BHOC: ALL-STAR COMICS #63

I bought this issue of ALL-STAR COMICS at my usual 7-11. It wasn’t a surprising purchase as I was in the tank for the Justice Society by this point, and so ALL-STAR was a favorite of mine. But boy, that collection of logos at the top of this cover isn’t doing the art any favors. Artist Rich Buckler’s composition is a bit crowded and stiff as well, although inker Wally Wood gives it his typical pristine sheen.

Like the other “Conway’s Corner” titles, ALL-STAR was in something of a transition now that editor Gerry Conway had left to return to Marvel (a return that would be short-lived; his tenure as Editor in Chief lasted a mere three weeks before he quit.) A young Paul Levitz had taken over writing the series and was beginning to skew it more towards his own interests, aided by a penciler with whom he’d work often over the decades, Keith Giffen. 

Like Paul seemed to be, I was much more interested in the Injustice Gang than I was the threat of Lovecraftian sorcerer Zanadu, so I welcomed the fact that the story opened up with an extended sequence in which the Fiddler and Solomon Grundy mesmerize Wildcat and cause him to attack Hawkman. Ted Grant stops short of killing the winged wonder before coming to his senses, but even his pugilistic skills are no match for Grundy’s inhuman might. Fortunately, Superman and Power Girl have escaped from the dangers Zanadu had left them in, and arrive in plenty of time to give Wildcat aid. They promptly toss Grundy into a nearby volcano.

But while all of that was going on, Zanadu has made his escape, still holding Shiera Hall as his prisoner. Hawkman is teed off about the team’s failure, but they take up pursuit once more. Meanwhile, Green Lantern and the Flash have gone in search of a way to save the life of Doctor Fate, responding to a mystic symbol the comatose sorcerer had manifested. In Egypt, they’re brought up short by the shadow of a winged horse…but that’s all we’re going to hear about that for this issue.

Meanwhile, in Gotham City, the Star-Spangled Kid’s efforts to keep Fate alive using the power of Starman’s Cosmic Rod have reached their limit–and Kent Nelson expires, despite the best efforts of a despondent Dr. Mid-Nite. Hourman tries to console his friend, but McNider will have none of it. But there’s no time for introspection as Zanadu appears in the skies over Gotham, and the Kid and Hourman soar out to meet his challenge, engaging him in the air.

But there’s not much either the Star-Spangled Kid or Hourman can do to slow Zanadu down. Confident in his power, the Sorcerer plans to lay waste to the city, and as his sorcerous energies reach a crescendo, everybody in Gotham can feel a mystic dread. Everyone including the recently-deceased Doctor Fate, who rises from his deathbed in response to this menace.

The restored Fate promptly seals Zanadu once more in amber, and the crisis is averted and Shiera is rescued. And in the epilogue, Superman nominates Power Girl for full membership in the Society as his replacement. But elsewhere, the shadowy Injustice Gang plots its next moves, and it’s leader the Icicle targets who he thinks the JSA’s weak link is–Hourman. All in all, this was a fun outing, a little bit less Marvel-influenced than previous installments had been thanks to the change in editor and writer.

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