AA side) to form the Justice Society. AA was responsible for All Star Comics. They were:

  • Flash and Hawkman (plus Johnny Thunder) from Flash Comics.
  • Green Lantern and by default really, the Atom (and the Red Tornado) from All American Comics.
  • Doctor Fate and the Spectre from More Fun Comics.
  • The Sandman and Hourman from Adventure Comics.

Because of the popularity of Superman and Batman, no other heroes from Action Comics and Detective Comics were considered.

Yeah, there's lots of house ads for the other comics that these heroes appeared in.  It's sort of like a "sampler" for the other books in the line.


I first saw this as one of those giant-sized books when I was a kid. Wish I still had it.

All-Star Comics #4 (March-April 1941): "For America and Democracy"

1)Line-Up: The same as last issue. Johnny Thunder crashes the party again. No Red Tornado.


2)The Feds send the JSA out to battle fascist fifth columnists in the US.  Interesting that they were already concerned about it, even before the war.


3)The Flash is sent out to stop fascist propaganda among workers, then takes the time to save a refugge ship. Flash Quote: "It's only in a free country like America that there is any privacy!"  Does that mean we're not a free country anymore?


4)Green Lantern is sent out to stop sabotage of various radio stations. He is knocked out by a glass bottle - this was back when his ring's weakness was "non-metals", rather than just wood.


5)The Spectre is sent to stop sabotage at munitions factories in Pittsburgh, with a side journey to battle some vampire globes, whatever those are.   He is referred to as "The Man of Darkness" alot.


6)Hourman is sent to prevent sabotage of oil wells in Oklahoma.


7)Doctor Fate is sent to stop sabotage of shipyards in New England. My favorite part is when he sends a talking cloud to summon the FBI - and they come!


8)The Sandman is sent to help a newspaper editor break up a spy ring.


9)There is a Johnny Thunder text story which is distinctly unmemorable.


10)Hakwman is sent to protect aviaition plants on the West Coast.  My favorite bit is when a crook sees Hawkman and says "An escaped loonie!", which I think might have been my reaction, as well.


11)The Atom is sent to deal with a Bundist gang at a college.  Each of the heroes has discovered clues leading to a Fritz Klaver in Ohio.  The Atom gets there first, and is promptly captured.  Al, at least, should be grateful for Johnny's presence - without him, he'd be the JSA's weak link.


12)Johnny, feeling left out, wishes he could help - and is promptly sent to where the Atom is, and is just as promptly captured.  But it's OK, as the JSA arrives and wraps it all up pretty quickly. They are congratulated by the head of the FBI.


Overall: An OK story, tohugh I have to admit that I've never liked the pattern of these old stories where they go out and have individual adventures, then get back together at the end.



All-Star Comics #5 (June-July 1941):

1)Line-up is the same. Johnny Thunder doesn't appear in the main story, only in a separate, uncnnected text piece.


2)Apparently, the JSA has been so effective against crime that the mysterious Mr. X has formed a syndicate to take on the JSA.  There are two running gags in the story - one is the exaggerated respect that the crooks have for Mr.X (Hats off!) and the other is of an odd little guy who keeps showing up in all of the sub-stories.  Of course, it's obvious that the little weedy guy is Mr.x. Comics were somewhat more light-hearted in those days.


3)Flame Farmer the arsonist goes after the Flash - an odd coincidence that he just happeend to go after a building that Jay Garrick was staying in.


4)The Sandman goes after some kidnappers who happen to know that he's connected to Dian Belmont.  Secret Id's weren't really all that secure in those days.


5)Hawkman deals with some jewel thieves. This story is noteworthy as he seems to create Shiera's "Hawkgirl" costume here. Again, the crooks know Shiera's connected to Hawkman.


6)Doctor Fate deals with Magico the Magician. There's a fun scene where Fate freaks Magico out by showing him the pits of hell.


7)Hourman is framed for some tire thefts. I note that the cops are quick to believe that the heroes have turned to crime in these stories.


8)The Atom deals with a crooked gym owner.


