All Star Comics

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All Star Comics

Cover to All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940-1941).
Art by Everett E. Hibbard.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Quarterly #1-4, 18-27
Bimonthly #5-17, 28-57[1]
Format Ongoing series
Genre
Publication date (original run)
Summer 1940 -
February–March 1951 (revival)
January–February 1976 -
September–October 1978
Number of issues (original run)
57
(revival)
17 (#58-74)
Main character(s) Justice Society of America
Creative team
Writer(s) Gardner Fox, John Broome, Robert Kanigher[2]
Artist(s) Bernard Baily, Jack Burnley, Lee Elias, Frank Giacoia, Joe Giella, Irwin Hasen, Everett E. Hibbard, Carmine Infantino, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Harry Lampert, Sheldon Moldoff, Win Mortimer, Martin Nodell, Bob Oksner, H. G. Peter, Paul Reinman, Bernard Sachs, Joe Simon, Alex Toth[2]

All Star Comics is a 1940s comic book series from All-American Publications, one of the early companies that merged with National Periodical Publications to form the modern-day DC Comics. With the exception of the first two issues, All Star Comics primarily told stories about the adventures of the Justice Society of America. The series is notable for its introduction of the Justice Society of America, the first team of superheroes, and the introduction of Wonder Woman.

While the series cover-logo trademark reads All Star Comics, its copyrighted title as indicated by postal indicia is All-Star Comics.[3]

Original Series[edit]

All Star Comics #1 (Summer 1940). Cover art is a collage of previously published panels by various artists.

The original concept for All Star Comics was an anthology title containing the most popular series from the other anthology titles published by both All-American Publications and National Comics. All Star Comics #1 (cover-dated Summer 1940) contains primarily superhero stories including All-American's Golden Age Flash, Hawkman, Ultra-Man, National's Hour-Man, the Spectre and the Sandman, plus the adventure strip "Biff Bronson" and the comedy-adventure "Red, White and Blue". The title premiered with a Summer 1940 cover date.

Issue #3 (Winter 1940-1941) depicts the first meeting of the Justice Society, at which its members swap stories of their exploits, subsequently depicted in the book's array of solo adventures. In addition to the Flash, Hawkman, Hour-Man, the Spectre, and the Sandman were Doctor Fate, from National's More Fun Comics, and Green Lantern and the Atom from All-American's flagship title, All-American Comics.[4] Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "This was obviously a great notion, since it offered readers a lot of headliners for a dime, and also the fun of watching fan favorites interact."[5] The Justice Society was originally a frame story to present an anthology of solo stories about the individual characters. Different chapters of the JSA's stories would often be handled by different artists. This new format proved to be so successful that the individual adventures were dropped and the heroes started teaming up to fight crime.

All Star Comics #8 (Jan. 1942) is the first appearance of Wonder Woman in an eight-page story written by William Moulton Marston under the pen name of "Charles Moulton", with art by H. G. Peter.[6] The insert story was included to test reader interest in the Wonder Woman concept. It generated enough positive fan response that Wonder Woman would be awarded the lead feature in the Sensation Comics anthology title starting from issue #1.[7] Wonder Woman would appear in All Star Comics starting from issue #11 as a member of the Justice Society and as their secretary. This issue also featured Doctor Mid-Nite and Starman joining. Gardner Fox left the series with issue #34 (April–May 1947) with a story that introduced a new super-villain, the Wizard.[8] The Injustice Society first battled the JSA in issue #37 in a tale written by Robert Kanigher.[9] The Black Canary guest starred in issue #38 and joined the team three issues later.[10]

All Star Comics increased its frequency from a quarterly to a bimonthly publication schedule, and the JSA lasted through #57 (March 1951) — in a story titled "The Mystery of the Vanishing Detectives".[11] Superhero comics slumped in the early 1950s, and All Star Comics became All-Star Western from #58-119 (in 1961) with Western heroes replacing the Justice Society.[12]

A good amount of artwork has survived from an unpublished All Star Comics story titled "The Will of William Wilson" and has been reprinted in various publications from TwoMorrows Publishing.[13]

All Star Comics #58 (January–February 1976). Art by Mike Grell

Revivals[edit]

1976 revival series[edit]

In 1976 the name All Star Comics was resurrected for a series portraying the modern-day adventures of the JSA. This new series ignored the numbering from All-Star Western and continued the original numbering, premiering with All-Star Comics #58.[14] Starting in issue #66, a hyphen was added to the title and the words "All-Star Comics" became a much smaller part of the cover while the words "Justice Society" became much larger. This series ran for seventeen issues before it was abruptly canceled with issue #74[15] as part of the DC Implosion and the JSA's adventures were folded into Adventure Comics.[16] The 1970s series introduced the new characters: Power Girl[17][18] and the Helena Wayne version of the Huntress.[19] Furthermore, the 1970s series was the first regular series set on DC's alternate continuity, Earth-Two. Despite the cancellation of the series, it generated enough interest to spawn two other series set on Earth-Two, All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc..

