Justice Society of America #49 review

It’s been a long few months, waiting for the story that went with this cover. When it was solicited by DC I could barely type for laughing. Alan Scott’s new Green Lantern look is noted within the tale, the conclusion to Supertown, but incredibly, not one character tells Alan that he looks ridiculous. I get that everyone’s pleased he’s working around a spot of paralysis, but seriously, Wildcat is on this team. And Blue Devil. And walking case of foot-in-mouth disease Cyclone, for crying out loud.
Cyclone? Yes, this issue sees the JSA  All-Stars return to the fold, as their own book heads for cancellation. And they’re bringing friends with them, new characters such as the Red Beetle and old favourites like Liberty Belle. Not that we see much of them, mind, as they’re mostly relegated to the status of fight scene cannon fodder while the story remains with Alan, Flash, Mr Terrific and the rest of the regulars.
Villains Scythe and Dr Chaos are taken out in fine style, leaving almost half the issue for epilogues. It’s then that the All-Stars ask to rejoin the gang, we learn that Lightning remains undead (but not Undead) and that Mr Terrific is an idiot. Mind, he should be a bigger idiot; this storyline has seen his IQ drop massively and rapidly, yet a month passes during the course of this issue and Terrific’s still able to converse. He asks a concerned Dr Midnite to keep shtum about his little problem rather than call in help. I suspect Midnite’s an idiot too, as he seems to concede to Terrific’s unreasonable and reckless request.
The JSA are awfully respectful of one another’s privacy, it seems – Jay waits three weeks before tackling oldest friend Alan over his ‘Steampunk Human Torch’ look. And then he lets Alan get away with aloof non-answers.
Answers would also be nice so far as Scythe is concerned – we still don’t know what his deal is, only that he’s awfully potent, and has ratty hair. As for Dr Chaos, we must accept that for some reason he can hold his own against more than a dozen JSAers before leaving the battlefield in a happily mangled state. I’m surprised someone didn’t break both his hands within ten seconds of recognising his mad bomber MO.
Quibbles aside, this has been an enjoyable first storyline from writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Scott Kolins. Their talents complement one another well, and suit the team. At the very least they get points for sending the JSA off in a new direction – most members decide they’re staying in Monument Point to help rebuild the shattered community, and Jay is named mayor. But Guggenheim and Kolins achieve so much more, giving the book its own tone in terms of script and art; they leave no doubt that however dark the day, the JSA are heroes who will get the job done.
Kolins departs for pastures new soon, but he’ll be remembered for bringing a lush realism to the oldest surviving super-team in comics. From the sinister, corpse-like senator to the monument to heroism that is the Flash, Kolins gives everyone their own look. Crucial to the overall effect is colourist Mike Atiyeh, who really knows how to light a scene. He provides pretty explosions too. And let’s not forget Rob Leigh, whose attractive calligraphy is underappreciated.

9 thoughts on “Justice Society of America #49 review

  1. I didn't know this was Kolins last issue, I really like his work but he never seems to stay in one place for two minutes, Solomon Grundy just might be the longest spell he's had on a book….

    I've found JSA to be a good read overall, like you I am annoyed at the lack of any explanation or depth to the villains and I do feel it highly implausible Chaos could last 30 seconds against the team that were stacked against him here! What's his deal?!
    I do like that the old guard is getting the limelight but this is a book with a huge cast of characters and I'd really like to see a broader canvas painted by Guggenheim, Geoff Johns could juggle the entire team pretty much and give everyone a line or two but it's not a skill Guggenheim seems to have yet aquired.
    The team was already enlarged far too much too fast when this current series was launched and the news that the All Star contingent is being folded back in and that the writer plans to bring in yet more new faces is not a move I support.
    A decision as to who's book this actually is required.

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  2. Dave, I agree, judicious pruning is indeed necessary; we really don't need, for example, a Chinese bat-character adding. And while I'll miss Kolins, his announced replacement, Tom Derenick, is good.

    Timbo, indeed.

    Scott, that's Jesse's veteran hero mother, Libby Lawrence, aka the original Liberty Belle.

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  3. I've always suspected a bit of subtextual attraction between Dr. Midnite and Mr. Terrific. Maybe it's just the way the two characters play off of one another in most scenes where they both appear. It's a good fusion.

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  4. Looking at this book again, I'm still annoyed that Dr. Chaos lasted so long against that many JSAers. Red Beetle and Citizen Steel I can see, but Hourman and the others have real experience!

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  5. Puffdoggydaddy, I think you're entirely correct (and hilarious). Dr and Mr are rarely apart, are they? Sometimes I confuse them in my silly little head.

    Timbotron, that's entirely fair comment.

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