Or – “In Which I Take A Position That’s Probably Indefensible To Anyone But Me.”

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Is that not an awesome shot? But I digress… I’ve long become accustomed to holding minority opinions in the world of comic books. I’ve never felt that Wolverine’s feral samurai act was all that compelling. I’ve never thought that Batman was the real person and Bruce Wayne just the mask. The only time I liked Moon Knight was during the much-maligned ‘Egyptian-weapons-joined-the-West-Coast-Avengers’ period of his title. And I’d much rather read a goofy Bob Haney issue of Brave & The Bold than anything featuring Youngblood. Some say this makes me a ‘hater,’ others opine that it just makes me old, but either way, my most annoying and controversial view (apparently, given the amount of comment it engenders) is my creeping dislike for the work of Alex Ross. Any assessment of comic art has to have more than a little subjectivity in it (people hate Gil Kane and Jack Kirby, f’rinstance, and that’s their right) but I just can’t muster any great love for Alex, and it’s affecting my enjoyment of this book… To see the whys and wherefores, click the link.

JSA1.jpgPreviously, on Justice Society of America: When Vandar Adg of the Bear Tribe (better known to you and me as Vandal Savage, immortal ne’er do well) decided to systematically hunt and kill patriotic superheroes, he didn’t count on the full power of the JSA being turned against him. Moments after that crisis terminated, seven time-lost members of the Legion of Super-Heroes arrived, and the JSA teamed up with sister organization the JLA to try and find out why. The battle ended in confusion, with someone (or something) captured by the Legion, Karate Kid stranded in our time, and the JSA left to pick up the pieces. Last issue, Damage lost his cool with Zoom, but a quick (no pun intended) intervention by Liberty Belle revealed that not only was Hunter Zolomon not as smart as he thinks he is, Jesse Chambers still has her speed powers. Now, in the aftermath of tragedy, JSA Chairperson Power Girl dreams of her lost cousin Kal-L…

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So, apparently, the resurrection of Superman previewed in issue #1 was a premonition of Karen’s dream? I’m also impressed with the choice of believable sleepwear for Power Girl, something that could have been unnecessary cheesecake. The next day, in Brooklyn, the JSA gathers for a charity pancake breakfast at the firehouse that helped defeat Vandal Savage (by running over him with a truck) and Citizen Steel and the various Heywood cousins are in charge of the kitchen.

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“And they think fighting Nazis is hard,” remarks Nate as the kids clamber around him smashing crockery, eggs and syrup bottles. Jay Garrick steps in as Stargirl flirts with a particularly cute fireman, and an annoyed Courtney points out that he was supposed to clear the tables. The Flash, ever the father figure, suggested that she and Cyclone could help, just as Power Girl enters to announce that the fight is about to start. What fight, you ask? Wouldja believe a 90 year old man in a moth-eaten mask facing down a teenage kid who looks like the Pink Panther?

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Tommy leaps into action, his greater agility and speed giving him the edge in dodging his Pop’s slobberknockers, but Ted’s superior acumen and boxing skill allows the former champ to get in his shots, even playing a mindgame. “Yer telegraphin’ every leap with that tail a’ yers.” Tommy stops to claim that he isn’t , but Dad nails him with a punchinnaface. “You cheat!” cries Tomcat, but Dad isn’t buying. “What do ya think super-villains do?” replies Wildcat, as the alarms suddenly ring. The JSA heads into action, arriving with the firemen at a burning paint factory, where The Flash and Cyclone start creating twisters to draw down the flames, and Power Girl has to break Citizen Steel’s heart…

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Not too harsh, there, Karen… Jeez. The team heads in, with Green Lantern leading the way, and Tomcat sniffing out the trapped innocents. Starman, Green Lantern, Damage, Power Girl and Liberty Belle search out the center of the flames, and find something that no one expected…

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Green Lantern is amazed to find that whatever energies power Goth (worst… villain…. EVER) are magical enough to create a backlash in his ring, and that he thinks the body is about to blow. Even more awful, the magic energy will even burn Power Girl’s Kryptonian body, leaving only one option: Starman jumps into action!

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Power Girl looks to Green Lantern, but the veteran allows her to make her own call. Power Girl gives the okay, and Starman sweeps in, throwing up a piece of rubble, then starting his powers into action. Imploring the voices in his head to stop long enough to let him concentrate, Thom kicks all his gravitational energies into high gear, drawing Goth’s pseudo-Marilyn-Manson body up into the event horizon. But as the energies overwhelm him, Starman passes out. Another person drops through the vortex, and, amazingly, that person KNOWS Starman!

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Outside, the JSA awaits Starman’s arrival, anxiously worrying (even though the black hole has not just taken away the source of the flames, but extinguished the fire itself.) Everyone is surprised (unless they’ve seen the cover of Previews) by what they see stepping out of the smoky haze…

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I… am honestly stunned… Part of me is happy to see the elder Superman, thinking that it might be nice for the JSA to have one of their oldest members back, in one form or another. Part of me is mad that, once again, the major plot points of this book are inextricably tied to Alex Ross, and a story that has already been told over a decade ago. Hopefully the return of Superman will allow us to once and for all put aside Kingdom Come and do something new. After all, we’ve now seen it changed from the future to an alternate Earth, it’s time to move on. And the greatest part of me is royally torked that, once again, events in this title were loudly and clearly spoilered by Wizard months in advance.

