Justice Society of America Annual 1

Now here’s a fanboy’s wet dream. Well, an old fanboy’s – I can’t see readers under 30 being as excited as I was at the prospect of Power Girl’s return to Earth 2. As a very pre-Crisis reader, the idea of DC’s Golden Age Earth having survived, and moved in on Peege’s absence, was thrilling.

But boy, do I have mixed feelings about this, as it further muddies DC’s post-Crisis, post-Infinite Crisis continuity. How I’d love to be able to enjoy the line of DC superstars without constantly wondering what history counts this week, and for how long.

That aside, it was fair intriguing to see Peege apparently reunited with the original Huntress, Helena Wayne, and other members of the JSA and Infinity Inc, here fully incorporated as Justice Society Infinity. Plus, it’s a much-needed breather from the ongoing (and ongoing, and ongoing) Gog storyline in the monthly title.

Peege and the JSA are equally confused by her appearance among them but one area which always focuses the Last (But One) Daughter of Krypton’s mind is action. Thus, she joins Huntress on a sortie to sort out the Joker, once and for all. Helena has good reason to finally decide to wipe the smile off the Clown Prince of Crime’s face, as his twisted acts continue to hit close to home. Exactly what he’s done sets up a nice moment of characterisation for Helena, and the confrontation between Dark Knight Daughter and her family’s greatest enemy is wonderful. The Joker here, despite age and infirmity, is far creepier than the much lauded silver screen turn by Heath Ledger.

The team-up sets Peege on the way to feeling that, yes, she is home after all; that’s when writer Geoff Johns throws a neat spanner in the works, confirming that all isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

And here’s my major gripe with this issue – whoever okayed the ad placement needs a slap. Not one, but two big reveals are scuppered by a flatplan that’s dumped two significant splashes on right hand pages, opposite story rather than ad. You turn the page and see the surprise, prior to finishing the scene leading up to it – it’s maddening.

And that’s a shame, when it’s so rare to find a clever moment in a book that’s not been previewed to death. Luckily, this book had lots of other clever moments – clues that Gog’s gift is ambiguous, to say the least; pleasing ties to the Huntress’s solo strip in Wonder Woman back in the day; and Kara explaining her life on post-Crisis, then New Earth.

And the art is a blast. Infinity Inc and All-Star Squadron alumnus Jerry Ordway’s work is beautiful here – it’s a travesty that editors aren’t begging him to sign an exclusive. Storytelling, figurework, body language, facial expressions . . . Ordway’s pencils have it all. And they’re lovingly embellished by fellow veteran Bob Wiacek, another guy we need to see more of.

Alex Ross’s cover is impressive, but doesn’t jump from the shelves, being lovely and ethereal without being grabby – Peege and pals look like they’re in heaven, but the image is muted and crowded.

The lovely surprise this issue was a fabulous team poster – the regular team, not the ‘Earth 2’ people – that reminds us that the modern JSA are a group of regular folk with costumes and powers, not simply the icons many can be seen as. They’re a group with personality.

I wish this issue had been truly standalone, a satisfying moment away before Peege is folded back into the main story. It’s not, giving the Gog storyline further chance to ramble on, but nevertheless, this is a fine first annual.

One thought on “Justice Society of America Annual 1

  1. Here's my review from my blog (talesfromtheunderwood.blogspot.com). This annual is a treat for old-timers (like us), but it kind of goes off the rails.

    A beautiful Alex Ross cover, some beautiful retro Jerry Ordway, Bob Wiacek art. What's not to like? Well….

    The story picks up from JSA 17 where the Magog-ish god-like character banishes Power Girl to …
    some manner of Pre-Crisis Earth 2. Huntress is still around, Dick Grayson is still around, and the Justice Society had merged with Infinity Inc., and it's a real kick to see these characters illustrated by the wonderful Jerry Ordway again.

    But, in one of a long series (dating back decades) of Power Girl and Huntress having late-night, rooftop conversations, PG tells Huntress she feels out of place and it's pretty obvious she's the wrong Power Girl for this dimension.

    They go on to break up the Joker's gang and PG even saves Huntress' life….

    And then the dimension's real PG shows up, has a hostile reaction to her doppleganger and of course, a fight breaks out.

    The JSA decide, with no evidence at all, the the doppleganger PG must be evil and they begin to hunt her down (despite her just saving Huntress' life not an hour earlier.)

    It is then to be continued in JSA, but … eh, who cares.

    DC has this long history of contempt/neglect for Earth 2, it's hard to work up ethusiasm. Is this the real pre-Crisis Earth 2 or just one of a million deviation universes so numerous it's hard to get an emotional attachment? Either way, it will be gone soon, so just forget about it and move along.

    Secondly, the “He/she must be a villain; let's beat him/her up” misunderstanding was a staple for Marvel in the 60s and 70s and let's admit, it's getting pretty tired by now.

    So, it starts out as a treat to old-timers like myself who enjoyed Earth 2 stories and the mid-80s Infinity Inc. run, and still feels the Crisis on Infinite Earths was a colossal mistake, but by the ending, most good will has been squandered.

    Like

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