All-Star Squadron

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All-Star Squadron
Cover of All-Star Squadron #31 (Mar, 1984). Art by Jerry Ordway.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Preview:
Justice League of America #193 (August 1981)
First full appearance:
All-Star Squadron # 1 (September 1981)
Created by Roy Thomas
Rich Buckler
Jerry Ordway
In-story information
Base(s) Trylon & Perisphere
Roster
See:List of All-Star Squadron members

The All-Star Squadron is a DC Comics superhero team that debuted in a special insert in Justice League of America #193 (August 1981).[1] The new team was launched in its own series the following month[2] and was created by Roy Thomas, Rich Buckler and Jerry Ordway.[3]

The concept[edit]

All-Star Squadron #1 contains "An Open Letter to the Readers" written by Roy Thomas. In it he describes the impetus for the series, namely, DC wanted a comic book telling tales of the Justice Society of America. The last series to do so was All Star Comics, which lasted only seventeen issues, ending in 1979. As Roy Thomas put it, DC management gave him "a chance to write a return of the JSA." Instead of writing stories in the modern era, however, Roy Thomas decided to place the tales during World War Two. The setting would be DC's fictional world of Earth-Two, a parallel universe to the mainstream DC continuity established during the 1960s, to explain how DC characters who were well established having adventures in the 1940s could still be in their 30s in contemporary comics. The cast of characters, however, would include a large ensemble of heroes from both the DC stable and the Quality Comics Group (which had been purchased by DC). With so many characters to choose from, the creative team decided to concentrate on "quite promising characters who have been ignored or underplayed for years," instead of those Earth-Two characters who had counterparts on Earth-One. Roy Thomas writes, "If we lost the original GL, we gained the Earth-Two Robotman; if we dropped Jay (Flash) Garrick, we picked up on Johnny Quick; Liberty Belle could stand in for Wonder Woman till more super-powered ladies came along. We even tossed in an Earth-Two version of the venerable Plastic Man, whose series in ADVENTURE was just folding..."

The All-Star Squadron was an example of "retroactive continuity" or "retcon", as it rewrote the already-established history of DC superheroes that had been published during the 1940s. The first known use of the term "retcon" was by Roy Thomas in the letter column of All-Star Squadron #20 (April, 1983). Several story lines ironed out continuity errors (and quite a few were created), fleshed out characters' origins and rewrote earlier stories to explain inconsistencies in character development, resolve lingering questions or fill in missing details.

The Trylon and Perisphere, actual structures constructed in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York for the 1939 New York World's Fair, housed the Squadron's headquarters. The Perisphere contained the Squadron meeting hall, while the Trylon was retrofitted as an aircraft hangar/vertical launch platform. The All-Star Squadron had a robotic butler named Gernsback, who was based on the Elektro robots from the fair and was named after science fiction publisher Hugo Gernsback.

After the 1985 DC Comics event Crisis on Infinite Earths merged the various parallel worlds DC had established over the decades into a single universe, the older, "Golden Age" versions of DC's mainstream heroes were largely eliminated from continuity. The All-Star Squadron was left only with the characters unique to that time period. Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, Green Arrow, Plastic Man, and several other heroes were no longer extant at that point in history, and were thus never Squadron members. In part to clear the slate after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths and to re-launch the franchise, All Star Squadron was canceled with issue #67 and replaced it with a successor series, Young All-Stars. The principal characters featured in Young All Stars were considered spiritual and contextual analogs for the missing characters: Iron Munro for Superman, Fury for Wonder Woman, Flying Fox for Batman, Dan the Dyna-Mite for Robin, and Neptune Perkins for Aquaman. (Evil analogs were also created for the missing characters at the same time: Übermensch, Der Grosshorn Eule, Fledermaus, Usil, and Sea Wolf.) Young All Stars ran for 31 issues.

In a nod to the original JSA adventures in All Star Comics, writer Roy Thomas tried to include at least a cameo appearance by the golden-age Hawkman in every issue, since Hawkman was the one hero to appear in every golden-age issue of All Star, including the two pre-JSA issues. Unfortunately, the artwork for issue #49 was printed without Hawkman's cameo included, so it became the only issue to break the streak. The string of appearances, however, had already been broken several issues into a mid-70s revival of All Star Comics, numbering and all.

