[JSA Book Club]Week 9: All Star Super Squad [6/16-6/30]

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Hello again my friends and welcome to this meeting of the JSA Book Club. This week we are traveling back to the Bronze Age to pick up with the JSA as they are once again being published in All Star Comics. The team will have new members and All Star Comics #58 (cover date Feb. 1976) also features the first appearance of Power Girl whose become a fan favorite. So let’s get started.

The Roll Call

Club Leaders

@JasonTodd428 & @Aurora

Standing Members

bigblock66, Brenticus_Rex, CassTheStreet, CrazyQuilt, Daffern, december360, Don-El, frankie.lacy79, Frostbite30, ganaoque, HombreDeMaiz, hotstufflouie, jacksonjakebova.2, Jay_Kay, Jflow, jlevin, lunalane, mbpbinder, Meisaj, mgeiler, Midnitehour, MisfitCMJ, ,msgtv, ProActress2O, ralphsix, Ravenrifft, Reaganfan78, rlynchfamily, rm, TheCosmicMoth, TurokSonOfStone
waddup, ZacharyLee1995.

Week Nine Reading

* All Star Comics #58-63

Questions for Your Consideration

  1. What did you think of Power Girl’s first appearance in these issues? Was it interesting and what did you think of the fact that Superman was keeping her a secret from the rest of the JSA? Was this a good idea or not in your opinion?

  2. We have a new villain here called Vulcan. What did you guys think of this new villain’s origins? Did you feel he was a decent threat for our heroes? What did you think of the fight here?

  3. Dr. Fate was critically wounded in his encounter with Vulcan. Do you agree with Hourman that he died for a good cause or do you think there are no good causes for which to die as Doc Mid-Nite believes?

  4. Speaking of Doc Mid-Nite, he feels that he is a failure both as a hero and as a surgeon. Do you feel that he is?

  5. At the start of these issues Star Spangled Kid felt out of place in a world he didn’t understand. Did you feel that he had found his place by issue #63?

  6. Superman makes an appearance in the latter issues here. What did you think of his decision to retire from the JSA and his request to make PG a full member?

  7. Did anyone else feel like Zanadu could have had a role in Saturday Night Fever or was maybe a rejected cast member?

And that is all for this week. Stay safe and healthy everyone.

Join the club @ JSA BOOK CLUB.

July: Aurora continues following the adventures of Infinity, Inc. And later in the month we will move into reading All Star Squadron. Hope to see you all there.

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In my opinion this is the good stuff.

All JSA is fun but to me this was a defining moment.

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I agree with you there @Don-El. This is where things get good.

So what do the rest of you @JSABookClub think about All Star Comics #58 being a defining moment for the JSA? Do you agree or disagree? Was there some other defining moment for you regarding the JSA? I’d like to hear about it.

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@JasonTodd428
I’d read All Star Comics #58 before for Power Girl’s first appearance. Otherwise, this will all be new to me, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest has in store.

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@TheCosmicMoth

I hope you enjoy the rest of these issues. It had been awhile since I’d last read them and I had a lot of fun with them.

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So here’s my take:

I have never read Power Girl’s early appearances. So all I know from her origin is that it was a mess in the late 80’s - 90’s. But by the late 90’s her personality was pretty set and origin didn’t dictate personality.

Her appearance was interesting in these issues. I like that she had some resentment towards Superman for keeping her a secret. I don’t think it was a bad idea at all, I mean you want her to get some sort of acclimation to earth before jumping into just a superhero lifestyle.

Vulcan was interesting. I like the Space Exploration / accident / nasa-type origin stories. He was a good threat, but I struggled to see what his power set was. Where did he get a flaming axe? Maybe I missed it. But the alien creating him was an interesting twist and the alien dying was a twist too. One and done villains who die quickly don’t seem to have as much depth because different writers don’t get to put twists on them, I don’t know if he comes back anytime, but he could use another story line just to flesh out his character.

Alright… I’ll come back for the rest of the questions next time. But I did enjoy all these issues.

