Sunday, December 18, 2011

Artist Irwin Hasen profiled in New York Times

In case you missed it, Golden Age Green Lantern and The Flash artist, along with co-creator of the character, Wildcat in the 1940s, Irwin Hasen, was profiled by the New York Times.

A great read and well worth a look.

The artist Irwin Hasen in his Upper East Side apartment.                                                  Julie Glassberg for The New York Times

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

All-Star Comics #11 - "The Justice Society Joins the War on Japan!"

Well, that anti-air bombing formula obviously didn't work...because between last issue and this, Pearl Harbor has been bombed and America has entered World War II.

With the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, many have been killed and even more wounded, crippling America's air fleets based in Hawaii. It is for this very reason that the JSA comes together for their regular meeting under a cloud of grief and guilt. Despite the spy rings they've smashed, the saboteurs they've put away, none feels that he has done enough to help his country.

Each one ashamed to say what they're thinking of doing next, Hawkman takes the plunge, and explains that as his everyday identity as Carter Hall, he is enlisting in the U.S. Army. When the other take great joy in this, Hawkman takes a bit of defense that they would want him out as their chairman so gleefully. However, they quickly divulge that they were each looking to enlist too.

Except for Johnny Thunder, who is planning on joining the Navy, and The Spectre, who has his own problems...

Hawkman, appropriately enough, takes to the skies, and becomes a pilot for the U.S. Services, and finds that Hawkgirl - Shiera Saunders - is also doing her part for the good ol' U.S. of A., by becoming a nurse. When the two run into each other on base, Carter Hall takes a look at the nurses list and reveals a bit of a surprise to Shiera.

The Justice Society has been spying on you for some time, a non-pervy way...well, with the exception of Johnny Thunder...

When a convoy comes under attack by the Japanese, the pilots take to the air, and Carter Hall finds himself more useful as Hawkman than as a pilot, and drops bombs from above, the old fashioned way.

And come on, check out that awesome Joe Kubert art...

When Diana Prince learns that there's a little skirmish on the coast near Vigan, she hops a ride with the medics and springs into action as Wonder Woman, fighting back the Japanese forces.

1940s-era racism and sexism, all rolled into one great panel.

Needless to say, Wonder Woman not only cleans up the beach of the Japanese troops, she single-handedly takes them down at various points all across the island, putting the men in uniform to a bit of shame. But, they must really dig her outfit, because after she mopped the floor with the enemy for them, they ask her to become a member of the detachment.

Over on Wake Island, Wesley Dodds ditches his Sandman persona to serve the cause on a marine garrison, learning to fire the anti-aircraft cannon on the shift. Bored with the slow process of his by-the-book training in the service, Wesley sneaks out of his bunk at night and 'borrows' a captured Japanese submarine.

Seriously? No one noticed a guy in purple and yellow spandex stealing a submarine off a U.S. Carrier?!

Wesley then uses the telegraph in that sub to tell all the other Japanese watercraft to scatter, warning that American fleets are closing in...and they all listen.

With obviously plenty of time left in the night, Sandman then sneaks aboard a Japanese carrier and sets fire to all their planes.

Of course, the U.S. Servicemen feel a bit cheated, and drop this note to Sandman from above...

That selfish bastard.

Al Pratt, aka The Atom, is on the front lines, manning tanks. However, once in the thick jungles, he decides to give the American troops a little advantage on the battlefield, by pulling this old stunt:

"Battle tanks! Now made with a new, lightweight metal for that east to grasp tip-over! They're a cinch to lift! Order now!"

Dr. Fate's alter ego of Kent Nelson has volunteered for the Parachute Troops, which, really is not all that daring considering the fact that he can fly. Not much to his adventure - just a lot of punching and crashing through walls. Once again, it seems either the writers, or the editors (ordering the writers) forgot or chose to ignore the fact that Dr. Fate is a being of all-powerful magic. Here, he serves as pretty much a substitute for Superman - invulnerable, flight and super strength, beating up on the enemy.

