Monday, December 31, 2018

"The End" Week: Young All-Stars #31!

This issue was the conclusion of a four-part storyline, and about a hundred issues across two series. It also heavily references perhaps two classic novels, for good measure! From 1989, Young All-Stars #31, "Men...and Super-men" Written by Roy and Dann Thomas, pencils by Lou Manna, inks by Bob Downs and Ken Branch.

Arn "Iron" Munro was the replacement for Superman in the post-Crisis universe, and was the son of a possible influence in the Man of Steel's creation: Hugo Danner, of the novel Gladiator. In that story, Hugo had received super-strength and a degree of invulnerability from prenatal chemical treatments, but had never seemed to find either a place in the world or a way to use his powers for good. An archaeologist suggests he use his chemical treatment to create a race of superhuman champions, but Hugo is killed by lightning while praying instead. Or was he? In the DC version, Hugo not only fathered Arn with his old high school sweetheart, he does change an Accala Indian tribe into supermen, his "Sons of Dawn." What he had planned on them doing is unclear, because they're mostly smashing stuff up here, which pits them against both the Young All-Stars and the All-Star Squadron! (Arn claims, "--the entire All-Star Squadron!" but that's not true: several heavy-hitters like Spectre and Dr. Fate are absent; even Hawkman's mace might've come in handy today.)

The Sons are all about as powerful as first appearance Superman--one cheerfully smashes a car ala Action Comics #1--which make them more than a match for the usual mystery-man types. Green Lantern is hit by a thrown tree early on, Flash and Johnny Quick can't do enough damage, nor can Liberty Belle or Firebrand. How can they possibly beat them? Germs, War of the Worlds style. One of the All-Stars had a cold, the Indians had no immunities, and that's about that. Hugo seemingly kills himself, but the story ends on a up note, as the Young All-Stars are offered seats at the big-boy table with the All-Star Squadron. Still, this issue was set in 1942, so what did the rest of the war hold for them? I know Tsunami and Arn would appear in Peter David's Aquaman years later, but they're the only ones I know of, off the top of my head. Looking up a couple, not all happy endings: this being DC, at least one died a pointless, throwaway death in a crossover...

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