Saturday, August 12, 2006

52—Pick Up Already!

FanBoyWonder’s pics for the week of August 9 were a tad on the lackluster side.

52--Week 14

The Upshot: Steel faces a turning point, and Montoya and the Question go international!

Given the description of the issue and that Steel is featured on the cover, we don’t think we could be blamed for thinking that Week 14 would center around John Henry Irons.

Since John’s niece turned her back on him in act of selfishness and betrayal and defected to Lex Luthor, we’ve been eager for this storyline to unfold, even as we are curious to find out the origin of his mysteriously developed metal skin.

Unfortunately, all we got were three pages of the Steel story, with the much of the rest of the issue centered around The Question and Renee Montoya and their travel undercover tourist class to Black Adam’s country of Kahndaq.

We’re still not sure what exactly it is they have been investigating as the mystery itself hasn’t been that compelling and we have been enjoying Greg Rucka’s “buddy cop” banter between the Question and Renee but this story line….nearly all of the story lines of 52 hardly feel like they are going anywhere.

Not that we care too much because we never really figured out what they were doing in space to begin with but what’s going on with Starfire, Adam Strange and Animal Man? That story thread hasn’t been pulled in weeks.

The Doc Magnus interludes as he visits the once-imprisoned T.O. Morrow has been a yawner, the Booster Gold segment had us then lost us and it’s only been a week but we’ve already forgotten what’s going on with Elongated Man.

This story centrifuge is spinning around so much that we can barely focus all of the plot threads which makes it that much harder to hold our interest or attention.

We get the sense that the 52 writers are afraid the step on the gas get things moving for fear they will run out of weeks before they run out of story but if this car moves any slower, it’s headed for a stall. Pick up the pace fellas.

Secret Six #3

The upshot from DC: The Six learn who has been hiring assassins to take them out, while tensions flare among the group!

Following last year’s surprisingly strong Villains United limited series, writer Gail Simone performed the no-so-easy task of making bad guys not just believable protagonists but characters the reader could sympathize and even root for in spite of (or perhaps because of) their “evil” tendencies.

This year’s follow up, The Secret Six, has been a disappointment. Simone’s story and scripting, while still sharp, simply hasn’t been able to replicate the same urgent magic of last year. Helping things not at all is the art by Brad Walker and Jimmy Palmiotti.

Issue two was all but unreadable and while this issue is a slight improvement but it’s cartoony in the worst sense of the word. The “long shots” of the layout look out of focus or unfinished, the action sequences are confused and jumbled and they keep drawing Deadshot/Floyd Lawton looking like a chimp—and not even in the same consistent way—one panel he’s got big dumbo ears the next it’s a sloped forehead and walrus mustache.

There’s a lot of room for improvement with this series but just three issues left.

JSA Classified # 15

The upshot: In Part 2 of the 3-part "Double Trouble!", Star Girl, Vixen and Gypsy attempt to raise the stakes, but they find themselves at the mangling paws of a Wildcat gone mad! Can these three fare any better than the rest of the JSA, or will Amos Fortune and the Gambler succeed in cashing in the young heroines' chips?

Who cares???? This issue and this story arc screams “filler.” It is completely forgettable and barely entertaining. It’s only redeeming quality is that it’s keeping the JSA in the monthly line up…keeping the proverbial seat warm…until the re-launch of Justice Society of America #1 in December.

Since the story isn’t work talking about, let’s take this time to bemoan the wasted opportunity for DC to be using JSA classified to prime the pump in anticipation for the new JSA main title.

This title should be setting the scene, introducing or reintroducing us to the new JSA members or spotlighting individual characters for further development—Hourman is set to be featured in a couple of issues time but instead of this lame-ass three issue cross-over with the old JLA Detroit, Doctor Mid-Nite could have gotten a much deserved close up for example.

Heck, even a flashback story of JSA past would have been better than this lame-ass story. Is it December yet?

