Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Justice Society Classified Is True Justice Denied To JSA Fans

It’s getting to be embarrassing but on the day that this week’s new books come out, we have finally gotten around to reviewing the books from last week. Boy we do love the holiday rush.

Without further delay here’s our take on our picks for the last week of November as we are shoot from the hip.

JSA Classified #32

The Upshot From DC Comics: The holidays are a difficult time for anyone, and heroes are no exception—particularly those who have lost loved ones in the battle for justice. But heroes rarely have a moment to mourn, as original Green Lantern Alan Scott finds, when he most forego the annual JSA Thanksgiving dinner to save a little girl from an ancient evil.

The Justice Society of America has always had a troubled relationship with DC Comics. The JSA’s very existence in the modern comic book age is an inconvenient reminder to Baby Boomers readers who cut their comic book teeth during the Silver Age and those who followed that their beloved Justice League is …at its core…a re-tread, a copy of the team that came before it.

Consequently, for the past 30 years, the JSA has been treated as neither fish nor foul by DC management. Each time DC has attempted to remove all traces of the Justice Society and the Golden Age at large, the marketplace (the fans) rise up and demand their return.

Which brings us to JSA Classified. Unlike its counterpart JLA Classified—which is little more than repository for stories bought and paid for and that should have stayed in the file drawer—JSA Classified features originally commissioned solo stories of current JSA members—so far the same handful of JSA members.

The moral of the story is that DC seems to care enough to tell original JSA solo stories—but it really doesn’t care enough to tell good stories by top talent that have lasting plotting and continuity impact.

Instead faithful JSA fans (and buyers of Classified) such as FanBoyWonder must endure perpetually forgettable tales by junior varsity storytellers.

Speaking Junior, this issue’s scripter Junior Thomas gives us a 2-part tale of original Green Lantern Alan Scott, who ends up fighting his old foe Solomon Grundy and in the end as we find the immortal Vandal Savage.

This is the third time in the life of this series that has featured Green Lantern Alan Scott and the second time that GL has taken on Vandal Savage. Hey we like the Golden Age GL and he more than deserves the spotlight but there are a plethora of other deserving JSA members who have yet to get even ONE story arc into Classified.

The only thing that made this story somewhat readable was Johnson’s scripting of Green Lantern mourning the death of his daughter Jade. It’s about time that this was acknowledged SOMEWHERE.

Jade has always been favorite character of ours—all the way back to when Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway created her and the rest of Infinity Inc. back in the mid-80s but her death during Infinite Crisis was pointless and a waste of a great character.

As we’ve noted previously, JSA Classified, if done right, can be and SHOULD be a true storytelling companion to the main Justice Society of America title.

As main JSA writer Geoff Johns is poised to introduce even MORE legacy members to the Justice Society he has noted that his take on JSA is that it is not a team but a true “society. With so many characters walking around, it’ doesn’t leave a lot of room for character development…at least not for very many characters.

Yet JSA Classified, if coordinated closely with the main title, can fill the void and tell the stories that deserve to be told in the main JSA title, but where there is no room.

Hey DC, here’s a license to boost Classified’s sales to infinity and beyond—How about an issue or two featuring a solo story with the JSA’s newest member—Kingdom Come Superman?

Of course, we’re just the loyal, paying customer….what do we know?

Green Lantern Corps #18

The Upshot From DC Comics: Part 10 of the "Sinestro Corps War" storyline. In this issue, the Guardians of the Universe have chosen a new Ion, and his first mission is to confront one of the deadliest member of the Sinestro Corps...the newly christened Superman Prime!

Yet again, we have a situation where that clusterf**k called Countdown has again gotten in the way of the only DC Comics “event” that has actually been good this year by spoiling the outcome.

The big showdown between Superman Prime and the new Ion of the Green Lantern Corps, Sodam Yat of Daxam, was a foregone conclusion even before we read the first page as it’s been revealed that Super-Prime is flying around the multiverse with a black suit and a bad haircut.

New GLC writer Peter Tomasi is a competent writer but former GLC writer Dave Gibbons deserved to finish out this part of the Sinestro Corps storyline. Countdown spoilers aside, this was a very busy issue—in part to overscripting by Tomasi—but even with the overabundance of inner monologue, the fight between the Ion and Prime was quite unsatisfying thanks to quite obviously rushed art by Patrick Gleason and Prentiss Rollins.

These guys are usually much better than this but we get the sense this battle, this chapter of the Sinestro Corps storyline was an 11th hour add-on designed to rundown the clock. After 22 pages of meaningless fisticuffs, returns the situation to status quo and even if the greater continuity gods had destined Ion to lose, we had hoped for a better showing.

The salvation of the issue was the inter-sliced flashbacks of a young Sodam Yat on the planet Daxam.

Although he is part of a very closed, xenophobic people, young Sodam’s encounter with an alien taught him about life beyond the stars and his alien friend’s demise at the hands of the Damamites just hardened his resolve to leave the planet to explore—until a Green Lantern ring chose him and his life in the Corps began.

The art during these origin flashbacks by Jamal Igle and Jerry Ordway was top notch. Despite the shaky start, we think Tomasi will be able to build upon the solid foundation that Dave Gibbons has built and take this title to the next level.

Trials of Shazam #10

The Upshot From DC Comics: Sabina and Freddy race to find the hidden Mercury…as this test is about gaining his speed ability! And if Sabina finds him first, she'll be equal to Freddy in the ultimate Trials for Shazam's power!

Last issue we had remarked that the plotting and scripting of this series has been so good, so competent, that we actually wondered if someone else had been writing under Judd Winick’s name—as we can’t believe this is the same guy who wrote that god awful Titans East Special last month.

Well Winick couldn’t help but insert some his trademark annoying dialogue in there but he does keep it to a minimum otherwise the series is progressing along as the Trials of Freddy Freeman has become more of a race between Freddy and Sabina for the Power of Shazam.

We understand how the traditionalists are upset at this most radical interpretation of the Marvel Family/SHAZAM mythology but out of the box thinking was required.
But we think the perfect solution lies in reverting Billy Batson to the traditional Captain Marvel that we know and love and allowing Freddy Freeman to follow the path that Trials takes him—so as he avoids being a redundant blue costumed Marvel who can’t say his own name.

While we are quite pleased with the art of Mauro Cascioli, we are displeased that original mini-series artist Howard Porter can’t or wouldn’t see through the entire 12-issue series. It wouldn’t have killed DC to give us some sort of explanation.


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