Or – “He Ducked Back Down The Alley With Some Roly Poly Little Bat-Faced Girl…”

For roughly eleven hundred years now,  Justice Society of America has been foreshadowing something wicked that may this way come.  This issue, finally, we get past the preliminary “Ooooh, scary stuff, kids” and delve into the meat of the tale…  But, is it Prime Rib, or that weird rubbery blue stuff you get out of airport sammich machines?  And speaking of meat and meat by-products, why is Black Adam roasting that cadaver?  Answers after the clicky!

Previously, on Justice Society Of America:  A serial killer takes out those who would pretend to godhood, including Goth, a Marilyn Manson wannabe, who nearly explodes.  Thom Kallor, the former Star Boy of the Legion, now a schizophrenic JSA Starman, manages to keep him from destroying the eastern seaboard, but accidentally creates a collapsar that links to Earth-22, home of the reality known to us as “Kingdom Come” (and known to Alex Ross as “My Meal Ticket.”)  This wormhole spits out a variation on young Kal-El, an older and more weathered version of the Superman we know.  His presence has discomfited the Justice Society, the people of the world, his younger Earth-1 counterpart, and has led to the realization that one of his villains (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) is active on this earth.  Of course, the battle with Magog goes less than swell, but even the JSA is surprised when Magog is literally consumed by the stone face he worships, which then reveals it’s entire giant stone body and climbs up, declaring itself to be… Gog!

The story starts with Damage ruminating on his odd parenthood, thinking back to the stories he’s heard about Al Pratt, the golden age Atom.  “Wildcat said Pratt used to be the first one to jump into the fight…  and the first one to be knocked on his ass…  [His] detonation power is the ONLY thing Pratt ever gave me.”  But… but… but…  Al Pratt didn’t have detonation powers!  Al Pratt has super-strength, but it was the Human Bomb who exploded!  Dammit!  TOM WELLING PUNCH!!!!  Damage contemptuously thinks how everyone believes he’s in the JSA because of the Atom, but reveals that he just wanted to get out of trouble.  As he stares WAAAY up at the giant form of Gog, he thinks “Right now, I feel like the Atom.”  Gog smiles a disturbing smile, and seems to genuinely be enjoying his return to life, as the Justice Society just stands around watching him…

Mister Terrific tries to communicate with Gog, but the titan doesn’t respond, instead beatifically smiling as birds frolic on his shoulder.  It’s a really disconcerting moment, made more so by Mr. T’s anger that Gog won’t respond.  Amazing Man steps forward, and theorizes, “if he is a god, I would guess he’d hear your voice as easily as a machine would.  Which, given your ability to evade detetion by any means electronic, means not at all.”  A-Man asks who he is, and Gog answers, then stomps away.  He follows his instincts to a nearby village, riddled with plague and disease, and he comes booming out of nowhere.  “I come in peace” bellows the behemoth, and heals the entire village with a barrage of Kirby dots.  The JSAers are stunned to see the crying children healed and whole, and Lance asks, “What did he do?”  “I made them good again,” replies the lost God.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Kahndaq, two desperate grave robbers invade the tomb of Isis, looking to make a little scratch off the gems in the “cursed” mausoleum.  What they find is Teth-Adam, laying in the stone sarcophagus, with a look of outrage on his face, and one word on his lips.  “SHAZAM.”  The would-be robber is incinerated, and the newly reempowered Black Adam stalks toward his pleading partner, snapping his neck with an idle twitch of his fingers.  Adam turns, thinking about how he had hoped that Mary Marvel might have altered his powers, giving the magic the ability to help him resurrect Isis.  But just as he gives up all hop, he sees a white rose, growing from between the stones, and realizes that his long lost wife may not be as lost as he had feared.

Back in the Congo, the Justice Society marvels at Gog’s transformative abilities, and Superman mentions William Matthew, the cretin who masqueraded as Gog and was eaten.  “You speak of something WICKED,” intones the giant, and explainst hat he’s neither from this Earth nor from Earth-22.  “I am from PARADISE.”  The Big Guy explains that he comes from the world BEFORE the Fourth World, called (oddly enough) the Third World.  Maybe it’s his first time around…  he doesn’t speak the language, holds no currency, he is a foreign deity, and all but he himself were wiped out when the Third World fell and Darkseid and Highfather’s planet arose to replace it.  He reveals that William Matthews found his temple after he fell to Africa, and used his power in vain.  “War is not my way,” reveals Gog, and explains that he didn’t kill Matthews, he just took back his powers.  Damage loses it, screaming about how ridiculous this all is, and how the JSA should just take him down now…  He rages at Gog, asking why he’s smiling so much.  “I am happy to be alive,” replies the giant, and touches Damage’s ravaged face.  Damage pulls away his mask, revealing the unmarred features of Grant Emerson.  “I made him good again,” smiles Gog.  “Who is next?”

