All-Star Comics #3 – AT4W

The first superhero team! …that spends all their time sitting around telling stories.

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About Linkara

Atop the Fourth Wall is a show about bad comic books. Linkara finds the surreal and the stupid and breaks them down page by page. You'll know why they're idiotic and how they can be improved.


  1. From what I’ve read, the JSA was a means of promoting less popular superheroes, which is why Superman, Batman, and the like were only honorary members. But the fact that the team mostly consists of lesser-known characters is what makes it so intriguing to me. I’m disappointed that there’s no JSA title right now despite it being teased in the DC Rebirth special.

    • See, this is what I love and hate about DC. On one hand, we got a pretty heavy hint (see: Multiversity) that the JSA exist on a parallel Earth, and that we’d be getting a comic about them. On the other hand, DC frequently delays or cancels projects. I guess it’s just fingers crossed for now.

  2. “Legends Who Lunch.”

    18:15 – The lunatics are on the grass.

  3. The Justice League is my favorite comic book team of all time. I became a huge fan while watching the awesome animated series that started in 2001, and I have the complete series on DVD. It’s shows like that that makes me the big DC Universe fan I am today.

    I actually like the image of the JSA sitting at a round table, ala The Knights of the Round Table. They even have this later with the Justice league in the briefing rooms of the Hall of Justice and the Watchtower.


    So basically, this whole comic is like a clip show. Well, let’s just hope it won’t be like the Season 2 finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    The name “Oom” sounds like the guy is related to Eegah. Also, the Spectre’s story sounds more LSD inducing than the finale of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    It’s a good thing the Red Tornado was later re-imagined as a super powered android.

    24:54- First, we have Dr. Fate being related to something named after Naboo, and now we have something related to Endor? …Was Dr. Fate created by the Force?

    This comic is more “swell” than the Christopher Reeve version of Superman.

    Have fun with your last episodes of the year.

  4. Jay Garrick’s identity is public. He wears no mask. Who he is is not a secret.

    • That’s not really a given. Superman also wears no mask, yet it’s not known that he’s also Clark Kent.

    • Actually he avoided people recognising him by constantly vibrating his face, just like Barry Allen does in The Flash CW series when he’s in costume around people who would recognise him even with his mask on.

  5. “Clew” is an archaic spelling for “clue”. There was a push to bring it back as part of the “standard spelling” movement that started in the 1930s, but that pretty much died out by 1970.

  6. Snorgatch Pandalume

    Can I just point out that the Golden Age Atom absolutely kicks freaking ass? One little guy whose only super power is a mean right hook laying out dozens of armed thugs by himself is a hell of a lot more impressive to me than god-like beings like The Spectre and Doctor Fate doing god-like things.
    Also, the Golden Age Sandman looks awesome, with the gas mask and fedora. I loved his guest appearance in Madam Xanadu. No wonder a cartoon duck stole his schtick half a century later.

  7. I recognize Doctor Fate from that one episode of Superman TAS where he seemed like he’d be awesome.

    Also, if it’s more ponies, I’m hoping we get the Chrysalis issues at some point because dear god, *thump* [CMC screaming] You know, for kids!

    • I remember him from Justice League Unlimited. He, Aquaman, Solomon Grundy (later Amazo), and Hawkgirl basically formed the DCAU version of Marvel’s Defenders.

  8. Golden Age Sandman didn’t have any powers? I heard he had prophetic dreams about crimes that had yet to be committed.

  9. in old norse mythologi Thor is also the god of blacksmith

    • I’ve never read anything about that. And even if he was, he didn’t forge his hammer, Mjölnir.

      • Like the Greek and Roman pantheons, and Catholic saints, gods not only had a main theme (Thor = Thunder, Apollo = Sun, St. Francis = Animals) they also had secondary themes. These themes usually were more to do with who worshiped and appeased to them rather than their actual character.

        While there’s no mention I can find of blacksmiths and Thor specifically, he was revered and thought to be the protector of laborers and farmers. Blacksmiths could easily fall under that umbrella.

      • Nothing in the comic said he did… at least not as Linkara reviewed it (I haven’t read it myself).
        Though you are right – Mjölnir was forged by dwarves, wasn’t it?

    • Hi— I’m afarid that the blacksmith statement is inaccurate… coming from a Norse 😛

  10. This reminds me… I really need to catch up with this season of Legends of Tomorrow. O.O

  11. You missed the opportunity to make a Hank Pym joke.

  12. I remember reading about this in Guinness World Records. It was the first superhero team! I thought the Green Lantern Corps was the first. I mean, the Green Lantern himself came earlier. Actually, upon closer research I find out the Green Lantern Corps itself didn’t appear until 1959. How odd.

  13. Love the design for the Sandman, though I’m not 100% convinced that that isn’t just a scrapped classic-era Doctor Who villain

  14. So wait, is the Atom’s story basically just the plot of ‘Goldfinger’ with all of the cool spy stuff removed?

  15. So glad you reviewed this one! I love the Justice Society, and silliness like you find here is why. Also of note is the way this comic morphed over the years…starting off as a pure anthology comic, then they’d guest-star in each other’s stories from time to time, to one overarching story in which each individual hero’s part was just a _chapter_, to, by the late ’40s…actually heroing together on the same page!

    Yep, by the time the Society had existed for several years, they had indeed become an actual, proper, superhero _team_, teaming up together the same way the Justice League and Avengers would later on. I have no idea what writer/editor/whatever (or multiple ones) were responsible for this or even if it _was_ a deliberate decision at some point or a natural shift, but it’s fascinating to watch the change unfold.

    Wonder Woman’s arc is also interesting, as she starts off as purely the society’s (sigh) secretary…then staying at the headquarters but actively helping out as their radio-woman, sending them information during the stories, then guest-starring in the actual adventures themselves(and kicking ASS) from time to time…

    …to finally, by the time Black Canary joined, we had a full-out oldschool feminist story in which all the guys were..well, killed…and it was up to Wonder Woman and the new maybe-member Black Canary (as well as some Themiscura priestesses) to revive them. For the first half of that issue at least, all the rescuing is done by women. And, of all people, Johnny Thunder gets to be kinda heroic, using his last breath (for then) to tell Black Canary where the Justice Society headquarters is, so she can go get help. (Black Canary started off as a side-character in Johnny Thunder’s own books, so in continuity–yes, there was some by then!–they already knew each other.)

    Kind of ironic that at the exact same time that Wonder Woman was finally being accepted as a full member of the team and Black Canary was just, of course, _joining_ as a fighter…was exactly the time in real life when women were being sent BACK to the kitchen in droves. This didn’t happen until years after WWII ended and Rosie the Riveter was no longer needed at the factory…
    (This wasn’t at all the first time women were shown being tough/brave/whatever in ’40s comics. Shayera Sanders, for example, was badass and TOTALLY INSANE (in a good way) since almost Day One–and to some degree or another, this applies to almost all the love interests of this era–as well as occasional random background ladies!)

    I’ve gone on long enough, but the overall point is: The Justice Society does eventually become the kind of superhero team you expect, and it _doesn’t_ take until their ’70s revival and the addition of Power Girl to do it–and that even back then, there was more continuity and crossover between individual books and stories than you might think.
    ANYway. Nobody’s gonna read all this, and I’m sure I’ll be laughed at for going on for so long, but I was really into the DC Golden Age comics a while ago, so this chapter of SECRET ORIGINS MONTH was right up my alley. 🙂

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