All-Star Comics # 5 begins with the JSA members sitting around in their meeting bored, lamenting the low crime rate. They've succeeded, it seems, in putting an end to crime. But elsewhere the gangsters are meeting, who at the orders of a mysterious Mr. X, the leader of the racketeers, each gangster is assigned a different member of the Justice Society of America in retaliation against the JSA's war on crime.
The criminals first try to lure the Flash out by committing numerous arsons, which will also secure insurance claims on gang-owned properties. In the Sandman story, Dian Belmont is kidnapped by gangsters who know she is Sandman's "companion." How this is common knowledge without anyone putting it together that Wesley Dodds is Sandman is not explained. Sandman's eventual victory has him unrealistically lamenting that with all the kidnappers in custody, life is going to be slow. Yes, comics were for kids in those days.
In the Hawkman story gangsters plan to lure him out by committing a jewelry store heist. They make sure Shiera Sanders knows in advance so she can get word to him. As with Dian Belmont and Sandman, the criminals again seem aware of who the hero's leading lady happens to be. In this milestone issue Shiera first wears the hawk mask and wings, not as Hawkgirl, but as a Hawkman decoy.
When the issue turns to Dr. Fate, a familiar pattern continues as it's common knowledge that Inza Cramer knows the good doctor. Here we learn that Dr. Fate is immortal unless he wills to die. He is lured to the lair of a fake magician who is supposedly bleeding widows dry holding phony seances. Inza brings Kent Nelson to the magician's place where gangsters attempt to kill him, somehow knowing that he is Dr. Fate. Was Dr. Fate's identity secret, or not?
In the Hour-man story an impostor tries to frame him by stealing tires off cars. The authorities are naturally dumb enough to think Hour-Man would have resorted to such petty crime. A stereotypical Irish flat foot is the police officer in this tale. In the Atom story some gangsters running a gym recruit short guys off the street for a fitness course in hopes of rubbing out the Atom, a hero of small stature.
The Spectre seems a bit out of character as his story begins with him leaving the JSA meeting, complaining that there is "No excitement. No nothing." This ghostly apparition not only falls into the same level of common boredom as we mere mortals, but he also uses poor grammar. Eventually his mortal counterpart, police detective Jim Corrigan, leads a raid on an illegal gambling casino after overhearing a stereotypical immigrant couple speak of the husband's gambling addiction. Racial stereotyping was common in comics back then.
The Spectre is finally framed for running the gambling racket, as if a ghost would have any interest in doing so. But the authorities are as dumb as those who thought Hour-Man might have been stealing tires. The Spectre again seems out of character when he takes petty revenge on a doorman who refused to let Jim Corrigan into the gambling house. Spectre kicks the man in the seat of the pants thinking, "That's for getting flip with me." The biggest plot hole was a "queer ring" worn by a gangster that renders Spectre powerless. We're never told why the ring has such power. Spectre is in the company of other violent Golden Age heroes when he throws a villain's car head on into either a tree or the side of a cliff. The art doesn't make it clear.
Green Lantern has the common complaint of Sandman, Dr. Fate, and Spectre in this issue, stating that he is "fed up with sitting around." He sees plenty of action though, when Mr. X demands two-million dollars from the city threatening to blow up city hall and the electric power plant unless his demands are met. He also dares Green Lantern to stop him in a newspaper ad.
This comic includes the slang and cultural references of its time, including phrases like "and how; "a-fine-how-do-you-do;" "Whats the idea?;" and "What I say goes." In addition to a "queer ring" we learn of "queer rainfall." And could the Atom be referencing Dale Carnegie when he mentions a course on how to influence people?
In all it's a fun comic. While all the stories are quite juvenile by today's standards, the Hawkman story probably holds up the best. While all four color stories are written by Gardner Fox, Hawkman has the stand out art of Sheldon Moldoff. The most surprising thing about this comic is that two leading ladies get shot in the same issue. The comic has been reprinted in All-Star Comics Archives # 1 and is available for digital download for a reasonable price at Comixology.com.