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  1. I like Power Girl a lot. Always have. She’s like Supergirl, but more assertive. In these issues, she’s definitely pushing hard to gain the respect of The Justice Society. However, that seems to be the right call as even Wildcat is won over by her in the end. The reason she may feel the need to push so hard might be because she was hidden away for so long.

What do I think of the fact that Superman hid her for so long? Well… (WARNING: This question has triggered a Silver Age Superman rant. You have been warned). Since we didn’t really see how the Earth-Two Superman went about hiding Power Girl, I only have what I know about the way it went down on Earth-One to go off of.

Now, Earth-One Superman is my favorite version of Superman, so everything I’m about to say is said out of love. One thing that I know for sure about Earth-One Superman is that he is really, really (some even might say Super) insecure. In the Silver Age, whenever it looked like someone might upstage him, Superman took it badly and acted poorly. For instance, the back up story to Superman Vol. 1 #174 is called “Super-Mxyzptlk… Hero!” In it, Superman suggests that Mxyzptlk use is powers to help people instead of pranking them. Mxyzptlk decides to give it a try, and completely eclipses Superman in the eyes of the public.


And how did that end for Mxyzptlk?

Just look at how relieved Supes is that Mxy is gone…

Another example can be found in Superman Vol. 1 #125 in the story “Superman’s New Power.” Superman loses all of his other powers, but gains a new power where he shoots rainbows out of his hands and a tiny image of himself with all of his old powers emerges (I am not making this up). Superman starts to grow jealous of the tiny rainbow Superman who now gets all the credit, and here’s how he solves that:

So, Supergirl comes along in Action Comics Vol. 1 #252, and you’d think: Finally! Another Kryptonian! His cousin! Superman is no longer alone! And yet… Here’s what he does:



“I have a great idea for your future life!” I’m going to dump you at an orphanage… in Midvale… But! It’s so you can train your abilities, I promise.

I submit that Superman never needed to hide Supergirl. I think he was just worried about getting upstaged. I think he was worried that, with her around, he would no longer be special. Just with Mxyzptlk and just with the tiny rainbow man, he felt a little threatened so he hid her.

Again, I love Silver Age Superman. I’m not saying this to demonize him. I’m saying this because it’s the truth and it needs to be said so we can let the healing begin.

If Earth-Two Superman is anything like Earth-One Superman, he hid Power Girl so he could stay relevant for just a little while longer. So, no, I don’t think it was a good idea at all. I think it was selfish and I think it colored Power Girl’s relationships with male authority figures.

  1. What I liked about Vulcan’s origin was that his hatred of the JSA stemmed from the fact that he idolized them growing up. This hero worship of superheroes set his life on a path where he would eventually become a monster. In the end, he is blaming others for choices that he made. That being said, I can definitely relate to making bad life choices because you always wanted to be a superhero. It was definitely the most compelling thing about Vulcan and I wish it had been explored more.

He was definitely a threat to the JSA. He took down Power Girl, Star Spangled Kid, Wildcat, and The Flash in his first attack. Then he went toe-to-toe with Green Lantern and Dr.Fate at the same time. He “killed” Fate, so, yeah, definitely a legitimate threat.

One thing that stuck with me about the battle with Vulcan was that the Star Spangled Kid killed him. They played it off by saying, “Vulcan killed himself by murdering the alien who could cure his weakness to sunlight.” But, nope, the Star Spangled Kid killed Vulcan. He blew him up with the Cosmic Rod. I mean, we all saw that, right?

  1. Did Dr. Fate die for a good cause? Well, he died trying to stop Vulcan from absorbing too much energy, exploding, and taking Gotham City with him. He probably saved lives just by drawing Vulcan’s fire and energy away from the populace. I would call that a good cause. Was it worth dying for?

I think Doc Mid-Nite believes life is so precious that it shouldn’t be thrown away for anything. I get that. However, I think something like that needs to be left up to the individual. It was Dr. Fate’s life. In the end, Dr. Fate decides what it’s worth. He decides what’s worth dying for.