You didn't think of it because you were too busy wielding the power of the universe in your hands up until about four issues ago.

Dr, MidNite, meanwhile, is forced with the dilemma of wanting to enlist, but not giving away the secret that he can, actually see in the dark courtesy of his special goggles. He fears that he has no chance of enlisting due to his blindness unless he admits his advantage as Dr. MidNite. Just as he is about to confess the truth to his assistant, he receives a call that he is needed by the armed services to work on a formula by a scientist whose life was cut short by a bombing.

Arriving in the Pacific, Charles McNider gets right to work on the formula, and it appears his assistant, Myra isn't the only one he brought along...

I don't want to know where he hid Hooty for that entire plane ride to sneak him past both Myra and the servicemen.

Of course, it's not his work as Dr. McNider that takes precedence when Japanese fighters attack, and McNider springs into action as Dr. MidNite, shining a light on enemy planes that are headed toward their area. Shining spotlights on the fighters, MidNite draws enough attention to get the planes shot down before they can do further harm.

Ted Knight has joined the Air Force, meanwhile, only to find that he's got the worst co-pilot to bring along on his mission...

"Should not have the mess hall"

It doesn't take long before Ted finds himself the target of enemy fire, and with his co-pilot passed out, he makes a quick change to save he and the other pilots up in the air. Ordinarily, I'd have some kind of comment about having the time as the plane is going down to change into your costume, but, I'm just so much more forgiving when I see this beautiful Jack Burnley artwork...

Not even magnetized bullets that find their way right to the engine are a match for Starman, who issues a stern warning to the Japanese after he takes down the fleet.

And, of course, finally, there's Johnny Thunder, who has enlisted in the Navy. Sidenote, we find out many, many years later, in the 1990s Justice Society revival series, that Johnny remained in the Navy right through wartime.

However, here, Johnny has a bit of a rough start - getting in the way of his colleagues, and even a plane here and there. It's so much trouble right off the bat, that his commander wishes he could transfer him to the enemy.

Even the higher-ups know Johnny is a screw up, and decide it's best to just have this kid do whatever menial task they can find, rather than send him into battle and put actual reliable servicemen at risk.

Of course, as is Johnny's constantly dumb luck, those menial tasks meant to keep him out of harm's way, put him right in the path of a saboteur, who is trying to do damage to the carrier Johnny is stationed on. Placing a hammer inside some machinery to gum up the works? Sorry, saboteur, Johnny needs that hammer to hang the Captain's picture frame. Going to start a fire on the ship? Sorry, saboteur, but Johnny needs those matches to light the Captain's cigarette. You get the picture. Oh, and wait...that's no lighter...

Having been declared a hero for thwarting so many sabotage efforts, the higher-ups decide Johnny might be worth keeping around after all.

Oh, how they are so easily fooled. THIS kid on the front lines? How did we ever win WWII?

It seems the U.S Government thinks the JSA did TOO good a job on the battlefield (did they even read the Johnny Thunder story?!) and rather than take the fighting away from the boys of the USA, to become a special branch of the government during wartime, to accept special missions vital to the war effort.

The JSA even decides that it's time to let Wonder Woman in full time. Too bad they decide one of the most powerful heroes on Earth should be their secretary. Oy!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

All-Star Comics #10 - "The Case of the Bomb Defense Formula"

A group of America's top scientists are hard at work on a formula that would protect the country from air bombings (obviously a very real and looming threat when this story was published in 1942. So, when a group of gangster storm into the laboratory wanting the scientist's work for themselves, the eggheads are lucky that a few members of the JSA are nearby (for reasons unexplained) to help them.

The other members are gathered and Chairman of the Board Hawkman decides its in the best interest of the country and the JSA to protect the scientists, including one who claims he has built a "time ray' that can zap people into different time periods. Now, if he was able to successfully create that, you'd think the war might already be over, but I digress.

Struck by inspiration, Johnny Thunder suggests the JSA go into the far future where future-scientists are bound to have discovered the "anti-air-bombing formula." They all agree, and leaving the scientists under the watchful eye of Green Lantern, the team heads into the far future, courtesy of the time ray.

