Comic Book: All-Star Squadron
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:
- The Archer: Pre-Crisis, Green Arrow and Speedy. Post-Crisis, Tigress and Axis Amerika member Usil.
- 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.
- Blessed with Suck: The Golden Age Fury's powers come with the cost of the host at times becoming the incarnation of Tisiphone the Blood Avenger, one of the three Furies from Greek mythology who gave Helena Kosmatos her powers.
- 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.
- Captain Patriotic: Commander Steel, Americommando, Uncle Sam, Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy for the males, Liberty Belle for the females. Also later joined post-Crisis by Miss America, who pre-Crisis was killed off in an early incarnation of the Freedom Fighters.
- 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.
- Cyborg: Commander Steel, the grandfather of the "Justice League Detroit" character known as Steel. Also the Bob Crane version of Robotman.
- 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.
- Dead Sidekick: Inverted in The Young All-Stars; Dyna-Mite survived while his mentor T.N.T. was killed.
- 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.
- Enemy Within: Fury of The Young All-Stars has Tisiphone the Blood Avenger taking control of her at times, which requires the team's intervention to turn her back to normal.
- Evil Counterpart: Axis Amerika was this to the All-Star Squadron, ironically modeled after the Golden Age/Earth-2 heroes who vanished after the Crisis, with the only exception being Kamikaze, who simply was Imperial Japan's replacement for Tsunami. They soon meet their match with the Young All-Stars, who filled the shoes of the erased All-Stars. Before that, there was Der Zyklon, who was a Nazi super-speedster counterpart of the Flash and Johnny Quick, Baron Blitzkreig, who was one for Superman, and Cyclotron, who was at best an Anti-Hero counterpart for the Atom.
- 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).
- 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.
- Axis Amerika served as an expy of the at-the-time nonexistent Crime Syndicate of Earth-3.
- 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.
- Ferris Wheel Date Moment: In The Young All-Stars, Flying Fox has a date on a Ferris wheel with a girl who is a friend of the one "Iron" Munro is dating, which then gets ruined with the appearance of Axis Amerika.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: The Shining Knight, frozen in ice since the days of King Arthur until the World War II period.
- Flying Brick: Pre-Crisis, Superman. Post-Crisis, "Iron" Munro and Axis Amerika member Ubermensch, though replace flight with superhuman leaping ability.
- 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
- Magical Native American: Flying Fox, the Post-Crisis Earth-2 Batman replacement character, is this. He received his powers from his grandfather, the tribal shaman, and was given a magical fur cloak that enabled him to fly.
- Magnetism Manipulation: Amazing Man in The Young All-Stars, which he gained after he lost his matter-mimicking powers.
- The Multiverse: Besides the team's involvement in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the All-Star Squadron also had visits by Captain Marvel and his family of heroes and villains from Earth-S. Also they got involved in a story teaming up with both the Justice Society and the Justice League from Earth-1 where they had to stop Per Degaton from using the Crime Syndicate from Earth-3 to alter future history.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Axis Amerika member Sea Wolf is an aquatic lycanthrope who is capable of holding his breath longer than his All-Star Squadron counterpart Neptune Perkins.
- Pegasus: Shining Knight's steed Winged Victory (who was a normal horse changed into a pegasus by Merlin's magic), and also Gudra the Valkyrie's steed.
- 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.
- Playing with Fire: Danette Reilly, the second Firebrand.
- Politically Correct History: Thomas had characters avoid using anti-Japanese racial slurs which were common at the time.
- Power Copying: Amazing Man's original ability was to mimic the properties of whatever form of matter he is in contact with.
- 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, the former of which would become an important plot device in the one-shot The Last Days Of The Justice Society taking place after the Crisis.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: In the Young All Stars' Millennium crossover, Nazi supervillain Baron Blitzkrieg tells his troops not to rape a woman they captured because such behavior was unbecoming of Third Reich soldiers.
- 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.
- "Iron" Munro's father was Hugo Danner from Philip Wylie's early sci-fi novel Gladiator.
- Neptune Perkins' grandfather was Captain Nemo.
- 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
- Super Serum: The pre-natal formula that "Iron" Munro's grandfather Abednego Danner gave to his biological father Hugo while he was still in the womb, which somehow is also responsible for the creation of Axis Amerika member Ubermensch.
- 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.
- 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 and Flying Fox 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.
- Valkyries: Gudra, who appeared in the origin story of the Justice Society of America and later became a member of Axis Amerika.
- 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.
- Wonder Twin Powers: T.N.T. and Dyna-Mite, who pressed their dyna-rings together to activate their power punches. In The Young All-Stars, T.N.T. was killed, and Dyna-Mite thought he wouldn't be able to activate his powers without his partner, but he eventually found out that he could reactivate them by wearing both dyna-rings and pressing them together himself.
- World War II