Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Super Blog Team-Up: 10 Great All-Star Squadron Covers!

#10 - The one that started it all, by Rich Buckler & Dick Giordano
I'm The Gun is delighted to join in with the 6th installment of Super Blog Team Up!  Today, and today only, a bunch of fantastic blogs are running down all kinds of Top 10 comics goodness.  In keeping with this theme, here you'll find my 10 favorite All-Star Squadron covers.  All-Star was a series with dozens of great covers, so it was some exercise in restraint to choose only ten!

All-Star Squadron, writer Roy Thomas' Golden Age revival title that ran from 1981-1987, was probably my first 'favorite' comic.  Before I had the comic book IQ to negotiate a monthly release schedule, I somehow ended up with several of these in my budding collection.   Thomas' encyclopaedic knowledge of these heroes (some familiar to me at the time like Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman, others more obscure like the original Green Lantern in his fabulously garish costume or Liberty Belle) and his ability to tell stories taking place in between the panels of the original run of All-Star Comics (we're talking about comics published between 1940-1942) blew my young mind, and always left me wanting more.

Drawn as I was to the inevitable & colorful cavalcade of 1940s superheroes that graced All-Star Squadron's interior pages, it was always the remarkably striking covers of this comic that (doing their job) provided that hook to get me to pick them up.

I would go so far as to say that A.S.S. had perhaps the best run of covers of the 1980s, illustrated by some of the best artists of the day.  After the iconic cover to issue #1, which was handled by the series' 1st artist Rich Buckler along with inker Dick Giordano, no less an artist than Joe Kubert drew the first year & a half of covers, all of them outstanding.

#9 - A Joe Kubert standout  - maybe the most superheroes he's every drawn in one composition; Superman seemed to get knocked around quite a bit on the covers of All-Star Squadron - I can think of at least half a dozen examples
As hard as it is to believe, I think the quality of The Squadron's cover art went up with issue #19, when Jerry Ordway took over as regular artist on not only the covers but also the interiors, as well.  A long run of absolute knockouts followed, even when Ordway stepped away from the interior art, but continued to ink Rick Hoberg's cover pencils.

Sometime after issue #50, All-Star Squadron started to lose steam - admittedly, DC's company-wide cross-over event Crisis on Infinite Earths wreaked havoc on Roy Thomas' cast, and a title that already had a hard time holding on to an art team suffered through even more inconsistency in that department.  A.S.S. eventually folded with issue #67, but not before dazzling the comic-buying public with its eye-grabbing cover art and introducing a generation to the guys and gals of DC's Golden Age.

Feast your eyes on 8 more gorgeous covers below, and be sure to check out other Top 10's at these fine locations:

#8 - I would NOT want to be this Hastor guy - the fury of The Hawkman, as only Joe Kubert could depict

#7 - Superman taking some more lumps at the hands of the Monster Society; Mike Clark was on the All-Star artist merry-go-round at this point, this cover being the high-point of his stint
#6 - The Spectre v. Dr. Fate!  The JSA looks on as their 2 most powerful members slug it out!  An awesome Jerry Ordway solo cover, just as he was leaving regular interior art duties.
#5 - The JSA returns just in time for All-Star Squadron to wind down.  Another Jerry Ordway jaw-dropper.
#4 - One of Jerry Ordway's 1st solo covers; Ordway always got a lot out of the zipatone, which lent a certain moodiness to his artwork.
#3 - Rick Hoberg & Jerry Ordway.  The All-Star who dies (SPOILER ALERT) was the until-then inconsequential Red Bee; I hadn't seen anything before like his brutal murder at the hands of the villainous Baron Blitzkrieg.  Despite this rough treatment, his tragic end somehow ennobled The Red Bee, and much like The Legion of Super-Heroes' Ferro Lad, the character became defined by his death.
#2 - Another Jerry Ordway solo knockout; an excellent composition with every color at the printer's disposal represented in the costumes of the various All-Stars.  Issue #50 was something of a last hurrah before the quality of the title began to slide.
And #1 - Still my favorite cover on any comic, ever.  Who wouldn't buy this?  Superman v. Captain Marvel? - Yes, please!  Wonder Woman v. Mary Marvel? - hot before I knew what hot was! This is most certainly the 1st time I'd ever lain eyes on that wonderfully garish costume of the original Green Lantern.
Did I leave any of your favorites out?  You really can't go wrong with most of the covers over the 67 issue run (plus 3 Annuals) - I'd love to read the thoughts of any other All-Star Squadron fans, so feel free to leave comments below!


Charlton Hero said...

Always loved the cover to #35!! One of the best!!

Karen Williams said...

I'd forgotten how gorgeous the covers to All-Star Squadron were. Makes me wish DC Comics had done a Convergence: All-Star Squadron.

Mark Sweeney said...

Yes, who could the All-Stars have been pitted against in Convergence? Lex Luthor's Infinity Inc.?

Anonymous said...

Hello, Marc. I e-mailed a link to Roy Thomas. He appreciated your write-up.

Martin Gray said...

Yeah, so many goodies. I'd also offer #5, with the debut of Firebrand II and #24, with Tarantula in his new costume.

That cover line: 'It had to happen - Hourman vs Baron Blitzkreig' is a rib-tickler and no mistake.

Mark Sweeney said...

Good picks, Martin! It was really hard to narrow my list of favorites to a mere 10 covers - I could easily have made the list a Top 67.

Mark Sweeney said...

Benjamin, I appreciate you sending a link along to Roy Thomas! I truly love his work on this title, and the care he took with this cast of characters - it does thrill me that he may have seen my little tribute!