In December 1941, the Justice Society Of America was targeted by a group of ne’er-do-wells and taken out of the picture, leaving nothing in the way of their dreams of conquest.  That’s when the President himself got involved…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of All-Star Squadron #1 awaits!

ALL-STAR SQUADRON #1

Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Rick Buckler
Inker: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Len Wein
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 50 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $12.00

Previously in All-Star Squadron: Starting in 1938, DC Comics galaxy of super-stars quickly grew by leaps and bounds, expanding to include well-known heroes like The Bat-Man, lesser lights such as Robotman and Johnny Quick and complete enigmas such as Little Boy Blue.  By 1981, their publishing concerns had expanded to the point where multiple Earths existed to explain different takes and perspectives, with the bulk of the Golden Age heroes existing on the world designated Earth-2.  It is here that our story begins.

Get excited, Faithful Spoilerites.  We are about to see the origins of…  THE RETCON!

We open with Hawkman (who was one of the most popular of the Golden Age characters, even though his star had faded considerably by 1981) entering the JSA’s temporary headquarters on urgent business, finding not his compatriots, but a stretchy stranger.  Introductions are made, and Plastic Man explains that he’s been sent by the FBI on official business, only to find that the owner of the place, one Wesley Dodds, has gone missing.  Hawkman dodges the issue of whether Wes is one of the JSA (he is; Wesley Dodds is The Sandman, btw) instead firing up the radio to check the news…

Stunned, Hawkman hears the report that Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman and more have been taken.  Even the mystic powerhouses Dr. Fate and The Spectre have been defeated by unknown foes, with Hawkman reporting that he, The Atom and Dr. Mid-Nite escaped a similar ambush in Washington, DC, which led him back to their HQ.  Setting out to rendezvous with Atom and the Doc, the Plastic/Hawk team finds themselves once again under attack…

The heroes make short work of their foes, discovering that when knocked out, they simply disappear…

Hawkman keeps King Bee from fading out, only to have him explode in a rather fatal-looking fashion, knocking Hawkman out for the count, with Plastic Man barely making the save and leaving both heroes in a heap in a meadow.  Elsewhere, Sir Justin of Camelot, the recently revived Shining Knight, investigates another strange situation…

Landing, Sir Justin encounters a young woman who will become important to the JSA (and is already important to the writer of this tale, as she is modeled on author Roy Thomas’ then-wife Danette.)

Roy’s recollection is that he wanted to revive a Quality Comics heroine named Wildfire, but for some reason was unable to, creating Danette, who would become in later issues, the hero called Firebrand.  (This identity was itself revived from a Quality hero of the same name, with Danette being his sister.)  Sir Justin is bushwhacked by the monster called Solomon Grundy, awakening some time later to find the mastermind behind his woes and the JSA’s disappearance: the man called Per Degaton!

Degaton has assembled his coalition of bad folk to take out the JSA and take over the world, taking advantage of the chaos into which the world is going to be thrown.  How does he know what’s going to occur?  Well, my friends, Degaton is a traveler from… THE FUTURE.

That’s when we discover the truth: It’s not just 1941.  It is December 7th, 1941, and Danette’s brother Rod (AKA Firebrand) witnesses firsthand an attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  Back in DC, The Atom and Mid-Nite have opted to pass the time with a football game…

Before the game ends, though, they overhear a general being briefed about the Pearl Harbor attack, and are summoned to Washington.  Before they can respond, another hero makes himself known…

Thanks to Robotman’s strength and hydraulic legs, the JSA duo get the fastest possible ride to the White House, while two more of our cast bump into one another while chasing the story of the JSA’s disappearance…

Johnny Chambers, secretly Johnny Quick, is stunned to see first Hawkman and Plas and then Robotman, Atom and Mid-Nite arrive, making his excuses to suit up and make haste.  As for LIbby, she has a little secret of her own…

Thus it is that a motley band of heroes arrive in the Oval Office instead of the Justice Society, to hear from President Roosevelt himself of the terrible news from Hawaii.  FDR entreats them to enter his service, opining that the mystery men are a natural resource of America, giving them not only a mission, but their name…

Thus do seven heroes exit the White House with the intent of heading to the West Coast to make certain that no more attacks are incoming…

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Per Degaton’s attack is incoming.

Writer Thomas grew up reading the comics of the 1940s, and he takes seriously the continuity of the books, keeping as much of the original stories as possible intact while telling new tales that fill in the hidden blanks of 40s DC (and also Quality, Fawcett and other companies as they became property of DC), using characters like Liberty Belle, who never achieved top billing in her initial career.  All-Star Squadron #1 is not just retroactive continuity in action, it is the origin of the term “retcon”, which appeared in a later issue’s letter column, and this issue’s balance of characters and plot is excellent, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  The inks of young Jerry Ordway are fascinating to look at, especially paired with the late Rich Buckler, whose pencils are the equivalent of comfort food, making for a really fascinating start for a series that I kind of wish was still being published…

In December 1941, the Justice Society Of America was targeted by a group of ne'er-do-wells and taken out of the picture, leaving nothing in the way of their dreams of conquest.  That's when the President himself got involved...  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of All-Star Squadron #1 awaits! ALL-STAR SQUADRON #1 Writer: Roy Thomas Penciler: Rick Buckler Inker: Jerry Ordway Colorist: Carl Gafford Letterer: John Costanza Editor: Len Wein Publisher: DC Comics Cover Price: 50 Cents Current Near-Mint Pricing: $12.00 Previously in All-Star Squadron: Starting in 1938, DC Comics galaxy of super-stars quickly grew by leaps and bounds, expanding to…
The first stitches of what would become a vast tapestry, pulling together variant tales from many sources, with some okay art and a lot of fun interactions...

ALL-STAR SQUADRON #1

Writing
Art
Coloring

The first stitches of what would become a vast tapestry, pulling together variant tales from many sources, with some okay art and a lot of fun interactions...

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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2 Comments

  1. Dark Patriot
    October 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm — Reply

    great review. All Star Squadron was one of my favs growing up

  2. October 16, 2017 at 2:14 am — Reply

    All-Star Squadron & JSA have always been my favorite DC teams.

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