Or – “The Problem With A JLA/JSA Crossover…”

Back in the day, the JLA had their own book, and travelled to Earth-2 (or to somewhere else WITH natives of Earth-2) once a year, usually a two or three part affair.  The JSA seldom had their own title during this period, mind you, and usually we saw a sampling of each team rather than THREE DOZEN heroes.  With the JSA, the JSA All-Stars, and the Justice League in play, as well as guest-stars galore, there’ a lot going on in this crossover, but not a lot of focus… 

Justice Society Of America #42
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by MARK BAGLEY and NORM RAPMUND
Cover by MARK BAGLEY and JESUS MERINO
1:10 White Lantern Variant cover by RYAN SOOK, FERNANDO PASARIN and JOEL GOMEZ
Letters by ROB LEIGH
Colors by ALLEN PASSALAQUA
Published by DC COMICS

Previously, on Justice Society of America:  The Starheart was created by the Guardian of the Universe, eons ago, the crystallized agglomeration of the magic they rejected (along with their emotions, their women, and the majority of their hair.)  Crashing to Earth years ago, it became the source of the powers of Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern.  In the wake of the Blackest Night, Alan’s daughter, Jade (wielder of the Starheart powers herself) crashed to Earth in a green meteor, after which magical types kind of went nuts all around the world.  The Justice Society (as well as the JSA All-Stars) has come together with the JLA (a team in flux right now) to try and stop the power, but find themselves stymied by the fact that their own members (Alan and his son, Obsidian) are the faces of the invasion.  Worst of all, even their own powers fail them, and three of their number have been captured by Alan Scott, and face the spectre of execution…

So, we’ve got three dozen heroes in action, but this issue begins with the appearance of ANOTHER, in the form of Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern honor guard member and former Starheart wielder himself) who confronts his ex-girlfriend Jade about her father’s actions.  Before anyone can respond to this latest reveal, Obsidian (Jade’s brother) swoops in and possesses her, causing the twosome to merge into one light/dark hermaphroditic being.  Jadesidian lays the smack down on the teams, attacking Kyle specifically with rage.  Elsewhere, on the moon, Starman (Mikaal Tomas) is dragged out of the line of fire by Doctor Mid-Nite, who sets out to return Mikaal’s power gem to him.  Former Outsider Sebastian Faust, Flash Jay Garrick and Wildcat confront Alan Scott, only to discover that “Alan” isn’t Alan at all, but the embodiment of the Starheart itself!  Supergirl and Power Girl are fighting the real Alan Scott (in his awful Kingdom Come armor) when Mr. Terrific calls them back in.

The first half of the issue has been a high-speed game of “Hey, it’s that guy!” like counting sheep through the windshield of a speeding car…  Mark Bagley makes it interesting as the JLA/JSA/All-Star hybrid team fights green-energy based duplicates of the ORIGINAL JSA members (which causes the problem of adding more costumes to the mix) while Kyle Rayner accosts his ex for cheating on him.  While Donna Troy deals with that revelation (making me think that they’re going to put Kyle back on the team, or at least bring the Kyle/Donna couple back together) Doctor Fate blasts the crap out of Objadeian, but before they can take him/her completely out of the picture, armored Alan arrives for more fighty-fighty.  It’s setting the stage for next issue’s final battle, which honestly makes me really happy, because this story is going on FOREVER…

So, the long and short of it breaks down to the problems of putting this many characters in a crossover like this, only to add MORE people.  I literally cannot even COUNT the number of heroes that appear in these pages, with everyone from Stargirl to Congorilla putting in an appearance, reminding me of an old-school X-Men crossover.  At least the key action involves Flash and Wildcat, actual JSA members, but there’s not a whole lot of coherence to be had here.  Most egregiously, this issue comes right after Bill Willingham’s exuberant exposition by Obsidian that he’ll never let himself by controlled again.  Sigh…  Mark Bagley’s art is finally seeming to fit into the overall DC Universe after some shaky issues here and there, and there is the tantalizing possibility of Faust joining the JSA or JLA after the crossover, but mostly it’s all sturm, without even the requisite drang to balance it all out.  James Robinson throws everything but the kitchen sink into this one, causing Justice Society of America #42 to earn a disappointed 1 out of 5 stars overall.  No matter how well drawn it is, I doubt that we’ll remember this in six months…

