"What if we took our most popular heroes, and put them in one book as a team?" This was a fairly new idea when DC debuted ALL-STAR in 1940! Dubbed THE JUSTICE SOCIETY of AMERICA, All-Star set the standard for all "team" books!
|Publication Dates||Summer 1940 - February-March 1951|
Originally concieved as another anthology series - a place for DC to put MORE stories of popular characters (Hawkman, Spectre, Green Lantern, The Flash, The Sandman, and newcomer Johnny Thunder), with issue #3 (Winter, 1940 - it was a quarterly book), came a radical overhaul... well, not radical by today's standards, but at the time it was an "Ah Ha! moment."
All Star Comics #1 (cover-dated Summer 1940) contained superhero stories that included All-American's Golden Age Flash, Hawkman, Ultra-Man, as well as National Periodical's Hour-Man, Spectre, and Sandman. The adventure strip "Biff Bronson" and the comedy-adventure "Red, White, and Blue" also premiered.
All Star Comics is historically HUGE for some of its famous firsts! Issue #3 (1940) depicted the first meeting of the Justice Society of America (JSA), with its members swapping stories of their exploits which were subsequently illustrated in the comic's array of solo adventures. In addition to the Flash, Hawkman, Hour-Man, the Spectre, and the Sandman were Doctor Fate from National's More Fun Comics; and the Green Lantern and the Atom from All-American's flagship title All-American Comics. With that issue it became an ENSEMBLE book, the first significant one of it's kind, wherein all the heroes acted together as a "Super Team." The Justice Society of America (JSA) was originally a frame story used to present an anthology of solo stories about the individual characters, with each story handled by a different artist. Comic historian Les Daniels noted, "this was obviously a great notion, since it offered readers a lot of headliners for a dime, and also the fun of watching fan favorites interact." The anthology format was dropped in 1947 and replaced with full issue stories featuring the heroes teaming up to fight crime'
All Star Comics #8 (cover dated January 1942) featured the first appearance of Wonder Woman in an eight-page story written by William Moulton Marston, under the pen name of "Charles Moulton" with art by H. G. Peter. The insert story was included to test reader interest in the Wonder Woman concept. It generated enough positive fan response that Wonder Woman would be awarded the lead feature in the Sensation Comics anthology title starting from issue #1. That same issue saw the induction of Doctor Mid-Nite and Starman as members of the Justice Society as well. Starting with issue #11, Wonder Woman would appear in All Star Comics as a member of the Justice Society as their secretary. My my how times have changed, Gal Gadot. A secretary? I think not!
With issue #34 in '47, Gardner Fox left the series and a new super-villain, the Wizard, was introduced. The Injustice Society first battled the JSA in issue #37 in a tale written by the prolific Robert Kanigher. The Black Canary guest starred in issue #38 and joined the team three issues later in #41.
All Star Comics popularity continued to grow and increased in frequency from a quarterly to a bimonthly publication schedule. The JSA story line lasted through March 1951 with issue #57 in a story titled "The Mystery of the Vanishing Detectives".
Superhero comics slumped in the early 1950s, and All Star Comics was renamed All-Star Western in 1951 with issue #58. In this issue, the "Justice Society of America" feature was replaced by Western heroes. This would be the last we heard of the Justice Society of America until a different version appeared on the scenes in 1960 in the form of The Justice League of America with the Brave and the Bold issue #28.
All-Star Comics essentially invented the Team genre, with DC carrying the concept into several other titles (I.E. Seven Soldiers of Victory in Leading Comics), and later, The Justice League of America would become the runaway success of the Silver-Age!
It all started here, though, in this most sought after run of books from the 40's!