A comic book series published by DC Comics
in the Bronze Age
starting in 1981. Coming out after DC's parallel worlds had existed for a while, and written by the continuity-obsessed Roy Thomas, this series took place during World War II
on the parallel world of Earth-2, where DC's Golden Age
characters were said to have existed.
The premise was that after the attack on Pearl Harbor
, Franklin D. Roosevelt
gathered together every superhero published by DC during the war period - including the entirety of the Justice Society of America
- into a single superhero team, the All-Star Squadron. Thomas had done something similar prior to this series at Marvel Comics
, in the original The Invaders.
The team met in New York in the Trylon and Perisphere, two structures that were created for the 1939-1940 World's Fair and in real life had been torn down for scrap metal for the war.
The phrase "retroactive continuity" was used (attributed to a fan) in the letter column in issue #18, which soon became "Retcon
". The series was heavily based around retcons in the positive sense—it often told stories that happened between issues of real Golden Age
series, gave characters origins who never had them, and cleared up plot holes and dangling plots from decades ago. It generally avoided the "everything you know is a lie
" type of retcon, though there were some minor history changes. It also gave a decent explanation why the really powerful superheroes didn't invade the Axis powers to end the war overnight: Hitler had the mystic Spear of Destiny
in his possession that would take mind control of the superheroes who tried entering land under his, or his allies', control.
The Crisis on Infinite Earths
destroyed Earth-2, which now never existed
. This was not good for the book, which ended at issue 67 after a series of inventory stories dealing with character origins and a retelling of a classic Superman story in the new retconned Superman-less history. The book was succeeded by Young All-Stars
, which replaced the now retconned Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, went a further 31 issues plus an annual, and is generally considered lower quality than the series itself.
The success of the series led to the launch of Infinity, Inc.
, whose characters appeared in the progenitor series thanks to time travel. James Robinson's Starman
and Geoff Johns' Justice Society of America
, two of DC's current successes, owe as much inspiration to Thomas' All-Star Squadron
as they do to the original 40s comics and the Levitz/Staton revitalization in the 70s.
Tropes that apply to the series as a whole include:
- Ascended Extra: Sort of; rarely appearing characters with no background were used, who were "extras" with respect to DC Comics as a whole, but still starred in their own strips.
- Bad Future: Mekanique comes from a future world that resembles Fritz Lang's Metropolis. She claims to have appeared in the past to stop that future from taking place, but after Alan Scott (Green Lantern) and Danette Reilly (Firebrand) change the event that supposedly causes the bad future to happen, Mekanique reveals to Robotman that the change in the event actually causes the bad future to happen, which was what she was hoping for all along.
- Of course, what stands in the way of the bad future from taking place is the All-Star Squadron still existing, which Mekanique tries to destroy in The Young All-Stars 1988 annual issue.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick.
- Call Forward: The Young All-Stars' Millennium crossover, where the Green Lantern was guided by his ring to save three individuals who would become the parents and grandparent of three individuals that would be candidates for The New Guardians.
- Captain Ersatz
- The minor character Midnight was used as a stand-in for The Spirit, who was created by the same company but belonged solely to his creator, Will Eisner.
- The second Firebrand was created to replace Golden Age heroine Wildfire. DC originally planned to use the latter but didn't want her getting mixed up with the Wildfire in Legion of Super-Heroes so they created Danette Reilly as a stand-in. Wildfire does appear as a cameo in the Elseworlds story JSA: The Golden Age.
- Civvie Spandex: "Iron" Munro. He tried wearing a costume once, but most of the time stuck with an ordinary T-shirt and pants.
- Composite Character: Besides being an expy of Green Arrow, Tigress was also one for the Golden Age/Earth-2 Catwoman and (for a time) the Modern Age Huntress.
- Continuity Porn: Thomas did his homework and it shows.
- Damaged Soul: The Tigress upon her resurrection did a Face-Heel Turn, becoming the Huntress.
- Dastardly Whiplash: The Viper, one of the comic strip villains brought to life by Funny Face in #64.
- Differently Powered Individual: The term "Mystery Men" was used for superheroes, as in real Golden Age comics.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Fury's dream of a giant Mekanique attacking the All-Star Squadron in The Young All-Stars, leading to a Prophecy Twist when it comes true.
- Executive Meddling: Crisis killed this book.
