[Acquired Taste Book Club] Quality Quest! Justice League of America (1960-) #107-108 and All-Star Squadron (1981-) #31-35

Acquired Taste Book Club Week 5!

2019-12-03T02:00:00Z2019-12-06T19:59:00Z

Welcome to a belated edition of the Acquired Taste Book Club! We’re circling back around to Quality Comics today, for a look at where the bulk of Quality’s characters ended up.

In this case we’ll be taking a dive into the history of Earth-X, the adopted home of Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. While Plastic Man joined DC’s main heroes on Earth-1 and Blackhawk Squadron had a long but sadly undigitized run under the DC banner, the rest of Quality’s stable languished out of publication, none of them having been seen since their original wartime runs.

Then, they reappeared in a crisis. Not the Crisis, a crisis. The Justice League of America and their Earth-2 predecessors and counterparts in the Justice Society of America would traditionally team up with one another for a two- or three-part storyline every year. Often, they would travel to other worlds, like Earth-3, home of the villainous Crime Syndicate of America, or Earth-S, home of a certain mighty mortal who we’ve already met. These stories would traditionally be entitled “Crisis on something-or-other” or “Crisis at so-and-so,” after the original JLA/JSA two-parter “Crisis on Earth-1” and “Crisis on Earth-2.” Quality’s characters, however, inhabited a world a little different from the others, as you’ll soon see.

We’ll also be looking at their other major Pre-Crisis appearance. Created by Roy Thomas, All-Star Squadron was one of a small sub-line of DC books taking place on Earth-2. It featured a large group of Golden Age heroes brought together by the government as a task force to battle the Axis during World War II. This story arc from the series delves more closely into the origin story of Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters.

Reading Assignment: Justice League of America (1960-) #107-108 and All-Star Squadron (1981-) #31-35

Justice League of America:

Justice League of America (1960-) #107

Justice League of America (1960-) #108

All-Star Squadron:

All-Star Squadron (1981-) #31

All-Star Squadron (1981-) #32

All-Star Squadron (1981-) #33

All-Star Squadron (1981-) #34

All-Star Squadron (1981-) #35

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What do you think of the premise for Earth-X?

  2. I don’t think it’s a controversial statement that the characters who made up the Freedom Fighters have been heavily underutilized. Who would you like to see more of?

  3. OK, the plot is silly. Good silly or bad silly?

  4. Did you spot the error on one of the two covers?

ALL-STAR SQUADRON DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Does this expansion of the Freedom Fighters’ origin make sense?

  2. How many of the characters from the big meeting did you recognize?

  3. There are a lot of characters here. Does the story do a good job of juggling them all?

  4. Do you need to throw tomatoes at me for getting this up so late?

For questions or concerns, contact me @BatJamags.

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Next week: The Red Skies descend once more… on Earth-S!

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Cool – I haven’t read a lot of Freedom Fighters outside of when they show up in big events/storylines, like Crisis and Multiversity. Looking forward to seeing some of the original stories. :slight_smile:

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Okay, had to move some Injustice over here, the last few issues of House of Mystery over there, and told Justice League Dark to be patient, but made room for Uncle Sam and Phantom Lady.

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I would have been 9 years old when I read this two parter. If I had just slightly less self-awareness I would have run up and down the street yelling “There’s an Earth X where the Nazis won and Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters are fighting back.” I didn’t though. It really is stories like this that made me love DC.


Kinda whiny by Reddy considering this is his mess.

Human Bomb is kind of a tragic figure

Nice camo Nazi satellite builders

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It need not, narration box. It most certainly need not.

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I don’t think it was an original concept, however that background does make for some good storytelling. It’s kind of sad reading the All-Star prequel along with this, though, because it shows they’ve been fighting those Nazi fools for a loooooong time.

Okay, so the 12 year old little inner schmuck of child within me is demanding I yell, “PHANTOM LADY!,” but it’s okay…I’m stronger than he is. I’m going too officially go with Uncle Sam, he’s always been intriguing to me for some reason as a comic character (which may be why All-Star Squadron 31 is one of the few issues of that series that I own).

Good silly from my point of view. I really enjoyed it.

No, but show me! Show me!

Regarding Red Tornado, I wasn’t familiar with this early look for him. Makes me feel like maybe there’s this whole world of Red Tornado stories I’ve missed out on for some reason.

Yes, except doesn’t some of these characters meet the Freedom Fighters for the “first time” in the Justice League story decades after this tale?

All of them except Red Bee, I don’t think I’ve seen him before. Nice pants, dude. Hey, was Midnight supposed to look just like the Spirit?

All the important ones, sure. The major players for this specific take all had their solid place in here.

