Thursday, June 2, 2016


ALL STAR COMICS ARCHIVES VOL. 3 (DC, Second Printing, 1997; Hardcover)

Collects All Star Comics #11-14 (cover dates June/July, 1942- December, 1942/January, 1943)

Writers: Gardner Fox and Sheldon Mayer
Artists: Sheldon Moldoff, Jack Burnley, Harry G. Peter, Cliff Young, Ben Flinton, Howard Sherman, Stan Asch, Bernard Klein, Joe Gallagher, Jon L. Blummer, Lou Ferstadt, Pierce Rice, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, and Howard Ferguson

The Justice Society of America are the first team of superheroes in the history of comic books, so their significance cannot be overstated. The team at this point in time consists of Hawkman, the Sandman (in his wretched Kirby-designed second costume), The Atom, Doctor Fate, Doctor Midnite, Starman, Johnny Thunder and his thunderbolt, The Spectre, and their secretary and emergency reserve member, Wonder Woman.

All four issues stick to the same formula. The team meets up, the stage is set, and they either split up to tackle the problem individually or become separated, with the team reconvening at the end to defeat their foe. Each character's strip is handled by the team that created them, so this is a precursor to the “comic jam”. Most interesting is how each character's creator draws them in the panels and covers where the whole team are assembled.

Wow, this panel has it all. Native Americans worried about turning traitors to the country that stole their land and referring to the Japanese as "yellow men". 

Issue 11 shows that America had entered into World War II, with Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor fresh on everyone's mind. The members of the JSA all decided to volunteer to enlist in the armed forces, albeit in their civilian identities. They all manage to somehow sneak their superhero outfits along, changing into them on the battlefield. German and Japanese stereotypes abound in these comics, so they may seem politically incorrect by 2016 standards. Bear in mind that our country was in war, and they were the enemy at that point in time. These comics are fascinating time capsules of a bygone era.

My favorite issue in this book is #13. The Germans gas and knock out the JSA, loading them each onto a separate rocket destined to one of the nine planets in our solar system. I found it amusing that the supernatural Spectre could be gassed into unconsciousness, but you have to supersize your suspension of disbelief when you read Golden Age comic books. I found our then-current knowledge of the planets to be amusing as well. People's imaginations were running wild. Fast forward nearly 75 years later and we know so much more about the planets and outer space in general even though we still have a long way to go. I wonder what comic book fans in 2101 will think about our science fiction of today.

I love the rawness of Golden Age comics, and how the creators made up the rules as they went along. There is a freshness to this stuff that no longer exists in the medium. I enjoyed this book as a book and loved it as a historical document and artifact. Either way it deserves a place in your collection.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- RIP DC Archives.
Linework and Color restoration: This is an overall solid restoration job, especially for the era that the restoration work was done in. The linework is good, although there are spots with the occasional dropout. The color palette is maintained for the most part, although the color blends have that airbrushed gradient look not found in the original comics. There are also coloring errors here and there.
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.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Dustjacket has a lamination. The hardback has that faux leather casewrap and foil stamping on the front and rear covers as well as the spine. 

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