All Star Squadron #22: Reviews Of Old Comics
This week’s review of an old comic is All Star Squadron #22, part two of a long storyline that featured almost every Golden Age hero that DC had the rights to. It also featured them facing off against the Ultra-Humanite, who would later in the series pull in the children of the Justice Society, Infinity, Inc., in their very first appearance.
Ultra has seized the Powerstone, with Superman, Green Lantern and Liberty Belle held at bay by its power and her lackey, Deathbolt. Ultra wills the Powerstone to her forehead and quickly subdues Superman. She has moire trouble with Green Lantern, but assistance from Deathbolt renders Green Lantern unconscious. Liberty Belle tries to fight back but is overpowered.
Ultra relates her origin as the Ultra-Humanite, a foe of Superman, who had his brain put into the body of actress Delores Winters. Ultra had a scheme of hers foiled by Superman and scientist Terry Curtis.but apparently dove into a volcano to her death. Instead, she had a subterranean vehicle to escape in, She enslaved a race of subterranean men to do her bidding.
At the Perisphere, serving as an ad hoc headquarters for the All-Star Squadron, Johnny Quick and Tarantula have a disagreement over Liberty Belle. Tarantula leaves and Johnny Quick goes to investigate what happened to Hawkman and the other Squadron members that went to investigate a fire at JSA HQ. He experiments with using his super-speed to fly, but can only muster short distances. He meets Firebrand leaving the hospital, and she informs him that the fire happened after a villain named Cyclotron attacked. Dr. Fate, Hawkman and the Atom then left.
Johnny Quick takes Firebrand back to her apartment where she goes to get some rest, while Johnny falls asleep on her couch. He’s awoken by Cyclotron knocking on the window, but when he attacks Johnny Quick, some debris clips Firebrand, knocking her unconscious. Cyclotron recognizes her and takes her away. Johnny comes to far too late to chase after them.
Back at Superman’s Citadel, Ultra and Deathbolt share his origin of how Ultra found him fleeing in a plane from the police, only to crash. Using his equipment, Ultra not only revived him, but gave him his electrical powers. Cyclotron arrives with Firebrand and reveals himself to be Terry Curtis, who is love with Firebrand. Before he can tell why he has to work with Ultra, she demands that he hand over the “Hammer of Thor” that Cyclotron stole from JSA HQ.
Johnny Quick, Commander Steel, and Robotman parachute in to rescue the captive heroes, but fail miserably. Ultra captures Robotman and flees, taking him, Superman, and Firebrand with her as captives. She spares the others, who ponder what her plans might be with objects of such power as the Powerstone and the Hammer of Thor. Underground, Ultra reveals part of her plan to Deathbolt and Cyclotron, putting her brain into the metal body of Robotman, after she steals the Helmet of Doctor Fate.
Roy Thomas has an encyclopedic knowledge of comics. By reviving the Ultra-Humanite in the body of Delores Winters, he showed an evil genius with the emphasis on “evil.” Her lackeys are toady, but completely under her control in one way or another. Having Superman as a helpless captive shows precisely how powerful she is and really generates a sense of dread in the reader that Ultra is going to do some irreparable harm before the All-Star Squadron can stop her.
He writes Johnny Quick in a way that really doesn’t make him very sympathetic. His concern for Liberty Belle is more jealousy and self-serving than actual admiration. Firebrand falls into the role of a damsel in distress, which is not very becoming of her. It’s easy to forget that this was a different time period, but a woman that could go out in Firebrand’s costume shouldn’t be so resigning. With Liberty Belle so quickly taken care of when she tries to resist, the only strong female character is Ultra, who despise being a woman, which is something that didn’t exist in the original stories that she appeared in.
Jerry Ordway’s art is amazing, especially given that he has to draw so many flashbacks and asides. He illustrates the action very well, especially since smaller details need to be noticed. He does such a great job of making the characters recognizable every time that they show up, even behind their masks. If I have an issue with anything about Ordway’s art it’s that the original costumes that he designed look a little too modern compared to the other costumes captured from the Golden Age.
To the best of my knowledge, this issue has not been collected. Don’t pay too much for an issue, as you can generally find this in well-stocked bargain boxes. If you really need to go search for some backstory for these flashbacks, then there’s stuff out there for you, such as the books at the bottom of this page.
RATING: 8.7 (out of 10)