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A comic book series published by DC Comics in the Bronze Age starting in 1981. Coming out after DC's parallel worlds had existed for a while, and written by the continuity-obsessed Roy Thomas, this series took place during World War II on the parallel world of Earth-2, where DC's Golden Age characters were said to have existed.
The premise was that after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin D Roosevelt gathered together every superhero published by DC during the war period - including the entirety of the Justice Society of America - into a single superhero team, the All-Star Squadron. Thomas had done something similar prior to this series at Marvel Comics, in the original The Invaders. The team met in New York in the Trylon and Perisphere, two structures that were created for the 1939-1940 World's Fair and in real life had been torn down for scrap metal for the war.
The phrase "retroactive continuity" was used (attributed to a fan) in the letter column in issue #18, which soon became "Retcon". The series was heavily based around retcons in the positive sense--it often told stories that happened between issues of real Golden Age series, gave characters origins who never had them, and cleared up plot holes and dangling plots from decades ago. It generally avoided the "everything you know is a lie" type of retcon, though there were some minor history changes. It also gave a decent explanation why the really powerful superheroes didn't invade the Axis powers to end the war overnight: Hitler had the mystic Spear of Destiny in his possession that would take mind control of the superheroes who tried entering land under his, or his allies', control.
The Crisis on Infinite Earths destroyed Earth-2, which now never existed. This was not good for the book, which ended at issue 67 after a series of inventory stories dealing with character origins and a retelling of a classic Superman story in the new retconned Superman-less history. The book was succeeded by Young All-Stars, which replaced the now retconned Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, went a further 31 issues plus an annual, and is generally considered lower quality than the series itself.
The success of the series led to the launch of Infinity Inc, whose characters appeared in the progenitor series thanks to time travel. James Robinson's Starman and Geoff Johns' Justice Society of America, two of DC's current successes, owe as much inspiration to Thomas' All-Star Squadron as they do to the original 40s comics and the Levitz/Staton revitalization in the 70s.
Tropes that apply to the series as a whole include:
- Ascended Extra: Sort of; rarely appearing characters with no background were used, who were "extras" with respect to DC Comics as a whole, but still starred in their own strips.
- Captain Ersatz: The minor character Midnight was used as a stand-in for The Spirit, who was created by the same company but belonged solely to his creator, Will Eisner. The Young All-Stars team were also Captain Ersatzes of the vanished Golden Age/Earth-2 heroes.
- Continuity Porn: Thomas did his homework and it shows.
- Dastardly Whiplash: The Viper, one of the comic strip villains brought to life by Funny Face in #64.
- Differently-Powered Individual: The term "Mystery Men" was used for superheroes, as in real Golden Age comics.
- Executive Meddling: Crisis killed this book.
- Expy: The Young All-Stars themselves were a Teen Titans-ish subteam of Expies, being replacements of the vanished Earth-2/Golden Age versions of Superman ("Iron" Munro), Batman (Flying Fox), Robin (Dyna-Mite), Wonder Woman (Fury), Aquaman (Neptune Perkins, Tsunami), and Green Arrow (Tigress).
- Face Heel Turn: Tigress in Young All-Stars after her death and resurrection at the hands of Gudra the Valkyrie, which was meant to explain her origin of becoming the Golden Age villain the Huntress.
- Heroes Unlimited: It's essentially Justice Society Unlimited set in the 1940s.
- Historical Fiction
- Phantom Zone Picture: In issue #64, the Golden Age Superman villain Funny Face tries to trap Firebrand by transferring her into a cartoon drawing with the same device that he uses to transfer cartoon villain drawings into real people. Note that this was a Post-Crisis revision of a Superman story with the All-Star Squadron substituting for the non-existent Golden Age Superman.
- Politically-Correct History: Thomas had characters avoid using anti-Japanese racial slurs which were common at the time.
- Public Domain Artifact: Spear of Destiny and Holy Grail.
- Retcon: The Trope Namer.
- Shout-Out: The Squadron had a robot butler named Gernsback, after Hugo Gernsback, founder of various amazingly important sci-fi magazines, such as Amazing Stories. He even coined the term science fiction.
- Skunk Stripe: "Iron" Munro, the Post-Crisis Golden Age Superman replacement in The Young All-Stars.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler
- Superhero: Of course.
- Super-Hero Origin
- The Multiverse
- Those Wacky Nazis
- Token Enemy Minority: Tsunami.
- Token Minority: Amazing Man--of course, actual Golden Age comics, which the series was based on, were all white. Also Tsunami after her Heel Face Turn in Young All-Stars.
- Tonight Someone Dies: The Red Bee, who hadn't been used in the series before and was a lame character.
- Tuckerization: One of the few new characters was Firebrand, a redhead named Danette. Thomas is married to a redhead with that name.
- World War II