Justice Society TPB Vol. 1

The upshot: Collecting ALL-STAR COMICS #58-67, plus the origin of the JSA from DC SPECIAL #29! Witness the continuing adventures of The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Wildcat and the rest as they are joined by younger heroes Robin, Power Girl and Star-Spangled Kid!

If you can’t wait until December for some good JSA, pick up this trade paper back of the Justice Society from the 1970s when they enjoyed their own adventures in their own book. It not only features the secret origin of the JSA but see the debut of Power Girl as well as the Earth-2 Robin and Earth-2 Superman in action.

Despite some ‘70s cheese, many of these old stories stand up three decades later. What we love about this series was that it was the first time since the early 1950s that the Justice Society had its own book which allowed for some much deserved character development. Check it out.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The NEW JSA—Update

A special thanks to The Mercurial Vagrant and to Bunny Z for their comments regarding FanBoyWonder’s last post on the New Justice Society of America.
(Does this mean that FBW now enjoys a whopping FIVE regular readers????)

The lovely Ms. Z kindly pointed out to us that we erred during our original post when we noted that Obsidian was not pictured in the Alex Ross JSA “class picture.” The son of the original Green Lantern IS indeed pictured in the picture—the white eyes in the top right corner—a guy with shadow powers lurking in the dark—DUH!

Anyway, Newsarama this week posed an interview with once and future Justice Society of America scribe Geoff Johns who has confirmed that the blue hooded figure IS Damage and that it’s a NEW Commander Steel who will join the JSA.

Meanwhile, the grinning red-head standing between Flash and Hawkman is Maxine (Ma) Hunkel—apparently de-aged somehow. Johns noted that Maxine won’t be going by the handle “Red Tornado” like she did during the Golden Age in the days before an android elemental with powers better fitting the name came along.

We’re excited already and we think it’s going to be a long wait until Justice Society of America #1 in December. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The NEW Justice Society of America

As FanBoyWonder counts the hours until the stroke of Midnight when we become one year older, we give special thanks to FBW’s Kemosabe John Micek for sending us this Newsarama link featuring an Alex Ross original of the NEW Justice Society of America, which will roll out in December.

Kemosabe was killing time at the airport after a no doubt thrilling weekend in Columbus, Ohio…we hope he had a safe journey home.

We first noted in May with glee the news that the cancellation of JSA this year will be followed up by the re-launch of a new title Justice Society of America. Writer Geoff Johns had definitely lost his mojo on JSA following the departure a year or two previously of co-writer David Goyer (who can be forgiven since he went on to script Batman Begins), as well as being stretched multiple directions with Infinite Crisis.

In May we noted some of the storylines and outstanding plot threads we would like to see the new Justice Society of America address.

One point in favor of the JSA relaunch is the addition of Alex Ross as a “creative consultant,” which even he says is a fancy title for his calling up Geoff Johns and suggesting plot threads. He’s a JSA fan who happens to have a lot of influence.

His JSA covers during the last year are the most evident example of his support for the World’s First Super-Team but FBW’s own theory is that if not Ross’ support, DC Comics may have been tempted to yet again screw the JSA into creative limbo.

As we look at Ross’ as-usual stunning cover patterned after the original JSA “class picture” from All Star Comics #3, circa 1940—here’s our speculation, with a dash of back-story, as to who will make up the new JSA roster.

From the center moving clockwise: Seated on the table is Stargirl, the former Star Spangled Kid II—step daughter of Pat Dugan, the original Kid’s sidekick Stripsey.

As we’ve heard the story, Geoff Johns created the new Kid, whose secret identity is Courtney Whitmore, in honor of his late-kid sister Courtney, who was a killed aboard TWA 800 when it blew up over Long Island 10 years ago.

Moving left, we have the new Starman—a la the version from Kingdom Come. Word has it that Alex Ross asked his Starman be included on the roster—something Johns was more than happy to grant.

Power Girl—One of the few good things about the recent Infinite Crisis was that it finally straightened out PG’s origin…once again she’s the last daughter of Krypton—Krypton 2 that is…sole survivor of a planet, from a universe that no longer exists. After years of wondering around the DC Universe, PG is back where she belongs…with her family in the JSA.

