Writer: Bill Finger
Artist: Syd Shores/Allen Bellman/Uncredited
Editor: Stan Lee
Publisher: Timely Comics (Marvel Comics)
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $12,000.00
Previously in All-Winners Comics: Debuting in the summer of 1941, All-Winners Comics was originally split between adventures of Captain America, The Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner and less characters like Black Marvel or The Angel. Though the line-up changed over the course of several years, the quarterly book was an anthology until issue #18, with a lesser page count thanks to wartime shortages. It’s not clear whether the change in issue #19 came about as a way to lessen costs, simplify the editorial process or merely ape what All-American (DC) Comics was doing in the pages of All-Star Comics, but this issue took five headliners and their two sidekicks and threw them all together in one story.
The issue begins with the team already existing (and no origin story would be given for them until the 1970s), as the team is summoned by the Torch to the City Museum, where they find an exhibit on the Ages of Mankind has been destroyed by a villain called Isbisa. The villain has challenged the All-Winners Squad to figure out his elaborate mystery (fittingly, this issue’s writer, Bill Finger, would create The Riddler for Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery a couple of years later), including a clue that makes them suspect that Namor isn’t on the side of the angels. Captain America and Bucky set off to the Age of Bronze, foiling a robbery at the art museum. We then switch up to The Whizzer.
This page is here entirely because it features the phrase “Fastest Man Alive”, which is especially funny, given how overt a Flash-clone Bob Frank actually is at this point. (Witness his strange winged helmet-piece, if you’re looking for more proof.) Whizzer’s Age of Iron crime involves a Western movie and the locomotive used therein, with Isbisa once again watching and laughing from the shadows. With his sidekick Toro having left in a huff because of the team’s treatment of Namor, The Human Torch faces the Steel Age with the help of a policewoman named Bobby Lee.
The artist on this segment is unknown, though some say is was Al Avison. Either way, I don’t really care for the art at all, and the fact that The Human Torch misses important clues thanks to being distracted by the lovely police officer (and ends blushing after a thank-you-kiss) kind of bugs me. Miss America is up next, facing the Stone Age and a petrified police chief. Syd Shores handles the art chores in this chapter, and Miss America is honestly terrifying in certain panels, looking like a demonic Joan Crawford. As for the Sub-Mariner, he and Toro face The Ice Age together, traveling to the Bering Sea to face pirates…
…that he crushes with a killer whale.
Namor’s angular head has become a terrifying monster face by 1946, even in his home title, but the unknown artist here doesn’t have creator Bill Everett’s style and thus Subby is just a horrifying jack-o-lantern of doom throughout the chapter. The team reconvenes, sharing the information that they’ve gleaned about their foe, realizing that Isbisa is short for “Iron/Stone/Bronze/Ice/Steel” and the final age: Atomic! Realizing that the villain is after the atom-smasher, the All-Winners Squad leaps into action!
Isbisa goes down thanks to their combined might (including an impressive uppercut from Miss America) and is revealed to be the museum directory’s executive assistant. Captain America calls him a would-be dictator and the issue goes out on a lecture. All-Winners Comics #19 (which may or may not have a hyphen, but I’m using one for consistency’s sake) is one of only two appearances of the team, featuring art that never makes it past just okay, even by 1946 standards, but a clever story netting a right-down-the-middle 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. The only other Golden Age appearance of the team is in All-Winners Comics #21 (weirdly, there was no #20), with their next appearance coming in a 1977 issue of ‘What If?”. That story reveals the origins of the team as well as a couple of important retcons, and it’s honestly four or five times better (and much cheaper) than this issue, so I’d start any All-Winners collection there.
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ALL-WINNERS COMICS #19
It's a well-crafted story, but a series of terrifying faces and some truly odd action sequences make it all shake down to a middle-of-the-road (but historically important) adventure.