It’s a solid issue, though, well done, with some nice emotion and character bits throughout. Power Girl’s anguish over her lost family, Citizen Steel’s joyful interactions with his cousins, his dismay at not being able to help at the fire, even Belle and Damage’s flashback to their Titans past together, all work to make this a nice experience. My problems with the ending notwithstanding, Johns, Eaglesham and company are overshadowed by the awesome two-page spread of the JSA and fire company, and the nice scene between the Wildcats. This is a breather issue, a nice change-of-pace before launching into the next arc, and as such, I can easily give it an above average 3.5 out of 5 stars…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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14 Comments

  1. Mark I.
    September 18, 2007 at 10:57 pm — Reply

    Yes, it’s a cheap marketing ploy. Yes, its needlessly anchoring itself to a decade-old story. Yes, teasing the return of a dead hero with an alternate version is jackassery of the highest order. And yes, they telegraphed this a mile away right after 52 with what I presume was a panel from the next issue.

    That’s still mighty close to a Holy S#%& moment. The only thing that could really top it is Dr. Manhattan showing up somewhere, but that would be a serious character rape.

    Orrr did Monarch pull him into Thunderdome? I haven’t checked.

  2. Young
    September 18, 2007 at 11:22 pm — Reply

    I just love how in these super-group shots (like the first picture up top), the speedster is always right there in the mix, even though logic dictates that he would already be a the destination…oh well, at least it looks really nice :)

  3. mosdef
    September 18, 2007 at 11:55 pm — Reply

    why did they make gl, look so darn old, and ur not a hater matthew peterson, i dont like alex ross either, or young blood..

  4. eric berry
    September 19, 2007 at 12:45 am — Reply

    i agree about the art. I enjoy the book, but the artwork is hokey.

  5. J'osh
    September 19, 2007 at 3:27 am — Reply

    Oh the irony. If anyone were a hater really it would be Alex Ross himself.

  6. Josh
    September 19, 2007 at 7:25 am — Reply

    I’ll join in on the Alex Ross hatin’.

    While I enjoyed Marvels and Kingdom Come, it was more for the story (Buseik and Wiad) than the art.

    I also thiink that the bait and switch with regards to Earth-2 Superman and Kingdom Come Superman was mean. Kingdom Come Superman needs to not be part of the JSA. He worked in Kingdom Come, but that’s come and gone.

  7. September 19, 2007 at 8:08 am — Reply

    I love the JSA. I love the DC Legacy heroes.

    But I haven;t been able to get into this book and actually enjoy it since the relaunch. :-(

    Maybe after Final Crisis, till then I’ll keep checking to see if it clicks with me and enjoy my back issues.

  8. Maximus Rift
    September 19, 2007 at 8:35 am — Reply

    Something new?…. In Comics?!?!?….. This is MADNESS! :p

    Also, you’re not alone. I hate Wolverine and that he’s currently being “whored-out” in Marvel. Batman can still have a life without having to give up being Batman. And never was a fan of Youngblood (though I did like WILDCats and CyberForce for a little while).

  9. Jim
    September 19, 2007 at 11:24 am — Reply

    I guess I can see bringing Superman from KC come back since they’ve already brought Starman from the same story. I do wonder why, though. My one problem with the otherwise strong title has been that the team is so powerful and so large, it’s seems hard to have a credible threat to them (and does it really take 10 members to assist the fire dept? What’s Damage going to do, explode the fire?) and now you add a hero with basically every power?

    Still, I really liked this issue. I thought the pancake breakfast was so old-fashioned, it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect/want the JSA to be doing. The boxing match was fun. And speaking of which, I’m not hatin’ on Ross, who does some good work, but the variant cover featuring the boxing match is sooo much better than the Power Girl one.

  10. jman
    September 19, 2007 at 1:19 pm — Reply

    As I’ve said before, Alex Ross is a bit of a 500lb gorilla right now in the industry. What he pitches usually gets published. I kinda hate that they shoehorned KC supes in there as well. That story’s(Kingdom Come) old even for comics standars(but was responsible for my intro to comics in the late ’90s.). I think he’s great when it comes to out of continuity stuff, but his influence in this book(and the current DCU) is overkill. Give him a mini-series once in a while(Justice is a good example of decent Alex Ross stuff), some covers here and there, and call it a day already…Also, Alan Scott really looks old here; sorry, Jay and Ted still look somewhat young, but Alan just looks like he’s gonna turn to dust here. He just needs a more mystical sort of appearance to me.

  11. Brent F.
    September 19, 2007 at 2:49 pm — Reply

    What I really love about this book is that it’s fun and the characters do their job without letting their personal problems guide them. The personal problems are there, they’re just not the focus of the book and I love it.

  12. Russell
    September 19, 2007 at 11:06 pm — Reply

    “Hate” Jack Kirby?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    Off the topic but why would anyone want to kill the New Gods? I know the “some creators have done some very bad things with them” reason, but that could be said of almost every DC character.

  13. ykw06
    September 20, 2007 at 2:23 pm — Reply

    Anyone who “hates Jack Kirby” would prolly throw this book down in disgust; artistically, the entire issue is drawn in classic circa-1942 Simon & Kirby pastiche. Beautiful.

  14. Ninja Charro
    September 24, 2007 at 10:04 am — Reply

    I hate when comics insert What If?s or Elseworlds lines in their chronologies, and this is not the exception. However, having Knocker, er I mean Power Girl in the cover with her beatiful pair of eyes is better than having Citizen Steel with his package.

    Tthere’s other thing I hated about it. the son of Wildcat. How should we call him, despite being a human cat, he acts like a pussy cat, so Wildcat Jr.? or Black Kity? Anyway.

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