All Star Comics

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This article is about the 1940s comic book series. For the DC Comics imprint starting in 2005, see All Star DC Comics.
All Star Comics
All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940-1941). Cover art by Everett E. Hibbard.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Quarterly #1-4, 18-27
Bimonthly #5-17, 28-57[1]:15
Format Ongoing series
Publication date (original run)
Summer 1940 -
February–March 1951 (revival)
January–February 1976 -
September–October 1978
Number of issues (original run)
17 (#58-74)
Main character(s) Justice Society of America
Creative team

All Star Comics is a comic book series from All-American Publications, one of two companies that merged with National Periodical Publications to form the modern-day DC Comics. While the series' cover-logo trademark reads All Star Comics, its copyrighted title as indicated by postal indicia is All-Star Comics, with a hyphen[2] With the exception of the first two issues, All Star Comics told stories about the adventures of the Justice Society of America, the first team of superheroes, and introduced Wonder Woman.

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.[1]:13–14

All Star Comics #1 (cover-dated Summer 1940) contained superhero stories that included All-American's Golden Age Flash, Hawkman, Ultra-Man, as well as National's Hour-Man, Spectre, and Sandman. The adventure strip "Biff Bronson" and the comedy-adventure "Red, White, and Blue" also premiered with the Summer 1940 cover date.[2]

Issue #3 (Winter 1940-1941)[3][4] depicted the first meeting of the Justice Society of America, with its members swapping stories of their exploits which were subsequently illustrated in the comic'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 the Green Lantern and the Atom from All-American's flagship title All-American Comics.[5][6] The Justice Society of America (JSA) was originally a frame story used to present an anthology of solo stories about the individual characters,[1]:43 with each story handled by a different artist.[1]:43 Comic historian Les Daniels noted, "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."[7] The anthology format was dropped in 1947 and replaced with full issue stories featuring the heroes teaming up to fight crime.[1]:43

All Star Comics 8 (January 1942) featured 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.[8] 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.[9] That same issue saw the induction of Doctor Mid-Nite and Starman as members of the Justice Society as well.[7] Starting with issue #11, Wonder Woman would appear in All Star Comics as a member of the Justice Society as their secretary.

With issue #34 (April–May 1947), Gardner Fox left the series and a new super-villain, the Wizard,[10] was introduced. The Injustice Society first battled the JSA in issue #37 in a tale written by Robert Kanigher.[11] The Black Canary guest starred in issue #38 and joined the team three issues later in #41.[12]

All Star Comics increased its frequency from a quarterly to a bimonthly publication schedule, and the JSA lasted through March 1951 with issue #57 in a story titled "The Mystery of the Vanishing Detectives".[13]

Superhero comics slumped in the early 1950s, and All Star Comics was renamed All-Star Western in 1951 with issue #58. In this issue, the "Justice Society of America" feature was replaced by Western heroes.[14]

Artwork from an unpublished All Star Comics story titled "The Will of William Wilson" survived and was reprinted in various publications from TwoMorrows Publishing.[15]

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


1976 revival series[edit]

In 1976, the name All Star Comics was resurrected for a series portraying the modern-day adventures of the JSA. The new series dismissed the numbering from All-Star Western and continued the original numbering, premiering with All-Star Comics #58.[1]:194 Starting with 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. The 1970s series introduced the new characters Power Girl[16][17] and the Helena Wayne version of the Huntress.[18] This series ran for seventeen issues before it was abruptly canceled with issue #74[19] as part of the DC Implosion and the JSA's adventures were folded into Adventure Comics.[20]

After 23-year-old Gerry Conway became an editor at DC Comics, long-time JSA-fan Roy Thomas suggested to Conway that the JSA be given their own title again. Conway offered Thomas a chance to ghostwrite an issue of the revived All-Star Comics, but he declined as Thomas was under an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics at the time.[21] However, in 1981 Thomas moved to DC and was able to work with the characters.[22]

Subsequent revivals[edit]

A two-issue All-Star Comics series was published as a part of the "Justice Society Returns" storyline in May 1999.[23]

Collected editions[edit]

Millennium Edition[edit]

In 2000 and 2001, DC Comics reprinted several of its most notable issues in the Millennium Edition series. All Star Comics #3 and #8 were reprinted in this format.[24][25]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Thomas, Roy (2000). The All-Star Companion: An Historical and Speculative Overview of the Justice Society of America. Raleigh, N.C.: TwoMorrows Publishing. ISBN 1893905055. 
  2. ^ a b All-Star Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  3. ^ The Catalog of Copyright Entries 1940 Periodicals Jan-Dec New Series Vol 35 Pt 2. Washington, D.C.: United States Copyright Office. 1940. p. 373. 
  4. ^ "All-Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940-1941)". Grand Comics Database. 
  5. ^ Wallace, Daniel; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1940s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: 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. 
  6. ^ Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Golden Age 1938–1956". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Cologne, Germany: Taschen America. p. 56. ISBN 9783836519816. Mayer and Fox cooked up one of the biggest ideas in superhero history: What if the varied stars of All-Star Comics actually met and worked together? 
  7. ^ a b Daniels, Les (1995). DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes. New York, NY: Bulfinch Press. p. 54. ISBN 0821220764. 
  8. ^ Marston, William Moulton (w), Peter, H. G. (p), Peter, H. G. (i). "Introducing Wonder Woman" All Star Comics 8 (December 1941-January 1942)
  9. ^ Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 40: "Wonder Woman...took the lead in Sensation Comics following a sneak preview in All Star Comics #8."
  10. ^ 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."
  11. ^ 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."
  12. ^ 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."
  13. ^ 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)
  14. ^ 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."
  15. ^ 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 December 6, 2008. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  16. ^ 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."
  17. ^ Conway, Gerry (w), Estrada, Ric (p), Wood, Wally (i). "The Super Squad!" All Star Comics 58 (Feb. 1976)
  18. ^ "All-Star Comics #69". Grand Comics Database. 
  19. ^ Levitz, Paul (w), Staton, Joe (p), Giella, Joe (i). "World on the Edge of Ending" All Star Comics 74 (September–October 1978)
  20. ^ Wells, John (October 24, 1997), "'Lost' DC: The DC Implosion", Comics Buyer's Guide (1249), pp. 131–132, The contents of All-Star Comics #75 were split into a two-part Justice Society story published in Adventure Comics #461-462. 
  21. ^ Thomas, Roy (April 2002). "All The Stars There Are in (Super-hero) Heaven!". Alter Ego. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. 3 (14). Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  22. ^ Markstein, Don (2010). "All-Star Squadron". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. 
  23. ^ All Star Comics vol. 2 at the Grand Comics Database
  24. ^ "Millennium Edition: All Star Comics No. 3". Grand Comics Database. 
  25. ^ "Millennium Edition: All Star Comics No. 8". Grand Comics Database. 

External links[edit]