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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Re: Hawk and Dove. One thing I never understood was why back in '68 DC let Skeates/Giordano/Ditko name their characters Hank and Don Hall--if there was never going to be any connection to the other Hall family.

Yeah, sure, in terms of reality, there could be many families that are named Hall. But stories don't work like that--they're an imaginary construct, where we associate things in a creative way. So if you have one character called Carter Hall who is Hawkman and another character called Hank Hall who is the Hawk--the proximity of the two suggests some association to the reader.

If that wasn't the intent, it would have been so easy for someone to say that the name shouldn't be Hall. There are millions of other family names they could have chosen. It seems like they chose to make this connection between the Hawks intentionally. 

Showcase #75 (JUN68) was the first Hawk and Dove story., and was followed by The Hawk and the Dove #1(AUG-SEP68)

Hawkman #27 (AUG-SEP68) was the last issue of Hawkman's own book before combing with The Atom in The Atom and Hawkman #39(OCT-NOV68).

Since Hawkman was on a downward spiral it's possible they just didn't catch the name Hall was significant. If it was Kent or Wayne they probably would have.

JSA #46 (May 2003): "Princes of Darkness Part 1: Into the Valley"

1)Line-Up: Captain Marvel, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman, Jakeem Thunder, Mister Terrific, Power Girl, Sand, Sentinel. the Star-Spangled Kid, Wildcat.

 

2)This issue is mostly taken up with Mordru and Obsidian on the attack, with the JSA on the defensive.

 

3)Dove states that it was Mordru that drove Hank Hall, insane, as part of a convoluted scheme to be re-born. Uh-huh.

 

4)We end with Eclipso appearing at JSA HQ!

 

Overall: An OK issue. Another long drawn-out "epic"

JSA #47 (June 2003): "Princes of Darknesss Part 2: Eclipse"

1)Line-Up: Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman, Jakeem Thunder, Mister Terrific, Power Girl, Sand, the Star-Spangled Kid, WIldcat.

 

2)More All-Violence fun as Mordru, Obsidian and Exlipso keep the JSA on the run.

 

3)Today's fun with bad dialogue:  "Never let it be said that the Dark Lord lacks gamesmanship."  Never let it be said that anyone ever says things like that.

 

4)In the SubplotShadowlands, Courtney discovers Billy's secret ID!

 

5)We end with Hector insdie the amulet with Nabu, the previous Fates and Kid Eternity!

 

Overall: It's starting to feel a bit like trudging through a field of mud. Most five-parters would be happier as three-parters.

JSA #48 (July 2003): "Princes of Darkness Part 3: Enlightenment"

1)Line-Up: Doctor Fate, Sentinel, the Star-Spangled Kid.

 

2)Billy and Courtney traverse the Shadowlands looking for Alan Scott. Courtney kisses Billy!

 

3)Meanwhile, Hector is in the amulet, getting a peptalk and some exposition in the form of an intervention. Somehow, Arion is involved in all this, tying in yet another series I never read.  Nabu convinces Hector to stop whinging about Lyta, apparently finding it as tedious as everyone else.

 

4)"The afterlife isn't just an endless revolving door." HAW! HAW! HAW!

 

5)So, everyone in the amulet except Nabu was a figment of Hector's imagination?  Wait, why would he imagine Kid Eternity, who he never knew? 

 

6)So, having defeated the JSA, the three stooges heels are now carrying out their evil plan to ...lounge around Fate's tower waiting for the next plot development?  Shouldn't they be out defiling innocence or something?  I'm telling ya, super-villains today got no work ethic!

 

7)We end with Billy ans Courtney finding Alan Scott in the arms of the Shade, who looks as though he couldn't decide whether to dress up as a new incarnation of the Doctor or of the Master, and so  ended up trying for both. Anyway, he pronounces Alan Scott dead!

 

Overall: Again, OK stuff, but perhaps somewhat less amazing than I remembered it being.

JSA All-Stars #1 of 8 (July 2003): "Legacy"

1)JSA Line-Up: Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman, Mister Terrific, Sand, Sentinel, the Star-Spangled Kid, Wildcat.  Also featuring the  Spectre (Hal Jordan).

 

2)Injustice Society Line-Up: The Icicle, Kestrel, the Rag Doll, Rival, Shiv, Solomon Grundy, the Tigress.

