All-Star Comics #62 (September-October, 1976)
“When Fall the Mighty”
Plot – Gerry Conway
Script – Paul Levitz
Art – Keith Giffen & Wally Wood
Colors – Carl Gafford
Letters – Ben Oda
Cover Price: $0.30
Strangest thing… remember last week when we discussed Justice League of America #124? It ended with a blurb introducing an ongoing series starring the “Super Squad”… which I had absolutely no knowledge of. I thought perhaps it was something DC had planned, and just never followed through on…
It was brought to my attention that the Super Squad would appear in All-Star Comics for a short time, and would be comprised of the younger Earth-2 heroes. Fair enough… maybe I’ll have to keep an eye out for those, I sez to myself.
Fast-forward a couple days, and I’m in the middle of my resorting and filing project before we move house this Fall, and as I’m flipping through my JSA box, whattayaknow… I find a few issues of All-Star Comics… featuring the Super Squad!
Let’s check one out!
We open with the members of the Justice Society gathered around the body of Dr. Fate. He is hooked up to, and being kept alive by some sort of massive contraption. Turns out he’s been (mortally?) wounded by the villainous Vulcan. Dr. Mid-Nite has located the damage with an infra-red scope, and the Star-Spangled Kid is “willing” the cosmic rod to… do something to help keep Fate going, it isn’t quite clear. Power Girl is (wo)manning the console, and sees an ankh appear in Dr. Fate’s mind.
Hawkman and Green Lantern approach, and take a few panels to discuss Dr. Fate’s origin. Alan suggests that perhaps if they were to go to Egypt, they might find some “hidden knowledge” with which they might save Kent. Hawkman thinks it’s a… decent idea, but he has other things he needs to attend to. Wildcat jokes that he’s off to “feed his widdle parakeet”… he’s kind of a jerk in this story. Anyhoo, as Lantern and Hawkman head out, they run into Flash and (the retired) Hourman. The concoct a plan, Alan and Jay are Egypt-bound, Rex is going to remain with Dr. Fate, and Hawkman’s… gonna head home to feed his widdle parakeet.
We shift to the private museum of Shiera and Carter Hall, where there appears to be an intruder lurking about. After a brief look at Wildcat being sexist toward Power Girl, we return to the museum… the intruder comes across a crate… surrounded by a puddle of melted amber.
Turns out this crate housed the man-monster Zanadu! It wraps his red-hot hands around the intruder, Dr. Arthur Kliburn’s throat. The resulting scream wakes Shiera Hall a few rooms over. She rushes in, however, upon seeing the threat, decides discretion might be the better part of valor. Unfortunately, Zanadu nabs her before she can escape… and the pair vanish!
We pop back in on Jay and Alan as they are traveling over the water. Alan is especially bloodthirsty at this juncture, stating that he needs “something to fight… something to kill!”. Back with the Society, Wildcat is still being sexist… it’s kinda his thing. Power Girl breaks a vase, which transitions us to Hawkman discovering the crate of melty-amber.
Hawkman opens his little “chest compact” to alert the Justice Society of the situation… we see Power Girl, Hourman, and Wildcat receiving the call… we also see another person getting the call. It’s a man with graying hair sitting at his desk at the Daily Star newspaper. Hmm…
In a brief aside, we meet a cloaked man in an Egyptian bazaar. He is looking to buy a gourd full of some sorta mystical fluid, however, the vendor isn’t looking to sell… he’s more in the mood for a trade. The vendor wants the cloaked man’s white horse… and so, there’s no deal. I’m gonna assume that this fella is the Shining Knight, but I can’t say for sure.
Back at the brownstone, Hawkman is filling the folks in on the amber menace and the disappearance of his wife. From here we get one of those awesome cross-section pictures of the brownstone itself! It’s always great to see these… wish they’d do them more nowadays. Anyhoo, as Hawkman blibba-blabbahs, (the Golden Age) Superman arrives!
There’s a bit of an awkward confrontation between Superman and Power Girl. She joined up with the Justice Society “against his orders”. Seems Power Girl’s “thing” right now is arguing with everybody. Fair enough, I guess. Hawkman grows irritated at the bickering… and suggests they cut it out and follow him, if they’re “still interested in justice, that is”. Poor Hourman is told to stay back on guard duty… which leads Rex to reconsidering whether or not he made the right call deciding to don the costume once more.
We shift half a world away… Tokyo, Japan. We rejoin Zanadu and an entranced Shiera Hall, as the former pontificates his plan to “loose the forces of chaos” and destroy Japan! As the Society arrives, they find that the people of Tokyo have all been paralyzed. Superman and Power Girl leap into action.
The Kryptonian cousins confront Zanadu… which the man-beast thinks is pretty laughable. He draws a wave of lava from a nearby volcano (I’m not sure which one)… and bathes the Man of Steel in it. The lava hardens… and an inert Superman falls to the ground.
Power Girl don’t take too kindly to that… unfortunately, she finds herself sinking into the ground below. The issue ends with Zanadu possessing Wildcat with a strange tune… which turns him against Hawkman!
Decent enough issue. Nothing mind-blowing, but good fun.
It’s strange, it kinda feels like they’re going for the complete opposite of what folks think of when thinking about the Justice Society. Early on in the issue there is a caption (of Hourman’s thoughts) which reads “The JSA you remember was quieter, more professional”. That’s kinda what I always think too, especially for a Society of this vintage. It seems to me that they went out of their way to make this feel as different as possible from expectations. I am still something of an All-Star neophyte, so this might be old hat (or complete bunk) to many reading.
In the “not so quiet” “not so professional” department… boy, there was a lot of bickering here. If it wasn’t Wildcat being a boilerplate sexist, it was Power Girl complaining picking fights with everybody about not being taken seriously. I actually sympathized with Hawkman when he was fed up and all “alright, already… let’s go do Justice-y things!”
It was neat to see the Golden-Age Superman… a Superman who couldn’t fly, but instead leaps! So cool to see that. I’m not sure if I’m just seeing things here, but it also felt like he was drawn in a more Golden Age style… eyes closed when speaking and whatnot. Actually, I noticed the “closed eyes” thing for several characters during this story. Neat callback, if in fact it was!
The threat of Zanadu seems kinda “monster of the week” to me. I always have a difficult time getting invested in baddies like this… as I’ve mentioned a bunch of times already, it’s generic “one off” villains that kept me from really getting into DC Comics when I was a kid. Not sure why, but it hurt my level of investment.
Overall, a fun enough issue… and despite my minor quibbles, one I’d recommend tracking down (if you’re interested in the JSA or Golden Age). As luck would have it, this adventure is included in SHOWCASE Presents: All-Star Comics, Volume 1 and is also available digitally.