The Gog storyline hots up here, as we see that as Gog gives, so Gog takes away. Dr Mid-Nite can see again, but is less able to cure the sick; Sand has lost his knack for stopping evil along with his night terrors.
And Damage has become the vainest, stupidest man on Earth, ready to preach the word of God because he no longer has a facial deformity. Of course he’d be happy, but here Grant Emerson is a holy fool, and this motivates some very satisfying character conflict with Stargirl and Atom Smasher.
Citizen Steel, too, is showing signs of feeble-mindedness, and he’s not even been given a gift by Gog. Yet. He wants to be able to feel through his metal skin again, and declares: ‘I’ll do whatever I have to do to feel something again. I’ll do anything I want to get my wish granted.’ It’s wonderful that the JSA don’t judge by appearances, but is there a creepier smile in comics than that adorning Gog’s pate?
Mind, this is the team that had the good judgement to make Black Adam a member.
Despite having had his own special a couple of weeks back, we get more of the Earth 22 Superman worrying about the coming of the Kingdom, the event that caused so much pain on his own Earth. But rather than go confront Gog, he seeks out New Earth’s Wonder Woman to warn her against being too bad ass, and tell her off for ‘murdering’ Max Lord, an assertion that goes sadly unchallenged by Diana (scripter Geoff Johns never seems to do well by Wonder Woman).
The most interesting scene has 31st Century man Thom Kallor/Starman take a job as a gravedigger. Is old Legion and occasional JSA foe Mordru going to pop up soon? He’s usually buried in between appearances …
Why this story is a special edition I don’t know, as it fits perfectly into the main run of the book, more so than the previous Specials’ focus on Superman-22 and Magog; this isn’t a collection of random character scenes that add depth to the story, it’s full of fundamental plot points. Never mind though, this was the most enjoyable issue of the Gog storyline yet, so kudos to story boys Johns and Alex Ross (who also provided a pretty awe-inspiring cover) for that.
And a big part of the book’s success is the artwork of penciller Fernando Pasarin and a bevy of inkers. The storytelling is exquisite, while individual panels sing. My favourites here were shots of a flaming Alan Scott, a spooky Sand, an imposing Atom Smasher and a ridiculously handsome Dr Mid-Nite. He even managed to make my least favourite costume change in comics – Wonder Woman’s twirl – look fantastic. And well done to colourist Hi-Fi for a perfect palette in Cyclone’s bedroom.
By the end of the issue, it looks as if the story is finally winding its way to a conclusion. I do hope so, but if remaining issues are this good, I could stand a few more.