Wednesday, January 8, 2014

All-Star Comics #24 - "This is Our Enemy!"

While All-Star Comics #24 is cover dated as the "Spring Issue" of 1945, some research shows that it was on newsstands in mid-February of that year. Of note on the cover is the fact that there is no "DC" logo, instead replaced with the logo for "All-American Comics."It seems a real-life split between DC (aka National Comics) and All-American left several issues beginning with this #24 to be published solely by All-American. That meant that former DC properties were not available for use and changes had to be made to the team roster.

That would account for why Starman is suddenly no longer a part of the team, nor is The Spectre. Instead, we have characters from All-American's stable of heroes joining the team, Wildcat and Mr. Terrific. This issue also marks the return of The Flash and Green Lantern, who had previously left the team to focus on their own solo adventures.

Mr. Terrific makes his only appearance as a JSA member in these pages. Wildcat will make just one more.

The story itself is heavily drenched in American war propaganda, and according to comics historian (and beloved writer) Roy Thomas, the story for this issue had originally been planned as "Dreams of Madness," a tale that will come to light later on in All-Star Comics #30. As it started to become evident that the war would be ending sooner rather than later, that meant "This is Our Enemy," a story that relied so much on the backdrop of WWII and fighting Germany needed to get out as soon as possible or not at all.

It involves a young man named Dick Amber, who is friends with Carter Hall, otherwise known as Hawkman. Dick has been drafted into the U.S. Services, but while he admits he loves the country he lives in, he does not believe in the U.S.'s involvement in the war. For this reason, Hawkman invites him to the Justice Society meeting, where they hope to convince Dick of the necessity of warring with Germany.

As the JSA sits around looking for a way to make their case to Dick as to why he should support the war, the Conscience of Man (remember her?) is once again awakened in her other-dimensional realm and takes an interest in this situation.

Hey everyone! Remember me?
She sends Dick and the members of the JSA along with him, through time, to experience life as a member of the German people throughout various times in history. The point, of all of this, is to 'prove' to this young man that the Germans have always been a war-hungry and monstrous people and that is why he should be in favor of going to war.

When the JSA accomplish this, the Conscience of Man fades away, and Dick Amber is more than ready to go to war.

We won't quibble over the atrocities and horrors that occurred in World War II. Those are evident.

There are moments when the JSA specifically mentions Hitler and his desires, which certainly works for the story at hand. However, as the tale runs its course, young Dick Amber is made to see that Germans, in general, have always been either war-hungry, blood-thirsty, backstabbing, or ready and willing to follow orders at the drop of a hat. It's just odd reading. I will say, though, that it's sort of disconcerting to see characters that would become such tried-and true heroes in the comics universe such as Alan Scott, The Atom, etc, trying to convince a young man that he is wrong for not wanting war and then using the entire tale to tell that man (and the young readers) how foul, vicious, bloodthirsty and war mongering an entire race is. It's a product of its times, of course, but I think you would be very hard-pressed to find something like that today.

Coming up Next, the JSA solves the mystery of "The Forgotten Crime"...

1 comment:

  1. They talked about This is Our Enemy as part of the US pro-war propaganda in comics on the Backstory Podcast. The Writers War board was a quasi independent arm of the government war efforts.

    Enemies on BackStory Radio