• Volume One:

    1)There is a Foreword by R.C. Harvey, of whom I have never heard, but who apparently wrote some comics-related books. He discusses how the Seven Soldiers of Victory were DC's second super-team, and gives brief histories of the characters involved. He brings up that fact that they were at best mid-carders, none of whom had any super-powers as such, although the Shining Knight had a magic horse and impenetrable armor. He wonders, as I always did, why characters like Aquaman or Johnny Quick weren't added to the team, but has no answer.

    2)We see the cover of Leading Comics #1 (Winter 1941-1942), drawn by Mort Meskin. A caption says "Five Favorite Features!", referring to the Star-Spangled Kid, the Crimson Avenger, the Green Arrow, the Vigilante and the Shining Knight. Not sure whose "favorites" they were, but they may well have been someone's favorites, and it reads better than "Five characters we own the rights to!" The five mentioned are pictured on the cover, along with Speedy.  Interestingly, there's no mention on the cover that said characters were teaming up - for all the casual newsstand customer might have known, the book was going to feature these characters individually.

    3) "Chapter One: Blueprint for Crime":  These titles do not appear in the story - I assume they were added by whoever edited the archives, for clarity's sake. It was written by Mort Weisinger and drawn by George Papp. Papp's art is acceptable in a "Golden Age primitive" kind of way.
    We begin with the Hand , (who has a sort of John Carradine/Vincent Price cadaverous look) a crimelord, being informed that he is terminally ill.  He laments the fact that he has several cool crime plans that he'll never get to carry out, and decides to have five other criminals - the Red Dragon, Professor Merlin, Big Caesar,  the Needle and the Dummy - commit the crimes for him. He rescues them all from the hands of the law and they agree to return the favor. No idea why he chose these particular villains, although the Dunny and the Needle had a history with the Vigilante and the Star-Spangled Kid, respectively. The Hand then places an ad in the papers nationwide, essentially daring the Green Arrow, the Shining Knight, the Crimson Avenger, the Vigilante, and the Star-Spangled Kid to Gotham City Auditiorium, to try and stop his planned crimes. Again, no indication is given as to why these particular heroes - perhaps he felt that his criminal hirelings would stand a better chance against low-powered second-stringers.  He also doesn't seem to have given any thought as to what might have happened if some other heroes had shown up - this being in Gotham, one might've expected Batman to have a look in. The police don't seem to have taken any notice, either. Anyway, the various heroes show up, and after the Hand tells them what his plans are, agree to go after the crooks individually, and report back how they did.

    4)"Chapter Two: Death Valley": Weisinger and Papp again, here. (Apparently, the stories were drawn by whoever was doing the heroes' main feature at the time.)The Green Arrow and Speedy pursue Professor Merlin (a vaguely saturnine, monocled fellow) to Death Valley (it doesn't look much like Death Valley, but never mind) in their Arrowplane, which, oddly enough, is an automobile! Professor M is after the gold of "Old Cactus Mike", a miner who struck it rich. It's an OK story - it has the same problem that every Green Arrow story has for me, namely how a gang of heavily-armed crooks can be beaten by two guys with bows and arrows.  Also, Professor M captures our two heroes and then commits classic villain mistake of putting them in a slow deathtrap, instead of just shooting them dead instantly.

    5)"Chapter Three: Peril in Panama": This one's written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Hal Sherman. Sherman's another Golden Age primitive - Dugan's hair is drawn particularly oddly.  This chapter pits the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy against the Needle, a really thin guy with a needle gun.  The Needle's job is to steal an experimental ray gun (With all these super-weapons that were in the comics back then, why wasn't World War Two fought with death rays?) and use it to destroy the Panama Canal, after which he could sell the gun to a foreign power. We see a bit of Sylvester Pemberton's homelife, with his overprotective mother and disgusted father.
    Now for some questions about Pat Dugan:
    This guy could invent something like the Star-Rocket Racer and he's working as a chauffeur for Old Man Pemberton? Why isn't he working for the War Department?
    His disguise is "He takes off his chauffeur's outfit and puts on a striped shirt"? Really?