The JSA stumbling into the scientists lab at just the right time to stop the gangsters, I'll buy it. The anti-air bombing formula, a long stretch, even by 1940s standards, but given the fear that surrounded the war at the time, especially for children, I would imagine, I'll buy that too.

But I still have a hard time swallowing how Hawkman summoned the rest of the team...

I wonder how long those lessons took. Do you think Dr. MidNite's owl, Hooty, got jealous?

So, Hawkman arrives in the future, where he is very quickly arrested as a suspected spy. No one believes he is truly Hawkman, who, along with the other members of the Justice Society, are revered as the greatest heroes of all time. Briefly imprisoned, Hawkman escapes and goes to the one place one would look to find out where the anti-air-bombing formula is hidden.

The library? No. The hall of records? No. Quickly! To the Televisabrary. Try saying that five times fast. Heck, try saying that at all.

"All the records are kept via television!" Oh, I love the 30s-40s view of the future.

Hawkman watches a girl talk into a mic asking for the current population of New York City in the year 2442, to which a magic mirror-like television screen displays a man who gives her the answer of 50,700,000 people. Just to note, the population of NYC in 2011 during the last census numbers is 8,175,133. So if you like over population now, just wait another 431 years, Big Apple!

Talking to the television, Hawkman learns the formulas for anti-bombing defense have been hidden in various points across the globe, conveniently enough, in just as many places as there are Justice Society members searching for them. So, after a brief scuffle with the future-police, Hawkman meets up with his colleagues, stealing some flying contraptions in the process, for those heroes who can't fly on their own.

The first up to give these flying contraptions a try is The Sandman - although a regular reader would quickly note that Sandman has ditched his classy suit, hat, and gas mask look for a more cliche superhero tights ensemble of yellow and purple. No reason is given within the story for the sudden design change, but editorially it was the work of writer Mort Weisinger and artist Paul Norris and occurred shortly before comic legends Jack Kirby and Joe Simon took over the character.

Sandman's mission in the year 2442 is to get the second piece of the anti-bombing formula and bring it back to WWII era scientists. He stumbles upon a group of miners who are taking a break from their duties for a little exercise through the air.

Sandman and the mystery on Fire Island

Stealing a pair of clothes from the now half-naked, miners, Sandman disguises himself and heads into the mine, where he is put to work at an underground area that houses 'the chamber of manuscripts.'

I'd say without any prior knowledge of where he was to even begin looking for the formula, Sandman's luck pretty much saw him through this one. It doesn't take long before the other miners become suspect and the Sandman finds himself in a rush to overpower the miners while still copying down the formula in the chamber. Upon his success, Sandman flies out of the mine, determined to make his way back to 1942 and leaving the future-era miners in awe of having encountered a hero from hundreds of years in the past.

Though not a single one asked where his gas mask was...

The Atom's quest takes him to a land of giants - because if you want to send someone to the land of giants, naturally, you send the teammate who is already known for how small he is. Needless to say, it isn't long before The Atom gets captured and placed in a bird cage as someone's pet.

What saves the mighty mite? Is it keen thinking and intellect? The brawn that comes with years of training and fighting wartime criminals alongside the Justice Society?


Finally, those months of bird-speaking lessons from Hawkman pay off.

Once he escapes, the Atom easily finds his piece of the anti-bombing formula and heads back to 1942 to meet up with the rest of his teammates.

Starman, meanwhile, has been sent to the section of the U.S. that has now become a virtual kingdom of giant trees - "the great redwoods grown to giant-size," as the hero puts it.

Like some of his colleagues, Starman is recognized as wearing the costume of a great hero of history and immediately thought to be a loon. So, the authorities take away his gravity rod and incarcerate him - in a glass bubble. Not just any glass bubble, but one that is hanging between two rocky cliffs.

Obviously, the highly-advanced architects of the future didn't give any thought to this failed jail setup.