 

3)So, the Injustice Society attacks and captures  the Flash, Hakwman, sentinel and Wildcat, and the Spectre tells them tha tit was all done at the behest of a baddy caalled "Legacy", but that they have to sort out their own emotional baggage before they can face him, but the revela at the end shows that the "Spectre" is actually Legacy in disguise and he has somehow managed to capture the Spectre!

 

4)Just as an aside, I own a copy of the two-page spread of the JSA on the attack in this issue, signed by inker Bob Almond, my one piece of autographed comics memorabilia, which I got in Pittsburgh, more than a few years ago. Nice guy, our Mister Almond.

 

Overall: Obviously, all this is an exercise in exploring some of our heroes' background. I don't mind that, but it might have been better for them to just do that, rather than tack on the somewhat creaky attack by Legacy.

JSA #49 (August 2003): "Princes of Darkness Part 4: Army of Darkness"

1)Line-Up: the Air Wave, the Black Canary, the Black Condor, Damage, Doctor Mid_Nite, Doctor Occult, Dove, the Flash, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Hourman, the Human Bomb, Jade, Jakeem Thunder, Mister Terrific, Nemesis, the Phantom Lady, Power Girl, the Ray, Sand, Sentinel, the Shining Knight, the Star-Spangled Kid, S.T.R.I.P.E., Uncle Sam, the Vigilante  (Greg Saunders), Wildcat. (I may have missed one or two. For that matter, it''s all very well to call in all these mid-carders, but where are the League and the Titans during all of this?)

 

2)Some of the decritptions of the heroes are kind of "interesting":

  • The Human Bomb: "Explosive Grandfather"  (Probably he needs more fiber.)
  • Damage: "Explosvie Teenager" (Are they related?)
  • Power Girl "Righteous Buttkicker" (Seriously?)
  • Wildcat: "Founding Member of the JSA" (No, he wasn't!)

 

3)More Kobra fanatics again.

 

4)Dove, Hawkgirl and Power Girl go to Gemworld.  Wow, that place is getting alot of traffic.

 

5)Of course, Alan Scott is still alive. Clap your hands if you believe in Starheart energy.

 

6)We end ith Alex Montez overcoming Eclipso and then somehow becoming Eclipso!

 

Overall:  All this sound and fury, but what does it signify?

 

 

JSA All-Stars #2 of 8 (August 2003): "Flying High"

1)Our main story shows Spped Saunders and Hawkgirl visiting Mia, her daughter who she ahd at 16 and gave up for adoption. A nice, touching little story.

 

2)"The Same Thing Happens Every Night": Our back-up story is set in the Golden Age, and shows Hawkman arriving home late for dinner. Low-level sitcom stuff,  although Shiera does not hit him with a rolling pin.

 

Overall: The lead story was nice enough, the back-up was kind of forgettable.

 

I think the reason for Johns making Cap and Billy the same person was to advance the teen romance with Courtney. He had previously suggested a kind of Kitty Pryde/Colossus relationship between SSK and Atom Smasher--but that was a bit uncomfortable (just as it was originally in the X-MEN) given the disparity in their ages. 

To get away with the same thing again, Johns had to suggest that Cap was just really a teen at heart.

My problem with that is they also had to make Billy older--around sixteen. Whereas, I prefer Bill as younger. At a point, the closer Billy is to being an adult, the less the contrast between the boy and the man and therefore the weaker the concept. It just becomes a story about a young man with no powers transforming into a slightly older young man with powers. And there are hundreds of those in the comic book world.

But it doesn't advance Billy's relationship with Courtney. It complicates it!

Complication is the essence of romance in fiction. But what I really meant is that in order for Johns to go ahead with this complicated romance he had to smooth the path for himself to do so. IF Cap is really a much older man than Courtney, then readers would probably complain as they did about her and Albert (and as they should have done with Kitty and Piotr).

As long as Johns makes it clear that Cap is really Bily it's not as creepy. Although, it's still creepy that Kitty Courtney has this thing for older men.

If readers were of the opinion that Cap was definitively an older man (emotionally), then any feeling he might have for Court would come across as criminal and I don't think Johns could have advanced that plot.

See, I always thought of Billy as being around 13 - even in these JSA books, he doesn't look as old as Courtney.  I thought the twist might be that Cap was too old for her and Billy was too young!

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