End of the Golden Age

All-Star Comics #57 Reviewed

This is an exceptional “milestone” issue because it essentially marks the end of the Golden Age of DC Comics.

It is the “final” issue of All-Star Comics and the “final” appearance of the Justice Society of America. Now as you know nothing is final in the multiverse of DC comics.

The Justice Society, of course, reappears about ten or so years later and All-Star Comics, which became All-Star Western Comics from 1951 to 1961, was revived in 1976 with Power Girl appearing in issue #58.

I never planned on spending too much time reading the golden age of comic books, as my primary focus is to pick-up where I left off approximately 45 years ago where the silver age transitioned to the bronze age. Also, the golden age was way before my time.

All-Star Comics #57 was published in February of 1951. As always the format of All-Star was an anthology featuring four or five of the members involved on the same or similar cases with their stories tied together with a framing device such as Johnny Thunder needing everyone’s help.

I have only read a few issues of All-Star Comics, so I do not know the details of the evolution of the title. However, in this issue I am impressed by the quality of the art compared to the primitive look ten years earlier.

It is interesting that this issue featured heroes who later go own to play important roles in the dawn of the silver age. Also the story title is appropriately apocryphal: “The Mystery of the Vanishing Detectives”

It marks the last appearance of golden age Flash before he reappeared ten years later alongside the Earth-one Flash in Flash issue #123 (1961).

The golden age Green Lantern also went into hiding after issue #57 and did not appear again until 1962 when he was next seen in The Flash issue #129.

Wonder Woman also has a story in issue #57. Yet she continued appearing regularly throughout the 1950’s in her eponymously titled series. Separating the Earth-one Wonder Woman from the Earth-two Wonder Woman was a bit more complicated than for GL and Flash. This separation was not brought forth until Wonder Woman issue #98 (1958). I have sensed that the triumvirate characters, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman living in multiple world always posed issues for the writer’s at DC and that was the main purpose of the “crisis” of 1985/86

Additionally Black Canary appears in #57. Her’s is a kind of mixed-up story and I wrote about this a little while ago in a post titled “The (Mysterious?) Death of Larry Lance”. In the post, I speculated that the death of Larry Lance came about so that the writer’s would have an excuse for Dinah Lance to move to Earth-One and become involved with Green Arrow.

Now I have learned that Black Canary’s story is even more complex.

At comicbookdb.com in an article on Black Canary , it is explained that Earth-one Black Canary is actually the daughter of Earth-Two Black Canary and that the daughter was hidden away in the Thunderbolt’s dimension until the time came for her to be revealed. I think that from what I have read that this is hinted at in JLA issue #75 (on wishlist). It is in this issue that BC’s super-sonic canary cry is first “heard”.

Also, the notes for JLA #75 at dc wikia says in reference to issues #74 and #75:

“Originally it was meant to be that the Black Canary that was featured in these issues of Justice League was the golden age character and not her daughter. However this was retconned when the writers considered the characters physical age if she were still active at the time. As such in Justice League of America #219 it was ret-conned that the Black Canary that ended up on Earth-One was really the second Black Canary, implanted with her mother’s memories until the truth was revealed later. This has since been rendered apocryphal due to the fact that changes to continuity created by Crisis on Infinite Earths have made it so that Black Canary II was a founding member of the Justice League of America instead of Wonder Woman.”

So, it seems that the DC multiverse is like Alice’s Wonderland where nothing is as it seems to be. Some may be bothered by this, but to me it makes it all the more compelling to go back and read these comic book gems from fifty years ago.