An old man, Paul Lincoln
, proudly displays his memorabilia and begins to tell his history...and, simultaneously, the history of the DC Universe
. From the streets of Suicide Slum in the 1940s to Washington at the end of The Golden Age of Comic Books
to Metropolis in The Silver Age of Comic Books
, he tells of the transition between the old-style masked heroes to the newer heroes, even as he tells his story.
Each issue is written by Len Wein (creator of Swamp Thing
and many others) and illustrated by various people. Paul Lincoln's story doesn't take up all the book either - there's a backup story called a "Snapshot" of various characters at various times.
Basically the DC version of Marvels
- Big Brother Mentor: Jimmy is this at first to Paul...until Paul realizes that Jimmy is just out for himself, working as a criminal.
- Changing of the Guard: The JSA to the JLA (especially as a lot of the JLA had the same names as the JSA).
- Comic Book Time: Oddly played with. Paul seems to age in "real time", as if the Silver Age happened in the sixties, The Death of Superman in the nineties, and it's currently 2011. But the heroes ... don't.
- Coming-of-Age Story: The first few issues are this for Paul Lincoln as he decides whether he wants to be a cop or criminal (he chooses cop).
- Continuity Nod/Continuity Porn
- Darker and Edgier: Paul comments that once the Doom Patrol died, everything seemed to get darker. The Joker used to be just a prankster, then gassed a bank (including his own men) and when Batman asked why, he replied, "It's Thursday! Isn't that reason enough?"
- End of an Age: The end of The Golden Age of Comic Books . . .
- The Everyman: Paul Lincoln.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Paul marries Peggy, the redheaded sister of Jimmy.
- Kid Sidekick: Paul comments on the emergence of these (which eventually form the Teen Titans) and how, when he was a kid, the kids mainly worked on their own (like the Newsboy Legion).
- Mythology Gag: In issue 6, Jimmy has sustained injuries which led him to never walk again, which also happened to Ted Grant during the Crisis, before it was retconned.
- Redemption Earns Life: Jimmy's life as a criminal gets him behind bars...where he becomes a model prisoner. Eventually, Paul testifies for his parol and Jimmy eventually gets out, becomes a better person and is eventually accepted back in his sister Peggy's life.
- Red Skies Crossover: The end of issue 5 is the beginning of the first Crisis as the skies turn red and Paul seeks to help people evacuate.
- Super Registration Act: The House Un-American Activites Committee demands that the JSA unmask themselves. Hawkman first takes a moment to talk it over with the others and then says, "For so many reasons, our faces, our names, our secrets must remain our own. But don't worry, Senator, you won't be hearing from us again" and then the entire JSA disappears in a flash of light. This was the end of the Golden Age.
- Tear Jerker: The death of Sergeant Rock. The bullet that killed him was said to have been the last bullet fired in the war.
- Youthful Freckles: Jimmy and Peggy.