Our unnamed protagonist reflects on his days as a paperboy and how run-ins with the Newsboy Legion and the JSA's public trials inspired him to be a hero in his own right.
Of all the times I've seen Andy and Joe Kubert collaborate on a comic, this is by far the best effort. Their combined style really captures the "melting pot of eras" this whole series means to convey. I'm always in awe of Andy's sense of layout, storytelling and composition and his work here adds a real sense of reality to even the most outlandish scenes. You really do feel like you've traveled back in time to fresh, grimy streets of 1940s New York for an adventure with the Newsboy Legion. The narrative of DC's heroic eras and the JSA's fall-out after the war have been told so many times, but Wein makes it engaging, adding a period-appropriate flavor that makes you feel like you're actually experiencing events that have only been described to you up until this point. I also enjoyed the gentle ribbing he does to the Guardian's unconvincing secret identity. While the back-up feature runs a bit like a Who's Who or a Secret Origin, I was thoroughly enjoying Williams' return to the Seven Soldiers, especially the startling range of styles he employs for each set of the heroes. The number of techniques at his command is just masterful.
I do understand the reason for the framing device with the main character going through heirlooms in his study, but I don't know... it ran a little too Hallmark card hokey for me. These are legendary characters and times to be revered, sure, but the sentiment just ran a little too thick.
The Verdict - 4/5
I was initially skeptical about what seemed like another retread of DC's history, but I found a very fun reminder here of what makes a shared superhero universe so appealing in the first place. You've got a true line-up of legends and stars at work - - the cream of the crop for comics writing, drawing and storytelling. While I did mark this down for getting a little saccharine at times, I still recommend it for any fan who, as I said, needs a reminder of why we follow these great pantheons in the first place.