When writer Gerry Conway revived the Justice Society in their own regular series in 1976, he initially intended to have the younger members of the group, including Power Girl and the Star-Spangled Kid, spun off into their own team (and potential series of their own), to be called the All-Star Squadron. The group's named was subsequently changed to the Super Squad, after management at DC worried that the team's original name would be abbreviated as A.S.S.

Fictional history[edit]

The All-Star Squadron battling Captain Marvel. Art by Rich Buckler.

On the day of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt gathered available superheroes—including members of the Justice Society of America, Freedom Fighters, Seven Soldiers of Victory, and solo heroes—at the White House. He asked them to band together for the war as the All-Star Squadron to battle sabotage and keep the peace on the home front during World War II. The rationale for not using the Squadron in combat situations in the European or Pacific Theaters of War was that Adolf Hitler had possession of the Spear of Destiny, a mystical object that gave him control of any superheroes with magic-based powers or a vulnerability to magic (including Superman, Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, and others) who crossed into territory held by the Axis Powers.

At the time, many of the Justice Society members had been captured by the time-travelling villain Per Degaton with the help of JSA foes he had pulled back in time, but the available heroes were asked to first guard against a potential attack on the American West Coast. Degaton himself used some stolen Japanese planes with hypnotized troopers to launch such an attack on San Francisco, hoping to change history by making the USA fight to a stalemate against Japan, enabling him to take over the world, so the new Squadron's first major mission was to stop the attack and rescue the captured heroes, who also became part of the new group. However due to Per Degaton going back in time after the JSA were freed they forgot his involvement, though the events were not wiped. America's entry into the war caused several of the members of the JSA to enlist, or be drafted in their civilian identities. These included Starman, Hawkman, The Atom, and Johnny Thunder.

Creators[edit]

Writers[edit]

Artists[edit]

Cover artists[edit]

  • Rich Buckler - #1, 3-6, 36 (Sep 1981, Nov 1981-Feb 1982, Aug 1984)
  • Joe Kubert - #2, 7-18 (Oct 1981, Mar 1982-Feb 1983)
  • Jerry Ordway - #19-33, 50, 60 (Mar 1983-May 1984, Oct 1985, Aug 1986); Annual #1-2 (1982–83)
  • Rick Hoberg - #34-35, 37-39 (Jun 1984-Jul 1984, Sep 1984-Nov 1984); Annual #3 (1984)
  • Arvell Jones - #40-44, 46, 52, 55, 58-59, 64-66 (Dec 1984-Apr 1985, Jun 1985, Dec 1985, Mar 1986, Jun 1986-Jul 1986, Dec 1986-Feb 1987)
  • Tim Burgard - #45 (May 1985)
  • Todd McFarlane - #47 (Jul 1985)
  • Mike Harris - #48-49, 61-62 (Aug 1985-Sep 1985, Sep 1986-Oct 1986)
  • Mike Clark - #51, 53-54, 56-57 (Nov 1985, Jan 1986-Feb 1986, Apr 1986-May 1986)
  • Michael Bair - #63 (Nov 1986)
  • Tom Grindberg - #67 (Mar 1987)

Editors[edit]

  • Len Wein - #1-20, Annual #1
  • Roy Thomas - #21-67, Annual #2-3

Collected editions[edit]

  • Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron Vol. 1 collects "All-Star Squadron" insert preview from Justice League of America #193; All-Star Squadron #1-18; and All-Star Squadron Annual #1, 528 pages, April 2012, ISBN 1-4012-3436-4

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "All-Star Squadron, DC's new World War II-era superhero series debuts in May in a 16-page preview insert in Justice League of America #193." as noted in "Thomas Revives WWII Superheroes" Catron, Michael Amazing Heroes #1 June 1981 pp. 28-29
  2. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. The creative team of writer Roy Thomas and artist Rich Buckler on All-Star Squadron offered readers a nostalgic glimpse back in time, albeit through the slightly distorted lens of Earth-2's history. 
  3. ^ Beatty, Scott (2008), "All-Star Squadron", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, London: Dorling Kindersley, p. 11, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5 

External links[edit]

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