Young All-Stars #1 (January, 1987)
“The Coming of the Young All-Stars”
Writers – Roy & Dann Thomas
Pencils – Michael Bair, Brian Murray & Vince Argondezzi
Inks – Malcolm Jones, III
Colors – Carl Gafford
Letters – David C. Weiss
Cover Price: $1.00
Here’s a series I’ve wanted to look at for a long time… but, boy… it’s kind of intimidating. There’s a whole lot of lore in here… and retroactive-lore, at that! This is a post-Crisis series… whose roots are very much in the pre-Crisis DCU.
A while back, here on the blog, we looked at a very special issue of All-Star Squadron… one that started pre-Crisis… and ended post-Crisis. It was a wild story, featuring, of all things… the android from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis holding back the effects of Crisis.
That issue featured the assembled All-Stars taking a photo for the President of the United States… and it was in that photo that we saw some of the alterations Crisis wrought. Characters like Superman, Batman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman were removed from ever having been part of the Golden Age… and so, “stand ins” were required.
Well, sorta-kinda required… they could’ve just brushed everything under the rug and moved forward… but, this is Roy Thomas, and he cares far more about making lore work than most. And bless him for it! Here is a clipping from Comics through Time: A History of Icon, Idols, and Ideas (2014) with some information about the All-Stars, young and old.
With that… we might just be ready to jump into the series that was once going to be known as The New All-Star Squadron!
We open with the All-Star Squadron facing off with Mekanique! We at the blog met her back in the long ago, when she was holding back the effects of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Here, she is depicted as a giant… and she’s having her way with the All-Stars. Despite the heroes’ best efforts, she is able to shrug off… and even redirect… most of their attacks.
Mekanique appears to be wiping out All-Stars with every swat of her hands… even “heavy hitters” like Green Lantern and Spectre go down quick! It gets to the point where the last heroes standing are Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick… but, with a swat and a stomp… it looks like it’s all she wrote for the good guys!
Only… it was just a dream! Here we meet Helena Kosmatos, the Fury… who is the stand-in for the Golden-Age Wonder Woman. She wakes with a shout!
Her Uncle Johnny and Aunt Libby rush into the room to see whats wrong… and so, she shares her nightmare. She imagined her Aunt and Uncle as Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. They try keeping the ruse up, if only for a moment. Johnny, realizing the futility of it all, finally tips his hand… and spills the beans.
We learn a little bit about Helena’s origin, including that she isn’t a blood relative to either Libby or Johnny. She comes from “Fury” stock… which, I’m going to assume is a stand-in for the Amazons? I could very well be wrong, but that’s my take-away. Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick decide that it might be time for Helena to meet the rest of the All-Star Squadron, in the flesh.
We jump to Santa Barbara, California… where Neptune Perkins plays in the surf. Perkins, a Golden-Age character himself, is the post-Crisis stand-in for the Golden-Age Aquaman.
In the distance, atop an outcropping of rock, he sees a woman… just standing there, dramatically posed. Turns out, this is Tsunami… a Japanese-American, driven to anti-American sentiment in light of World War II era fear and prejudice toward the Japanese. She watches as Perkins is overcome by a large wave… and dives into the drink to save him.
She loads him into a really strange-looking houseboat, and they have a chat. Neptune asks what she was even doing out there… after all, she could have died! She responds that, well… that’s kinda what she wanted. Ya see, that wave was actually meant to take her out.
Then… it’s story time. After battling the All-Star Squadron some time back, Tsunami headed home. Shortly, a pair of U.S. officials appeared on her family’s doorstep to question… and perhaps “round up” her grandfather as a Japanese spy. Well, Miya ain’t digging that… and so, she grabs one of the G-Men, and hurls him through the wall. She flees the scene, leaving her family to be taken into internment.
Miya then tells him her “final shame” (which isn’t shared with we mere readers). Neptune tells her she needn’t kill herself… and actually, he just might know someone who can help out… don’t in Los Angeles. And so, they go!
We next join the Royal Canadian Air Force as they go through their procedures. As they do so, they come across a strange flying figure. It’s the Flying Fox, and this is his first appearance. Fox is the stand-in for Batman during the Golden Age.
Next stop, Indian Creek, Colorado… where TNT and Dan the Dyna-Mite are dealing with some Nazi saboteurs who are trying to blow up a dam. They are spotted, and a fight breaks out. A few Ratzis hop into their hooptie and beeline it to the dam.
It just so happens that Iron Munro is having a picnic with a pretty young thing right around the dam! Now, Arn “Iron” Munro is a wildly interesting study. He is the stand-in for the Golden Age Superman and even has origins in the Philip Wylie Gladiator novel (1930), that many folks cite as the inspiration for Superman. Munro’s father is Hugo Danner… the very “Gladiator” from the book. His grandfather, Abednego Danner… the scientist who finagled having a super-powered son! Really neat tie-in!
The picnic is interrupted by the Nazis driving through… and Arn stops them cold with his bare hands. Though, I gotta say… I was expecting the homage to Action Comics #1 here!
He hops over to check for casualties… and it turns out TNT didn’t survive the encounter. Suddenly a Valkyrie, who introduces herself as Gudra appears. She’s come to take TNT’s soul back with her to Valhalla.
Iron ain’t havin’ it… and so, he lunges toward Gudra. She responds by blasting him with her power staff-thingie. After she vanishes, Arn realizes that Dyna-Mite still lives… he slings him over his shoulder and rushes off.
We follow Gudra, and close out with her checking in with her pals… the Axis Amerika! The final page is a really neat twisted callback to the cover of All-Star Squadron #1!
A bit to unpack here… though, none of it is quite as interesting as all of the backstage maneuverings. I gotta hand it to Roy and Dann Thomas in their ability (and passion) for making everything “fit“. It’s a sure sign of a writer that cares about the properties… and everyone who contributed to the lore before them, when they reach so deep to make everything “matter”. I only wish contemporary writers would take a lesson from the Thomases and consider those who came before when making sweeping (and unnecessary) changes to characters under their pen.
Really enjoyed this… though, the “stand-ins” are really no comparison to the originals. I mean, I couldn’t imagine anyone preferring Neptune Perkins to Aquaman or Flying Fox to Batman… though, I suppose it is a big world. Still… gotta hand it to the Thomases for putting in the effort.
I think my only complaint (if we could even call it that) about this issue… is that it, like most of the Thomases “Earth-2” corner of the DCU… requires kind of a running start. These aren’t light and breezy reads by any stretch of the imagination. There are so many tie-ins and allusions to Golden Age comics, real-world WWII era history, even film and literature… this is some dense stuff, and if you’re not reading carefully, it’s really easy to miss some stuff! Again, no fault of the book… but, kind of intimidating for someone like me who was too young to “be there” for this.
(Not the) Letters Page: