ALL STAR COMICS ARCHIVES VOL. 4 (DC, First Printing, 1998; Hardcover)
Collects All Star Comics #15-18 (cover dates February/March- Fall, 1943)
Writers: Gardner Fox with Sheldon Mayer, and Jack Kirby
Artists: Frank Harry, Joe Gallagher, Sheldon Moldoff, Stan Asch, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Ed Dobrotka, Bernard Baily, Howard Sherman, Pierce Rice, and Arthur Cazenueve
One thing becomes crystal clear five volumes (Vols. 0 and 1-4) in to this series of the original Justice Society Of America: They had a winning formula and they stuck to it. Kids back then didn't always have access to every single issue like they would today, and this approach probably wasn't even frowned upon even if they did discover it. In each issue there is an opening scene with a meeting. Each member sets out to do their part and they meet up again at the end of the issue. I like how each character's creator does their part of the story and they all contribute to the panels where multiple characters appear. It's a precursor to the comic jam.
Issue 15 introduces the Brain Wave, a villain with an enlarged bald head who “can create anything that he can think of—and control it!” He returns in #17 after surviving his seeming suicide at the end of his first appearance, reducing the JSA to the size of toy dolls. #16 finds the JSA battling the Nazis on the home front when they infiltrate the coal mines and factories that the Allies needed to assure their victory. The absolute good versus evil of Golden Age comics is something that you would never see today. Nowadays we would be told by Social Justice Warriors how we should be sensitive to Nazis or how not all Japanese are like the ones who attacked us at Pearl Harbor. #18 is fun. King Bee uses insect hormones to trick men into committing crimes for him. The insect hormones gives the men the proportionate strength and abilities of the insects.
Wonder Woman doesn't see much action here, as she is merely the team secretary. It's amazing how different the world was 75 years ago. A woman could only be a secretary on a team of men. Hawkman's portions of each issue rule. Simon and Kirby's ham-fisted reboot of the Sandman sucks. The original was so cool. Starman is pretty cool too. The Spectre is more powerful than any member on this team and yet he never wins the day here. His portrayal in More Fun Comics is more in line with what modern fans might expect. Johnny Thunder is annoying, as his shtick wore thin fast. His Thunderbolt saves the day more often than not. It's omnipotent, and only it's sense of humor making Johnny jump through hoops for it makes things somewhat interesting.
|The days before drunk driving laws.|
This was a fun read. Golden Age comics are simplistic and crude by today's standards but they ooze with charm. I have to be in a certain mood to read them, but they read fine as both comic book entertainment and from a historical perspective.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.
|The more things change...|
The OCD zone- There are multiple omissions from the original issues reprinted in this book. #15 omits the Flying Colors one page strip as well as the Hop Harrigan text story, also one page. #16 omits the Victory Puzzles half page and the 1.5 page Hop Harrigan text story. #17 omits the 1.5 page Hop Harrigan text story, ditto #18.
Linework and Color restoration: I did not do any comparison to scans of the original issues this time out. I have been very busy refurbishing and relocating my Fortress Of Solitude. Sorry.
Paper stock: Off-white matte coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding. It's pretty tight, requiring two hands to keep it open. It's not a huge deal since the book is 224 pages.
Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Thick laminated dustjacket. Casewrap has faux leather grain with foil stamping. It's a shame that DC doesn't do this for their Omnibus hardcovers these days.