Hoo Doggy... nothing used to make me as excited as seeing a whole gob of Superheroes in one place and these classic Justine League-style floating head-framed covers were always a key indicator that many heroes were inside.
This issue of All-Star Squadron is the fourth part (of five) in which (some of) the Earth-2-based ASS (this team was kind of created before acronyms became ubiquitous) teams up with (some of) the Earth-1Justice League and (some of) the future Earth 2 Justice Society. They're gathered to stop the time and dimension-hopping Nazi Per Degatan who has stolen nukes from Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis on Earth Prime... you know,"our" Earth. His using the nukes to attack the Allies of Earth 2 in 1942, offering all countries of the world to either submit or be destroyed. He's also enlisted the ever- untrustworthy Crime Syndicate of Earth 3 to help him defeat the heroes but they just keep stabbing each other in the back. No honor among assholes.
Meanwhile, the missing missiles on Earth Prime has escalated into full-scale nuclear war. Remember when that happened?
This is an exceptionally convoluted story made all the worse by Roy Thomas' over-keen exposition and the need to always have characters unnecessarily reacting to whatever the hell is happening (as well as entirely too much narration). One could swear Thomas was getting paid by the word.
The classic pair-offs happen here with Superman, Dr. Fate and Robotman doing something in space Superman should be able to do by himself, but they square off there against Ultraman (I never could guess his secret identity). Aquaman, Liberty Belle and Starman face Superwoman on missile island. Then Hawkman, Johnny Quick and Huntress fight Power Ring. I guess in Part 5 Steel, Firebrand, Green Lantern, Power Girl, Zatanna and Firestorm face Owlman and Earth 3 Johnny Quick before all the heroes reunite to face whatever escalating threat Degatan presents them with. Sooo formulaic. I love it but it's ridiculous.
This issue also comes with a bizarre 16-page Masters of the Universe preview hot off the heels of DC Comics Presents #46. I'll talk more on MOTU tomorrow.
I've read a couple of these early ASS issues lately and it amuses me how many people have written in to complain how much they could not give a shit about the cast of the book and how they just want the Justice Society back. They did read the title of the book right?
Oh, one last note. Liberty Belle comments that she's heard there's an Aquaman on Earth 2, too but that she's yet to meet him. Did we EVER meet Earth 2 Aquaman? I imagine Thomas had something planned there but that Crisis interfered.