    The Needle commits the same blunder as Professor M - he catches the heroes and puts them in a deathtrap instead of just killing them. 
    I do like the Kid and Stripesy's coded moves, that's a neat idea. I'm not wild about the fact that the day is saved in the end because  "Good thing the Star Rocket Racer is death ray proof"!

    6)"Chapter Four: Blackout Over Broadway": Weisinger's back, but this time the art is by Jack Lehti. Lehti's art is somewhat better than Papp's or Sherman's, it's a shame he felt it necessary to draw Wing as looking like a shaved ape. Yes, unfortunately, Wing's portrayal here is racist - about all you can say is that he is shown to be brave and competent, and he doesn't speak the worst "Chinee" pidgin English I've ever seen in a Golden Age comic.  I've never liked the "super-hero" costumes that put the Crimson Avenger and Wing into, I liked them better when they were knock-offs of the Green Hornet and Kato.
    Anyway, the two heroes go to New York City, where they battle Big Caesar, a garden variety thug. They at least do not get captured.

    7)"Chapter Five: The Red Dragon": Weisinger does the writing again, with Creig Flessel on art. Flessel has the best art in the story, in my opinion. The Red Dragon (not a Welsh nationalist, but instead a sort of evil Tuxedo Mask) is somewhere "out  West", enslaving the Wamona Indians and stealing their radium. The Shining Knight leaves his job as a museum curator (which I never knew he had) to help free the Indians, who are presented reasonably well - primitive, but intelligent.  At least none of them say "How" or "Ugh".

    8)"Chapter Six: The Stone People":  Weisinger and Meskin, here. More Golden Age primitive art.  The Dummy travels to Hollywood, where he appears to be turning people into stone (Including an actor named "Rex Mason"!). The Dummy is the most interesting of the villains here - there's a real effort to have the reader wondering just what the heck he (it?) is! Anyway, the Vigilante makes the scene. I note that he wears the same clothes as Greg Sanders - to become the Vigilante he just pulls his neckerchief up! He tackles the Dummy with the help of "Old Billy Gun", a codger of the "Western" subspecies. (They used to be all over these hills, but you don't hardly see them no more.)

    9)"Chapter Seven: Blueprint for Crime":   Weisinger and Papp help us wrap up and the heroes all come together to defeat the Hand, who gets a swell "ironic finish".  The Shining Knight suggests that they form a team, and the others agree. Interestingly, they don't take a team name, and it's only the closing caption that calls them "Seven Soldiers of Victory"!

    Overall: Not a bad first story - the art was uneven, but not horrendous or anything. I've never been wild about the "heroes get together at the start, heroes go fight individually, heroes get together at the end" type of super-team story structure, but I know it was quite common in those days.  Hey, and at elast they got an origin in their first story - the JSA didn't get one until the 1970's!

  • The Seven Soldiers of Victory or Law's Legionnaires were similar to the Justice Society as they had one feature from each of the anthologies that DC had. Unlike the JSA, it was only one from each book and none from the All-American (AA) side. It broke down like this:

    Action Comics- The Vigilante. JSA rep- Superman (honorary). Other possibilties- Zatara, Mister America/Americommando

    Detective Comics- The Crimson Avenger (and Wing). JSA rep- Batman (honorary). Other possibilities- Air Wave

    Adventure Comics- The Shining Knight. JSA rep- The Sandman, Hourman, Starman. Other possibilties- Manhunter

    More Fun Comics- The Green Arrow and Speedy. JSA rep- Doctor Fate, the Spectre. Other possibilties- Johnny Quick, Aquaman

    Star Spangled Comics- The Star Spangled Kid and Stripesy. JSA rep-None. Other possibilities- Robotman, the Guardian, Liberty Belle, Tarantula, TNT and Dan the Dynamite.

    This was the first appearance of the Dummy who became the Vigilante's arch-foe. The Needle was a recurring enemy of the SSK and Stripesy.

