All-Star Squadron #15 (November, 1982)
“Crisis on Earth-Prime, Book Three: Master of Worlds and Time!”
Writer – Roy Thomas
Pencils – Adrian Gonzales
Inks – Jerry Ordway
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Carl Gafford
Plot Consultant – Gerry Conway
Editor – Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60
Welcome to the penultimate chapter of Crisis on Earth-Prime. Having a heckuva good time with this arc… feel like it might be ripe for a trip on a certain Cosmic Treadmill somewhere down the line.
Reggie and I are nuts for research… and, boy howdy… the marriage between real world… the multiverse… and the heroes of various Comics-Ages, definitely see the makings of fun episode (or two)!
We pick up right where we left off last issue. Degaton and his Degateam are overhead watching the heroes… which leads to a neat two-page spread where they’re all introduced. As the Justice Society members come to, the others fill them in on what they’ve missed. This ain’t our first comic book, we know a recap session when we see it. Can’t get mad at it though, considering the comics market was still primarily newsstand at this point, and some readers may have missed out on previous chapters.
The JSA figures, since the others showed them theirs’, they might as well share their story as well. It’s pretty basic, actually. Remember how they found that “Mad One” in Earth-Prime (1982)’s underground last issue? Well, after that… they decided to follow Per Degaton’s “trail”, and hop over to Earth-2 (1942). That’s it. They showed up just as the first nuclear missile went off.
The heroes head back to Washington, D.C. to plan their next move with F.D.R. Their chat is cut short by an audiovisual interruption… it’s Per Degaton, and he’s got more threats than you can shake a stick at. Ya see, he’s got two dozen nukes ready to go. He gives the leaders of Earth five-hours to turn over all of their power to him, or else… boom.
The heroes turn to President Roosevelt for guidance, and he’s all “why ya lookin’ at me?”. Realizing the severity of their current situation, and the potential for loss of innocent life… F.D.R. is fully prepared to cede power over to Degaton. The heroes ask him to hold off… for now.
The heroes split off into groups… the first one we’ll follow includes Superman, Robotman, and Dr. Fate. They’re headed into space to deactivate Per Degaton’s satellite… which is how he’s able to transmit his messages (and potentially control the nukes). As they tear into it, Robotman discovers a lead-lined box… which, despite Superman’s warning… he opens! Guess what? It’s Kryptonite! I mean, what else are you gonna store in a lead-lined box, right?
Just then… Ultraman from the Crime Syndicate shows up! He grabs the Green-K, and refers to it as “mother’s milk”. He then proceeds to lay a beat-down on the heroes. He tears off one of Robotman’s arms and tosses him toward Earth’s atmosphere. He hurls Dr. Fate toward Superman… which, as luck would have it, nudges Superman further away from the Kryptonite.
Superman re-powers, and socks the baddie in the mush.
Dr. Fate then traps Ultraman in a bubble (lots of “bubble-making” heroes, ain’t there?). Superman takes off to save Robotman before his human brain burns up in the atmosphere. As the trio of heroes head back, we learn that the timer has ticked down to four-hours.
The next team we join is Aquaman, Liberty Belle, and Starman. They are headed toward Japan in search of a cache of Degatonian nukes. Libby says she doesn’t know much about nukes… only that they should never be used. This leads to an awkward moment… since Aquaman and Starman know what’s coming, and they don’t exactly hide it all that well.
Starman and Liberty Belle arrive on the mainland to find a whole bunch of unconscious (but uninjured) folks. Starman uses his rod to get a reading… and discovers radiation. They follow the trail into a cave… where they discover, well I’ll be… nukes!
A battle breaks out between the heroes and the Degateam. Starman rushes toward the missiles, hopeful that his Cosmic Rod might be able to deactivate them. He is, unfortunately, whipped by Superwoman’s lasso! Liberty Belle asks why the Syndies would work with Degaton again after he double-crossed them. I think “double-crossed” might be a bit much… if you recall, the Syndies were going to attack him first. Anyhoo, Superwoman reveals that they’ve “made up”… for now. Once Degaton is in power, the Crime Syndicate will take him down and rule in his stead.
