RandoMonday: DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #3, the Justice Society

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

This is one of my very favorite issues in my collection. It is the comic that introduced me to the DC multiverse, and where I fell in love with the Earth-2 concept and characters.

“The All Star Super Squad” by Gerry Conway, Ric Estrada, and Wally Wood: This “double-length novel!” (from All-Star Comics #58-59) introduces us to some younger E-2 heroes–Star Spangled Kid, Robin, and Power Girl–and is the first appearance of Power Girl. Despite the heavy fire-power of the JSA (Doctor Fate, Green Lantern, Flash, and a few others), it takes these three younger heroes working together to defeat the machinations of Brainwave and Degaton. What a way to be introduced to these characters! I loved the differences between the Earth-1 characters that I knew and these “doppelgängers”. Hawkman had that goofy mask instead of the helmet. Robin is working for the U.N. to report about the apartheid policies in South Africa (well before pop culture started its anti-apartheid stance), and Robin had a costume with long sleeves and pants! I loved that design and wished “my” Robin could have something similar. The introduction of Power Girl was really interesting because she was not as powerful as Supergirl, which made her struggles seem a little more heroic to me. Plus, the Estrada and Wood art was fantastic, especially how they drew Power Girl.

“Five Drowned Men” by Gardner Fox, Irwin Hasen, Joe Kubert, Lee Elias, and Frank Harry: I think that this was my first Golden Age story (from All-Star Comics #36). As was the style of the day, this JSA story was a series of individual characters stories with a frame involving all of them. I found it very interesting that the villains of the issue (who were only “bad” because of a drug that “deadens a man’s conscience”) had no superpowers but were still able to defeat or elude the JSAers. The art took some getting used to, but I have a fondness for the various artists now.

Dr. Fate (from 1st Issue Special [1975]) by Martin Pasko and Walt Simonson: So in comparison to the first story of the digest, this made me really love Dr. Fate. A lot of that had to do with the Simonson art and somewhat for the Egyptian connections. I would have loved a Dr. Fate series by this team.

At the end of the digest is a few pages explaining the parallel Earth concept (with art by Ross Andru and I’m guessing that the text was written by Paul Levitz), which was helpful. However, because of one panel showing Earth-1 and Earth-2 counterparts, I thought for a few years that Dr. Fate was somehow a counterpart to Aquaman–that was on me being a poor reader because the text clearly states those characters are unique (but there was a Golden Age Aquaman–was this my first experience with retconning?).

I really love this comic, and my copy of this digest is well read, so I’m on the prowl for a better copy of this special digest.

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