By JThunder101 Comments
With DC's New 52 line, it appears DC's stable of Golden Age characters and their World War II exploits are literally lost to history.
That is a shame, because I have always liked comic book stories set in the time around WWII. Maybe I have a romantized idea of the time period or something, I don't know. There was a very large patriotic vibe going on at the time. Yes, there was rapid racism in parts of the country and other social ills that were begining to come out. I guess I like the sense that the United States was united for a period to face down a force that had world domination in its sights.
I just love comic book stories that explore this time from Marvel's "Captain America" to DC's "All-Star Squadron." Many stories by more modern writers have looked into some of the social ills I mentioned before.
The "All-Star Squadron" was a title that I thought really helped show what the concept could be.
I have been a fan of "The All-Star Squadron" since I first started reading comics in the early 1980s.
One of the first superhero comics I bought was a Justice League issue that featured a JLA/JSA crossover featuring Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt attacking the Justice League , but merely pushing the JSA aside which all leads into the "true" origin of Black Canary.
At the time, I was facinated by the idea of older heroes who were still out there fighting the good fight. This led to me buying the other JLA/JSA crossovers and the Justice Society title from the late 70s.
When I found out that DC had a title featuring the JSA characters in their prime and taking place during WWII, you could not keep me away. I was quickly able to collect all the back issues of "All-Star Squadron" I did not have and acquired all the new monthly issues when they came out.
In addition to the JSA characters, "All Star Squadron" also featured a number of heroes who were never used to any great extent in the past as well as a number of new characters to fill out the roster in order to tell a variety of different stories. I liked the retro feel of the series. I liked how writer Roy Thomas filled in some of the continutity gaps to explain things that happened during the original golden age of comics.
However, the "Crisis On Infinite Earths" came along and wrecked most of the Squadron's continuity and the series only lasted about another year with some one-shot issues and a number of secret origin stories. Even though I enjoyed "Crisis" it ruined the Squadron and my other favorite title, "Infinity Inc."
One of my greatest regrets was selling all of my "All-Star Squadron" issues when I felt I had "outgrown" comics.
I have kept a quiet hope alive that DC would eventually collect the title in some way. Last year, we got Showcase Presents: The All-Star Squadron Vol. 1. Unfortunately, I haven't heard any rumblings if there is going to be a Vol. 2 which is sad because that would include one of my favorite arcs in the series, the formation of the Freedom Fighters and their journey to Earth X (for those who donát know, that was an alternate Earth where the Nazis won World War II.)
In a perfect world, DC would collect the entire series in color and in hardback editions. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world and the odds of that happening don't seem very likely.
Still, I would love to see all 67 issues collected as well as the three annuals.
I think it would also be cool to collect the original five issues of "Steel The Indestructable Man" by Gerry Conway since Commander Steel was a prominate member of the Squadron in the early days. I know Thomas did a four-issue Crimson Avenger mini-series that has never been collected. Also, towards the end of his run at DC, Thomas did a number of stories for the "Secret Origins" series which included a number of stories featuring a number of Golden Age characters that appeared at some point in "All-Star Squadron." Those would be cool to include as well. Since it ties into the history of the "All-Star Squadron," I would like to see "America Vs. The Justice Society" mini-series collected as well.
The "Young All-Stars" was just coming out when I was getting out of collecting comics. I have never read any issue, but looking back, I would like to get caught up and see this group since they are a part of the " All-Star Squadron" I think it had 31 issues and one annual. I am particularly curious about the group's line-up and how these characters fit into the WWII setting.
One of my favorite JSA in their prime stories was in All Star Squadron Annual 3 where someone had targeted a number of men, some famous and some not so much. Men with names like Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan and the JSA had to stop it but not finding out exactly why all of these people are important together. It also helped explain a number of things about the JSA in the modern age (which by this point was the mid-80s). That was a great story that played around with continuity and even helped establish why the JSA was still in prime shape some 40 years later. I have always liked stories like that which told an entertaining tale, but also helped fill in some of the blanks. There was also a story that explained how the golden age Atom eventually gained super-strength as well as laid the groundwork for establishing the character of Atom Smasher.
I have never read Thomas' "All-Star Companions" I don't know if he ever discussed other ideas he had for the series, storylines he wanted to do but never got the chance to do. If any retrospective is put together, I would love to see an interview or segments taken from other interviews where Thomas talks about what he wanted to do with this series.
I credit James Robinson with keeping some form of these characters alive with his popular "Earth 2" series. He regularly made reference to the originals characters and Squadron members in his acclaimed "Starman" series and show how some things in the past had more of an edge to them than what was originally shown in the original golden age of comics.
In a perfect world I wish Thomas could have brought the series to some kind of conclusion, maybe having a series of adventures that showed what happened at the end of the war. I always think of the last episode of MASH and how that although the war was coming to an end, it was going to have a lasting impact on the various characters. We know that some characters did not last past the war. Were they killed or did something happen that caused to give up super-heroics? I think there are some interesting stories to tell there. In a truly perfect world, someone would give Thomas a 12-issue limited series to wrap up the "All-Star Squadron."
However, that seems really unlikely. For whatever reason, WWII stories seem to have lost favor with some. I recently found out that Marvel did a revival of "The All Winners Squad" as a limited series. I think it was going to last eight issues, but was cancelled half way through due to poor sales. I didn't find out about it until a year later.
However, another Marvel limited series, "The Twelve," featuring a number of golden-age characters was quite popular.
The first "Captain America" film took place during WWII and was a hit.
A 12-issue limited series teaming up the Avengers and the Invaders (Marvel's retconned WWII super team) was popular enough that a trade paperback was released.
IDW has done a number of "Rocketeer" stories, set in the late 30s or so, which have been quite successful. In fact, DC and IDW are joining together to have the Rocketeer team up with The Spirit.
I don't know what the key ingredients are for a successful World War II super-hero story.
I think "The All-Star Squadron" did it the best of any of them, drawing on a large cast of characters, telling stories that fit into the historical perspective of the time and taking things in interesting directions.
I hope that DC will not give up completely on this time period as I think there are still a lot of stories that could be told.