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Mild Mannered Reviews - JSA Comics

Justice Society of America #21 Justice Society of America #21

Justice Society of America #21

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 3, 2008

Cover date: January 2009

"One World, Under Gog" - Part Six: "Saints and Sinners"

Writer: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Penciller: Dale Eaglesham & Jerry Ordway
Inker: Nathan Massengill & Bob Wiacek

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Gog demands that the heroes worship him. MaGog immediately obeys. The other heroes question Gog. Hawkman explains that they're not comfortable with the idea.

Jay appears and pulls the heroes to safety, along with the rest of the JSA.

Sandman explains that Gog is rooted into the Earth, and that if he leaves the Earth after he's been on Earth seven days, then the Earth will be destroyed.

Gog counters, saying that all he desires is peace and to make the world better. Those who do not worship him will be turned into fruit and shade for his followers, and so long as he is worshipped, he will not leave the Earth. He pleads with Citizen Steel, and asks him if he wants to embrace his family again. He tells him to worship Gog. Steel refuses.

Gog attempts to make Jay Garrick better, by turning him into enough electricity to power a continent. Briefly, he turns into the Jay Garrick from Kingdom Come before the heroes can slow him down. They attack him, attempting to remove his head from his body so that they can stop him from being rooted to the Earth.

Gog refuses to fall, and becomes furious. He takes back all of his gifts, and gives Nathan Heywood feeling in the form of pain.

Kingdom Come Superman and MaGog fight over what should have been done. Mr. Terrific and Alan Scott are forced to watch maggots feast on their dead daughters by Gog.

MaGog finally sees what Gog is doing when Superman tears off his helmet and forces him to watch. MaGog tells Gog to wait, and urges him to stop hurting people. Gog, furious, undoes his gifts to MaGog and (presumably) kills him.

5Story - 5: As I said last week, rarely has the concept of godlike power and its consequences been so well examined in a comic book. This issue is no exception. The gifts being retracted quite literally break your heart, as you watch heroes making the best decisions they can, none of which will end well. At some points you root for Gog, at others the heroes, and it's confused by the difficulty of the moral dilemma of choosing between potential healing and betterment and the consequences of pledging fealty to a deity. Which is the way absolute power would be. Which is the problem in pondering the duties of absolute power.

Gog is a walking analogue for the god of old, the YHWH deity of the Old Testament that demands fealty, and when fealty is not granted, metes out punishment for who he terms wicked and gifts for those who follow his commands. I still think that this is an astonishing examination of what that means on a human level and in a modern context, thus my rating. A damned fine story, continuing to be one of the best arcs I've ever read in comics.


Now that the review is done, the metafiction stuff. If you're easily offended, or if you only want to read a review that directly addresses what happens, or if the word atheist sends you into a seething torpor, this is my urging for you to turn back now and stop reading. I'm going to comment about last week and how it impacts this week's and all future reviews, and if that'll bug you, honestly, bug off. The following is for people with an open mind or who care to regard, not for people who are illogically offended insensate by the presence of an opposition viewpoint.

Also, if you read anything below this before the word "ART," you're informally agreeing not to blame Steve for what I say. I have to insist upon that. Send your potential hate mail to me.


I reviewed The Kingdom, the previous part of this story, and I brought up the issue of my atheism. I did it in context, because it's how I relate to this story. I'm an atheist, and so the idea of a giant, reincarnated version of an analogue of the Judeo-Christian angry god is utterly fascinating to me, as is this story. It confronts, as I do regularly, the concept and the consequence of belief, blind faith, resurrection, healing, and fealty, as I mentioned above, I think prudently.

I didn't preach my atheism in last week's review, by any objective standpoint. Point of fact, I hope you all look at facts and emotion and believe whatever the hell you want about anything. You (quite obviously, I mispresumed) don't have to think that what I'm writing is what I think you should believe. It is what I believe. Sad that we've come to the point where I have to kid glove even that. In my review, I simply said, "I am an atheist, and here is how it informs my take on this story." Which I MUST do to be intellectually honest, given that it's my perspective of the events at hand.

For this, I was accused of preaching a viewpoint in the comics where I was not. For this, people threatened not to bookmark this site and said things like, "Ooo, I don't like that atheist comment." (As if atheism is a catching disease, or expressing your atheism is a reason for someone not to listen to you. That'd be as absurd as me saying that because you're a Christian/Martian/Muslim/Republican/Democrat/monkey I should not listen to you and carefully evaluate what you say. It's like akin to saying, "I don't listen to black people" in my opinion, in terms of logic or appeal.)

I was accused of seeking attention. I was told that I need to shut up about things. And when I explained/tried to clarify that I wasn't preaching, when I explained that it is my belief that people should believe what they want to, the issue wasn't let go by commenters. In fact, my responses were ignored, and I was drawn to the point of redface and anger. You're never supposed to tell people that, because then they smile and say, "Hah! I got you!" on the internet, but screw it. This has to be addressed.

I have learned, over my many years here at the Homepage and on the internet, not to let commenters get me down, because many of them are malicious simply because they can be, because they are anonymous and they have no retribution for their actions despite the fact that I make my real name known and respond to people who read my work.

I have learned to delete and ignore the seething mass of ignoramuses who will write you and call you names, ignore what you have actually written, and threaten the life of your friends and your families over issues of preference with regards to SUPERMAN, a FICTIONAL CHARACTER that DOESN'T REALLY EXIST. These things happen, and they are what you must deal with when you choose to write reviews for free. Or, for that matter, dare to express yourself about anything. You're gonna get great readers, as I have in the majority on the constant, and you're going to get a buttload of ignorant a$$#@les who want to ruin your day for trying to provide them a service they do not pay for that they can take or leave but choose to take ungratefully. I do all of this uncompensated, you realize, so it's like doing overtime for free, dealing with their brummagem filth of negative BS and egomania.

So here's the deal.

I am an atheist, and I am proud to be an atheist, and my atheism informs my perspective and my writing. It hasn't scared away my readers before, because most people judge writing on its merits and not the color, sex, or belief system of its creator, and I fully believe it won't scare away readers now, save the loud and the easily offended. If you don't want to read me because for some dumb, ignorant reason you consider me evil for being an atheist or you think that it's irrelevant to my personal context, then go away from my reviews and do not return.

5Art - 5: Eaglesham continues to craft a haunting Gog, and when he is angry, he's absolutely terrifying. Superman punching a bolt of lightning was superb, as was all of the relative action and destruction in the wake of Gog's madness. Some of his finest work, in my opinion.

5Cover Art- 5: The light source thing Alex has been doing is there, but here there's a perfectly good reason for it, with Flash going into the speed force. It's a strong composition, and an awesome piece.

4Cover Art (Alternate) - 4: Superman looks a bit contorted, but like I said, it's one of the pivotal moments in the story, and it's emphasized in a great way here. Very well done.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2009

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