Friday, November 27, 2015


ALL STAR COMICS ARCHIVES VOL. 2 (DC, First Printing, 1993; Hardcover)

Collects All Star Comics #7-10 (cover dates October/November, 1941- April/May, 1942)

Writers: Gardner Fox, Sheldon Mayer, and William Moulton Marston

Artists: Everett E. Hibbard, Martin Nodell, Bernard Baily, Ben Flinton, Stan Aschmeier, Sheldon Moldoff, Cliff Young, Jack Burnley, Harry G. Peter, and Howard Sherman

The Justice Society Of America was the first superhero team in comics. In an age where there are ten Avengers teams the superhero team may seem tired and old, but back in the days leading up to World War II this was a groundbreaking concept. The JSA undergoes a few membership changes during this book, with Green Lantern stepping down after #7 and Dr. Mid-Nite (with his owl sidekick, Hooty) stepping in. The roster of the team is as follows: Green Lantern (#7 only), The Spectre, The Atom, Dr. Fate, Hawkman, The Sandman, Hour Man, Johnny Thunder, Dr. Mid-Nite (#8-on), and Starman (#8-on).

I found Johnny Thunder to be an annoying character. He is an idiot who has control over a Thunderbolt, basically a genie that can do anything and is seemingly impervious to harm. He has to summon the Thunderbolt by saying the magical Badhnisian phrase “Cei U” (pronounced say you), which he always does by accident. He can never figure out how to summon the Thunderbolt, often getting into worse trouble until he accidentally summons him. The Thunderbolt seems to like to take the piss out of him, needling him in ways like not answering the magical Badhnisian phrase when Johnny was in Cuba because he didn't say the magic phrase it in Spanish. None of which makes sense since it is a Badhnisian phrase and not an English phrase to begin with, but there you have it.

The stories are all set up in the same format. The Justice Society meets up, encounters a problem, and then they all split up to tackle this multifaceted problem, meeting up at the end. There is little to no actual teamwork in terms of battles. The artwork is done in what the kids call “comic jam” format, where each character is handled by a different artist, usually the one who created the character.

I bought this book because I love Golden Age comics with the original Sandman and The Spectre. Even though they are handled by the same creative teams as their solo adventures the stories here are inferior. When it comes to comics one has to have what is commonly referred to as a suspension of disbelief. If you think these comics through too much there will be holes, and that goes for all fantasy created in any era. My suspension of disbelief ran into a wall when The Spectre, who battled entities on the spirit plane in his own strip, was raising money for war orphans. That issue was out several months before the United States entered World War II. The Sandman changes his costume over the course of this book with no explanation given. His new costume looks closer to the wretched Joe Simon/Jack Kirby version of the Sandman. His original costume was rooted in the 1930s pulps.

I especially enjoyed #10, where the team had to journey 500 years into the future (2442) in order to retrieve the formula to prevent bombing. Lots of interesting ideas in that story. It is funny how outdated many of the science fiction ideas of 500 years in the future are 75 years after publication. While there were times that this was a clunky read it was by and large very enjoyable. There are a handful of politically incorrect things that are unintentionally funny, but one shouldn't find offense in such things if you read this in proper historical context and as an example of the history of the medium. That is asking a lot of modern fandom, I know, but trying to appreciate things for what they are instead of what you wish they were will lower your stress level.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- DC Archives are well made books.

Spine without dustjacket.

Linework and Color restoration: The covers look wretched, with lines dropped or made murky. The original color palette is faithfully maintained throughout. The linework looks a little blotchy, with the black lines looking thicker than the scans of the original comics that I have done comparisons with. This was a perfectly serviceable restoration job for 1993 that, knowing DC, will never be remastered using modern technology. Scanning has come a long way, and this was recolored prior to Photoshop. Marvel always takes another look at their material every time they rerelease it, and if superior source materials surface or better techniques arise then they will seize the opportunity to make these books the best that they can be. DC seems to shrug their shoulders.
Paper stock: The paper in this book is perfect. Off white thick matte coated stock.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding. The binding is quite stiff and the book doesn't lay flat.

Front cover without dustjacket.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Dustjacket has a lamination, while the foil coloring becomes discolored with time, even when not left in direct sunlight. The hardback has that faux leather casewrap and foil stamping on the front and rear covers as well as the spine. 

Back cover without dustjacket.

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