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All-Winner’s Squad: Band of Heroes #2: Review

Jul 2011
Paul Jenkins, Carmine DiGiandomenico

Story Name:

Soldier -- what did you see?

Review & Comments

4 stars

All-Winner’s Squad: Band of Heroes #2 Review by (July 28, 2011)
Captain Flame's secret, Operation Firefly and Loki are presumably parts of the central mystery that will unfold as the series progresses, involving the present as well as the past. Paul Jenkins is gradually introducing us to his cast of characters, to avoid overload. We haven't yet exhausted the list he mentions in his interview. Last time, apart from the absent Blue Diamond and Victory Boys, we fully met Young Avenger, Slo-Mo Jones, Captain Flame, Merzah, Archie the medic, Invisible Man, Taxi Taylor and Transisto-Mech, with side-mentions of Captain Strong, Sgt Byrd and Flash Foster. This time those 3 play a bigger role, along with Fighting Yank, Jap Buster Johnson and Father Time, with mentions of Moon Man, Secret Stamp and American Ace. I still feel there is more confusion than necessary with some of these characters. For instance in this issue we see a certain masked character referred to as Larry. But it is only the fact that I know the mask and secret identity of Larry Scott that enables me to link this to a reference to Father Time. I also find Sgt Byrd's intentions during the battle less clearcut than I've expressed them here. So I'm still only giving this issue a 4, even though I personally still love it.

One way out of this is to say that this Timely's comics are different from those in our universe. Apart from the existence of the scrapped Super Hero Comics starring Captain Flame, we hear this time that Young Avenger and Moon Man are popular strips, whereas in our universe they each lasted only 1 issue. Also, last issue we glimpsed a strip featuring Blue Diamond working with the Invisible Man in occupied France. Significantly this corresponded to one of the exploits recounted in #1 itself. This suggests that this Timely's stories were (often?) based on their universe's reality. In his interview on Paul Jenkins exhibits the contradictory conventional view that our Timely comics reflect the Marvel universe's history when he suggests that the reason some characters had a limited run was that they died during the war. In fact during the events of this series. However the non-conventional view gives Paul the opportunity (or even the necessity) to modify characters' origins. For instance in this issue Merzah the Mystic is described as an ex-circus performer, as opposed to the spy-fighter with no apparent means of financial support in Mystic Comics #4. Of last issue's characters only Blue Diamond and the Victory Boys are missing (even though 1 of the Victory Boys is on the cover). Presumably 'Captain' Flame is only a Private at this point, judging by how Strong talks to him, not the Lieutenant of #1. And Captain Strong of the Foreign Legion is also presumably only a buck-private in the US Army.

Several heroes are mentioned but not seen. Moon Man (no known name) was a costumed vigilante in the Batman mold in Mystic Comics #5. Secret Stamp (Roddy Colt) was a schoolboy costumed crime-fighter in CAC#13-27 and USAC#7-9. Again both these guys were unpowered. As was American Ace (Perry Webb) in Marvel Mystery Comics #2,3. He was a pilot who helped Attania aginst invasion by Castile D'Or. (Apparently the author finished the story with modified names in Centaur Comics Arrow #2.) The squad want to recruit American Ace as a pilot. This story ignores the fact that Johnson was a pilot in his Timely strips. Sgt Byrd also mentions they have 2 British pilots. I don't know who they are. My first thought was 2 of the Sky Devils (DMC#2,4,5), recently resurrected in The Marvels Project. But only 1 of them was British. There was no problem reconciling the 1944 events of last issue with the limited early non-war (except for Captain America and Bucky) Timely exploits of the characters. But this issue's 1942 setting does clash with some comics appearances. Jap Buster Johnson's run would obviously be parallel with this, as was Fighting Yank's solo outing. Father Time's non-war activities also spanned 1942. More problematic is that Roddy Colt's schoolboy adventures would be happening while he was here as a soldier!

