All The Stars There Are in (Super-hero) Heaven!
The 1970s Justice Society Revival-All-Starring the Original Cast!
by Roy Thomas
(Penciler of JSA in All-Star #66-75 & DC Special #29, Adventure Comics #464-465;
full JSA artist in Adventure Comics #461-463, 466)
Transcribed by Brian K. Morris
Ego Vol. 3 #14
In Alter Ego #14, you'll find Roy's take on the 1970s JSA revival. You can
find mini-interviews with some of the other participants: Paul
Levitz, Gerry Conway, Ric
Estrada, Keith Giffen, Al
Milgrom & Joe Staton.
Joe Staton in the 1970s. Special thanks to wife Hilarie Staton-who with Chris
Mills does a webstrip called Femme Noir which can be accessed at www.supernaturalcrime.com;
it's a mystery strip which should appeal to fans of movie serials and pulp magazines.
Hilarie can be contacted
through the site.
RT: Do you recall how or why you got the job, also whether it was from
Joe as editor or Paul as assistant editor and writer?
JOE STATON: Paul offered it to me. I guess he thought I could do Earth-Two
with Wally Wood inking.
RT: This was some of your earliest DC work. You had never done the JSA
in any comic before, had you?
STATON: No, no. The only thing I knew about Earth-Two and the Justice
Society were the JLA crossovers Julie had done. I think my first DC work was
doing finishes over Ric Estrada on Karate Kid. And I think All-Star was the
first actual penciling I had done.
I came on with Wally Wood being promised as the inker. Keith Giffen had left,
but Woody was going to keep on doing the finishes. And then, when he couldn't-I
guess his health got so bad, or whatever-well, Bob Layton had been Woody's assistant
and could keep up that Wally Wood look. As long as Bob was doing the Wally Wood
look, I liked his inking a lot.
RT: Were you given any kind of reference to the stories besides the
preceding issues, do you recall?
STATON: I had all the JLA-JSA stories, and DC did those 100-Page Specials
reprinting stuff from the old comics. I didn't have any of the original All-Stars
or other really old comics; that was before my time.
RT: Of course, "really old" now includes Fantastic Four #1.
[laughs] How did you feel about drawing so many heroes in the same stories?
Were you like George Perez, who likes to draw a lot of them, or were you indifferent,
or didn't like it?
STATON: I really got into the JSA. Some group things I don't warm up
to, but I really warmed up to the whole Earth-Two thing.
RT: Were you involved later in the creation of The Huntress?
STATON: Yeah, I was. The way The Huntress came down-Layton was inking
and he suggested there should be another girl in the group. And then Paul came
up with the actual idea of the character. But it was the colorist, Tony Tollin,
who suggested that The Huntress be Catwoman's daughter. I think that was the
piece that made it all work. Paul took that and then developed the character
RT: The idea that Batman and Catwoman had been married came from that,
STATON: Right. I don't know if I had the whole script or just Paul's
ideas, but I did sketches and I showed them to Paul. He said Joe Orlando was
the boss, so Joe had to pass on the sketches.
And then-this is funny-Joe took me off to a conference room. Vinnie Colletta
was supposed to be the Art Director at the time. As far as I could tell, all
he did was sit up at DC and ink. But Joe yelled over at Vinnie and said, "Hey,
Vinnie. You're the Art Director. You come be a part of this. We're designing
something." So Vinnie followed Joe and me in, and Vinnie stretched out
on the couch and went sound asleep. [laughs] And then Joe and I had a really
nice session, and he took my sketches and punched them up a little bit. I think
Joe was the one who actually came up with The Huntress' emblem. But it was pretty
much what I started out with, with some improvements by Joe, and we had a very
nice time. Then Joe went over and touched Vinnie and said, "Time to go,
Vinnie. Meeting's over." [laughs] And Vinnie says, "Okay," and
he went back to work, inking in his room. So as best I can tell, that's how
The Huntress came about.
RT: Paul thought the cover of #71 might be yours. It's the one where
Wildcat, The Huntress, and Star-Spangled Kid are fighting The Strike Force in
a sports stadium. He thought it might be you inked by Dick Giordano or someone.
STATON: That sounds right.