Conway at one point privately offered to his friend Roy Thomas to write several issues of the book under Conway's name, as Thomas was exclusively contracted to Marvel Comics at the time. Although Thomas, a lifelong fan of the Justice Society, was tempted, he declined on the grounds that when he finally did get to write the team's adventures, he wanted to do so publicly.[20] In 1981, Thomas moved to DC and was able to work with the characters.

Subsequent revivals[edit]

A two-issue All-Star Comics series was published as a part of the "Justice Society Returns" storyline in May 1999.[21]

Collected editions[edit]

Millennium Edition[edit]

In 2000 and 2001, DC reprinted several of its most notable issues in the Millennium Edition series. All Star Comics #3 and #8 were reprinted in this format.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas, Roy (2000). "Seven Years before the Masthead". All-Star Companion Volume 1. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 1-893905-055. 
  2. ^ a b Thomas "The Men (and One Woman) Behind the JSA: Its Creation and Creative Personnel" All-Star Companion Volume 1 pp. 21-34
  3. ^ All-Star Comics, DC, 1940 Series at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Wallace, Daniel; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1940s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "DC took the 'greatest hits' premise of the comic to its logical conclusion in All Star Comics #3 by teaming the Flash, the Atom, Doctor Fate, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Hourman, Sandman, and the Spectre under the banner of the Justice Society of America for an ongoing series." 
  5. ^ Daniels, Les (1995). "The Justice Society of America All American's All Star Team Up". DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes. Bulfinch. p. 54. ISBN 0821220764. 
  6. ^ Marston, William Moulton (w), Peter, H. G. (p), Peter, H. G. (i). "Introducing Wonder Woman" All Star Comics 8 (December 1941-January 1942)
  7. ^ Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 40: "Wonder Woman...took the lead in Sensation Comics following a sneak preview in All Star Comics #8."
  8. ^ Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 55: "Gardner Fox penned his last story about the Justice Society of America in this issue. The writer...introduced an ill-tempered illusionist called the Wizard."
  9. ^ Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 56: "In Robert Kanigher's story...a cabal of villains united as the Injustice Society of the World and took revenge on the JSA's assembled do-gooders."
  10. ^ Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 57: "Black Canary made her first appearance outside of Flash Comics in a feature by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Alex Toth...By the story's end, Black Canary was considered for JSA membership but wouldn't officially join until All Star Comics #41."
  11. ^ Broome, John (w), Giacoia, Frank; Peddy, Arthur F. (p), Giacoia, Frank; Sachs, Bernard (i). "The Mystery of the Vanishing Detectives!" All Star Comics 57 (February–March 1951)
  12. ^ Irvine, Alex "1950s" in Dolan, p. 66: "As superhero comics continued to decline in popularity, many of them mutated into Western, crime, and horror titles. The superhero omnibus All Star Comics was one such series, becoming All-Star Western as of issue #58."
  13. ^ Thomas, Roy (December 11, 2006). "From All-Star Companion v. 2 - Where There's a 'Will' — There's 'William Wilson'!". Newsarama. Archived from the original on March 17, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  14. ^ Thomas "All Star Comics in the 1970s" All-Star Companion Volume 1 p. 194
  15. ^ Levitz, Paul (w), Staton, Joe (p), Giella, Joe (i). "World on the Edge of Ending" All Star Comics 74 (September–October 1978)
  16. ^ Wells, John (October 24, 1997), "'Lost' DC: The DC Implosion", Comics Buyer's Guide (1249): 131–132, "The contents of All-Star Comics #75 were split into a two-part Justice Society story published in Adventure Comics #461-462." 
  17. ^ McAvennie, Michael "1970s" in Dolan, p. 169: "Along with artist Ric Estrada, [Gerry] Conway also introduced the DC Universe to the cousin of Earth-2's Superman, Kara Zor-L a.k.a. Power Girl."
  18. ^ Conway, Gerry (w), Estrada, Ric (p), Wood, Wally (i). "The Super Squad!" All Star Comics 58 (Feb. 1976)
  19. ^ All-Star Comics #69 (Dec. 1977) at the Grand Comics Database "First appearance of the Helena Wayne as the Huntress, who simultaneously first appears in this issue and DC Super Stars, both released August 24, 1977."
  20. ^ Thomas, Roy (April 2002). "All The Stars There Are in (Super-hero) Heaven!". Alter Ego (TwoMorrows Publishing) 3 (14). Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  21. ^ All Star Comics (1999 series) at the Grand Comics Database
  22. ^ Millennium Edition: All Star Comics #3 and Millennium Edition: All Star Comics #8 at the Grand Comics Database

External links[edit]