The Justice Society of America has always been one of my favorite comic book teams, for a variety of reasons. One...they were the first. Two, I'm a nut for World War II superheroes (which extends to Marvel's WWII heroes). Three, the multiple-earths angle they later became associated with (another favorite theme of mine). Naturally, I've snatched up just about any appearance of the JSA I can get my hands on, whether it's the ongoing modern series, their many cameo appearances, or their Golden Age adventures from All Star Comics (reprinted in the DC Archives hardcover series).
However, not every Golden Age JSA story holds up well from a modern reader's perspective. Sure, I always try to keep in mind the historical context, their intended audience and the vast gulf in production values between then and now...but even with those factors in mind, some of those old tales are simply off-the-scale goofy....such as the debut of the "All-Girlfriend JSA" back in All Star Comics #15 (1943).
With the male members mysteriously absent from a JSA meeting, Wonder Woman...for no discernable reason....decides to gather up all of their girlfriends for "the opportunity of a lifetime".
Once they arrive at the JSA headquarters, not only does Wonder Woman casually blow the secret identities of the male JSA'ers, but she also arranges for the girls to take on their boyfriends' costumed identities, including Clarice Winston (right panel, seated) impersonating The Spectre, the near-omnipotent ghost of her fiance'!
(click on the panels for a larger view)
To their credit, the girls end up saving the guys from Brainwave, a classic JSA villain making his debut in this very story.
Flash forward some fifty-seven years later to DC's superb Starman series, specifically issue #69. As writer James Robinson periodically liked to do, the story delved back into the JSA's past...this time revisiting (you guessed it) the infamous Girlfriend Society story. Robinson wisely spun the story in a way that made Wonder Woman's plan seem at least a bit more plausible (and sane)....but on the whole it was great to see such an endearingly loopy bit of history acknowledged as an "official" case of the JSA.
However, as fun as the story was, what knocked it out of the ballpark for me was the outstanding cover by Andrew Robinson.
Robinson (no relation to James, as far as I know) infused a glorious, nostalgic dignity into Wonder Woman and her ersatz Justice Society...amplified by the beautiful Maxfield Parrish-like lighting and cloudscapes. Unlike the silly girls of the original Golden Age story, you really get a sense that the women shown here on the cover can and will defeat Brainwave and rescue their "he-damsels in distress".
In fact, that cover almost makes me forget
just how goofy that original tale really was.