Jakeem Thunder, master of the Thunderbolt, who displays is cool fashion sense with the Captain Marvel tee-shirt.

Sandman??? –It’s unknown to us if the individual wearing the classic fedora and gasmask is Sand, the former Sandy the Golden Boy, more recently the former JSA Chairman, or if it’s a back from the dead Wesley Dodds or someone else altogether.

Mister Terrific II—we’ve been enjoying his exposure in Checkmate but the smartest man in the world belongs in the JSA.

Behind Mr. Terrific resembles Atom Smasher but we surmise that he is Damage. We are basing it on his chest symbol, that we just read in Wizard magazine that Damage is joining the JSA and the fact that Damage is the biological son of Al Pratt, the original Atom (we’ll get into the how if that another time… it’s a LONG story.)

Next, The Flash—Jay Garrick, the ORIGINAL fastest man alive. Nuff said.

The gal behind Flash, we’re stumped. It’s not a great likeness and we can’t see much of the costume so no clues there.

Next, Hawkman. Apparently back from M.I.A. status after that cosmic mess known as the Rann-Thanngar War. With Hawkgirl now haven taken over the former Hawkman title and apparently a solo-hero now, Hawkman belongs with the JSA. We will be glad to see Johns writing Hawkman again…the character hasn’t been the same since Johns stopped writing him.

Wildcat—Ted Grant, former heavyweight champ of the world and classic tough guy. Wolverine kind of tough. They’re may be heroes and villains more powerful than Wildcat, but no one is as tough.

Dr. MidNight II—We like this character but he hasn’t been used as well as in the early days of the first JSA book. We also sensed the seeds of a budding romance between he and Power Girl—both orphans of the world. We would like to see that. The guy deserves a break after falling for Black Canary only to have her former love Green Arrow come back from the dead—talk about not seeing that one coming.

The ORIGINAL Green Lantern—Alan Scott, along with Jay Garrick, Ted Grant and Carter Hall (Hawkman) are all charter members. Having fought the Nazi menace and also having lived far beyond their expected lifespan (with LOTS more fight left in them), these guys are the elder statesmen of heroes. Disrespect them at your peril

Also, we want to see more of the plot thread developed by Johns that has alluded to Alan Scott being more than human because he channels the Green Flame/Starheart—the magical source of his power ring.

Not pictured here, but Alan Scott’s son Obsidian is also reported to be joining the JSA.

Next, Hourman II. Rick Tyler, son of the original Hourman Rex Tyler, carries on the legacy by using his father’s invention of a drug-induced hour of super-strength…plus an added power of having pre-cognitive abilities of being able to see an hour into the future.

As an aside, we were also glad to see Rex Tyler saved from death via time travel a couple of years back. If only they could find a way to save Al Pratt and Charles McNider, the original Dr. Mid-Nite. But alas!

Next to Hourman, appears to be Liberty Belle, of the World War II super-hero group All Star Squadron. We surmise that it’s Jesse Chambers—daughter of Libby Laurence, the original Liberty Belle and Johnny Chambers—the speedster Johnny Quick.

Jesse was first introduced in the short-lived early 1990s series also called Justice Society of America. Later named Jessie Quick, she carried on her father’s name as a speedster but Johns removed her powers during Flash (Wally West’s battle with Zoom) in Flash 200.

We are glad that Jesse has come home to the JSA but we are disappointed that she will apparently not have her speed (yet look closely at the lighting bolt on her bell symbol). Jesse Quick, like Johnny Quick was a speedster we loved. As a female super-speedster, she was a rarity but she was unique in that she could fly.

Finally, our last member is wearing the uniform of Commander Steel, formerly of the aforementioned All Star Squadron. When last we saw Hank Henshaw, he turned up as the benefactor of the Detroit JLA (biggest mistake of the 1980s) and grandfather to JLA member Steel (now deceased). Is it a rejuvenated Commander Steele or a back from the dead JLA-er or someone new? Stay tuned.
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