Friday, February 20, 2009

Who needs new stories?

January, 1984

So, I was poking around the house and took out this comic to read while I relaxed. I remembered the first three years of All-Star Squadron as being good, especially when Jerry Ordway was doing the art on it. Jerry Ordway is probably best known for his run on Power of Shazam! but I was first introduced to him in the pages of All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. where his art style was very organic and naturalistic. Over the years, my collection has been liquidated of these comics, but from time to time, I've tripped across an issue or two, and this is one of them. 

Also, it's been awhile since I last updated this blog, and I've noticed a little traffic coming from various places, so why not do another review? 


The Shining Knight is fighting off Nazi Bombers over England. When he lands, Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives him a telegram from America where Liberty Belle is convening a meeting of the entire All-Star Squadron. This takes his thoughts to another group he belongs to, the Seven Soldiers of Victory, and he begins telling a story of one of their most recent exploits.

A mad scientist named Dr. Doome (really!) uses a time machine (really!) to snatch Napoleon, Attila the Hun, Nero, Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great and set them on missions to steal five rare metals needed to build a greater time machine to send them into a future world that would be much easier to conquer. The first theft is interrupted by Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy, but he falls  before the overwhelming might of the five conquerors. Green Arrow summons the Seven Soldiers of Victory and using a stolen two way radio, deduce the plans of Dr. Doome. The Shining Knight thwarts Genghis Khan, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey defeat Napoleon, Green Arrow and Speedy stop Alexander, the Vigilante stops Attila, and the Crimson Avenger stops Nero. However, Doome has given each of the conquerors a time-rod that transports them back to their proper eras when they're thwarted.

The Soldiers then raid Doome's Lighthouse hideout only to follow him as he escapes through time to the seige of Troy. Doome's cunning is thwarted by a test of truthfulness devised by King Agamemnon and he flees back to 1942. The soldiers follow him back using one of Doome's time rods, and Doome attempts to bribe the Shining Knight with return to Camelot into betraying his teammates. He refuses, and in the lighthouse, Doome flees into the far future, just as his time machine, unstable without all five metals, explodes.

This tale convinces the Shining Knight to stay in England during her hour of need, and not yet return to America with the All-Star Squadron, although not in so few words.


The artwork is amazing, no doubt about it. Even with the coloring processes of 1983, Ordway has an attractive style that conveys dimension, mood and most of all, serves the story. Rick Maygar is the inker here and looking at the artwork, you could imagine it without any color, and it would still be worth the price of any color comic.

The story is taken almost verbatim from Leading Comics #3 (which you can download here). The major exception is that in the original story, Doome never tempts the Shining Knight, and is actually surprised when the heroes follow him back from Troy. I think Roy thomas served the story better with his addition. It's an excellent point of logic. The end of the comic is way too wordy and the logic added to the re-telling iwas apparently taken from here. The telegram was just for a meeting, and the Shining Knight has the advantage of a flying Horse and permission from Churchill to return for the meeting. The Shining Knight isn't being asked to abandon England for America, but his decision is apparently made as if he was.


To my knowledge, this has not been collected, but the original story has been reprinted in the Seven Soldiers of Victory DC Archive Edition. Since there's no heated demand for back issues of All-Star Squadron, you should be able to find this in back issue boxes if you're lucky, and bargain boxes if you're really lucky. All of the issues drawn by Jerry Ordway are worth dropping a couple of bucks for. I don't think you'd feel cheated by any of them.

FINAL RATING: 8 (out of 10)

Why not higher? It's a re-telling of a story that's not really considered a classic. Also, as I mentioned, the ending really doesn't make a whole lot of sense when simple logic is used.  Nevertheless, it's a good comic with solid art, but definitely not one of the gems of the title's run.