All-Star Squadron (1981)
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Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: September 1981 - March 1987
Country: United States
DC writers at the turn of the 21st century — especially people like James Robinson, Geoff Johns and David Goyer — must've loved this series. One can barely read an issue of JSA (1999) without seeing some detail this series either first made clear or re-iterated from the Golden Age. But some DC writers of the 1980s probably didn't like this series so much, because it represented so much about the "complications" of the DCU that Crisis On Infinite Earths aspired to simplify.Squadron, exists in the same time-frame as the original Justice Society. It isthe back-story to those classic tales. It presents a certain "challenge" for the uninitiated reader. Stories frequently fit into the run of All-Star Comics, but to an extent events portrayed in More Fun, Sensation, Adventure, All-Flash, Green Lantern, Star Spangled and other Golden Age titles. In other words this is not Golden Age revisionism, but continuation. Though other Silver Age comics, like Showcase and Flash had already made it fairly clear that the Justice Society was from Earth 2, this series made sure you understood that the Justice Society (as published in the 1940s) was the very same Justice Society that had been intermittently appearing again since the 1960s.
After years of flirting with Earth 2, DC had finally given it a stable "home", and firmly connected it with existing continuity.
Unfortunately, it perhaps came a bit too late. By the 80s, the 40s comics were so old they now had a name, even by the comics readers of the day. That was all "Golden Age" stuff, now. Despite reprints, it was still fairly inaccessible to the average kid on the street. Yes, Squadron had modestly impressive sales on the back of strong art and the unusual twist of being set in the 1940s. But a lot of the attention the writers took to link it up to All Star, et al, was lost on the 80s readers. It became, therefore, all too easy to point to Squadron as an example of how "complicated" the universe had become. It's interesting to speculate how differently the DCU might've turned out had DC launched this title back at the dawn of the multiverse, rather than here at its sunset.
While it wasn't exactly the last gasp of the multiverse, it was the retirement party. It didn't, especially, end because of low sales. Rather, the writers of 1987 weren't sure how to make the series "work" post-Crisis. Indeed, they may not have even tried all that hard. It may have been a matter of very simple math: these stories are set on Earth 2, there is no Earth 2 anymore, so there is no point to further telling these stories. Luckily, someone at DC finally saw that because the tales had been set in the 1940s, these characters, and a good chunk of their stories, could've easily survived the Crisis. Given the 21st century importance of the reformed Justice Society, this mostly pre-Crisis (and, for significant periods of the run, Crisis-irrelevant) series is required reading for anyone seriously trying to "connect the dots" from the Goyer/Robinson/Johns/Rucka era back to the Golden Age.
Number of issues cataloged: 84
Number of users with this title in their pull list: 2