Since this blog is partially entitled “Golden Age DC” and not “All-Star Comics”, let’s switch gears a bit before moving on to All-Star #4 and take a look at a lesser known Golden Age team. I say they’re less well known, and that may or may not be true, but they were certainly unknown to me until recent years, despite the fact that they are DC’s second ever super-hero team. I’m talking of course about the Seven Soldiers of Victory, also known as the Law’s Legionnaires.
This particular team was created due to the success of the Justice Society. It was created by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin and first appeared in Leading Comics #1, cover dated Winter 1941. So they turned up about a year after the Justice Society. The team can’t really be said to have any A-list characters on its roster, depending on how high you rank Green Arrow. It’s a bunch of second stringers with no superpowers, but in my opinion the art and the stories in the book are as enjoyable as those of the JSA. The team is composed of the Green Arrow and Speedy (yes, sidekicks are on the roster), the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, the Vigilante, the Shining Knight, and Crimson Avenger. Also taking part in the adventures but oddly not counted as a member is Wing, Crimson Avenger’s sidekick. It’s never made clear why he’s not officially a member. Maybe Seven Soldiers just sounds better than Eight Soldiers. Vigilante’s two sidekicks, Billy Gunn and Stuff the Chinatown Kid are likewise excluded, so maybe we should be asking why Speedy and Stripesy warrant inclusion on the roster rather than why the others are excluded?
In any case, none of these characters have super powers. The only near-exception is the Shining Knight who has magic armor that protects him from harm, bestowed on him by Merlin, along with a magically sharp sword and flying horse. Everyone else has gimmicks and tactics that they employ. The Vigilante is excellent rider and a sharpshooter with his pistols. Green Arrow and Speedy are sharpshooters with their bows. Crimson Avenger is a brawler who has his crimson mist to hide in and confuse his opponents. The Star Spangled Kid and Stripesy have various pre-arranged codes for their fighting maneuvers, which they call out during combat, making planning and execution their game. They also have a car that turns into a plane, dubbed the Star Rocket Racer. Green Arrow has the Arrowplane, which is also a car that turns into a plane.
Leading Comics follow much the same format as All-Star Comics. It’s a quarterly book, as All-Star was when it began. The opening and closing chapters depict the team learning of a threat and making plans to combat it, while the closing chapter ends with the team coming together to defeat the threat. The middle chapters are solo adventures of the various characters. A few books break from that format later on, including one that mixes and matches the characters for a different dynamic than normal. Sadly, the series only ran for 14 issues before superheroes were out and funny animals were in. The Seven Soldiers had a run of three and a half years before vanishing for decades. And they never have enjoyed the same high profile and popularity as the Justice Society of America. Also unlike the JSA, they had a stable lineup for their entire run, with no members leaving and no new ones added. They don’t seem to have regular meetings like the Justice Society, but rather they get together when the need arises.
I’m delighted to see that this team will be getting one of the Convergence mini-series. I hope it’s a good story and that the writer treats the characters with respect and gives them a good showing.
Up next: a review of Leading Comics #1.