Or – “An Army Of Superheroes And A Giant Guy With Goat Horns.  Win/Win!”

So, a giant, helpful, kind, trustworthy, loyal and all-powerful gawd is walkin’ the Earth, giving people their greatest desire.  Why, then, do the JSA look like they’re about to void their respective bowels of some heavy masonry?  After all, there’s no way that this could all go horribly awry, right?

Previously on Justice Society Of America:  The Kingdom Come Superman was accidentally transported to Earth-Whatever-The-Main-One-Is by Starman, a refugee from the future who spent some time on that alternate future Earth himself.  This leads to the revelation that Magog, a villain who was a big bugaboo on Earth-Alex-Ross-Makes-Up-Suits-For-The-Golden-Age-DC-Heroes is loose in the DCU.  A conflict with Magog leads to the even bigger reveal that his inspiration, Gog, is actually on Earth as well, and is himself a refugee from the long-lost Third World (doesn’t speak the language, he holds no currency, he is a foreign Gog, he is surrounded by the sound, the sound…) that predated the Fourth Worlds of Apokalips-slash-New Genesis.  Gog arises from the African jungle, and begins curing hunger, disease, and poverty, even healing the ravaged face of JSAer Damage.  He seems to be a straight-shooting force for good…  and yet, the hackles of the most experienced heroes in the DCU are raised in alarm, and I can’t say as I blame ’em.  Something here just doesn’t add up, but what?

This issue begins at the JSA brownstone, with Ma Hunkel offering the JSAers some nice tea after their walking tour of Africa, while a monkey runs amok (followed by teenage hero Cyclone.)  Cyclone bumps into Damage, who is returned to his handsome ways, and all smiles, and some cute flirtation follows.  Maxine reveals that the monkey is her new pet, and that Jakeem Thunder made it a cute little winged vest because she loves the Wizard of Oz (ironic for a girl who created cyclones, isn’t it?)  Meanwhile, the smiling giant called Gog continues transforming African desert into fertile rain forest, while the JSA is joined by the Justice League in their monitoring of his actions.  The Superman of our world compares notes with his near-future counterpart, who is surprised to see that Gog isn’t a staff-wielding madman…  Gog, still smiling that unnerving smile, addresses the League and Society with the noblesse oblige of a man petting a favored puppy.  “You are Protectors,” he says.  “Who protects you?  Now…  I do.”

Meanwhile, in the states, we see Doctor Mid-Nite at his regular worship, as the pastor/priest/whatever makes a point of saying that Gog is not the capital-g god of their divinity, just another welcome alien-type presence.  Mr. Terrific isn’t so sure, and actually arrives at church for the first time in many years to get some perspective.  Mr. T explains that he’d LIKE to have faith, simply because it means that he would be able to see his late wife again.  Mid-Nite is a pretty good sounding board, but eventually Terrific comes to his point.  “The call me Mr. Terrific, the man of 1,000 talents…  but understanding spirituality will never be one of them.”  Also noteworthy, Hawkman of the JSA finally reunites with Hawkgirl, late of the JLA, as they examine the artifacts of Gog.  Hawk realizes what you guys caught a couple of issues ago, that new JSAer Lance derives his power from the same source as Gog.  Lance himself believes that Gog is a godsend.  “This could be the greatest day in the history of the world,” he says.  “This could change EVERYTHING.”

Gog continues walking through Africa, healing the land and peoples, when Stargirl casually mentions how useless she feels. “You are not useless,” rumbles Gog, and proceeds to tell the JSA that they do great works.  He gestures, and Sandman collapses in a heap.  The team starts to freak, until the realize that Sandy is merely sleeping, with a beatific smile on his face.  “He’s dreaming he can fly,” smiles Gog, who then heals Doctor Mid-Nite’s blindness, Starman’s schizophrenia, and teleports Power Girl away.  “You want to go home.  I wish I could go home, too…”  Kara disappears, and Superman-KC confronts him angrily.  Gog realizes that Supes doesn’t wish to go home, but before he can elaborate, Amazing Man asks what he has done.  Gog starts to answer, but then his face turns dark.  “I have eradicated disease and famine from these lands… It is time to eradicate WAR!”   Well…  that ain’t good.

This issue builds the tension nicely, with Gog’s repeated acts of healing making it harder and harder to think that something bad is going to happen, even though we KNOW that it will.  The team is starting to take sides, as well, with JSAers on both sides of the “Is he is, or is he ain’t the devil?” conundrum.  The art is very good as well, with Fernando Pasarin giving us well-defined characters with real emotions, and even imbuing the stone-faced Gog with real personality.  Geoff Johns really nails his story points here, as we finally really get rolling into the meat of this story, and making Superman-KC feel relevant as more than just a “ZOMG!”, something I’ve been whining for since roughly March…  The pacing works for me, and the ominous tone of it all clicks as well.  Justice Society of America #17 is a well-crafted issue, easily earning an impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars…

3stars.jpg


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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3 Comments

  1. smithTEAMuno
    July 17, 2008 at 11:38 pm — Reply

    It was nice to finally see some forward momentum in this book. I love Geoff Johns writing, but the man needs to grab Alex Ross by the ankles and shake the point of this story out of him. When Johns is all alone the man can craft an amazing epic as he has (several times over now), but i feel as though the Ross influence is causing some major issues with decompression of this storyline. I think an issue or two could have been eliminated already, but other than that this issue perked it back up…

    Here’s to some giant sized 3rd-World Gog smashy smashy in the next issue.

  2. Randallw
    July 18, 2008 at 2:51 am — Reply

    I was liking it, but it reached a point where I lost all attraction to Gog. And that point was…..when he cured Starman’s Schizophrenia, despite the fact Starman didn’t want curing. This is a touchy area for me, but what gives the Gog the right to take away defining parts of a person’s personality. In all serious I await the JSA stopping Gog, no matter what he is now trying to do.

  3. ~wyntermute~
    July 18, 2008 at 3:22 pm — Reply

    I’m starting to think that’s where this whole storyline is going…. Remember, “one world, under Gog”. A benevolent fascist is still a dictator, and methinks that’s where yonder mighty Gog is going. He believes he’s doing the right things for everybody — and he probably actually is — but you can’t just take away the element of CHOICE and expect human beings to like it. Gog’s pretty frigging cool, however. That grin is CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEPY/AWWWWWWWESOME. I wish I could master it, for then I would walk around smiling my Gog-smile and unnerving the masses. Mwahahahah….

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