Eagle-eyed readers might’ve noticed by now that Aquaman hasn’t arrived yet. That’s because he’s busy asking for a favor from… a pair of 20-ton blue whales. Superwoman (and the nuclear cache) is overcome by a tidal wave! Worth noting, Starman mentions Jimmy Doolittle… which baffles Liberty Belle.
After the nuclear base explodes (yeah, it explodes… good thing the nukes weren’t… uh… waterproof? Your guess is as good as mine…) the heroes leave (Superwoman in tow). Liberty Belle’s all “Wassa Jimmy Doolittle?”, thinking fast, Starman says he meant Dr. Doolittle… the guy who talks to animals, just like Aquaman. Nice save…
Next stop, the Midwestern United States… our team: Hawkman, Johnny Quick, and Huntress. They’re following a Geiger Counter’s readings to a farm… and deduce that they’re either within range of the warheads… or flying over a Uranium mine.
Well, luckily… it’s the former. The heroes figure out that the missiles are being stored in grain silos. Johnny Quick goes to do a speedy dismantling… only, they find themselves attacked by… Power Ring!
Since Power Ring… sucks, it only takes a single punch from Huntress to take him out. Unfortunately, as he goes down… he “accidentally” fires a blast at one of the silos, which launches a nuke!
Hawkman flies Johnny Quick skyward, where he can speedily dismantle the missile before it goes boom. Moments later, Quick has dismantled the lot of ’em. Power Ring is still kayoed… because he sucks.
We wrap up with Per Degaton… and he’s not exactly pleased. His satellite has been taken off-line, and two of his missile sites have been FUBARed. No matter, the third is sure to pack a powerful punch!
Before we get into it, I want to mention that this issue also came with the Masters of the Universe “Bonus Book”. If you want to check that out, take a look at yesterday’s piece. Click the image below!
Now, this is the kind of issue I refer to as a “procedural” one. In every crossover we seem to get this kind of issue. Where the teams intermingle, and split off into squads to achieve their goal.
One one hand, it’s fun to see characters from different books (and Earths) interact and team-build. On the other… this has gotta be the least efficient way to take care of a problem. I mean, we’ve got five-hours to save the world… and three places we’re going to investigate (this chapter). Why wouldn’t you send the Justice League to, say… the Satellite, the Justice Society to Japan, and the All-Stars to the Midwest?
I mean, it would stand to reason that you’d get the best result keeping teams together, right? I mean, they’re already used to working together… and probably have a bit of a synergy going, no?
If you’ve got all the time in the world… sure, have fun… mix up the teams… yadda yadda. But, c’mon… in five hours, power is going to be handed over to Degaton. Let’s play this one safe.
Speaking of playing safe… howsabout blowing up the missile site in Japan?! That doesn’t seem like the wisest decision, does it? I mean, I gotta assume the deactivated all of the nukes… considering that the entire island nation wasn’t blown off the map by their antics… but, that’s still a risky gambit, ain’t it? How can you be sure that the missiles are completely deactivated? How can you be sure there aren’t a couple more in the vicinity? Just seems sloppy to me.
I did appreciate the nods to real-world history. The awkward exchanges between Aquaman and Starman regarding the horrors of using nuclear weapons, and Jimmy Doolittle’s bomber raid… all very interesting stuff. I swear, I’d love to see a picture of Roy Thomas’s work space during this time… it’s gotta just be cluttered with maps and texts… newspaper clippings… old comics. Least that’s how I’m picturing it!
The bit in the Midwest was kinda neat… and shows us that this is not entirely hopeless. Johnny Quick is able to rapidly (I wanted to say “quickly”) disarm an entire cache… including one that had already launched! So, even if worse comes to worst, all isn’t necessarily lost.
Overall, perhaps a weaker chapter than the three that proceeded it, but by no means does that make it bad. There’s a little bit of “wonk” here, but nothing we can’t overlook. The Masters of the Universe bonus book still sucks though.
This issue is available digitally… and, thanks to reader Grant Kitchen, I can tell you that the issue of Justice League of America we covered yesterday likely does come with the Masters of the Universe “bonus book” (it’s listed as being 40-pages). This issue of All-Star Squadron, however, is only listed at 23-pages. So, if you’re only looking for He-Man… you probably ain’t gonna find him here.
Letters Page (featuring… who else? The Mad Maple!):