For Your Consideration: DC’s All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever


Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

DC Comics was the first company to band its heroes together for the cause of justice (and sales), when it featured the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Hourman, the Atom, Sandman, Spectre, Johnny Thunder, and Doctor Fate as the Justice Society of America. All-Star Comics #3 set the stage for team comics and until 1951, their exploits were the stuff of legend.

DC was also the first company to embrace the concept of legacy when it introduced the parallel worlds concept in The Flash #123 as Barry Allen journeyed to Earth-2 and met his spiritual predecessor Jay Garrick. This set the stage for the JSA to meet the Justice League of America, giving us the annual “crisis” event.

All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever

All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever


In 1975, wunderkind Gerry Conway was hired away from Marvel to edit for DC and among the titles birthed in Conway’s Corner was a revival of All-Star, letting the JSA work with the next generation of heroes. This sense of training the heroes and readying to pass the torch was unique and has endured ever since. Now, for the first time, this classic run is being collected in All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever, including All-Star Comics #58-74, Adventure Comics #461-466, and DC Special #29.

All-Star Comics #58

All-Star Comics #58


It’s here you will meet Power Girl for the first time (and watch as Wally Wood tested Executive Editor Joe Orlando’s patience by increasing her ample bust with every issue) in addition to seeing an adult Star-Spangled Kid and Robin swing into action as the sub-titled Super Squad (which was thankfully dropped fairly quickly). Although introduced in DC Special #19 during this period, the Huntress arrives to join the team as well.

Conway started off with pitting the revived team against old-time foes Brain Wave and Per Degaton before introducing new threats such as Vulcan, son of Fire (not the Charlton hero). We did get the Injustice Gang, Psycho-Pirate, Vandal Savage later on.

All-Star Comics #62

All-Star Comics #62


While Conway wrote the first four issues on his own, he fell behind and brought in Paul Levitz to dialogue the book before ceding it to him. Under Levitz, the real sense of legacy was felt for the first time when Superman finally arrives in issue #62. His introduction touches on all the tropes but with reverence and respect.

Levitz nicely shifted emphasis among the active elder heroes, setting up some nice generation gap issues juxtaposed with a budding friendship between crusty Wildcat and Power Girl. He also brought in various supporting players such as various spouses and even Commissioner Gordon, who dies in one story, setting up Bruce Wayne to replace him.

DC Special #29

DC Special #29


Two of the team’s most important stories are included: their origin, which also explained why they didn’t get involved in World War II (blame the Spear of Destiny) and why they vanished in the 1950s (blame the House Un-American Activities Committee).

He told Rik Offenberger, “The JSA characters were particularly fun because of my personal connection to them, the first JLA/JSA is the first comic I remember buying at a newsstand.”

All-Star Comics #64

All-Star Comics #64


Initially laid out by Ric Estrada and finished by Wally Wood, Estrada was replaced by newcomer Keith Giffen, before a handful of issues were by Wood himself. He even got to co-plot at least one issue since he had moments he wanted to draw, leading to the time travel tale that brought back the Shining Knight. Then, Joe Staton arrived and settled down, producing some of the best work of his career, much of it slickly inked by Bob Layton. As a result, the 488 pages will be a visual treat. It should be noted that much of this run was written in the plot/dialogue meaning this is where the legendary Levitz/Giffen partnership got a trial run.

Adventure Comics #462

Adventure Comics #462


Unfortunately, sales softened and the series was canceled and this collection’s title comes from the story intended for issue #75 but was used for the first two installments of the JSA’s new home in the dollar-sized Adventure. It’s there that Levitz did the seemingly unthinkable and kill Batman in a poignant tale, making his daughter the Huntress, an orphan.

These are terrific stories and having them all in one volume will make this a welcome reading treat.