Today’s post continues the saga of DC’s B-lister super- hero team of the 1940s, the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Last week, re-reading issues of All-Star Squadron gave the blog a rather “Roy Thomas” tone, I thought. And speaking of the man once known as “Ye Editor”, the 80s chapter of story of the Star-Spangled Kid was told in Secret Origins and Infinity Inc.
Sylvester Pemberton had funded and guided the young proteges of the JSA as heroes- for-hire in Hollywood. Pemberton took on a new alias as Skyman but the character was accidentally killed in the sombre final issues of the series by the anti-hero, Mr. Bones.
However, there was something of a counter-movement in the next decade away from the gloom of grim’n’ gritty, instigated by The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. One such title was Stars and STRIPE, which revived the Star-Spangled Kid in 1999. The new Kid was Stripesy’s step-daughter Courtney and he went into action with her in Anime-style armour.
The same year, the JSA was revived very successfully, blending some of the Infinitors with the elder statesmen ( Justice Socialites?) The perky Courtney joined and later adopted the sobriquet “Stargirl”. We also learned in the pages of Aztek that the Crimson Avenger’s pulp hero regalia was used by the JLA in an initiation rite with an almost Masonic flavour.
Such was the book’s popularity, the JSA title ran for over eighty issues, morphing back to Justice Society of America for a further fifty-something. In fact, such was the potency of those three letters that Grant Morrison proposed a project called JL8, which would be his take on the Avengers…but with DC characters.
Well, that doesn’t sound terribly inspired and the proposal was radically revised to become the book-ended collection of miniseries entitled Seven Soldiers of Victory in 2006. I’ll look at that project in more depth another time but suffice to say one series was devoted to a new version of the Shining Knight, a cross-dressing young woman named Ystina.
In the second issue of the DC Universe: Legacies series of 2010-11, Len Wein replaced Green Arrow and Speedy with TNT and Dyna-Mite. TNT had, of course, been killed off in Roy Thomas’ Young All-Stars title of the late 80s but continuity is now such a briar patch, one should simply admire the logic and symmetry in the induction of Weisinger’s “human hand-grenades”. The Dummy returned to menace the Seven Soldiers in this vignette.
Tex and Dan haven’t survived as Legionnaires in the New 52 DCU but Paul Cornell revived Ystina for the Demon Knights series, where the Knight identified as intersex, as part of DC’s attempts to reflect contemporary gender politics . Meanwhile, Stargirl was recruited in the pages of the the super-hero/espionage title Justice League of America; she has gone on to star also in the team’s Canadian incarnation.
This year, the “Under the Dome”-inspired Convergence event delivered a swan song of sorts for the Golden Age Soldiers in the pages of another venerable title, World’s Finest.
This two-parter begins during the Red Skies phase of the Crisis. Green Arrow, Speedy, Stripesy, Vig and the Crimson Avenger all die in the course of the story – in fact, Pat succumbs to pneumonia and so doesn’t even merit a heroic exit. SirJustin is, ostensibly, the protagonist of this valedictory story but rather sweetly, it’s really about cartoonist Scribbly Jibbet, once a friend of Red Tornado, Ma Hunkel.
But heroes never die forever. TV appearances by Stargirl in Smallville and Law’s Legionnaires themselves in The Brave and the Bold animated series are testament to the enduring appeal of the Seven Soldiers of Victory.
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