Following on from this month’s New Golden Age special, the JSA get a fresh series. Except it isn’t a JSA we’ve seen previously – it’s a future gathering of…heroes?
A rum lot indeed. Enemies and legacies of villains of the original JSA. There are heroes too – Power Girl, the Huntress and Dr Fate.
OK, maybe not Doctor Fate.
The new members were recruited at the behest of Huntress who, in the 2050-set sequence that makes up most of this debut issue, is all about giving people second chances. And given there aren’t any spotless legacies pleading for JSA admission, these guys are her only bet. And they seem to be doing their best. I mean, look at Solomon Grundy helping Huntress pump a hood for information.
Unfortunately, while they wield considerable power between them, the latest version of the JSA can’t do a lot when caught off guard by a definitely not reformed bad guy with time on his hands
By the end of the issue, there’s only one survivor, and they’re off on a time travel trip to save the original Justice Society and thereby, somehow, save those who follow too.
So, when did Per Degaton get hot? He always looked like a donkey in a ginger wig? But here he is killing JSA-ers while looking like he’s headed for Season 61 of The Bachelor. We saw him murdering every Dr Fate he could find in the aforementioned New Golden Age special, what’s his endgame? Surely he’s been defeated by the JSA enough times that his best bet is to work around them, not attract attention by murdering members across time.
It’s hubris, I suppose. Where would superhero comics be if villains didn’t think to themselves ‘This time…’
Writer Geoff Johns engaged me with his script, though I’d rather he’d set up the new series in the New Golden Age than simply set the stage for this 12-issue maxi series. Just imagine three or four short-ish story arcs across the year showing the scope of the latest, 2022, version of the JSA. A book to make the case for an ongoing while entertaining the heck out of us. As much as I enjoy Johns’ way with a character, and endless variations on the murder of heroes, the last few years have seen him go from one project to another without really finishing a story. DC Rebirth, Three Jokers, Doomsday Clock, Flashpoint Beyond, New Golden Age – does the phrase ‘neverending battle’ have to be taken so literally? Can’t the heroes just win the odd skirmish and take a breath?
And while I’m all for a bit of reformation, an entire JSA made up of villainous images? The 2050 media certainly isn’t impressed.
It was bad enough Black Adam joining the JSA and hogging storylines back when Johns was writing the JSA series 20 years ago without filling nearly all the chairs with the likes of Gentleman Ghost and Solomon Grundy (who has been known to reincarnate as a good guy, but he’s pretty darn mercurial).
Then again, we’re in a future that will likely vanish by the end of the series. I’m probably grumpy because I was hoping that the about-to-end Dark Crisis would gift us a proper Earth 2 with a contemporary JSA, but it seems that’s not going to happen. Ach, let’s be optimistic, maybe this series will wind up giving us an Earth 2 JSA to follow.
I do like this new version of Helena Wayne, who sees her late Bat-Dad as having been about not vengeance and fear, but hope and reconciliation. It’s a different spin, but a decent twist. I’ve never been a fan of time-lost heroes – sorry Karate Kid – but if a Helena Wayne Huntress has to be on the prime DC Earth, one secretly born to Catwoman ‘one year from now’ is one way to do it.
But it’s all so convoluted.
More positives. The relationship between Helen and mum Selina is fascinating. The hint of a romance between Power Girl and Dr Fate Khalid is intriguing. And baby Helena has an adorably furry nanny.
The artwork of Mikel Janín, once we get past the dull, muted cover image, is splendid, full of superb figurework and striking compositions.
A close-up, a silhouette, a vertiginous shot… Janín remains one of the top artists in comics today. Which is why I’m assuming he isn’t behind the Huntress redesign, which is as boring as heck, just a mix of purple and grey with no eye-catching accents or elements. And don’t talk to me about the way Jay looks on the cover!
Jordie Bellaire’s colours add to the overall somber mood, making the contrasting time tripping spread pop even more. I think that’s a panel each drawn by credited guest artists Jerry Ordway, Scott Kolins, Steve Lieber and Brandon Peterson, but what do I know? I rather like the black and white page, too, though editors Andrew Marino and Marquis Draper should have caught the dodgy punctuation of “veteran’s”
Remember the page introducing the new JSA members, above? I looked at the colourfully creative word balloons and thought ‘Rob Leigh’. And indeed it is DC’s most imaginative letterer working on this book.
Overall, Justice Society of America #1 is a quality production. The qualms I have weigh larger than they otherwise might because I’m aware this is a limited run. But if you’re a fan of time warping DC multiverse mysteries, you’ll like this.