Posted - November 26, 2017 | Updated: September 4, 2018
All-Star Squadron No. 1 The World On Fire
Roy Thomas - whom I know primarily as a Marvel scribe - is a big fan of the Golden Age DC team the Justice Society of America.
Around the early eighties, Roy became a writer for DC and helped create the All-Star Squadron. The All-Star Squadron is the backup team for the Justice Society.
I read many issues of All-Star Squadron during the eighties and my fondness for them and for all things JSA have endured to this day.
These are pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths stories and are set in DC's Earth-2 during World War II.
Now, let's go take a look at this inaugural issue . . .
As the story begins, we find Hawkman on his way to the JSA Headquarters.
Upon arrival, Hawkman encounters Plastic Man.
Hawkman is JSA while Plastic Man is FBI. The headquarters is rented by the JSA from Wesley Dodds, the Sandman. No satellite headquarters, no imposing mansion or expensive tower; just a bunch of rented - note 'rented' - rooms where the JSA meet once every couple of months. I love it.
Where's the rest of the JSA? Most of them have been captured . . .
Wonder Woman, the Flash and Green Lantern appear to have been defeated by the uber-strong undead Solomon Grundy.
Here's more about the other members.
Batman, Superman, and Robin defeated by Professor Zodiak. It's quite a shock to see Superman defeated, but remember, he is vulnerable to magic; therefore Zodiak's mystical powers would be effective against him.
The villain depicted is Wotan. It's jaw-dropping. He managed to capture Dr. Fate and the Spectre.
Let's have a look at Johnny Thunder, Sandman and Starman.
No word on these three, they might have been captured or defeated too.
These last three JSAers are the only ones that are left: Dr. Mid-Nite, Hawkman and Atom.
Let's rejoin Hawkman and Sandman at the JSA HQ. They decide to head over to the White House. They have an interesting chat along the way.
Read it the right way (or is it the 'wrong way') and this conversation is pretty naughty.
The pair get attacked by someone calling himself King Bee together with some flying insect men.
Hawkman and Plastic Man manage to fight them off very easily. The strange thing is, their foes start to vanish. With King Bee himself exploding into nothingness.
King Bee's explosive exit knocks out Hawkman and when Plastic Man moves to save the Hawk they both hit the ground and the fall knocks them unconscious for a while.
It seems that Hawkman's gravity-defying Ninth Metal belt does not work if he loses consciousness.
Meanwhile, at the White House.
Harry Hopkins was a close adviser of FDR and was instrumental in the New Deal program before the war and the Lend Lease program during the war, among many other things. He tragically died of cancer at just 55 years of age, but by that time he had already accomplished enough to become a permanent part of American history.
Here the point is being made that FDR is looking for the JSA but the White House is having difficulty reaching the group.
The story then heads over to the Pacific where we encounter the time-lost Shining Knight. He helpfully gives a capsule history of himself.
He's flying over Hawaii. Combining this Arthurian figure and Hawaii is sort of like putting ketchup on your ice cream, let's have a closer look at this 'interesting' combination . . .
At the camp, the Shining Knight meets Danette Reilly.
These are two future members of the All-Star Squadron with Danette inheriting the mantle of Firebrand from her brother. The pair explore a cavern and encounter Solomon Grundy.
With Grundy is Professor Zodiak.
In the comics the pseudo-sciences of Alchemy and Astrology have real power and Professor Zodiak can harness both.
The Shining Knight and Danette are overwhelmed and both are captured.
Here we have the arrival of Wotan.
Wotan is a an ancient and powerful magician.
And a moment more, the leader of the group introduces himself.
Per Degaton is a time traveller.
He reveals that the failed attack on Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite and Hawkman and the later attack on Hawkman and Plastic Man by King Bee was the work of his group. Incidentally, this is the same group that has managed to defeat and capture most of the JSA.
Outside, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is under way.
I appreciate that - in the rightmost panel - Roy Thomas identifies the exact type of fighter/bomber the Japanese are using.
Back in the East Coast, Dr. Mid-Nite and the Atom are informed of Pearl Harbor and meet yet another future member of the All-Star Squadron: Robotman.
Robotman gives both heroes a 'ride' to the White House; demonstrating the power of his robotic body.
Groups of heroes start gathering in the White House. First, Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite and Robotman.
Then Hawkman and Plastic Man.
Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick.
The group meets up with FDR.
FDR decides to create an 'All-Star Squadron'.
And here they are. The founding members of the All-Star Squadron.
The creation of the All-Star Squadron occurs at a time when the Justice Society have been defeated and captured by their foes. The Squadron is partly composed of the remaining members of the Society: Hawkman, Atom and Dr. Mid-Nite. Plastic Man isn't formally a member - he's the Squadron's liaison to the FBI.
The group is underpowered when compared to the Justice Society but they do have strength (Robotman), speed (Johnny Quick), and flight (Hawkman). The rest are solid street-level fighters.
While all this is going on, in the Eastern seaboard, off the San Francisco coast, Per Degaton's underwater aircraft carrier launches amphibious Mitsubishi Zero fighters for an attack on the American mainland.