I've decided that from time to time I am going to trace the history of the JSA from their beginning up until the new 52 began. This will be about the real Justice Society of America (mainly pre-crisis) and not the new 52 impostors.
The first comic appearance of the JSA was of course in All-Star Comics #3 back in 1940, but the origin of how the team came together was not told until the 1977 DC Special #29. The book is so important that my very-good to fine copy is probably worth around $40. To give an idea of the era, the front cover has a blurb about a contest to be in the Superman movie (the one with Christopher Reeve). The slash page pictures the JSA line-up from the 70s revival of All-Star Comics being published at the time.
The story is set in the winter of 1940 and the team actually comes together at the instigation of FDR who has heard about a number of mystery men appearing all over the country. They are just the ticket to prevent Hitler's planned invasion of England. So Batman, Green Lantern, and the Flash are summoned to Commissioner Gordon's office and then dispatched to Europe. They are later joined by Dr. Fate, Hourman, Sandman, the Atom, Hawkman, and the Spectre. Superman appears before the story is over. Both FDR and Hitler play prominent roles. I loved it as a kid when real people appeared in comics and I still love it when the stories told are historical fiction which interplay with real historical events. The editorial claim on a text page of the book is that Hitler really did plan an invasion of England, but for some unknown reason did not go through with it. The untold story is here.
So here is a sample of retroactive continuity which Roy Thomas later popularized with All-Star Squadron, but I am uncertain whether he coined the term. Retroactive stories fill in some of the continuity gaps from bygone eras, this one telling of the JSA's formation. So obviously my reviews of the JSA chronology will include retroactive stories as opposed to a mere chronological publishing order.
The art by Joe Staton and Bob Layton is very good. The story by Paul Levitz (one of my favorite writers) is passable, but he is naturally a much better writer now than back then. Portions of the story are a bit juvenile by today's standards, but this was the era when kids still read comics. There is an over-reliance on Dr. Fate's magic to bring a second wave of heroes to Europe and to foil Hitler's unmasking of Batman. Hitler, in the original Earth-Two' s DC Comics, was a collector of relics which he employed for superstitious means. In this story the spear of destiny (which pierced Christ's side) is used to summon an army of Valkyries on winged horses to battle the JSA. This does fit Hitler's obsession with Aryan myths, but I would be interested to research whether he was truly superstitious. I've heard that horoscopes were a thing with him. I owe my being an amateur World War II buff to my reading of JSA and Invaders adventures in my youth.
DC Special #29 was more recently reprinted in the 2006 trade paperback Justice Society, Volume 1, including the Neal Adams cover, but minus the text page.