RT: I'm curious-how did you and Paul work in terms of the script?
STATON: Wow. I think most of the stuff I worked on with Paul was full
scripts. [ED. NOTE: In his interview, Paul Levitz recalls it as all plot-then-dialogue.]
RT: The splash of All-Star #72, that Thorn story, shows four JSAers
standing around a corpse on the street which is covered in a sheet, and there
are cops and a police car. It's seen from an overhead angle, and it always reminded
me in terms of layout of the splash page Gil Kane did for his and Ron Goulart's
adaptation of Robert Bloch's "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" for Marvel.
Was this just a coincidence? It's not the same angle, exactly... and certainly
not a swipe. I was just curious because I figured Gil was something of an influence
STATON: Yeah, yeah. It may have been a direct influence, or it may just
be that when my brain goes to work, I've got Gil to fall back on. I wind up
with a lot of Gil's shots without meaning to. [laughs]
RT: Well, a lot of other people do it, meaning to. [laughs] Hawkman's
headgear got redesigned at this time, with wings added and a more modernistic
style, plus a couple of wristbands. They made sort of a big deal out of it.
STATON: I think that was me, at Paul's direction. I think the idea was
to make more of a connection with Hawkman looking Egyptian, so we were trying
to get the headgear to suggest ancient Egyptian stuff. Before, he had just like
a bag on his head! I didn't like the bag on his head.
RT: I didn't like it when I was seven, either, compared to the original
hawk-shaped headgear. Why the switch, in #73, to Joe Giella as inker?
STATON: Without doing details, there were just problems between me and
Layton around that time. And Giella also looked kind of old-fashioned, more
RT: Did you like Giordano inking a cover or two of yours?
STATON: I've always liked Dick doing my stuff. Yeah, he's a classy-looking
RT: How did you feel about All-Star's cancellation? Of course, you went
right over to Adventure.
STATON: Yeah, and then it disappeared in Adventure after a few issues.
I was real attached to the characters and so I still kind of miss them.
RT: About this time, you did that JSA origin story in DC Special. Did
you do any special research on all the different historical things in it?
STATON: Paul would have done the serious research. He put it all together.
I know I was given a lot of Xeroxes on a lot of different stuff. You know, the
Spear of Destiny, and all that.
RT: With the switch to Adventure in #461, you did your own inking. Why
STATON: Oh, wow. Probably it was just hard getting the right look, and
even when I went back on it, inking it myself, it didn't look quite right.
RT: But your own inking had a nice style to it.
STATON: We still needed Wally Wood to come back. [laughs]
RT: But it never happened. You did have Dave Hunt for two issues, with
more of a Joe Sinnott kind of style. And then you returned to inking with Adventure
#466, which was the last one. Did you know that would be the last one-the story
that showed how they retired? It made an interesting end to the series, though
it wouldn't have had to be.
STATON: Oh, I'm pretty sure I didn't know it.
RT: It makes a nice bookend to the series, so it's good that it was
published. Besides the related All-Star Squadron hero drawings you did recently
for the new JSA Sourcebook, did you ever return to doing any more JSA at DC?
STATON: Well, I did one Wonder Woman when the book was set in World War
II. I think that Gerry wrote that one. And I did the "Huntress" back-up
in Wonder Woman.
RT: Yeah, I wrote Wonder Woman briefly, soon after I moved to DC. But
I drifted away from it after Colan left, even though I'd really wanted to do
Wonder Woman-partly to get away from Legion because I never really liked doing
STATON: [laughs] Me, either.
RT: And then, of course, along came Crisis on Infinite Earths, and that
ended all the Earth-Two stuff.
STATON: Yeah, a wall fell on The Huntress in the Crisis. [laughs] In
RT: She deserved better than that.
STATON: I thought so. [laughs]
RT: She and Power Girl were very good characters. I enjoyed using them
for a while in Infinity, Inc. If I hadn't had so many characters, I'd have used
STATON: I really liked the Earth-Two Huntress. I think I miss her more
than anything from the book.
The death of the Earth-Two Batman-witnessed by his horrified daughter, The Huntress,
in Adventure #462. Repro'd from photocopies of the original Staton art, courtesy
of Fred W. DeBoom. [©2002 DC Comics.]
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