Or – “Lots Of Anniversaries Goin’ On…”
The JSA, since its relaunch, has featured a lot of characters, a lot of conflicts, and far, FAR too much Magog. The last few months have been quite traumatic for the group as a whole, leaving Flash feeling helpless, Mr. Terrific feeling mindless, and the Green Lantern paralyzed. But, hey, at least we won’t have people denouncing this anniversary issue on basic cable…
Well, probably not, anyway.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #50
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artists: George Perez & Scott Koblish/Howard Chaykin/Freddie Williams II/Tom Derenick
Cover Artists: Felipe Massafera/Darwyn Cooke
Colorists: Hi-Fi/Jesus Aburtov/Richard & Tanya Horie/Mike Atiyeh
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously, on Justice Society Of America: The JSA’s dealings with the city of Monument Point have not been positive, as a battle with a rogue metahuman left the town in ruins, while local politicians have gone out of their way to make things unpleasant for the team. The revelation that the man behind their 1951 retirement, a minor government functionary, is active in the city has made things even more odd, while many of our heroes have been acting in very strange ways, and Alan Scott has been left paralyzed due to injuries suffered in the fight. And what’s up with these new heroes?
Is It A Dream, A Hoax, An Imaginary Story?
The first page of this issue makes me smile immediately, featuring as it does George Perez art, but dealing with a character who is NOT a member of this team, Superman. (Or, as internet wags call him, Communist Liberal Benedict Arnold Man.) Then we get some Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and… Mr. Terrific? Doctor Mid-Nite, Stargirl and Firestorm join the group, and we get a big splash page explaining how these heroes are influences by the JSA, the original team. I have NO idea what is going on at this point, by the way. Then, for several pages, we see various alternate universes in which Per Degaton confronts alternate versions of the JSA and Infinite Inc, while being stalked by a mysterious man in the shadows. Freddie Williams handles the art for a while, which is good (though not as good as Perez) and then we’re treated to “Episode 3.” Wait, WHAT? Things start to get a little more clear as we see the days leading up to the JSA’s confrontation with the House Unamerican Activities Commission led by Senator Eagin. The JSA walks out of the commission, with The Flash telling Eagin, “we’ll continue doing what we have to do.”
Hey, There’s Some New Guys!
In the present, The Flash is about to be sworn in as mayor of Monument Point, and we finally find out the name of the woman wearing what looks like the red Blue Beetle suit and the guy who looks like a young Batman. Their names are Red Beetle and Darknight. Yes, seriously. Blue Devil and Manhunter have also semi-joined the JSA, which brings the active roster to a point where it outstrips the Legion of Super-Heroes in number. Senator Eagin confronts Flash again and tells him that something in Monument Point is dangerous and that the JSA needs to leave and blah blah blah fishcakes. The entire scene is awkward to read and a pretty bold-faced example of a writer ignoring the principle of ‘Show, Don’t Tell.’ A Per Degaton arrives at JSA headquarters after having absorbed his alternate counterparts and gaining strange time powers, and attacks the heroes on duty including Hourman, which implies that the JSA All-Stars have returned to the main roster. This isn’t really explained, as Degaton quickly takes out Red Beetle and Hourman and is captured by Jesse Quick, who seems to be taking a point from Wally West and serving on two teams at once. Degaton makes them fight a dinosaur, then gets captured, then plays a mindgame on Jesse, leaving her confused at the end of the issue. She’s not the only one…
The Verdict: Mixed Feelings, Mixed Results
I can honestly say that, aside from a nice retelling of the 1951 story where the Society disbands and some of Jay Garrick’s dialogue, most of the story this issue is impenetrable. Doctor Fate returns mysteriously, Mr. Terrific’s situation isn’t even addressed, and most of the cast doesn’t even get a speaking part. I’m interested in the story behind the Red Beetle, but I’m not sure what’s up with Darknight, and while I love Blue Devil and Manhunter, there’s already so many characters in the book that I’m not sure how I feel about the new roster. Guggenheim’s story so far has been filled with things that aren’t explained (like Scythe’s backstory), don’t quite come across (Doctor Chaos) or feel way too familiar (Senator Eagin’s reprisal of the JSA’s past) but the plotting this issue is poleaxed by all three problems at once. As much as I like things like a central role for Flash, I’m bothered by dangling plot threads and excessive characters, leaving me flashing back to the 90’s era speculator explosion. There is some pretty phenomenal art throughout the issue, by some big names, but no matter how pretty the package, it’s not a coherent enough story to do the pictures justice (pun fully intended.) Justice Society Of America #50 is all over the board, and not in a good way, earning a disappointed 2 out of 5 stars overall.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Darknight? REALLY???