All-Star Squadron #60 (August, 1986)
"The End of the Beginning!"
Writer - Roy Thomas
Co-Plotter - Dann Thomas
Pencillers - Mike Clark & Arvell Jones
Inkers - Vince Colletta & Tony DeZuniga
Colorist - Carl Gafford
Letterer - David Cody Weiss
Cover Price: $0.75
The All-Star Squadron... and pretty much any 70's-80's DC with Roy Thomas' name on it, has been a bit of an on-purpose blind-spot for me. It feels almost as intimidating to me as the Legion of Super-Heroes! However, one of the purposes of this humble blog is for me to broaden my DC Comics horizons... and actually start reading the comics I've been stockpiling over the past couple decades.
And so... today we're going to discuss a Crisis-era issue of All-Star Squadron. A bit of a spoiler alert... this is probably the worst issue of this series to use as a "jumping on point"... but we will, as always... do our best.
We open with the combined forces of the Spectre and Thunderbolt bringing the Justice Society back from... wherever they've been. The footnote states that for the better part of the past year the Society have been flung around a parallel universe. Then altogether, the crew returns to the real world circa World War II... where the skies are quite red!
The Society realizes their recent out-of-universe experience was compliments of a Nazi scientist named Gootsden. Led by Hawkman, our team meets with an FBI Agent outside a innocuous dwelling from which Nazis are readying to launch rockets. The society makes quick work of the Ratzis, and Hawkman even gets a few moments on the phone with Der Fuhrer himself! After the dust settles, the Spectre transports the team back to headquarters.
We shift over to All-Stars Green Lantern, Shining Knight, Air Wave, and Firebrand stand before a mechanical woman calling herself Mekanique who claims to be from the future... Robotman is laid out behind her and Robert Grayson is also nearby. The All-Stars attempt to lay into her, she easily deflects the onslaught with a well-placed force field.
Robotman pleads with his teammates to lay off... he believes Mekanique means no harm. He also believes she is actually from the future. During a cease fire, she informs the All-Stars that she has come back to this time for a very specific reason... Green Lantern's all "'splain"... and so she does. She is back to stop an event that will trigger an eventual "world destroying war". Everything apparently stems from a young girl being hit by a car after her cat jumps into the street... that very day!
Green Lantern and Firebrand head off to prevent the accident... and do! It turns out the person who was driving the vehicle that would've hit the young girl is Admiral Higby, a top strategist for the United States Navy. After a brief meet 'n greet, our All-Stars head back to the Perisphere in Flushing Meadows, where the gang has their headquarters.
Upon arrival, we see a whole slew of Golden Age characters... it's really quite a sight. Among them are Batman, Superman, Robin, and Aquaman. It's strange to recall how different the pre-Crisis DC Universe was. It's really quite alien to me. Anyhoo, they are all assembled because President Roosevelt requested a team photograph. And so...
With the picture taken, Batman draws attention to the fact that Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters were absent. Liberty Belle fills him (and us) in on their fate. They now reside on Earth X where they are fighting in a different World War II... one in which Hitler and Tojo have the advantage! If I recall correctly, that Earth is sometimes referred to as Earth Swastika.
Speaking of absences, Green Lantern notices that both Mekanique and Robotman have flown the coop. Turns out they are outside getting to know one another better. Robotman recalls that when she first arrived, she muttered the word Rotwang (couldn't be...) before collapsing. She does not appear to know what that word means, and so Robotman uses his photoelectric cell eyes to try and dig a bit deeper.
... and so we learn that Mekanique is really a robot from the future named Maria... who was built by a scientist named Rotwang... in a Metropolis ruled by an elite class... and yeah, my mind is kinda blown. This is really supposed to be Maria from Fritz Lang's Metropolis?!? Ay yai yai!
Her memories begin rushing back... she realizes that she has been sent back to effect the past. She also notes that she is single-handedly holding back the effects of the frickin' Crisis on Infinite Earths from finalizing! If my mind wasn't already blown, it damn sure would be now! Oh, by the way... by Green Lantern and Firebrand saving both the little girl and Admiral Higby... they didn't save the future... they doomed it! Well, isn't that nice? Her proclamation ends with the skies changing from red to blue... signifying the fallout of the Crisis settling in.
We wrap up with All-Stars Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, and Hawkman delivering the team photo to President Roosevelt. They apologize that a few members are missing... FDR is cool with it though, as he doesn't notice any "big names" missing... he even comments that anyone who is missing is probably so obscure he'd never heard of them. Note that the "trinity" is no longer present...
Well. Woof... I think this was a pretty important issue. Dang... I most definitely do have the worst "new-reader friendly" radar. Thankfully, from future iterations of the Justice Society of America, I do have a fair amount of familiarity with many of these characters. As a (pre-Crisis) unit, and in the Roosevelt era, not so much... but I think we can have a go at this.
We've got a lot to unpack... so, let's just get down to it.
I wanna say this is the first time I read an issue of a comic that started in the pre-Crisis DC Universe... and ended in post-Crisis. That... and I've said this a few times already... kinda blew my mind. I mean, imagine such an issue being released today... this sucker would've been hyped to hell and back, and would've been released with skatey-eight hundred variants and incentives. Here, however... it's just a normal-sized (though chock-full of information) issue! What's more... no mention of Crisis on Infinite Earths on the cover... Just how nuts is that?
Let's discuss what is probably the most important bit of this issue. The official dissolution of Earth-Two. Roy Thomas included a note at the end of the letters page (below) that confirms that Earth-Two is done as a "separate entity". That's a pretty big deal... Earth-Two had been around for over twenty-years at this point... which is like, what six or seven "generations" of comic book readers?
I wish I had more of a connection to the multiple Earths so I could get the full import of this. I know, even as just a wannabe comics historian, that this is pretty big... I can only imagine what I would have thought or felt had I been "in the scene" back then. I wonder how what would have run through my mind after seeing that second team picture without Superman, without Batman or Robin, without Wonder Woman or Aquaman. That must have been wildly strange! It is weird that Green Arrow and Speedy remained though... I'm not quite sure how that worked itself out.
Overall... I really want to recommend this one, just for it's sheer importance. On the other hand... it is a lot to unpack, and a pretty decent knowledge of DC's Golden Age is almost a requirement. I think I'm fairly well-versed, and I found myself having to pop over to some online info-sites. This is (surprisingly?) available digitally (as is the entire series!). I think it's certainly worth the time, if one is willing to put forth a smidge of effort.