Or – “Gog, Gog, Gog…  Does Anybody Remember When These Guys Fought Crime?”

I am trying very hard to give JSA the benefit of the doubt with this storyline, but no matter how good a book has been in the past (and Johns’ & Eaglesham’s JSA has been quite good) there comes a point where you wonder exactly what the upshot of a given storyline is going to be.  We’ve been dealing with the fallout of Kingdom Come Superman for almost six months now, and as much as I appreciate having a version of Clark Kent among the DCU’s elder statesmen again, there’s just been more suspense and setup than the delicate framework of the story can really support… 

Previously, on Justice Society of America:  The Justice Society has gone on another recruitment binge, bringing in the aforementioned Earth-22 Superman, the new Amazing Man, Judomaster, Mr. America, Lightning, and Lance Corporal David Reid (great-grandson of Franklin Denlano Roosevelt, the original founder of the JSA back in the day.)  The team has been running back and forth hunting down the “Heartbreak Slayer,” a mysterious murderer killing various superhumans of the DCU.  But all of his victims share one important characteristic: they all fancied themselves gods of one sort or another.  The JSA has discovered that the killer is none other than Gog, a villain who has faced our Superman, but whom the alternate Superman knows as the precursor of Magog, the man who led to his downfall in Superman’s own alternate future timeline…  The origins of both Gog and Magog are shrouded in mystery, but not for no reason have Gog’s murders born a strange resemblance the the murders of the New Gods seen in the aptly named “Death of the New Gods” miniseries, and the JSA have to find him before more people kick the bucket…

This issue starts with Sanderson Hawkins, the hero now known as the Sandman, sitting awake in his apartment, surrounded by everything a man would need to avoid ever going to sleep.  “I drink coffee at two a.m., I go for a walk around the block at three.  But, eventually…  eventually I have to sleep.”  Sandy laments the fact that the only dreams he has are nightmares of blood and death and horror.  Only when he tracks down and stops the crimes that he foretells in them will he get a good night sleep, but even then, he never dreams.  “Just once…  I’d like to dream I could fly.”  There’s a knock at the door and Power Girl enters (Hey, I’ve had this dream!) and asks Sandman if he can still communicate with the Earth, to identify the volcanic ash left behind when Gog teleported away.  Sandy agrees to try, and we cut to…

…The Congo!  In the jungle wastelands, Gog the mighty goat-headed schmuck is going toe-to-toe with The Infinity Man, short-pants wearing mohawk-helmeted schmendrik.  I can decide if they’re fighting over the right to kill somebody or the mantle of ‘worst-dressed character in DC history.’  Gog helpfully remembers his origins, and some new information is brought to light.  “I discovered an ancient temple under the African jungle…  I discovered the remains of a lone, lost god.  The only surviving god from a place long dead called the Third World.”  Aha!  So Gog’s origins ARE tied to the New Gods!  The Gogster beats Infinity Man down, causing the New Genesian to flee, and we cut to JSA headquarters…

…where 24 heroes sit together drinking coffee, and making me wonder if Starman is so happy here because it reminds him of his days with the Legion.  Lots of discussion and blah blah blah ensue, as two dozen characters try to come to a concensus as to whether they should trust the crazy Superman with the Reed Richards hair.  The discussions go on and on, until Cyclone turns to Starman and asks if he’s okay.  The very obviously upset JSAer replies, “I was on Superman’s EArth, Cyclone.  I MET Magog.  If a Magog is born here…  you’ll all die in a WAR between heroes.  Just like the history books on Xanthu say you will.”  Well, that’s chilling.  The darkness is immediately dissipated when Black Lightning’s Daughter (I hate the name “Lightning.”  There are literally THOUSANDS of electrical name possibilities, and all they could come up with was LIGHTNING?) stands up, bumps into one of Mr. Terrific’s T-spheres and powers up, also draining the room of energy.

Suddenly, Gog teleports in.  (Wait, WHAT?)  He throws Sandman down, and (as with every Dragonball Z episode ever) THEN THEY FIGHT!!!  Honestly, it’s well drawn, but not that interesting, with the JSAers tripping all over one another, and Gog doing far too well against any room containing two Kryptonians and Alan Scott, thank you very much.  Several pages go by with Blah Blah Punch, Blah Blah Blast, Blah Blah Krash.  Finally, Magog has Amazing Man and Superman by the throat, ready to crack their heads together like coconuts, and Alan Scott and Obsidian rise from the wreckage of the JSA Brownstone.  Alan is clad in his Kingdom Come armor with giant sword (it’s first chronological appearance, if memory serves) and Obsidian looks kinda cool, actually.  Alan faces Gog, intoning “Tims to face the BRIGHTEST day, Gog.”  And Obsidian chimes in with “And the BLACKEST night!”  Uhh…  ‘kay.  Seeing as how neither of them actually uses that version of the Green Lantern oath, it’s kind of an odd thing to say.

