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
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
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 1940s comic book series from All-American Publications, one of the earliest 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 stamp 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.[4] All Star Comics #1 (cover dated Summer 1940) primarily contained superhero stories including All-American's Golden Age Flash, Hawkman, Ultra-Man, National's Hour-Man, the Spectre and the Sandman, the adventure strip "Biff Bronson" and the comedy-adventure "Red, White and Blue." The title premiered with a Summer 1940 cover date.[3]

Issue #3 (Winter 1940-1941) depicts the first meeting of the Justice Society, with its members swapping stories of their exploits which were 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, Green Lantern, and the Atom from All-American's flagship title, All-American Comics.[5] 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."[6] The Justice Society was originally a frame story used to present an anthology of solo stories about the individual characters,[7] with each story handled by a different artist.[8] The anthology format was dropped in 1947 and replaced with full issue stories featuring the heroes teaming up to fight crime.[9]

All Star Comics 8 (Jan. 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.[10] The insert story was included to test reader interest in the Wonder Woman concept. It generated enough positive fan responses that Wonder Woman would be awarded the lead feature in the Sensation Comics anthology title starting from issue #1.[11] Wonder Woman would appear in All Star Comics starting from issue #11 as a member of the Justice Society and as their secretary. All Star Comics #8 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.[12] The Injustice Society first battled the JSA in issue #37 in a tale written by Robert Kanigher.[13] The Black Canary guest starred in issue #38 and joined the team three issues later.[14]

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".[15] 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.[16]

A good amount of artwork from an unpublished All Star Comics story titled "The Will of William Wilson" survived and was reprinted in various publications from TwoMorrows Publishing.[17]


1976 revival series[edit]

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

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.[18] 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[19] as part of the DC Implosion and the JSA's adventures were folded into Adventure Comics.[20] The 1970s series introduced the new characters Power Girl[21][22] and the Helena Wayne version of the Huntress.[23]

After 23-year-old Gerry Conway became editor at DC, long-time JSA-fan Roy Thomas suggested that Conway give the JSA their own title again. Thomas writes that later, Conway offered Thomas a chance to ghostwrite an issue of the revived All-Star, but he preferred not to as it would have to be anonymous since Thomas was under exclusive contract with Marvel Comics at the time.[24] In 1981, Thomas moved to DC and was able to work with the characters.[25]

Subsequent revivals[edit]

A two-issue All-Star Comics series was published as a part of the "Justice Society Returns" storyline in May 1999.[26]

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.[27][28]


  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. ^ a b All Star Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Thomas "Seven Years Before the Masthead" All-Star Companion Volume 1 pp. 13-14
  5. ^ Cowsill, Alan (2010). DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle. New York: DK Pub. p. 33. ISBN 9780756667429. 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. ^ Daniels, Les (1995). DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favourite Comic Book Heroes. London: Virgin. p. 54. ISBN 9781852275464. 
  7. ^ Thomas "The Golden Age of the Justice Society" All-Star Companion Volume 1 p. 43: "From #3-37, virtually every regular JSAer who appeared in an issue...was spotlighted in solo (one-hero) chapters."
  8. ^ Thomas "The Golden Age of the Justice Society" All-Star Companion Volume 1 p. 43: "The solo segments were often drawn by artists who handled the same hero in DC/AA's monthly anthologies."
  9. ^ Thomas "The Golden Age of the Justice Society" All-Star Companion Volume 1 p. 43: "With issue #38 (Dec. 1947-Jan. 1948), a new and more flexible format was introduced."
  10. ^ Marston, William Moulton (w), Peter, H. G. (p), Peter, H. G. (i). "Introducing Wonder Woman" All Star Comics 8 (December 1941-January 1942)
  11. ^ Wallace "1940s" in Dolan, p. 40: "Wonder Woman...took the lead in Sensation Comics following a sneak preview in All Star Comics #8."
  12. ^ 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."
  13. ^ 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."
  14. ^ 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."
  15. ^ 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)
  16. ^ 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."
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ Thomas "All Star Comics in the 1970s" All-Star Companion Volume 1 p. 194
  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): 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. ^ 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."
  22. ^ Conway, Gerry (w), Estrada, Ric (p), Wood, Wally (i). "The Super Squad!" All Star Comics 58 (Feb. 1976)
  23. ^ "All-Star Comics #69". Grand Comics Database. 
  24. ^ "TwoMorrows Publishing - Alter Ego #14 - Gerry Conway Interview". Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  25. ^ Markstein, Don (2010). "All-Star Squadron". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. 
  26. ^ All Star Comics vol. 2 at the Grand Comics Database
  27. ^ "Millennium Edition: All Star Comics No. 3". Grand Comics Database. 
  28. ^ "Millennium Edition: All Star Comics No. 8". Grand Comics Database. 

External links[edit]