When I read the F.B.I director's speech to the Justice Society of America, I felt like I was reading a description of our nation today. Here is part of what he told them when they arrived in his Washington office:
Even our colleges are overrun with alien teachers and students, preaching hatred for democratic ideals! Telling young men and women of America that freedom is useless---outmoded! Soapbox orators stir up class and race hatreds! Strong arm tactics are being used against our patriotic but helpless workers!
While this sounds all too current, especially the part about the brainwashing of gullible young people in institutions of higher learning, the story takes place in 1940 just prior to U. S. involvement in World War II. The Atom, being Al Pratt, college student, takes on the college infiltrators and Johnny Thunder sees some action alongside Atom.
It's scary that circumstances paving the way for tyrants are repeating themselves in this country and scary that the comic publishers have unfortunately gone P.C. on us as opposed to working to instill the patriotic values that comics were all about in the Golden Age. I admit, though, that even then the pro-war propaganda was more than over-the-top and not objective at all. Comics have never, to my knowledge, been published by brave trailblazers, but by drones who merely mimic the spirit of the age. Comics are great entertainment, but I've always wished they would stay out of the social propaganda business. But enough of that.
All-Star Comics #4 is the issue in which the (unnamed) F.B.I. director briefs the JSA, giving each member sealed instructions to destroy after opening. These instructions send each member to a different part of the country to defeat the foreign spy rings discovered by U.S. intelligence. Each ring is but a cell of a larger organization ran by a leader in Toledo, Ohio. The story concludes with the entire JSA teaming up in Toledo to take down the organization.
The "grey shirts" are obviously Nazi party sympathizers, but aren't named as such. Flash takes a group of them on who are out to propagandize the working class. A still timely statement by the Flash rebukes a criminal for "yelling about your rights under a constitution you're trying to overthrow." We have certainly seen more than our share of that in recent times.
Green Lantern is next, who as Alan Scott, radio engineer, investigates interference in radio reception across the country--an obvious effort to break down America's communication systems. Scott's leading lady, called the "charming Irene Miller," and co-worker of Scott, takes matters into her own hands and becomes the stereotypical damsel in distress who must depend upon Green Lantern for rescue. A rather silly incident is when Irene parachutes out of a commercial airliner against the orders of a flight attendant. It's about as ridiculous as the previous issue where Sandman puts all the guests in a hotel to sleep so the JSA can have a private meeting in the conference room. But comics were for kids back then.
The Spectre and Dr. Fate were just all too powerful. Spectre, surprisingly nicknamed the "Dark Knight" in the narration, manages to turn back time, summon up visions of previous events, freezes crooks in their tracks, and reads minds. Good thing his stories were short back then since it would be difficult to write much of a lengthy plot to challenge this guy. Dr. Fate is just as powerful, not needing to open his sealed envelope to know what's inside. He casts spells over broadcast wires and blows up bad guys' guns by just thinking about it. He can read minds, cause chains to materialize from nowhere, find crooks by using a crystal ball, and summon F.B.I agents with the use of a dark cloud. Not much can challenge this guy.
Hour Man spends most of his time as Rex Tyler undercover in the Oklahoma oil fields. His actions inadvertently get some bad guys killed, but he comments that they met a deserving end. Yes, comics have changed over the years.
Sandman defends freedom of the press helping a newspaper threatened in regard to what they print. He also breaks up an impressionable gang of youths taken under the wing of pro-tyranny forces. But it turns out these youths were just "looking for adventure," so by the end Sandman has them singing "God Bless America" just prior to enlisting in the Army. Cheesy.
While many elements of comics in this era were juvenile by today's standards, they were in some cases ahead of their time. One surprising element for this era is that Green Lantern meets a German-American who happens to be a tyranny-opposing patriot. Hawkman shows up at Shiera's bedside for the second issue in a row, but prior to that, she shows up at his. She gazes upon a sleeping Hawkman, who laughably just happens to sleep in his superhero headgear. The Hawkman story stood out again this issue due to the superior art of Sheldon Moldoff.
You can read All-Star Comics #4 in All-Star Comics Archives Volume 1 or buy it digitally on comixology.