9)The Spectre deals with crooked gamblers.  In a bit of plot contrivance, one of the henchmen just happens to have a ring that negates the Spectre's powers. Handy, that - otherwise they'd have to deal with the fact that old Specs should be abel to deal with all of these jokers in a matter of minutes.


10)Green Lantern deals with a criminal scientist who blows stuff up.  There's an odd scene where he begs his lantern for more power - don't recall ever seeing anything like that before or since.


11)In the end, Mr. X, seeing that he's beaten, simply turns himself in and declares his intention to live off the state as a prisoner - sort of an amsuing anti-climax.


Overall: Another OK story - I do find the ending amusing. No final battle, just "OK, you guys win, whatever."

Nice summaries, Bob. I go through a “JSA phase” every couple of years. The last time (for a discussion on this board, IIRC), I picked up with the first post-Pearl Harbor issue and ran out of steam at just the point collectors agree the title really took off (late #20s or so). I don’t feel the need to re-read any of the first 20 or so issues at this time, but I will continue to follow this discussion and may even join you reading when you get the point at which I dropped off before.

Well, what happened was, the last time I went home, I got the rest of my JSA comics out of storage, so I decided to re-read them all, in order.  We'll see how well I stick to it.

Ah. You know, for the original generation of comics fandom, one wasn't considered a true collector unless one owned a complete run of JSA in All Star Comics. Long considered out of reach for those of ouor vintage, thank to DC Archives, we can. I've said it before but I'll say it again: this is the "Golden Age of Reprints," man, I'm tellin ya.

The Baron said:

9)The Spectre deals with crooked gamblers.  In a bit of plot contrivance, one of the henchmen just happens to have a ring that negates the Spectre's powers. Handy, that - otherwise they'd have to deal with the fact that old Specs should be abel to deal with all of these jokers in a matter of minutes.

The correct system is to make sure you always have a really terrible sinner with you when you're committing a crime. When the Spectre shows up you throw him in his way and while he's busy dousing him in honeydew and burying him up to his neck next to a nest of bull ants or turning him into a violin and reviving the corpse of Paganini to play him you get away.

“…turning him into a violin and reviving the corpse of Paganini to play him…”

I never read that one, but it sounds like a blast! ;)

One can hardly help noticing that the bad guys really don't stand a chance here! The two Spectre chapters alone are padded just to fill the necessary number of pages. Combine that with Doctor Fate, Green Lantern and the Flash, why not surrender graciously?

Another function of All Star Comics was to see who was popular enough to get his own title. The Flash and Green Lantern obviously were but if it wasn't for World War II, rationing and a paper shortage, it was speculated that Hawkman and/or the Spectre were next in line for solo-dom.

In fact, that's why Johnny Thunder had a presence in ASC #3-5 because the Flash's book All Flash Quarterly was already scheduled and Johnny took his place as the other Flash Comics representative! Of course the other choices were either The Whip or The King!

I doubt the Spectre can have genuinely been in line for a title, as he was dropped from the covers of More Fun Comics after #67 in favour of Dr Fate (who had earlier appeared on the covers of #56, #61). Fate in turn lost them to Green Arrow after #76.


In contrast, Flash Comics mostly alternated the Flash and Hawkman on its covers from #6 through to its end, and the Flash, of course, got a solo title in 1941. (The first five issues of Flash Comics featured, in order, the Flash, Hawkman, Cliff Cornwall [apparently, an aviator special agent], the Whip and the King. ##68-69 were both Flash covers, and ##70-71 both Hawkman ones. ##88-90 all featured the Flash and #92 featured them both and Black Canary.)


Although it featured heroes from both the National/Detective stable and All-American's, All-Star Comics was an All-American title. I notice that it was also All-American that ran book-length stories, or nearly so, in All-Flash and Wonder Woman.

Sounds like a simple twist of fate could have had Green Arrow and Aquaman in the JSA. There was a shake-up in the membership when National-DC and All American had their temporary falling out.

Luke Blanchard said:

I doubt the Spectre can have genuinely been in line for a title, as he was dropped from the covers of More Fun Comics after #67 in favour of Dr Fate (who had earlier appeared on the covers of #56, #61). Fate in turn lost them to Green Arrow after #76.

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