All-Star Comics #4 – concluded

The Sandman

“I’m only one man! Why don’t you start your war against me? I’m an American! Come on, you cowardly rats – try something!”

Wesley Dodds is on his way to prevent a newspaper from being bombed by the grey-shirts for telling the truth about dictator nations. Forcing his way past the secretary, Sandman meets with the editor and is shocked to learn that some of the grey-shirts are Americans who have fallen for propoganda. Wesley ditches the Sandman disguise and heads for the grey-shirt camp, where he forces his way in and then beats up a crowd of young recruits. When the leader shows up, Dodds clocks him too, causing the recruits to have second thoughts about their choice.

The attack causes the leader to speed up his plans for bombing the newspaper. The Sandman stops the truck and steals the bombs, detonating them harmlessly in a ravine. He then captures the recruits and marches them into town. When it is suggested that they join the army rather than face prison time, the youths are all for it, and so is the Sandman, who heads to Toledo, Ohio.

  • Newspapers attacked for printing something offensive sounds a lot like what happened to Charlie Hebdo. Again, there may well be some WW2-era pro-America propoganda in these comics, but there’s some truth there as well. And there are some scary parallels with today’s world.
  • It’s a rare thing in these stories to see two different artists tackle the same scene, but we get a second panel of Doctor Fate skywriting to get Sandman’s attention.
  • Wesley isn’t too careful with his secret identity. He takes off the mask and challenges the grey-shirts and their leader dressed in his green suit, minus the hat, gas mask and cape.
  • So he heads for Ohio at the end of the story… there’s no way he’s going to arrive at the same time as Doctor Fate or the Flash. And yet he does.

Johnny Thunder – text story

“A Fortune Teller’s Fortune” sees Johnny Thunder having trouble with his girlfriend Daisy again. She wants to have her fortune told, Johnny tries to predict it instead, and she gets all angry. Of course it’s all a scam and her pearls are stolen. Johnny knows the fortune teller did it, but the man has dangerous mental powers, and Johnny only escapes death thanks to his Thunderbolt.

The Hawkman

“I understand he’s the Hawkman… a fine example of American manhood, too.”

Hawkman heads to California to keep spies out of the aviation factories there. Along the way he encounters a test flight for a massive new bomber and prevents it from being captured by enemy agents when the pilots are gassed. Meanwhile, Shiera is tired of being left out of Justice Society meetings, so she decides to take a vacation and head for California. Seeing Hawkman, she gets his attention by – I’m not kidding – throwing herself out of the plane and calling for help. She did have a parachute but it didn’t open, so luckily he sees her and catches her.

They both go to work guarding the plant. Armed spies attack, but Hawkman fights them off and learns the location of their leader. He takes off for Ohio to confront Fritz Klaver, leaving Shiera behind.

  • Hawkman sleeps in his mask. I hope he doesn’t make a habit of that!
  • The spies planned to knock out the bomber pilots and then catch the falling plane in a net. Say what? I don’t think that would work, fellas.
  • Shiera pulls a crazy Lois Lane stunt long before Lois starts regularly doing crazy things to get Superman’s attention. Too funny.

The Atom

The Atom gets the college assignment he wanted, where he sees a group of men trying to spread propoganda for the dictator nations and trying to recruit. They beat up anyone who stands up to them. So naturally the Atom has to step in and pay them back in kind. The thugs don’t give up, and try their luck on tiny Al Pratt, who whips their butts and has them singing “God Bless America”.

The grey-shirt agents want revenge, but Al’s roommate tells him where to find their club. He heads there and employs his usual fisticuffs to take out every last one of them. Hearing some orders coming over their radio, he too learns about Fritz Klaver and where he can be found. Hurrying there, he finds himself staring down the barrel of machine guns held by some grey shirts…

  • Too bad Al Pratt isn’t around to clean up today’s socialist student groups. We could sure use him.
  • We get a cliffhanger ending to this particular chapter that leads directly into the final chapter of the story.
  • How in the world is the Atom the first one to arrive at Klaver’s hideout? I guess the college he was infiltrating was just next door or something.

Closing chapter

Johnny Thunder is man again because he wasn’t asked to help out, and once again he inadvertently calls up his thunderbolt and ends up right beside the Atom, and just about to be gunned down, when the entire Justice Society shows up. As you can imagine, these Nazi spies have no chance at all against the combined powers of the entire group. When Fritz Klaver himself appears and attempts to destroy the house and everything in it, Doctor Fate stops him with his magical powers.

The team gets ready to transport the spies and their records to FBI headquarters in Washington DC, but it’s Johnny Thunder who does the job, sending the entire house there. The FBI chief praises the team for a job well done.

  • The WW2 America propoganda is laid on pretty thick, but after decades of modern liberal viewpoints in comics, it’s honestly pretty refreshing to read something different.
  • The story itself is perfect for a large group like this. Forget the tired old alien invasion… these guys go to bust up a nationwide spy ring that’s trying to weaken America from within prior to war. That’s a big mission for a big group of superheroes.
  • And along those lines, this is one time when splitting the team up into solo chapters works very well. There are many occasions when they would face the threat better as a group, but here solo chapters work very well.
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