Naturally, Starman escapes from the glass bubble and secures his portion of the secret anti-bombing formula before returning to 1942.

Dr. Fate enters a portion of the United States that, in the future, is primarily under water. (Sorry, too soon for any off-color natural disaster jokes) There, he befriends a young guardsman, who believes the hero that he is the Dr. Fate of historical record, and even shows him the great statues erected to he and his super-hero brethren as legends of history.

The young man and his wife gladly share what they know of the anti-bombing formula with the mystical Dr. Fate, which is contained in an information system not unlike today...

"We here in the future call it wikipedia!"

So, Dr. Fate sets out to find the formula, which is hidden many fathoms below the sea. Now, ordinarily, you would think an all powerful being like Dr. Fate would snap his fingers and teleport to the formula...or make it teleport to him. But, apparently that's just not as much fun, as Dr. Fate instead borrows a specially-made diving suit invented by the young man and sets out underwater to find the formula.

He finds it, all right, and then quickly heads back to 1942.

Part of being a super-hero apparently means having no regard for the SPECIALLY MADE suit you just borrowed from someone and left in the ocean. Mystical jerk.

Dr. MidNite finds himself headed to future's "City of Knowledge," located in the former lands of Egypt's deserts. The Sphinx and pyramids appear to have survived anything that occurred in the hundreds of years since 1942, but a civilization has been built, literally, around them.

It is here that Dr.MidNite - and Hooty, because who would go to the future and NOT bring their pet owl - ask about where they might find the shrine of science, which is where the anti-bombing formula is kept.

Like many of his fellow Justice Society colleagues discovered, claiming to be the original Dr. MidNite gets him sent straight to the loony bin, where the only thing that saves him is when a high-powered official (apparently in a non-psychiatric wing) needs a surgery that "only the legendary Dr. MidNite could perform."

Yes, that's right. Despite hundreds of years of science and medical development, there is only one man in history who can perform this surgery, and he just happens to have been locked in the psychiatric wing. Makes you wonder just how many other people have died when no one could operate on them.

Hospital staff tries to stop him, but Dr. MidNite, with some assistance from Hooty, manages to perform the surgery, while keeping the orderlies at bay.

Thank god they also committed Hooty to the asylum, right?

Having saved the man's life, the doctors all somehow seem convinced that this must be the real Dr. MidNite, and tell him exactly where to find the secret Shrine of Science, where the formula is kept. It is deep within the catacombs of the pyramid that MidNite finds the secret formula, along with some criminals who have followed him. It seems for all the advancement of the future, crime still exists. It's only how they deal with criminals that has evolved.

Your tax dollars at work.

And with the formula in hand and the criminals vanquished, Dr. MidNite (and Hooty) head back to 1942.

The Spectre's missing piece of the formula is hidden away on a planet called "Ultima," which, as the caption box points out - "hasn't yet been discovered in 1942." In his earthly guise as Detective Jim Corrigan, The Spectre hitches a ride on a rocket (portrayed as the future equivalent of a taxi) to the planet Ultima. Along the way, though, he eavesdrops on two men who plan on using a new type of ray gun to take over the planet.

His 'better plan' involves taking the place of a high priest on Ultima, letting himself get shot by the would-be assassins, and then taking them out. So, your great plan is just delaying the destruction of these criminals for another few pages? Got it.

Naturally, in gratitude, the high priest lets the Spectre take a copy of the secret formula.

Johnny Thunder is up next. Man, have I come to dislike having to make my way through these Johnny Thunder chapters. In typical Johnny fashion, he's been given wings that malfunction, and so he spends the first part of his adventure flying around backwards bumping into guardsmen on accident.

Yes, folks, this was one of the original members of history's first super-hero team. Apparently, requirements were not all that high in the 1940s.

Johnny gets duped by some future guardsmen who are looking to have some fun at his expense, and sent off to take care of "Black Butch," a troll-like being who lives in a cave. To the surprise of all the law enforcement officers, Johnny takes down Black Butch, albeit with the help of his magical thunderbolt, and in return, secures his part of the anti-bombing formula.

