O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Each day in November, I will read and review/discuss/whatever one comic taken from a box of some of my childhood comics. Today, it’s All-Star Squadron annual #1.
The Nostalgia November archive can be found here.
All-Star Squadron annual #1 by Roy Thomas, Adrian Gonzales, and Jerry Ordway takes place shortly after the group has come together, so shortly that they barely know one another. The issue has three parts to its story, the first focusing on Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash performing at a circus to sell war bonds. During their performance, they fake like an accident had happened so they could shift from riding a bike together across a tightrope to acrobatics — this poses a problem when a flash of light screws them up and everyone thinks it’s just another put-over. The flash of light reveals a glowing bubble that has the Atom, Wildcat, and an unknown person that we know is the Guardian inside. That trio proceeds to attack the other three heroes, displaying superhuman strength. After a scuffle, the three attackers return to normal and have no idea how they got there.
Going off together, the six ride a magic Green Lantern flying carpet and discuss what happened. In the process, Wildcat, the Atom, and the Guardian all tell their origins, converging on two points: being sucked up into a glowing sphere before waking up at the circus, and they were all trained to fight by someone — who turns out to be the same man. With this knowledge, they all split up into pairs and go hunting for the man. Each pair finds him, except his glowing a different colour and is all superpowered-up. In each case, the man he taught to fight knocks him out, though. When they bring the unconscious ‘triplets’ together, they merge into one big glowing angry guy who calls himself Evil. The trainer eventually regains control and tells how he was sucked up into the glowing ball after being bitter that the third man he trained (and hoped would make him rich) abandoned him. The ball hates Green Lantern for whatever reason and used the former students now heroes to try and kill GL. But, it’s defeated now, so everyone be happy?
On the final page, we learn that the glowing ball is some evil force that was sent to that universe by the Guardians of Oa, who previously expelled some magical energy to that same universe knowing that it would eventually power this Green Lantern’s power battery or something. So, really, the problem started with the Guardians of Oa… it’s always those little blue bastards, isn’t it?
Not a bad issue, more an excuse to give readers the origins of Wildcat, Atom, and Guardian than anything else. I mean, the villain is very lame. The issue is interesting for one big reason: Roy Thomas does something that’s quite common now by taking three different, distinct origins, and tying them together based on a point of similarity. I imagine that before this issue the three heroes weren’t trained to fight by the same man, but now they were. Instant connection created as Golden Age characters are retroactively tied together to help strengthen that ‘shared universe’ aspect of the comic. Not only that, but Thomas also connects the Earth-2 Green Lantern to the Green Lanterns of Earth-1. Common techniques/choices today, but not so much then.
Really, though, this is a bland comic. Not bad, but not great either. I probably enjoy it more now than I did when I read it as a kid — I recall finding is VERY boring then. Now, I can appreciate what Thomas and company were going for even if it’s not that exciting.
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