No, that’s perfectly okay with me. My aim sucks anyway.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to live there and be done with it. :stuck_out_tongue:

All joking aside though I liked the premise of Earth-X and its heroes quite a lot.

I liked all the characters but the one that stood out to me most was Uncle Sam. I thought he was most interesting of them and found the idea of “Uncle Sam” being a comic book hero intriging.

I thought the plot was silly in a good way. The kid in me was reveling in it and the adult in me was nostalgic for a time when comics where full of such “silly” plots. Made me want to read more comics from this period to be honest.

I’m afraid I did not. Do tell us what they are oh wise one.

ALL-STAR SQUADRON DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

I felt it did.

Pretty much all of them with one or two exceptions. It was nice to see some of these characters again after so long.

I felt that it did at least as far as the main characters were concerned.

Not at all. Things happen and besides I’m not one to throw tomatoes at anyone.

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Where are the other Four?

Bobob
Hey, that’s (or is inspired by) a real thing! I’ve seen it! I think my dad has a picture of me next to it!


I saw it at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, which, if I’m not mistaken, seems to be where this picture was taken.

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OK, Sandra? I want you to stop, go look at yourself in a mirror, come back, and tell Starman with a straight face that his costume doesn’t cover him well enough.

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Sliding in under the wire!

It feels a little trite, honestly. Especially as a recovering history major, it doesn’t even make a ton of sense for the Axis to have won the war, and as written, it doesn’t accomplish much that couldn’t be satisfied with any other bunch of generic henchmen.

Silly costume notwithstanding (and even then, the goggles-and-cape look is cool and distinctive), I think the Phantom Lady’s abilities are interesting, and she has some historical significance (having been one of Frederic Wertham’s targets, if I recall correctly), so some better development of her would be good.

It’s kind of charming in its attempt to recapture the spirit of a Golden Age wartime story, but without the context, it feels a little hollow. And that’s exacerbated in the All-Star Squadron issues.

Look at #108. They’re from three earths.

Not especially, no. It doesn’t line up very well as a prequel to Crisis on Earth-X, since they never acknowledged being from a different Earth in that story (plus the references to Plastic Man and the Blackhawks being undone), and we still don’t know what happened with Phantom Lady, Human Bomb, and Doll Man to get them back on Earth-X. It would’ve been far easier to just have separate versions of each of them on Earth-2, independent of their Earth-X counterparts.

Plus, it removes a lot of the punch when you have people crossing between the two Earths during the war (when there’s still a chance, as far as the characters know, that they might win on Earth-2), so Earth-X’s Axis is just “doing better” and hasn’t won yet.

I knew most of them, but there was an unfamiliar face or two, like the Quality Manhunter. We never did get the fight between him and Paul Kirk. I did know a lot that I wouldn’t otherwise have recognized from The Golden Age.

It ended up not using as many as I thought it was going to, but separating them into smaller groups like they do is usually a good way of managing large casts and it works fine.

Well, if nobody else will get it, I’ll have to invent some kind of boomerang-tomato.

A lot of the writing on this selection felt clunky and awkward, even moreso than the JLA issues, which is surprising given how much later it was. Like, you expect the awkward exposition-speak from anything before '88 or '89 or so (with some notable exceptions), but the All-Star Squadron issues felt wordy even for that writing style, and a lot of the attempts at humor and references just fell flat. Also, Johnny Quick is an idiot and I hate him, which is impressive since he had built-up goodwill from Mark Waid’s Flash run to coast on and he managed to burn through that and work his way all the way down to hate in only five issues.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What do you think of the premise for Earth-X?
    I really enjoy it. I believe the multiple earths can make for great stories
  2. I don’t think it’s a controversial statement that the characters who made up the Freedom Fighters have been heavily underutilized. Who would you like to see more of?
    The human bomb
  3. OK, the plot is silly. Good silly or bad silly?
    Good silly
  4. Did you spot the error on one of the two covers?
    They are the super heroes of 3 different earths

ALL-STAR SQUADRON DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Does this expansion of the Freedom Fighters’ origin make sense?
    I thought so
  2. How many of the characters from the big meeting did you recognize?
    Not as many as I felt I should!
  3. There are a lot of characters here. Does the story do a good job of juggling them all?
    Yes
  4. Do you need to throw tomatoes at me for getting this up so late?
    Lol, no! Great stories for the book club.
    [/quote]

That really just seems par for the course when it comes to the works of Roy Thomas, especially in All-Star Squadron or anything involving Earth 2.

To be honest I don’t mind wordiness at times. It’s not being “wordy” enough that I tend to have a problem with.

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