THE ALL WINNERS SQUADMedium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1946
Creators: Stan Lee (editor) and Bill Finger (writer)
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two comic books, and each was, in a sense, the final issue of a canceled series. It wasn't an outstanding portfolio piece for any big-name writers or artists. And yet —
It was the only such superhero team of the 1940s, not published by DC Comics (unless you count The Marvel Family, which consisted exclusively of Captain Marvel and his spin-offs, or a couple of one-issue wonders that never even appeared on a cover). It was the first superhero team published by Marvel Comics, which now does The Fantastic Four, The Avengers and X-Men, the comics world's three longest-running teams. And despite the brevity of this one's existence, it looms large in the fictional history of the Marvel Universe.
There were seven members: Marvel's "big three" (Captain America, The Human Torch and Sub-Mariner, plus Bucky and Toro, sidekicks of Cap and the Torch, respectively), along with a couple of reasonably prominent second-stringers, The Whizzer and Miss America (no relation). Their introduction as a group was in All Winners Comics #19 (Fall, 1946), which gave no hint as to why or how they'd gotten together — they were simply characters who'd starred as individuals in previous issues, now starring as members of a group. From indications within the story, it would appear they'd been a team for some time already.
The story was written by Bill Finger, whose early input on Batman and Green Lantern had a profound effect on the development of those series. Like The Justice Society of America and The Seven Soldiers of Victory, the two similar groups that preceded this one, the story was divided into chapters, each featuring one of the members, and drawn by that character's regular artist — in this case, Cap and Bucky by Vince Alascia and Bob Powell, Whizzer by Al Avison and Al Gabriele, the Torch and Toro by Avison and Don Perlin, Miss America by Syd Shores and Alascia, and Subbie by Powell and Avison. The editorial hand of Stan Lee was also very evident, particularly in the discord among members, something seldom seen in DC's groups, but later a trademark of Lee's superhero teams.
The second and final All Winners Squad appearance was in the next issue of All Winners Comics, #21 (Winter, 1946-47), written by Otto Binder (Space Cabby, Fatman the Human Flying Saucer and less obscure stuff) and drawn by a similar menage.
For years, comic book fans and bibliographers wondered why nobody could seem to find a copy of #20. It turned out to be an artifact of Marvel's arcane system, where series drifted not just from one title to another and one numbering system to another, but even from one nominal "publisher" to another. (One supposed publisher name it used in the '40s was Timely Comics, from which comes the myth that Marvel Comics as a whole called itself "Timely" in that period.) The original All Winners Comics series got its name changed to All Teen Comics with its 20th issue, and its new stars were Mitzi, Patsy Walker and suchlike. Three months later, Young Allies Comics (which had featured Toro and Bucky as members of an otherwise typical kid gang) ended with its 20th issue, and was replaced on the schedule with All Winners #21.
The series ended there, and with it, The All Winners Squad. There was no All Winners #22, nor did any hitherto-unseen title begin with a 22nd issue right then. For once, the numbering was dropped. (There was, however, a second All Winners #1 in 1948 — that one became All Western Winners with its second issue, after which it starred Kid Colt, The Black Rider and The Two Gun Kid.)
The All Winners Squad has assumed considerable importance in retrospect. During the 1970s, Roy Thomas, who also created The All-Star Squadron, Infinity Inc. and other series based on 1940s superheroes, wrote The Invaders, which was basically this group, minus Miss America and The Whizzer, and pushed back a few years into World War II. One or two other '40s characters, such as The Blonde Phantom, were later retro-fitted into it. The Squad has also become a significant part of the back-story of such latter-day characters as Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch.
At the time, however, it came and went and was scarcely even noticed.