This issue is the one I have been waiting for.  The issue where the “ZOMG!  FORESHADOWING IS AN IMPORTANT LITERARY TECHNIQUE!!!!!” finally actually GOES somewhere.  Gog’s backstory (drawn for two pages by Alexander himself) is interesting, although calling it the Third World bugs me, since the Congo is also referred to as part of the Third World.  Dale Eaglesham really knocks it out of the park on the Gogster, giving us an otherworldly presence with a wonderfully joyous smile, and really creeping the #&@$ out of me.  The only downside of the issue is the fact that our titular heroes did little more than point up into the sky like extras in a Godzilla movie.  But even that isn’t enough to ruin my buzz, because JSA is actually a fun read this month, unlike the Kingdom Come-shots we’ve been slogging through for so long.  This issue is intriguing, well written and well drawn, earning a returning-to-form 4 out of 5 stars.  But, dammit, Al Pratt did NOT have explosive powers…


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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  1. Mike
    June 12, 2008 at 2:34 pm — Reply

    I know no one here can really answer this, but why is Black Adam and Isis on this cover!?

    I appreciate the re-direct Matthew, wouldn’t want to be “russell-ed” by you displaying the actual cover.

  2. peterbr
    June 12, 2008 at 2:54 pm — Reply

    It was nice to finally see something happening. I’ve still been enjoying JSA, but they could’ve condensed the last arc by an issue or two.
    I’m sure everyone noticed, but I figured I’d point out that the symbol on Gog’s hand during the depiction of his “fall” is the same as the symbol that is now on Lance’s arm, so I’m betting they’re somehow related. Also, I’m wondering if the fact that Gog can’t hear Mr. T is some indication that Gog is somehow technological in nature…you know, a robot.

  3. Josh P.
    June 12, 2008 at 3:33 pm — Reply

    When I perused a copy in my LCS, I could’ve sworn Damage said “detonation powers” not “his detonation powers.”

    Meaning that Al Pratt’s having super powers translated into Damage receiving super powers, but not inheriting the same specific super powers. At least, that’s what I got out of that caption box.

  4. Roy
    June 12, 2008 at 3:40 pm — Reply

    heh heh heh…..”Kingdom Come-shots”

    wait, is it wrong that a.) I got that b.) found it humorous and c.) am the only one who commented on it?

  5. Mark I.
    June 12, 2008 at 4:22 pm — Reply

    I thought Vandal Savage genetically engineered Damage’s powers.


  6. Peter
    June 12, 2008 at 7:48 pm — Reply

    @Roy – damn, I must be losing my edge, I hadn’t caught that. But I find it funny, too, so even if you are wrong you’re not alone.

  7. Baal
    June 12, 2008 at 8:16 pm — Reply

    Does anyone have a list of exactly whose DNA got put in the blender for Grant? The thing that always bothered me was that we’ve never seen him use any of these DNA donors powers at all.

    And wouldn’t it make a better story if Grant still distrusted Gog despite the healing? Won’t happen with this writer tho’…

  8. ykw
    June 12, 2008 at 8:28 pm — Reply

    Pratt actually =did= have a form of “detonation powers”; in addition to the general super-strength he eventually developed after being irradiated by Cyclotron, he also had an explosive “atomic punch”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom_(Al_Pratt) (see: “In story information” -> “Abilities”)

  9. ykw
    June 12, 2008 at 8:31 pm — Reply

    Grant’s extended family of “parents”:


    “The heroes Grant shares DNA with are: Atom I (Al Pratt), Flash I (Jay Garrick), Green Lantern I (Alan Scott), Wildcat I (Ted Grant), Hawkman I (Carter Hall), Hawkgirl I (Shayera Hol), Hourman I (Rex Tyler), Black Canary I (Dinah Lance), Doctor Mid-Nite I (Charles McNider), Starman I (Ted Knight), Miss America (Joan Dale), Johnny Quick (Johnny Chambers), Liberty Belle (Libby Lawrence), Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz – John Jones), Flash II ((Barry Allen), Aquaman, Black Canary II (Dinah Laurel Lance), Green Lantern II (Hal Jordan), and Atom II (Ray Palmer).”

  10. Mike
    June 13, 2008 at 8:42 am — Reply

    Glad to see Grant get some screen time. I enjoyed his solo from the 90s and was so sad at the treatment he got from Infinite Crisis (and that nobody else cared). Glad Johns had a plan all along, though, and I hope that this issue and the Jessie/Damage-centric issue bode well for him and he continues to shine. Also, can’t wait for Black Adam and Isis, and hope Atom Smasher’s back for it too!

  11. Carl
    June 13, 2008 at 9:34 am — Reply

    There’s no guarantee that such a DNA mix would result in him getting any specific powers. It’s like when you mix foods together and the resulting dish tastes nothing like any of the individual ingredients. I’ve always seen his DNA mix as having essentially overpowering him. He can’t control the energy and so the results are explosive. He may one day be able to control and apply the energy in other areas.

    Wasn’t there a mystery guy in his series who seemed like he might be his future self, who was in control of the powers?

  12. Jim
    June 15, 2008 at 8:09 pm — Reply

    Just a note, but Eaglesham isn’t on this issue. The penciller is Fernando Pasarain. I liked him although I felt like he skimps on the details on the characters in the background.

    What’s with red suit Flash wearing the silver helmet in the Gog backstory? Is that just supposed to tell us that William Matthews was seeing stuff that has no relation or consequence to the main DCU?

  13. June 15, 2008 at 10:47 pm — Reply

    I believe that was the Kingdom Come Flash…

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