- Expy: The Young All-Stars themselves were a Teen Titans-ish subteam of Expies, being replacements of the vanished Earth-2/Golden Age versions of Superman ("Iron" Munro), Batman (Flying Fox), Robin (Dyna-Mite), Wonder Woman (Fury), Aquaman (Neptune Perkins, Tsunami), and Green Arrow (Tigress).
- Bonus Points for Roy Thomas as there were indeed Golden Age heroes going by the name of "Iron" Munro, Flying Fox, and (Miss) Fury, even if they were different from their Young All-Stars counterparts.
- Face-Heel Turn: Tigress in Young All-Stars after her death and resurrection at the hands of Gudra the Valkyrie, which was meant to explain her origin of becoming the Golden Age villain the Huntress.
- Fembot: Mekanique, a robot from a Fritz Lang-inspired Bad Future that claimed that her mission was to prevent that future from taking place, only to later reveal that her actual mission was to make sure that Bad Future happened without a key person in place to rebel against it.
- Giant Foot of Stomping: In the sequel series The Young All Stars, Fury sees a giant Mekanique try to do this to her "adopted aunt and uncle", Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick, in her dreams before she wakes up. In an annual story, it is revealed that Mekanique doesn't turn big...she shrinks the All-Star Squadron to doll size and attacks them inside a model of a futuristic city. Fury and her Young All-Star companions, who were spared the shrinking, stop Mekanique from achieving the "giant foot stomp".
- The Klan: Real American appearance-wise was an Evil Counterpart to Commander Steel with a Klan hood. In reality, he was actually a robot.
- Heroes Unlimited: It's essentially Justice Society Unlimited set in the 1940s.
- Historical Fiction
- Phantom Zone Picture: In issue #64, the Golden Age Superman villain Funny Face tries to trap Firebrand by transferring her into a cartoon drawing with the same device that he uses to transfer cartoon villain drawings into real people. Note that this was a Post-Crisis revision of a Superman story with the All-Star Squadron substituting for the non-existent Golden Age Superman.
- Politically Correct History: Thomas had characters avoid using anti-Japanese racial slurs which were common at the time.
- Prophecy Twist: Fury's dream of a giant Mekanique attacking the All-Star Squadron in a futuristic city in The Young All-Stars turns out to be Mekanique shrinking the All-Star Squadron to doll-size (except for Fury and the Young All-Stars) and attacking them in a model of a futuristic city.
- Public Domain Artifact: Spear of Destiny and Holy Grail.
- Retcon: The Trope Namer.
- Ret Gone: Issue #60 was a vivid example of this, as it took place after the Crisis On Infinite Earths but before all the changes took place. In that issue, the Golden Age versions of Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Speedy showed up for a group picture, right before Mekanique revealed to Robotman that she was holding back the "sweeping effects" of the Crisis until her mission was accomplished, and then released the effects while also wiping out Robotman's memory of the revelation. By the time the developed picture gets in the hands of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, said Golden Age heroes (save for Green Arrow and Speedy due to an error) were erased from the picture, replaced by members of the Freedom Fighters (who pre-Crisis had gone to Earth-X).
- Shout-Out: The Squadron had a robot butler named Gernsback, after Hugo Gernsback, founder of various amazingly important sci-fi magazines, such as Amazing Stories. He even coined the term science fiction.
- Evil android Mekanique was essentially the android from Fritz Lang's Metropolis. In fact, the future came from pretty much was Metropolis in everything but name.
- Skunk Stripe: "Iron" Munro, the Post-Crisis Golden Age Superman replacement in The Young All-Stars.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler
- Super Hero: Of course.
- Super Hero Origin
- Take That: In one issue the Squadron fights a villain who believes he's Thor, and Tarantula spends several panels mocking his mangled Elizabethan grammar.
- The Multiverse
- Those Wacky Nazis
- Token Enemy Minority: Tsunami.
- Token Minority: Amazing Man—of course, the heroes in actual Golden Age comics, which the series was based on, were all white. Also Tsunami after her Heel-Face Turn in Young All-Stars.
- Tonight Someone Dies: The Red Bee, who hadn't been used in the series before and was a lame character.
- Tuckerization: One of the few new characters was Firebrand, a redhead named Danette. Thomas is married to a redhead with that name.
- Webcomic Time: Very obvious due to the frequent use of real-world dates and events; eight published years of All-Star Squadron and Young All-Stars took place over a seven-month period in the war.
- World War II