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Can anybody run down the entire character count for this one?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

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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8 Comments

  1. RedneckTaZ
    August 21, 2010 at 7:03 am — Reply

    I guess I’ve just been in the mood lately (or gotten used to) chaos in the DC Universe. It’s been like “Final Crisis” really was just that since it’s never really ended. Crisis led to the God War, which led to Batman’s “death”, which led to the Black Lanterns, which led to Brightest Day, which led to the Justice Leauge reforming…no, wait, we’re going somewhere else with Mon-El so he has to go…and Cyborg, but Grayson/Batman’s in charge but it’s time to bring Bruce Wayne back, so…

    Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne’s traveling through time rebuilding the origin of Batman, Wonder Woman’s having a wardrobe crisis and all ths time that the damn Starheart (one of the oldest plot devices in the DC Universe) is going haywire Superman’s walking across America playing pick-up basketball games.

    We wanted continuity and DAMN are we getting our wish!

    It’s not the number of costumed heroes in this cross-over that’s the problem for me. It’s the sheer staggering number of back-stories that you have to keep in mind in order to understand anything that’s going on with either the JSA/All Stars or what’s left of the JLA. Some readers will be scratching their heads even trying to remember that Kyle Raynor and Jade were an item, much less Kyle and Donna Troy during the awful “Challengers of the Unknown” series (which tied into Final Crisis…yada yada yada…).

    It seems to me that the Starheart saga, which is apparently tied to Jade’s mission as one of the White Lantern 12, would have made more sense as a JSA/Green Lantern Crossover. Wouldn’t the apparent power of the Starheart attract the attention of the “New Guardians”, especially the Orange Lantern?

    However, I am enjoying it as anytime I get a chance to see a story centered around one of my favorite characters (Alan Scott) I try to follow it. For me the story only makes me a bit dissapointed that the supposed “rebuild” of the JLA has never come about due to character story-lines throughout the DC Universe. The JLA needs at least a solid six to seven person “core” as in the olden days in order to work. Here’s hoping that they can find six or seven characters whose writers would at least want them to be long-term JLA members. Even better…bring Clark, Bruce and Diana back so that they can start becoming the “big brothers and sisters” for some younger heroes like Jay Garrick, Alan Scott and Wildcat have been.

    And now, TO BREAKFAST!

  2. brenton8090
    August 21, 2010 at 7:05 am — Reply

    God, the JSA/JLA are in a toilet right now. I don’t think Robinson knows how to handle the flagship titles. HINT: If a kindergartener can’t name at least 3 members, it ain’t the Justice League, kid. (NOTE: The particular kindergartener I tested this with was wearing a shirt of “Women of the DCU” and corrected another little girl saying “No, that’s not Flash Girl, that’s Mary MArvel!)
    I don’t care how much you like to write your quirky side characters like Congorilla, Mikaal, or the Gaurdian, they shouldn’t be in the Justice League. You can write “MonkeyMAn and the Blue Guy” to 50 issues, and it might be awesome, but the Justice League is the flagship of the DCu, and right now, it’s bringing it down. THe JSA has been losing it’s “heart” (Which is what the JSA is, family and heart) ever since the team split. I blame Magog. BOO on the whole thing.

  3. brainypirate
    August 21, 2010 at 11:10 am — Reply

    I see all of your points about too many characters, not enough stars, too many backstories, etc. My questions is: Has anything actually happened in this series? I put the book down and I can’t remember anything about it: we get a few fights here and there, but there’s so much cross-cutting that nothing lasts more than 2 or 3 panels.

    The worst example of editing this issue was when Alan Scott prepares to send Power Girl back into her possessed state, only to cut it off one panel later as he realizes he needs to go somewhere else. What??? Why set up a conflict like that if there’s no plan to actually do anything with it?

    Honestly, although I get the big picture of this story, I couldn’t tell you anything about what’s happened in each issue, about the team’s battle strategy, about the fights themselves. But we do get a lot of talking and a lot of interior monologue. That’s about the only substantial thing I take away from this series.

    Even though this series doesn’t feel as wrong to me as Cry for Justice, at least CFJ had a clearer narrative line….

