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!