Like so many comic book fans my age, the first DC character I got to know was Batman, thanks to the show that starred Adam West as Batman. As a kid growing up in the 1970s, that show was in reruns and I would watch it while at my grandparents. Following that I’d have encountered Batman when he met Scooby Doo. Super Friends followed that, and suddenly there was a whole group of superheroes besides just Batman for me to enjoy. My entryway into the DC universe was via the television shows of my childhood.
When it comes to the subject of this blog, where and when I discovered certain characters affected how I viewed DC’s Golden Age characters. For the longest time I assumed that Hal Jordan was the Green Lantern, and Barry Allen was the Flash, because that’s how it was on television. Terms like “the first Flash” or “the Silver Age Green lantern” were not concepts that I knew about or that would ever have occurred to me. Why would there be more than one version of these characters?
Somewhere along the line (and I honestly can’t remember where or when) I became aware that there had been another Flash and another Green Lantern before those two, and I’ve been fascinated by those older characters ever since. To me, they were mysterious relics of a time that I knew nothing about. I first remember reading about them in the “Justice Society of America” mini-series from 1991. Flash, GL and Hawkman were fairly familiar, but not Black Canary, and I had no idea who Ted Knight was. But from then on I was hooked, and these guys quickly became some of my favorite characters. I enjoyed how old fashioned they were, and how they had a long history, even if it was mostly unknown to me at the time.
Since this blog is about the 1940s and not the 1990s, I have to confess that there was a time when I didn’t enjoy older comics. I thought anything from earlier than 1986 contained stories that were just too simplistic, poor artwork, and awful, corny dialogue. And while a lot of that is probably a fair assessment of at least some old comics, I don’t find it to be an impediment to enjoying them these days. After too many years of reading the bleak, violent and grim DC universe of the present day, it’s a delight to go back to simpler days when heroes actually acted heroic and comic books actually got by on a combination of charm and fun. Realism can take a hike. It’s killing comic books faster than anything else.
My plan is to review the entire original run of All-Star Comics, which I’ve been able to read thanks to the DC Archive line. Along the way expect digressions as I throw in some thoughts on the solo adventures of the team members. And don’t be surprised when the Seven Soldiers of Victory appear as well. I only discovered that particular Golden Age team in recent years, and in my opinion it’s every bit as good as the JSA. It’s even better, from time to time.
So let’s go back to the DC universe of the 1940s. The names may be the same, but the characters are not.