He then heads back to 1942, flying backwards, because even with the power of a magical genie at his command, he still can't figure out how to put the wings on straight.

Once the entire team returns to 1942 (only minutes after they left), the group of scientists gets right to work on the anti-bombing formula.

"Just some common, every day household items. This should be a jiff!"

Once the scientists get their device created, they decide it's time to test it out - and what better way than just dropping some bombs.

I really don't think that's the time for puns, Dr. Fate.

Well, apparently the device worked, and the JSA suggests getting the new anti-bombing raid device into the weapons archives of the U.S. Government.

The "weapons archives" of the government? Why do I keep getting the feeling I've seen that place before...(cue the John Williams' Indiana Jones theme)

Overall, the story had the rah-rah-rah U.S. Democracy that was typical of many of the early Justice Society stories of the times. It was an entertaining, if not always interesting take on the future, with the idea of the world split off not into countries, but into almost tribal-like societies - air, underground, underwater, etc.

It sticks to the classic JSA story structure of once again setting up a story framework and then having the team split-up so each member gets their own solo story. I understand that time was a factor here, too, but did it really make sense, other than from the standpoint of ease for the writer (Gardner Fox), to have one team member handle infiltrating an entire civilization on his own? You'd think the combined might of the JSA might have helped wrap this case up a little faster.

Anyway, a side note as we look both ahead at future issues, and back to the past over the course of JSA history.

For those following along, in about two dozen issues, we'll meet a super-villain named Per Degaton who will become a recurring nemesis to the Justice Society. Some time in the 1980s, writers decided to ret-con (retroactive continuity) the story of Per Degaton, and re-wrote that he was, in fact, a lab assistant to the team of scientists in this story. In this original edition, he is no where to be found, but as later writers cherry pick and add and subtract, it's an interesting notion to mention.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

All Star Comics #9 - "You don't even know what it means to be a Mexican!"

No title to speak of on this issue, dated February-March 1942, so I have decided to title it for my purposes after my favorite line in the story, but we'll get to that soon enough.

The JSA is getting a notable guest at their latest meeting - The FBI Chief.

Much like his previous appearance with the JSA, the character is drawn only in shadows, or has his head conveniently hidden via word bubbles. I don't know
whether the publishers didn't want to personify J. Edgar Hoover in the books, or whether they were intentionally trying to make the FBI look like more of a "secret organization" that way.

Regardless, it seems the JSA have done such a good job of cleaning up fifth columnists and spies in the United States, that the government wants them to get to work on menaces in South America and Mexico, or as the FBI Chief puts it - "We have to help our good neighbors to the south stop them!"

Each of the JSA members are given their mission, each with a separate country and threat to tackle.

Before they disperse, Johnny Thunder encourages all of the Justice Society members to join him in a round of ass-kissing...

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that each solo chapter makes note of not only where that particular hero is in South America, but what that region is known for economically and in terms of resources. Sure beat a chapter of the Geography book in school for some 1940s kids, I'm sure.

Hawkman finds his mission in Mexico, where he drops in on a member of the "Mexican Secret Police."

I have broken into your bedroom, am wearing a bird mask and no shirt and am standing above your bed. "I am at your service..." No need for alarm.

The police officer tells Hawkman to look for a man named Johan Krauss, a quest that leads the feathered hero right into a trap sprung by men who speak broken English with the occasional "Ach!" and "Himmel!" thrown in just to let you know they're of the Nazi persuasion. After escaping fists, gunfire, and even a bomb, Hawkman discovers the spies' plans to cripple communication and supply lines in preparation for a "day of invasion" by the Third Reich.

He also discovers that the men who he was getting his information from was no Mexican Police Officer, but instead the very Johann Krauss he was searching for, and who is leading this takeover of Mexican forces.

Hawkman does not take kindly to being duped.

There is nothing I could say that would make this panel any funnier than it already is.