I’m not sure how Fate feels about “dying” to stop Vulcan, but he sure thought it was worth the effort to stop Vulcan so… maybe there’s your answer.

  1. Doc Mid-Nite? A failure as a superhero? The man who overcame great fear to help defeat the first Psycho Pirate in All Star Comics #23, a failure? No. He’s a great superhero. I’m sure he’s a pretty fair surgeon, too. He was just taking Fate’s “death” a bit personally. He’ll rebound.

  2. I feel that Star Spangled Kid has found a place with the All Star Super Squad. That being said, I don’t think Sylvester ever really got over being time-displaced. I think he missed a lot and he’s trying way too hard to catch up. Nothing will ever really replace everything that’s passed him by, though. I think that informs a lot of his decisions in Infinity Inc.

  3. Well, I think Superman’s decision to retire from the JSA and give his spot to Power Girl is the LEAST he can do (see my response to question #1). Also, let’s face it, Superman was never the most dedicated member of the JSA. In the Golden Age adventures, he only showed up for the JSA… like… what… 3… maybe 4 times? I think the Justice Society gains a lot more with Power Girl as a dedicated member. Besides, Superman is editing the Daily Planet now, and he would soon be having his Mr. and Mrs. Superman adventures with Lois in the Superman Family comics. He has enough to keep him busy.

  4. Disco was big in Lemuria. Haven’t you ever heard "Shake Your Continent (Down to the Bottom of the Indian Ocean)? "

That’s all for now. Thank you for indulging me in my Superman rant!

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Issue 58- Nice kickoff by Gerry Conway, for some reason I was thinking Roy T started this whole thing. Loving the Wally Wood touch on the inks / art.
I need to research the whole Star Spangled Boy being 20 years out of time.

What did you think of Power Girl’s first appearance in these issues? Was it interesting and what did you think of the fact that Superman was keeping her a secret from the rest of the JSA? Was this a good idea or not in your opinion?

It frankly disturbs me that teenage kids are tossed into life and death battle for no good reason in the comics. I mean it’s about as bad as having 11 year old kids in 3rd world countries fighting. So Superman having Power Girl remain a secret and just train until she was an adult makes great sense to me and I don’t see a problem at all of it. Isn’t that a lot like West Point Academy?

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@Don-El
See Justice League of America Vol. 1 #100-102 for the story on how Star Spangled Kid was lost in time. It’s a great Len Wein story and was the inspiration for Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory.

Thanks. I had a feeling it had to be in one of the annual Justice League / Justice Society “crisis” çrossovers.

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Wait wait… .the guy who runs the Legion comics club - which I love - is disturbed by teenage kids in life and death battles in the comics? Isn’t that the whole Legion in a nutshell. I mean which Legion member doesn’t have another of their own species who is an adult who could replace them?

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In my mind all the Legionnaires are over 19, not 11 like Supersons. @Meisaj

Hard to say about the clones of the early nineties though…

Anything with PG is awesome. It’s kind of not a surprise that Superman kept her secret. He did the same with Supergirl for years and years.

I have to admit, this is my favorite incarnation of Dick Grayson. He kept the mantle of Robin. Which I wish they would have done on Earth-1. Rather than out growing the character of Robin, he takes what he built and uses it. The adult Robin doesn’t need to escape Batman’s shadow by creating a new identity. He simply goes out on his own. This emboldens the character of Robin (and Dick Grayson) as thinking of himself as his own hero, and that he always was. Robin as a character is not demoted to just being a sidekick.

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Well that particular problem has its roots as far back as the Golden Age so at this point we’re stuck with it. At the time kid sidekicks became a part of the superhero landscape I doubt anyone was thinking about the consequences to the children in question. They were merely seeking to create characters that kids, who were the readers back then, could relate to.

I agree. I suppose the fact that there were no others to take up Robin after him on Earth Two also helped with that. It does make “Robin” mean more in a way and I really like that.

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I’m looking forward to reading more of this this weekend. Speaking of the JSA, it’s a shame that this particular comic isn’t digitized in our library.

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That needs to be digitized.

