Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: Justice Society Of America #43

Justice Society of America had been on my 'drop list' for some time. I sincerely wanted to love the title because I have a natural affinity for the 'Earth 2' heroes. But as much as I tried to (and I gave it nearly 4 years), it just never grabbed me. It was never a 'top of the pile' book. It always landed in the middle.

So the end of 'Dark Things' seems like the perfect time for me to drop the title. I know I am not even giving the upcoming creative team Marc Guggenheim and Scott Kolins a chance but I just need to move on.

James Robinson wrote and Jesus Merino illustrated Justice Society of America #43, the epilogue to 'Dark Things' which tied up a couple of the loose ends that were still dangling after the last chapter. I get the sense that Robinson has the same love of these Golden Age characters that I do. There is a feeling of respect for these older characters in their speech, the way other characters react to them, and the way they are drawn on the page. This is clearly a Green Lantern story. Throughout this arc, Alan Scott has been shown to be not just a great super-hero but also a great man. The very title of the arc, Dark Things, is a play on his mantra. And so, we needed to see exactly how the major events of this plot settled out. My only hope is that the changes that are the result of this storyline stick around a while and aren't just swept under the rug.

The title of the issue, The Emerald City, is obviously appropriate. The green energy fortress the Starheart constructed on the moon has remained intact despite Green Lantern regaining control. And there is the giant Starheart gem acting as a beacon at the top of the highest building.

The architecture of the place is wildly varied with pod cities amidst castles amidst temples. But clearly Green Lantern seems proud of it, his arms wide as he shows it to Obsidian.

It turns out that the chaotic power of the Starheart has really acted like a beacon for all the magical beings on Earth. Elves, fairies, dragons, and the like have all flocked to the city and taken up residency.

Furthermore, since he houses the Starheart, Green Lantern is acting as the steward of the city. He needs to keep the peace amongst the various groups living there. He has needed to make peace agreements with a variety of other magical realms ... Mordru's Sorcerer's world, Nightshade's dimension, even the Gemworld. The Gemworld!! Fantastic.

Anyways, this is something that basically should impact all of the DCU and should be commented on when appropriate. How will this effect Zatanna's title for instance? Are mystical creatures able to ignore the Starheart and remain on Earth if they want? Does the average person know that there is a magical city on the dark side of the moon? Are super teams like the JLA happy with this new arrival, this new power base? It certainly shakes things up and I hope as a result it isn't just ignored. Hopefully when the editors agreed with this ending, they informed the other editors that it was happening.

Just as there were a handful of splash pages of Jade throughout this arc, there have been just as many of Alan Scott. Robinson must really like that whole family.

I thought this was a dramatic piece. I suppose that Alan Scott fans will love this. As for me, I love it when these characters get their due. I love how he calls himself the 'original' Green Lantern. Very nice.

Assuming he has a love for the character, I would love to read a Robinson Wildcat story. Ted Grant needs some love.

All that power doesn't mean much to Obsidian if he can't reunite with his sister. He actually lashes out at his father for not doing more to fix things between them.

Scott explains what is going on. Jade is predominantly powered by the lighter aspects of the Starheart (although she clearly is tainted a bit by the darkness as well). Obsidian is powered by the darker aspects. The two simply cannot be together for they would unite the two halves and endanger the universe.

I admit I lost track of Obsidian around the time Crisis on Infinite Earths ended until this current title. But from what I have read he became evil for a bit and then became a wraith of a sort. Both of those things make sense if he is essentially powered by corrupted chaos magic. That probably explains why he fired on his father in frustration. He seems like a hero on the brink ... constantly challenged to maintain his focus and do good. The dark side is simpler ... but it is the dark side. That sort of internal struggle usually makes for great reading.

Again, I hope that the upcoming writers of Obsidian build on this rather than change his personality altogether. Right now, if any character was going to keep me reading JSA it would be Obsidian.

Green Lantern calms his son down by telling him that he (along with Dr. Fate) have tried everything in their powers to bring Jade and Obsidian together. They have looked into all the possible futures and no matter when the siblings reunite, disaster happens.

To prove his point, Scott reviews some of the potential outcomes.

In one future, a war between the Fey and vampires explodes over the globe. The metahumans pick sides (or are turned into joining) the war which ravages the planet. It's was pretty striking to see which heroes ended up sprouting fangs. But I was thrilled to see Supergirl leading the charge of the elvish army.

In another future, Jade-sidian again appears and tries to murder their father. Jade is able to shake off the Starheart's control briefly enough for the construct to be killed.

You can see the pain on Green Lantern's face knowing he just killed his children.

There simply seems to be no way for Todd and Jennie to be close to each other physically.

In the best line of the book, Alan sums it up succinctly. 'Our lives are strange, son.' It is going to sound weird but that was the best line in the book. No need to dress it up with fancy language ... it is what it is. If you are a superhero, you should expect weirdness.

I said it before but I'll repeat it. I really liked Dark Things. And this epilogue was like a nice after dinner liqueur. Sweet and nice ending.  I really felt that what was sometimes missing in Robinson's Superman run was resolution. Here, we got it.

I just wonder if these changes ... with magic gathering on the moon ... will become canon for the DCU.

Jesus Merino does solid work here. I always have liked his work. His splash pages here are great, conveying the right emotion and matching the text nicely.

Overall grade: B+


valerie21601 said...

I don't blame you for dropping it.

If the new writer and artist team is any good word of mouth will reach your somehow. Then you may get to experience the great back issue hunt for past issues. Half of the fun of back issue hunting is finding the issues.

Kandou Erik said...

Yeah, the JSA has progressively been becoming a weaker book since Geoff Johns left. And the less said about the random stupidness happening in JSA All-Stars the better.

BUT - I can't resist seeing Scott Kolins drawing the JSA. I'm a big JSA fan - and I have high hopes this new creative team will turn things around.

At least Bill Willingham himself realized it wasn't working and left the title.

And while this big JLA/JSA Cross-over was an abject mess -- this epilogue was simply nice.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

I do hope that if JSA rises again that I will hear about it. I don't mind going back to a book if I should.

I do like Kolins art, especially on the Flash. Maybe I'll flip through the first book to check it out. Sometimes art trumps all and I buy a book just to see the pictures. It isn't often but it has happened.

TalOs said...

Anj - Would it help any if you were to learn DC are officially lowering their $3.99 pricing down to $2.99 as of early Jan next year? :-/