Meanwhile, The Spectre finds himself in Argentina, where army planes are being stolen in mid-air thanks to a helicopter-like device with suction-tentacles. In his human form of Detective Jim Corrigan, The ghostly Spectre makes contact with the Argentine Secret Service, who tells him that they are transporting a spy to a prison via airplane - the perfect opportunity for the plan thieves to strike, Corrigan thinks, and tags along.

As expected, the plane is stolen mid-flight by the weird, tentacled aircrafts. Leaving his human host body behind, The Spectre discovers the Nazis are stealing these planes to build their own air fleet.

Sooooo...the Nazis spent how much money to build these aircrafts that can steal planes in midair, just so they can then turn around and use those planes themselves? Wouldn't it have made more sense to just use the money toward building your own fleet of warplanes? Just sayin'...

Despite their lack of financial logic, the fleet takes off and attempt to bomb Buenos Aires. It's a solid attempt, unless you've got a supernatural phenomenon like the Spectre following you. As the bombs fall, The Spectre swallows them like a kid catching a grape in his mouth, spitting them back out at the plane.

The Spectre eats Nazi bombs for breakfast! (And then spits them back up)

Once again, The Spectre proves that he is the JSA's resident bad-ass.

While The Spectre is killing off Nazis in Buenos Aires, the pint-sized hero known as The Atom is on a mission to Chile. It is there, in his secret identity as college student Al Pratt, that he meets with officials about how he can help the cause.

Does the Chief of the Identification Service see just anybody? Even if that were the case, who would let a college student in on the grounds that he claims he'll rid the country of Nazis? Does this guy not have a secretary or security team to screen for stuff like this? **sighs**

It seems the Atom has been charged with taking out the Nazi propaganda machine that is believed to be stationed in Chile. How does he go about finding it? Why, by waiting for the alleged leader to come wandering by in a restaurant and start talking obnoxiously loud about how much he hates Nazis. Naturally, this gets the leader fired up and sticks his men on poor little Al outside the restaurant after dinner.

What the Nazi thugs don't realize is that the pint-sized runt their about to jump is secretly the tiny powerhouse, The Atom, who ducks behind a fence where he changes into costume and proceeds to mop the floor with these goons.

Don't ever call this guy short. Sheesh...

It doesn't take long for the goons to spill the beans, leading The Atom directly to the secret printing press the Nazis are using to spread their propaganda through Chile and beyond, taking out their (shockingly) blond haired leader, and alerting the Chilean authorities just where they can find the villain's hideout.

The Sandman's mission brings him to Venezuela, which is noted for "its coffee, cocoa, and gold," according to the opening panel. I imagine this issue also served as a semi-geography lesson on South America for those 1940s children who were reading JSA at the time, as, like I mentioned earlier, each chapter opens to a little description about the country each particular hero is assigned to and what that country is known for.

And who said comics weren't educational? ;)

Anyway, Sandman meets with the head of the Venezuelan Secret Service, who informs him that Facist saboteurs are planning on attacking Venezuela's oil wells, which, of course, are of great use to the United States and Great Britain.

"Whatever you do in this wartime, do not sabotage or destroy the oil wells." Well, we at least know that this guy survived long enough to write speeches for Bush II.

So Sandman pursues the saboteurs, only find himself taken down before he can stop their plot to blow up the oil wells at midnight. You would think that would spell the end for our hero, but no...

Really? Let's leave the costumed man who just beat the crap out of us alone so we can prove a point? That guy in the brown wants to slug his buddy for that one, you just know it.

When Sandman awakens from that inescapable death trap of...being left...on the ground...he immediately checks his watch to see that it is ten after one in the morning. He panics, as the saboteurs were planning on blowing up the oil wells at midnight.

Arriving at the oil wells, though, Sandman finds everything still intact, and the evildoers just now planting their explosives. He makes quick work of the saboteurs, who are no doubt kicking themselves now for listening to their buddy's idea of just leaving Sandman unconscious rather than just shooting him.

Villains captured. No explosives planted. Disaster averted.