This is a really disjointed and hard to recap issue.  The moments with Sandman at the beginning are interesting (though it’s been nearly two years since the character was revamped, and I’d perhaps have hoped to get a little insight into Sandy’s new mindset before we introduced not one but TWO full rosters of new characters) but overall are quickly brushed aside for the villainy of Ram-Man Gog.  The art is excellent as always, with some new quirks that remind me of Kevin Nowlan for some reason, but the story just isn’t very substantial It’s nice to see Amazing Man at the forefront of combat, but overall the second half of the issue is one big, overly talky fight scene.  Justice Society can be much better than this, honestly, and this issue is just plain disappointing.  It’s a 1.5 out of 5 star affair, and it makes me very sad how all this Kingdom Come fooferaw has sidelined what used to be one of DC’s most reliable monthly reads. 

 



 

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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10 Comments

  1. kwaku
    April 21, 2008 at 8:58 pm — Reply

    I’m one of those people who actually loves this series and I thought this issue was one of the best of the volume. To each his own.

  2. Peter
    April 21, 2008 at 9:53 pm — Reply

    This certainly wasn’t a substantial issue, but I still enjoyed it. The fight scene looked pretty good, and it was nice to see Sandman actually get some attention. (Also, I liked the gag of half the chairs around the table being lawn chairs, recliners, and the like). That being said, this Gog thing is getting pretty old. It’s fun, and it’s interesting to see where this is going, but this has dragged on way to long. Incidentally, doesn’t KC Supes being dragged away when he was screw up KC continuity (although I’ve got a feeling he’ll somehow end up being sent back right at the moment he disappeared)?

  3. Baal
    April 21, 2008 at 10:40 pm — Reply

    Wake me when the Justice Army of America is either back to a size Johns can handle or he starts using the storytelling tricks that made this many characters so doable in various Legion comics. Oh yeah, and the Kingdom Crap has to be over too. If I didn’t find the concept interesting enough when it came out, why should I waste my money now to see it stripmined of anything interesting?

  4. Josh P.
    April 22, 2008 at 7:20 am — Reply

    Alan Scott’s Kingodm Come armor made it’s first “chronological” appearance in JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice a few years back. Ya’know, when Kingdom Come elements weren’t required in the JSA.

  5. Mark I.
    April 22, 2008 at 4:02 pm — Reply

    Am I wrong or did Gog impale Sandman through the chest with his magic lacrosse stick?

    While it’s true that “Lightning” isn’t the most original name, it does go with typical DC simplicity regarding names (there’s an “Ice”, a “Fire”, a “Lightning”…) What’s better, something simple or some ridiculous name straight out of “The Boys”? I guess they could have called her…
    Amp?
    Ohm Goddess?
    Black Power?
    Zapalicious?
    Thunder Thighs?
    Batterina?
    Joules?

    I don’t mean to be per”snikt”ity or nothing. Just bored at work. And I’m really ready to let go of “Kingdom Continuity.” It was a nice story, but yeesh…at least the “Dark Knight” continuity is more or less pushed into ASGDBAR even though Year One seemed like it could go either way…

  6. April 22, 2008 at 7:46 pm — Reply

    “Black Power.”

    Now THAT’S comedy…

  7. Mark I.
    April 22, 2008 at 9:59 pm — Reply

    I REALLY get the feeling Luke Cage’s original hero name was going to be “Black Power” instead of “Power Man,” but cooler heads prevailed. In fact, I’d bet my beat up old copy of Gilgamesh II on it.

  8. nu
    April 22, 2008 at 10:54 pm — Reply

    i feel like you wered a little harsh in your scoring of this issue. i found it to be a pleasant read. ive heard the theory that “lance” will become magog. what are your thoughts?

  9. Baal
    April 23, 2008 at 1:41 am — Reply

    Amp or Joules sound better than Lightning. Lightning only works for me if we’re going to see her teamed with her sister Thunder (or as I like to call the ‘Buffy’ and ‘Dawn’).

  10. April 26, 2008 at 1:38 am — Reply

    Actually, Lance becoming Magog sounds kind of interesting, but there’s no way to realistically let that story play out over the years it would take to make him endearing enough for it to really hurt…

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