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I’m glad this is running until the 30th; I actually found time this weekend (as my wife and I continue our 2020 self isolation) to complete the curated selection this time around. Thanks again for doing this.

As I recall reading these when they first came out or perhaps soon after, the thought occurs to me: howso? For in 1976 when these appeared like new birds in the spring on the comic racks, I was a strapping youth, a mere 22 years old, that Fall in my last year of college in a highly isolated college far from any drug store or newstand that sold comics. I had also been married for 2 years, and my wife of 46 years just now reminds me that I used a comic book mail order service at the time.

Now, to address the pile up of questions in one run on sentence:
Power Girl joining was pure genius, and plays to the strengths of having an Earth 1 and Earth 2;

Vulcan was a decent concept, in fact having Earth 2 advancing it’s space program and shooting folks around the Sun is what I wish modern day comics would explore more- if there is super hero / villain super science all around, of course our space program would be a bit advanced;


(PRETTY SURE THIS IS KEITH GIFFEN ART)

Dr. Fate “perishing” in battle makes as much good ficitional sense as fire fighters etc dying as they serve;


(if this page doesn’t scream “Wally Wood”, nothing does…)

Doc MidNite needs to take some meds frankly, he’s letting getting old keep him down, take two of these, bud, everything will seem rosy again!;

Star Spangled Kid adjusted way too fast here, like with the Marvel hero out of his time who dresses in a similar theme, lots more to delve into here for story fodder and drama;


Superman’s decision to retire was not explained at all and made no sense. He never once complained of his strength lagging or joint pain etc. ;

Zanadu could have been designed better, here he looks like a Marvel Eternals “Deviant” (who I think also were from Lemuria).

More Fav panels with comments:


The above kinda silly HQ diagram is what you are in for when Levitz and Giffen are left alone to do a comic page…


To me, this cover announces “All Star Super Squad has arrived as a dynamic and enduring concept.”


For me, the 70s style “continued next issue cliff hanger each and every issue” concept works!

I look forward to paging through more of this most excellent modern JSA comic series in the months to come. It’s just so funny I was sure Roy Thomas wrote all these, but now I’m kind of glad “Mr. History Lesson and Golden Age Trivia” didn’t, much as I love his stories!

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I hope you and your wife are doing well @Don-El.

In 1976 I was only 6 years old but I had already discovered that there were not only comic strips but also whole comic books out there to be read. I was a precocious kid who had learned to read early in part because of comics (the other part was a grandma who felt reading was important for a good life.) We lived in a small rural town at the time but it did have various 'mom and pop" shops with spinner racks of comics as well as a grocery and drug store with them. I never even saw a comic shop until my teens.

I read these issues around ten or so years later when I was 16 and the owner of the local comic shop handed me a box of ‘old stuff’ he thought might interest me. He practically gave them away actually and he knew I had a liking for the older stuff. I miss those days.

It does at that.

Personally I loved PG the moment she appeared. She reminded me of all the strong woman in my family. My grandma left home at 16 to go to work in order to support her widowed mother and her younger siblings back in the early 1930s and one of my great-grandmas was a rural doctor in the latter 1800s and was also strong enough to divorce her abusive husband in a time when that was frowned upon. She remained an “independent woman” the rest of her life.

I agree it made no sense in story given how he doesn’t age in the same way the other JSAers do. Seemed strange he would just retire but then again what I liked about Earth Two was that it’s heroes did retire making legacy heroes able to more easily move up in the ranks. With how crowded some hero “families” are these days there is a small part of me that wishes that heroes aging out of their roles had been built into comics from the get go like how it seemed Earth Two was tracking. I don’t think people would be so bothered by large hero families if that were the case.

The flip side of Supes retirement and his requesting Power Girl to replace him likely had everything to do with the time period this was written in. The Woman’s Liberation Movement that began in the 1960s was still ongoing at the time and undoubtedly the writer and DC were conscious of that. Hence his sudden desire to hang up his cape.

We will be moving around a bit but we will most certainly get back to this in the months to come.

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