What We've Lost, Can It Be Regained?

So is Earth-2 back? 52 says yes. What does Final Crisis say?

ALL-STAR SQUADRON #20, DC Comics, April 1983
Before the Crisis killed it off, Earth-2 had a couple comics of its own. I didn't read Infinity Inc., but All-Star Squadron, taking place right in the Golden Age, was another matter entirely. The Squadron was Golden Age expert Roy Thomas' made-up team created by FDR during war time that de facto included every American superhero. There was a core team, of course, and the Justice Society were often used, but the conceit basically gave Thomas the chance to use his encyclopedic knowledge of the era to squeeze in any number of obscure characters and references.

ASS #20, in which "Green Lantern wins the war - but at what price?", is a randomly-picked issue that shows off the series quite well. It's got the usual classic art by Jerry Ordway, and the usual verbose Thomas dialogue to cover up large chunks of it (verbose as in one flashback has the villain talk to himself for 5 pages). But me? I so love the Golden Age that I can't help but like it, old-fashioned though it is. Case in point: The letters page often had historical notes on the issue at hand, and this one is no different. Here we learn that 1942's All-Star Comics shows the JSA turning the tide of the war in the Pacific, clearly subverting what we know now as history. Obviously, this story can't have happened! So Roy Thomas' solution is to have it happen in an elaborate illusion created by the villainous telepath, Brain Wave.

In ASS #19 (I won't stop calling it that, no use sending emails), the JSA were all "killed" inside the illusion, so their lives are hanging by a thread. The core members of the Squadron show up, get sucked into the illusion too and get brought down like chumps as well.
Poor Liberty Belle, shot in the back by the Japs! (Heck, even Robotman bites it.) So who's left to save their bacon before their tenuous grasp on life fails? That question gives Roy Thomas ample justification to spend 4 pages showing us what reserve Justice Society members were doing in their own series at the time (that month in 1942)! Well, since you're not likely to read these stories without splurging on some pricy Archive Editions, it at least gives Ordway a chance to illustrate parts of these stories, which to be frank, often had amateurish art.
That's a red-haired Golden Age Luthor kicking Superman's butt from Superman #17. We also catch up with Batman and Robin, the Flash, Spectre, and... Green Lantern! Now he's available, so he makes his way over, gets sucked into Brain Wave's Japan and as with the other heroes, is filled with blood lust. It got the other JSAers killed, but GL is just too powerful. He basically uses his ring to blow up a Japanese town, and ends the war like it will eventually end... Hiroshima style.

It's too much power for Brain Wave, whose glasses break explosively as a result! That's quite the psychic kick to the head! A pretty strong moment, all told, with the Green Lantern paraphrasing Oppenheimer: "I am become death, the shatterer of worlds..." Good stuff. Then, overwhelmed with guilt, he tries to commit suicide, but all his friends, having snapped out of it when he went atomic, break into his mind and convince him not to. He comes back from the brink, but he is a destroyed man:
Just goes to show that Wonder Woman's bosom is always a great place to recuperate, whether from physical or emotional wounds. Soooooo comforting... no matter what Earth you're on.

6 comments:

De said...

All-Star Squadron was indeed a terrific book. I began reading long after the Crisis was over and sought it out in back issues. It's almost pure continuity porn but I love it just the same.

What did you think of Young All-Stars?

Siskoid said...

Yeah, it was pretty porntastic.

Young All-Stars, however, never worked for me. I don't have very many issues to begin with (as with most of the early Direct Sales series), but the art didn't work for me. Young All-Stars felt a lot like Infinity Inc. for some reason, which did nothing for me either.

hiikeeba said...

For many years, I refused to accept the ramifications of Crisis on Infinite Earths. I had been reading the JSA stories since All-Star Comics brought them back in the 70s. I was a little cheesed off that Earth 2 was eliminated. And Young All Stars was horrible. I have all the issues, but I didn't like it.

googum said...

Aside from the Last Days of the JSA, that's like the one All-Star issue I have. Fortunately, I think it's probably the best one. I know there was an annual-crossover thing explaining how the Atom, Wildcat, and someone else all had the same trainer. Yeah, riveting.

Siskoid said...

Without checking, I think that's All-Star Squadron Annual #2.

Jayunderscorezero said...

Does Brain Wave have a reflective nose or something? What on earth is going on in that panel above?

 

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