James Robinson's and Mark Bagley's JLA/JSA crossover 'The Dark Things' continues to roll on through the books.
Justice Society of America #41, the second chapter, moves things forward without revealing too much. In fact this chapter seemed more like a chance for the creators to catch up with the other members of the JSA and set the stage more than it was to move the plot forward.
I can tolerate that here more than I usually do. For one, Robinson has the uneasy task of writing this book knowing some folks haven't read the first parts of this book over in JLA. He has to make this issue accessible to those readers while keeping it interesting enough for those of us who have read the previous chapters. So there is some exposition, reexplanation of the plot but it isn't overly done. Imagiine writing a book where you need to assume some portion of your audience won't have read the first chapter; it can't be easy.
Also, Robinson has to make sure the spotlight is on the JSA members. After all this is their book. So the ancillary scenes are predominantly of them. The main plot ... storming the Starheart's moon fortress is put on the back burner as that involves mostly JLA members and therefore should be seen there.
The book starts on a rather chilling note as we see Miss Martian saying she doesn't think she will be alive for much longer.
So I am thinking here that it would be pretty lousy for Miss Martian to bite the dust. Certainly, it would be pretty lousy to have it happen here as a guest star in someone else's comic. Plus, DC wouldn't do that since she is part of the new Young Justice cartoon ... right?
Luckily my worries were premature.
Despite not knowing exactly what the Miss Martian scene means, we move on.
The Flash, Wildcat, Doctor Mid-Nite and Felix Faust's son are all at the Shade's house in Opal City trying to recruit the villain to the cause.
Others have come before them though. Obsidian and Dr. Fate, controlled by the Starheart, attack and subdue the JSA members. Now why everyone thinks the Shade can help is beyond me. But the Shade is there, on the ground, out of commission.
Now Robinson has been able to play fairly loose in who the Starheart seems able to take control of ... saying it is either elemental or chaotic energy. So why it can enslave Dr. Fate, an agent of Order, seems like a stretch. Even more of a stretch than it taking over Power Girl as a 'sun powered' person ... therefore elemental.
Obsidian uses his powers to teleport the defeated heroes away, most likely to the moon base. Doctor Mid-Nite was delayed in joining the fray as he was giving out medical advice over the phone. As a result, he is unscathed when he enters. As all good heroes would do, he jumps into Obsidian's portal without having any idea where it is going to take him.
So I suppose the heroes have an inside agent now. I always like it when the heroes with the least powers (like Mid-Nite) play some crucial role in these stories dealing with near omnipotent beings.
The rest of the JSA and JLA are trying to keep the Starheart's effects under control around the globe.
We see heroes fighting elemental and magical heroes and villains. We even get a Yellow Peri sighting. Nice!
While that is happening, Mr. Terrific is trying to create some nullifying counter-field to negate the Starheart's influence. I don't know ... I don't like it when technological answers are easily created for incidents like this. Using a blood sample from Jade, he is trying to create something like that. Seems outlandish, even for comic books but suspension of disbelief is part and parcel of comics.
Unfortunately, it seems as though the Starheart's powers are vaster than anticipated. It seems like it is able to activate the metagene in otherwise 'normal humans' leading to more out of control people for the heroes to defeat. In a somewhat long scene, Mr. America and Lightning have to brawl with a prison guard whose latent gravity powers manifest themselves. I suppose it is nice to have these background characters get a moment to shine.
At last we get back to the bulk of the troops on the moon.
It turns out that Batman wanted Starman to get defeated when he sent him to the Starheart's citadel. He was hoping that Starman could give some inside information to the team via a telepath. And that's where Miss Martian comes in.
That earlier scene saying 'she' was dying was actually Starman saying he was dying. Not a big surprise since his power gem was removed by Alan Scott over in Chapter one.
But Starman is able to send some of his observations. Whatever they are, they aren't typical of a villain's lair.
They sound truly chaotic, which I guess makes sense given the source. But are those things really there or merely maddening visions by Starman? It reads like something from Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol. It is going to be interesting to see whatever is really inside that emerald fortress.
Exposed to that madness, Miss Martian goes a bit crazy, reverting to her white Martian form and lashing out.
Power Girl wastes no time in dealing with the new threat, taking out Megann with one punch. Nice panel.
Armed with that limited information, the heroes organize a strike force to take the fight to the Starheart. They pick the group least likely to get taken over by the Starheart's madness. Not exactly an imposing force is it to send against something close to a sentient central power battery and its army, is it?
Plus, I don't know if I would want Donna on the team. Is there anything more chaotic than the Titans or their abilities? And can you really trust Jade, who came to Earth encased in the Starheart? I guess dire times call for bold decisions. But if Power Girl and Supergirl are suscpetible, I would think those two are ... maybe even moreso.
Maybe what we need are Seven Soldiers of Victory!
With those six committed to the fight, Batman reveals a secret weapon and the seventh member of the assault team, Mister Miracle. Maybe he can get them in undetected. Nice little plot twist.
So overall this was a good issue even if it only moved the overall plot forward a smidge. It seems like this was more a fleshing out issue, adding some depth to the proceedings rather than storming forward.
Bagley's art was fine here although some pages had a more rough feel to them than others; I wonder if he was rushed a bit. Still, I am enjoying this Dark Things story arc. Good stuff.