Review of issue #1 and #2 from DC Comics

Wildcat's son: "Hey, Dad. Nice Suit. "

Justice Society of America # 1 and #2
Story: Geoff Johns
Artwork: Dale Eaglesham
Colors: Jeremy Cox
Inks: Art Thibert (#1); Ruy Jose (#2)
Cover art by Alex Ross and Dale Eaglesham
Covers dated February 2007 and March 2007

Superman: "We owe you as much as the world does ...I hope you realize how important you are to its future."
Batman: "Your team has connections to every masked man and woman on this planet ."
Wonder Woman: "They need a moral compass."
(Page 2)

Starman: "I love sloppy joes, don't you? It's Wednesday, after all."
(Page 27)

The New JSA

I burst out laughing when I saw Mr. America on page four of the first issue.The hero pose, the camera angle looking up his nose, his looming figure coming through the doorway, clothed in the retro-white suit ('how does he keep it clean?' is the obvious question) so overplays the image of the heroic costumed character that it makes for a perverse visual joke.

Justice Society of America 1

Alex Ross Cover art, Justice Society of America #1, Feb 2007, see enlarged.

It's Personal

It is a sad scene in the story - -Senor America shows up at his own home to investigate the murder of his own family, taking off his mask with the FBI around and revealing his identity because, after all, this case is personal. The story then begins to schizophrenically switch between the multiple characters that will make up the JSA with short vignettes at schools, crime scenes and the JSA headquarters, showing where everyone is and who is being selected for this most extreme of team sports.

Alex Ross cover art to Justice Society of America #2 Starman

Starman cover by Alex Ross, Justice Society of America #2, March 2007, see enlarged.

What did this guy expect? All he's got is a domino mask and a whip

Geoff Johns' has humor to leaven the proceedings, and he pokes more than a little bit of fun at these characters as they begin to take on a literary life of their own (for example, Damage commenting on Mr. America's fate: "What did this guy expect? All he's got is a domino mask and a whip").

Starman is a physically powerful being that can fly, rescue a helicopter loaded with people, then talks inanely of his love for Wednesday because they serve sloppy-joe sandwiches at the mental institute where he is in fact an inmate.

Maxine is a red-headed college girl who alienates her fellow students through a penchant for talking ten-times as much as a regular human: no, that's not her superpower, she can actually defy gravity - - in issue #2 it is clarified that she is a "wind witch." Also, it is with Issue #2 that much more is made clear: a big panel of the slain Mr. America (he found out who killed his family but did not survive the discovery) with a spread that also contains a grid of 12 head shots of the JSA with names and a description of their powers. It's like the little football bios that pop-up on a television screen during the superbowl.

The Oldest Supergroup

The Justice Society of America characters are just one supergroup (the oldest, according to Wikipedia here) out of many at DC and Marvel. Geoff Johns' story and the Eaglesham artwork for JSA are superior superhero product certainly; there's action, humor, indignant rage and the beginnings of the whole apparatus of soap opera that seems to underline most superteam comics (who has a crush on who; who is hurt and emotionally wrecked by what in the past; who is young and who is wise and who is reckless, etc.).

Does this make it easier for a reader to care for a single character, or several, or the whole team entire and to stay involved as these complicated stories unroll (or unravel, according to the skill of the writer and the editors)?

Gathering the team

For these first two issues the dilemma of gathering together the team itself is described, and with the death of Mr. America the compelling plot force at work is the sense of the "meta-humans" being hunted by someone, or someones, probably the group calling itself "the Fourth Reich" (Nazi's are a safe enemy, hardly anyone likes them) which crashes a family picnic of "Commander Steel's" children and grandchildren, intent upon killing them all.

Maxine Wind Witch

Skylights and death

I imagine one of the primary problems with doing a superteam comic is managing all of the characters, like a kindergarten teacher with a overly-large class of pupils on a field trip. How do you balance out the page constraints so that each individual hero is given the spotlight a bit? Hence no more than three pages or so pass before the reader is jerked to some new locale and new face, and when all these characters are gathered together in a single place it must border on a nightmare for the writer and artist to keep everything from bogging down into a sequence of group photos.

Johns and Eaglesham keep things moving (they hardly take time to dwell on anything) and eventually they've gathered together enough of a group at the JSA headquarters, just in time for the mortally wounded Mr. America to come crashing through the skylight in order to die in front of as many JSA characters as possible. (The characters do not react like it is much of a surprise. Maybe the DC method for killing off a character is now so commonplace even the fictional people do not react as it were out of the ordinary.)

Powergirl of Tthe JSA

Power Girl Click to view

Some of these characters are better realized than others (thus far): Wildcat has a lot of JSA history running through his mind (making the reader privy to the JSA past) and then their's Wildcat's dilemma of discovering his teenage son which he did not know he had, the news courtesy of the golden age Green Lantern and the golden age Flash (the one with the Mercury helmet straight out of Greek and Roman mythology) forcing him to confront his progeny on a street in Brooklyn, a reflection of modern America and it's fractured families.

Mister America

Steel's heir apparent, Nate, addicted to prescription drugs (and self-pity) after a disastrous football game which culminated in his leg being amputated (torn ligaments and a shattered knee cap - - his leg was cut off for that? Who did the surgery, Dr. Doom?) faces the sudden reality that his blood relations are being exterminated.

Meanwhile Starman and Mr. Terrific (billed as "The third smartest man in the world - - how do you test for third?) theorize that gravity is a "weak signal from a parallel universe" and Starman predicts a coming calamity of epic proportions (is there any other size in superhero comics?).

At the end of issue #2, Starman seems to be remembering part of what landed him in the mental institute: it seems to have something to do with a gigantic Alex Ross painting that is pasted into the panel background.






Related Links:

  1. DC Comics has a page on the JSA series here.
  2. The Geoff Johns web site is here.
  3. The Dale Eaglesham official site is here

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Original Page February 2007 | Updated April 2013