I’ve been a fan of this Justice Society of America spin-off. It got off to a sticky start as the junior, ‘bad ass’ team, but once the brutish Magog left, the book became an interesting read – never the most amazing comic, but always a good companion. Writer Matthew Sturges came up with stories that felt fresh, handled Power Girl, Hourman and co well, and introduced such intriguing characters as magician Anna Fortune and increasingly annoying artificial intelligence Roxy. And Freddie Williams II gave us dynamic layouts and character work, despite some of his artistic choices not being to my taste. It’s a team book I looked forward to every month.
So it pains me to say that this final edition of the series is really pretty poor, especially having liked last issue a lot. The plotline is just about clear, but the overall ride is distinctly bumpy, and the dialogue is among the worst I’ve seen in a good while. The story has a super-powered chap named The Prince bidding to somehow bring back a parallel world he believes he remembers by blowing up 500 miles of America’s Eastern Seaboard. Only the All-Stars stand in his way. And they fail, meaning the series manages to go out with both a bang and a whimper.
I can only assume Sturges was rushed, or downhearted, as he’s a much better writer than this issue indicates. One amusing oddity, though, is this self-referential panel, which just turns up for gag value. I’ll include the previous panel, so you can get a flavour of the rest of this issue (click to enlarge). And yes, I know Cyclone is a motormouth, but the things she says aren’t usually dumb.
On the positive front, after a splendid cover illustration, Williams turns in my favourite art job yet. It looks as if he stopped pencilling digitally a few pages in and decided to play rough – the occasionally awkward glossiness of earlier issues vanishes in favour of a rough hewn, Joe Kubert-style finish that’s very attractive. I hope we see more of this approach, wherever the talented Williams turns up next.
As for the All-Stars, they’ve already been absorbed back into the mother book, bringing along characters we’ve never heard of – such as Red Beetle and Darknight – making it even more crowded than previously. Goodness knows if JSA writer Marc Guggenheim will have the room, or interest, to reveal the backgrounds of Anna Fortune and King Chimera, or kill off the painful Roxy … we can but hope.
So farewell, JSA All-Stars, it was fun while it lasted.