    This tale was recapped in Justice League of America #100 where the 7SV were revived and the Hand *SPOILER ALERT* was revealed to have survived and became the Iron Hand.

  • 9)"Chapter Seven: Blueprint for Crime":  

    One thing I forgot to note - in this section, Papp drew the Crimson Avenger wearing a cape.  No big deal - there's no reason he couldn't wear a cape occasionally if he wanted to. I just never saw him drawn weating one while in his "super-hero" outfit before.

  • I hadn't known that this was the Dummy's first appearance - it came across as though he and the Vigilante had met before.
  • R.C. Harvey used to write a column titled "Rants and Rves" for CBG and is very knowledgeable about the comics of yore, especially comics strips, and one will often find his introductions in collected volumes of such material. I once sent a history of the history of the Post-Dispatch's editorial "Weatherbird" cartoon (available only locally in St. Louis).


    The first "Seven Soldiers" story I ever read was the "Black Star" story, reprinted in two consecutive JLA "100-Page Super-Spectaculars" (#111-112), and although I've read all the stories in both the archive editions, that one remains my favorite.

  • I believe the Black Star story is next up in Volume One.

  • The Baron said:

    One thing I forgot to note - in this section, Papp drew the Crimson Avenger wearing a cape.  No big deal - there's no reason he couldn't wear a cape occasionally if he wanted to. I just never saw him drawn weating one while in his "super-hero" outfit before.


    Hmmmm . . . I thought that was strange---because the timing was a little off.


    When the Crimson Avenger "upgraded" from slouch hat-and-cloak to regular super-hero skin-tights, in Detective Comics # 40 (Oct., 1940), his new costume included a cape.  He continued to wear the cape through Detective Comics # 53 (Jul., 1941).  In the Crimson Avenger story in the next issue, the cape was gone, never to be seen, again.


    . . . Except for Leading Comics # 1.


    John Lehti, who drew the Crimson Avenger chapter in Leading Comics # 1, was also the regular penciller on the Crimson Avenger series in Detective Comics; he had been when the character was changed to standard super-hero duds and was so after the cape was dispensed with.  Not that artists don't make unexplained gaffes, but I thought it was a little odd.  So I consulted a copy of Leading Comics # 1.


    And I think I can explain the discrepancy.  The only places in the comic in which the Crimson Avenger wears a cape are in the first and last chapters, drawn by George Papp.  In the regular Crimson Avenger chapter---chapter four---drawn by his regular artist, John Lehti, the Crimson appears without a cape, as was standard for him by then.


    What I surmise is Papp drew his two chapters of the story independently of the others, and he probably wasn't familiar with the character of the Crimson Avenger.  Papp likely dug out an old issue of Detective Comics for reference and it happened to be an issue from the period when the Crimson regularly wore a cape.


    Somebody must have talked to somebody, because the mistake didn't recur in Leading Comics # 2.


  • To clarify - it was George Papp who drew the Avenger with a cape on. Papp drw the opening and closing segments of the story. What was funny was that he drew the Avenger sans cape in the opening segment and with a cape in the closing segment. It gave the impression that the Crimson had stopped at home at some point and put a cape on.
  • The Baron said:
    To clarify - it was George Papp who drew the Avenger with a cape on. Papp drw the opening and closing segments of the story. What was funny was that he drew the Avenger sans cape in the opening segment and with a cape in the closing segment. It gave the impression that the Crimson had stopped at home at some point and put a cape on.

    What's odd about the opening chapter that Papp drew in Leading Comics # 1 is that he drew the Crimson Avenger with the cloak appearing around his shoulders---you can see where it cinches at his neckline---but there is no trailing evidence of it.  I'm at a loss to explain that one.  If an editor had come back and deleted the cape for purposes of consistency with how the Crimson was (then-) currently portrayed, why wouldn't the shoulders part of the cape be deleted, as well.  And why was the entire cape in evidence in the last chapter?
  • I'll have to look at that one again.
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