Continuing our Major Spoilers Star-Spangled Weekend™! Y’know, in the 21st century, it’s hard to think of Nazis as a realistic villain. They’re so far away from their context that someone in a their paraphernalia seems as anachronistic and silly as a pirate or a cowboy or a knight. Still, for many of the members of the JSA, World War II doesn’t seem all that long ago, and the threads of the National Socialist Party run deep. Is the future of the Fourth Reich set in stone, or can Mister Terrific’s hail mary pass really save the members of the JSA from their worst loss ever and decades of torture? I kinda hope so…
Previously, on Justice Society of America: Team Chairman Mister Terrific was killed in action some issues ago, and thus wasn’t there to stop the forces of the Fourth Reich (consisting of nearly all of DC’s Nazi, neo-Nazi and general schmuck wearing swastika villains) from stealing an egg of pure darkness (the last remains of JSAer Obsidian) and using it to power a ‘Darkness Engine’ allowing them to quickly overcome the heroes. Some twenty years down the line, we find the team (including, oddly enough, the deceased Mr. Terrific) and all the surviving heroes living in a concentration camp under the thumb of Illinois Nazis (I hate those guys.) The heroes pull off a daring last-minute raid at great difficulty and loss of life, managing to transmit a signal back in time, telling Data to deal all threes to the mind of the dying Mister Terrific. It’s a simple phrase, but one that can save the world from decades of evil and subjugation.
Time Won’t Let Me
“HATCH THE EGG!” cries Mr. T before collapsing back onto the operating table where he has just been pronounced dead. Doctors Mid-Nite and Fate redouble their efforts to save the chairman, while Green Lantern sets out to do what he asked. “And that’s how we changed history,” says the narrator, quickly revealed to be Obsidian himself. Here’s where I don’t know if the story is brilliant or awful: In a few pages, we are given the changed JSA history since issue #29, where the current team took over. With Obsidian present, the JSA took out the horde of villains out to capture Stargirl (allowing Obsidian to tweak his fathers nose with, “I’m as powerful as ever. No discernable side-effects, except that I’m no longer gay, of course.” After a moment of stunned silence, he smiles “Relax, folks. Only kidding. Still gay.” Heh…) and overcomes Mordru as before. He is, sadly, unable to keep the JSA from splitting (thanks to Magog) but is present when the Nazis attack a second time.
The Justice Society easily overcomes the forces of the Fourth Reich, punking them out like Vince McMahon punked out WCW. The Flash quickly disarms his foes, smiling “I’ve got your guns, your swords, your axes and knives and whatnot.” Holding up his hands in the familiar position to anyone who has a kid, he then cries “And look at that! I’ve got your noses!” That’s awesome. Obsidian even figures out that a convalescant Mister Terrific has been using his foreknowledge from his future adventures to offset tragedy a second time, and we’re shown Mr. T seeking out and giving a research grant to the doctor who was somewhat compassionate to him in the Nazi camps. A lot more compressed time occurs, taking the team through Blackest Night and into the present and ending with Alan Scott (Obsidian’s father, the original Green Lantern) being possessed by the Starheart, as seen in the recent prelude to the JLA/JSA teamup. There’s even a glimpse of the future, when we’re told that Jesse Quick leaves the JSA to go join the JLA, something that I don’t ever recall happening… at least not YET.
I’m on the fence about this issue. On the one hand, a happy well-adjusted Obsidian makes me happy, seeing the team overcome Nazi $&@$heads makes me happy, even The Flash acting like Errol Flynn makes me happy. But the fact that so much storytelling is done almost in Cliff’s Notes form bugs me. The retconning of a dozen issues is a clever trick, but there’s a part of me complaining that I PAID for those issues only to have them immediately revamped (a complaint that plagued me around the time of Zero Hour, as well.) It’s the classic complaint of the time travel storyline, none of it really happened in the end. And yet I can’t help but be exhilarated by the things that work in the issue, leaving me with a dichotomous, deeply-flawed yet still enjoyable issue. All in all, you have to shake down on the side of the positive, and what works barely outweighs what doesn’t, leaving this issue with 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s well-drawn, and it’s a good climax to the ‘Days of JSA Future Past’ storyline, but there’s ultimately too much left on the cutting room floor for a completely engrossing experience.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Does the time travel trope of “And in the end, it never happened anyway” destroy the reading experience for you?