But wait - you want to know why the oil wells weren't blown to bits already when Sandman awoke at 1:10 am?

Let this be a reminder of the dire consequences when we don't reset our clocks for daylight savings too.

Johnny Thunder finds himself on a mission to Cuba, and if there's a Cuban crisis to be found, Johnny's likely the one who caused it. Johnny's been told to search out spies that could harm the American cause.

It doesn't take long for Johnny to get distracted, although his taste may leave something to be desired.

Sorry to knock the artwork by Stan Aschmeier, but man, that's a harsh "pretty face" for Johnny to fall for.

This story would probably take too much time to sum up thoroughly, and quite honestly, isn't worth it. Needless to say, by not speaking Spanish, Johnny gets caught up in a spy ring by accident. However, with the help of his thunderbolt he captures the spies and saves the day, and learns that the girl who set him up in the first place is actually a spy-catcher herself. Seeing Johnny in action somehow has her all hot and bothered (don't ask me) and with their mission accomplished, she begins to set her sights on her next catch - Johnny.

Meanwhile, the democratic leader of Brazil is under attack by the Nazi party. First, they attempt to poison his wife while she rides a train - an act that would have succeeded if Kent Nelson (aka Dr. Fate) hadn't been on the same train en route to his JSA mission.

After questioning the Nazi on the train who tried to administer the poison, Dr. Fate soon learns that the Nazis have replaced the Democratic leader with a lookalike of their own.

It doesn't take long before the lookalike and the Nazis are taken down, and the Democratic Leader of Brazil is rescued.

Once again, it seems that Dr. Fate forgets that he even has occult powers on his side, as all he seems to do is throw punches at the bad guys.

The Bolivian Secret Police enlist the help of Starman in finding out how their tin mines are getting sabotaged with no sign of the Nazis headed in or out of the mines.

To say that Starman goes undercover to get to the root of the problem would be inaccurate, as he spends a week in the mine, like this...

No. I can't see how that would draw attention or clue anyone in that a superhero was on watch. Not at all.

Finally, despite the blatant appearance of Starman, the Nazis do attack, via an underground tunneling tank that they used to get into and out of the underground mines.

It also bears a striking resemblance to something from a cartoon (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) some 50 years later that I remember from my own childhood. The bad guys used a very similar vehicle to get around underground. I'm betting someone on that art or writing staff was a JSA reader when they were a kid.

Starman catches up the Nazis in their underground lair, only to be knocked unconscious. The villains then try to run Starman over with their giant drill, to no avail. His gravity rod protects him and he then uses it to melt the living hell out of their tank.

Don't ever piss off Starman...or he will melt your toys.

Meanwhile, Dr. MidNite is in Colombia, where masses of people are suddenly turning on the thought of democracy. Some investigating soon leads Dr. MidNite to discover it is the work of a Dr. Swein (Swine, how appropriate), who is inoculating his patients with a serum that makes them susceptible to his anti-democratic radio broadcasts, only audible to those who have taken the drug.

For reasons that he doesn't make clear, Dr. MidNite decides that even though he's uncovered the scheme, he should get injected with the serum himself to help the case. What?!

Regardless, when the hypnotized citizens start to rebel, MidNite puts a stop to Dr. Swein's scheme, smashing into his lab and making him release the Colombian citizens from his thrall. When the angry mob then tries to turn on Dr. Swein, Dr. MidNite gives them a harsh lessen in democracy.

No violence in Colombia? Oh, Dr. MidNite, just wait about 40 years or so when the drug wars kick into gear.

With their missions accomplishments, the JSA members are all scheduled to meet at the Panama Canal. For a debrief? Another dangerous mission for the U.S. Government?!

Nope. For a dance with their girlfriends, courtesy of the U.S. Army.

Ridiculous? Certainly. However, I can see how the writers may have been looking for an ending that humanizes the characters a little bit. Sure, they were super heroes, but after a long day of fighting Nazis, who wouldn't want to come home to their sweetie? I'll give em' a pass on that.

Next issue...the Justice Society of America travels into the far future...