  4. Jim
    August 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm — Reply

    So far I have not enjoyed Robinson’s take on the JLA. To be honest with you, I actually have no idea what the roster of the JLA even is any more. I’m still annoyed about the bait-and-switch with people like Mon-El, Atom and Guardian advertised as the new JLA and they’ve only made small cameos.

    Worse, he’s now taken over the JSA with this story line, which is all right but also a little boring. JSA was coming off of the “Days of Future Nazis” storyline and I was looking forward to where it was going. This thing actually makes me nostalgic for the flawed but interesting Meltzer/Johns JSA-JLA crossover.

  5. Brainlock
    August 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm — Reply

    Late to the party, but hey, I don’t get much time online during the week. I haven’t read the issue, yet (hopefully, it’ll be in the mailbox tomorrow- former store closed/merged with main 60+ miles away; took their monthly mailing option), but I did notice a few things y’all got wrong:

    Kyle:
    – held the power of ION, not the Starheart. (letting the “conront” typo slide)
    – dated Donna beginning during their time as part of the 90s Roy/Donna Titans into his JLA tenure. When John Byrne took over WW, he killed her family, re-retconned her origin, and split them up, whereupon Kyle eventually wound up with Jade.
    – not sure about Jade cheating on Kyle, but he’s been snuggling with Soranik Natu on Oa, even calling her “Jade”. oops.

    Jade was apparently in three different places following BN #8. At least they tried to reconcile her being on Oa earlier in this arc, saying she left but doesn’t remember crashing into Earth in the Starheart meteor. No clue how this ties into her Brightest Day appearance.

    I do agree that Robinson doesn’t seem to have a handle on the JLA. At least McDuffie tried even with his hands tied, but we’ve currently got Justice Titans (Dick, Donna, Vic) and a few writer favorites in the book. I do agree that the JSA has been lacking since they split the team, too. It was better as a generational mix. the previous arc of the JSA (future/Nazis) was too stretched out, telling a story on two fronts, and the final issue crammed in three books’ worth of info, interestingly enough.

    As much as I hate to admit it, we need a reboot on all the Justice/Titan titles ASAFP. Big Guns on JLA, JSA, and Titans, keep a secondary “Justice League” title (re: JLE/JLTF) with a floating membership (Atom, Booster, Congorilla, Fire, Ice, Jesse/Liberty/??, Hourman, Star___, Steel, etc), and let the ‘kids’ have Teen Titans and Young Justice. the ancillary JL title could also be used for various story crossovers and side/back stories as well.

  6. August 29, 2010 at 12:52 am — Reply

    I did notice a few things y’all got wrong:

    Kyle:
    – held the power of ION, not the Starheart. (letting the “conront” typo slide)
    – dated Donna beginning during their time as part of the 90s Roy/Donna Titans into his JLA tenure. When John Byrne took over WW, he killed her family, re-retconned her origin, and split them up, whereupon Kyle eventually wound up with Jade.
    – not sure about Jade cheating on Kyle, but he’s been snuggling with Soranik Natu on Oa, even calling her “Jade”. oops.

    The “confront” has been fixed, thank you.

    Kyle absorbed Jade’s powers when she croaked, and thus was, at least partially using the power of the Starheart during that period.

    I’m not sure what you’re correcting with the Donna information, and the “Jade cheated on Kyle” may be a retcon, but it’s clearly brought up in the issue by Kyle himself…

  7. Damascus
    September 28, 2010 at 2:49 am — Reply

    Character list in 3….2….1….
    Doctor Fate (Kent Nelson), Doctor Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross), Flash (Jay Garrick), Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Jesse Quick (Jesse Chambers), Obsidian (Todd Rice), Mister America III (Jeffrey Grave), Mister Terrific II (Michael Holt), Wildcat (Ted Grant), Sebastian Faust, Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Jade (Jennifer Lynn-Hayden), Batman (Dick Grayson), Donna Troy, Starman (Mikaal Tomas), Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), Atom Smasher (Albert Rothstein), Citizen Steel (Nathan Heywood), Hourman II (Rick Tyler), Power Girl, Stargirl (Courtney Whitmore), Tomcat (Tom Bronson), Starheart.

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