A character I didn't recognise last issue was Flash Foster, who made his lone appearance in Daring Mystery Comics #1 as a college football star who refused to throw a game. Why he's in a superhero squad is (hopefully) yet to be revealed. This issue has its own slew of new characters. Fighting Yank (Bill Prince) was a US agent in China who only appeared in Captain America Comics #17. Doug 'Jap Buster' Johnson was a Naval Air Force officer with a much more established career in USA Comics #6-15, Kid Komics #6,8-10, All-Select Comics #2,8,9 and Complete Comics #2. But both of these are merely skilled fighters, and so are nearly as strange a choice for a super-squad as Foster, except to provide combat experience to support the costumed rookies. The same applies to Captain Strong. Father Time (Larry Scott) isn't much better. He featured in CAC#6-12, plus Mystic Comics #10 and Young Allies #3. True he was a costumed crime-fighter, but like many in those days he had no powers.

I think I was wrong, and Blue Diamond is in this issue. He's not named, but there are 2 guys with similar masks. One is Young Avenger, the other Blue Diamond. technically BD's in blue while YA's in green, but the colours aren't always distinguishable. BD's mask shows the whole of his nose, but YA's only exposes his nostrils.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

All-Winner’s Squad: Band of Heroes #2 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue we saw some 1944 exploits of a group of superheroes as soldiers in WWII. This time we will go back to the founding of the group in early 1942. We will also continue the present-day story of the central character Young Avenger as an old man. William Bryon is relating the story for posterity, recorded by his novelist granddaughter Alyssa.

The WWII heroes have either enlisted or been drafted into the army, in a Ranger unit, the Specialized Unit Enhanced Soldiers, otherwise known as the Crazy Sues. They are to be trained and led by Captain America and non-super Sgt Byrd. Bucky is there, but I'm not sure in what capacity.

As well as Young Avenger there are other characters from last issue in the squad:- Invisible Man (Dr Gade), Merzah the Mystic, Slo-Motion Jones and Captain Flame (Frank Cortez). Archie the medic can be seen in the background too. Captain Strong and Flash Foster were mentioned by surname in 1 panel each last issue, as was Sgt Byrd. We also meet some new characters:- Doug Johnson (interested in 'killing Japs'), Father Time (Larry Scott) (the guy with the mask that surrounds but exposes his nose) and Fighting Yank (who works the radio). We hear the name Moon Man but I can't identify him. And there may be other faces we'll put names to in later issues. For instance the guy chewing a toothpick with a scar across his right eye.

There is racial tension between white Captain Strong and black Slo-Mo Jones. In the present Bryon says Slo-Mo was Whizzer's sidekick, and was actually faster than the white Whizzer, but was portrayed in the 40's comics as slow and stupid.

Back in 17th May 1942 we see Timely producing official propaganda comics based on the heroes. A visiting Colonel Nevins mentions the possibility of drafting in heroes from the other Allied countries. He also wants the adventures of Captain Flame withheld from publication until further notice. (Last issue we learnt that the whole print run of his only comic will be trashed.) During the mission described below, telepathic Merzah tells Cortez he knows he has a secret.

We now skip to the first mission of the Crazy Sues, including Cap and Bucky, to Guadalcanal 7th August 1942 (the date of the actual US Marines landing on the island). Slo-Mo takes out a machine-gun nest, but the squad are attacked by Zeroes. There are also more Japanese ground troops, Some of our guys give Slo-Mo covering fire as he returns, but Cortez freezes until Sgt Byrd tosses a live grenade at him. Captain Flame absorbs the blast, and redirects it at the enemy. As in #1 it takes a lot out of him. And he reveals that this is the first time he's killed anyone (which is probably true for a lot of the heroes).

Taxi Taylor and Transisto-Mech (from last issue) arrive as air support. It is mentioned that the British have supplied 2 pilots for the squad. Sgt Byrd also talks about American Ace, currently working with the Royal Air Force. The squad have only 1 casualty, Secret Stamp.

Meanwhile in the present Alyssa gets messages on her laptop from someone or something called Operation Firefly, Bryon is just about to reveal Captain Flame's secret when he has a heart attack. And then Loki turns up!

Carmine DiGiandomenico
Carmine DiGiandomenico
Andy Troy
Mico Suayan (Cover Penciler)
June Chung (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bucky Barnes
Bucky Barnes

(James Barnes)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

> All-Winner’s Squad: Band of Heroes: Book info and issue index

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