The Golden Age is one of the best Justice Society of America stories never told. By that I mean of course that the story falls into that weird no-man's land dubbed "Elseworlds", a brand used by DC writers to tell stories which fell outside the confines of the newly concocted continuity which grew out of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. One upon a time these types of stories were called "Imaginary Stories", but as Alan Moore said what ones aren't. Actually the writer James Robinson has said that this story was not originally intended to be in such an alternate universe, but rather in continuity, but the desire on the writer's part to keep its finale secret created nervousness in the upper echelons and they labeled it an "Elseworld" event. Fact is, some aspects of the tale have been used in other comics by Robinson and others.
The story is drawn by one of the great unsung talents Paul Smith. Smith has generated great compelling and handsome drawings for this story which tell the story immaculately throughout.
The story begins with the dissolution of the Justice Society after World War II as America finds its footing following an all-consuming commitment to a great struggle. Leaping into the headlines is Tex Thompson, a former mystery man named Mr.America who disappeared for many years behind enemy lines as the Americommando and is wooing a beauty named Joan Dale (Miss America). Working with Thompson is Robotman, a hero who is losing his morality. We also meet Libby Lawrence (Liberty Belle) who is separated from her husband Johnny Chambers (Johnny Quick) who himself is struggling to find success in the post-war world. Also we meet Libby's new love Jonathan Law (Tarantula).
We meet Mr.America's former partner "Fatman" who is cast to the curb by his former partner and who finds and helps a man named Paul Kirk (Manhunter) who is suffering amnesia and running for his life with gunsels on his tail. We also encounter an Hourman who is struggling to overcome his addiction to Miraclo, Green Lantern who is fighting against the whisper wars of anti-communism, Hawkman who is falling deeper into the world of his Prince Kufu identity, Starman is fighting back madness, and the Atom who is seeking a new way to serve his country. Most desperate of all is Daniel Dunbar (Dan the Dyna-Mite) who finds a patron in Thompson and becomes the subject of a dangerous plan to create a new superhero for a new age.
In the next issue we see the creation of a new hero - Dynaman who harbors many secrets. Manhunter's dreams haunt him still as his memories remain blunted. Many of the heroes we've met become uneasy about the new leadership in America, especially that of Thompson and despite his growing influence wonder what might need to be done.
Manhunter's dreams become reality as we learn what he discovered behind enemy lines. The heroes are confronted with a terrible reality which will call upon them to call upon reserves they might have still have.
It's a who's who of Golden Age heroism as the mystery men of the time appear in Washington to register with the government but are confronted with a terrifying new reality which calls upon them all to go to war once again. Many sacrifices are made to stem the tide of a threat which lurks at the heart of the democracy. Not all the heroes survive.
I've intentionally said little about the details of this story simply because it's so good that reading it is highly recommended.