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Mild Mannered Reviews - JSA Comics

Justice Society of America #13 Justice Society of America #13

Justice Society of America #13

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 27, 2008

Cover date: April 2008


Story: Alex Ross and Geoff Johns
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Richard Friend

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Jakeen Thunder, looking for a room in the JSA mansion, is introduced to Black Lightning's daughter, Jennifer. (HAPPY, GUYS?!?! Heh. (Neal, distracting the summary with an in-reference that will mean nothing in two weeks))

Mr. America and the JSA examine Gog and Magog with the Kingdom Come Superman, exploring the recent killings by "Gog."

Kingdom Come Superman goes to see our Superman. He explains how his Lois died in his universe, and they relate the experience of Gog's appearance (the Austen run).

Hearing a commotion akin to their problems with Gog, they arrive to find Hercules being smashed about. Hercules, agitated, attacks our Superman, only to have his butt handed back to him by two angry Supermen.

Gog escapes, only to bow before an altar of a large, purple faced deity-like figure in the Congo.

2Story - 2: Johns is great at finding a context for the continuity he wishes to work with. Unlike, say, certain writers, who simply disregard that which comes before and forge their own work, he tends to craft around the existing continuity, even if continuity has been changed. Sometimes what he changes ticks people off. Sometimes it gives a mistake a context. Sometimes it's somewhere in the middle. But that's part of his genius that I enjoy.

As such, I think he's come up with a VERY clever way to explain away what chaos came from the Austen run. Problem is, it becomes the focal point of this issue, and deviates widely from the things that came before. This series has begun to veer solidly away from the awesomeness it formerly represented, and I'm not sure why. Oh, not into CRAP territory, and certainly far from it, but not, as I considered it before, one of the benchmarks of comics.

The reason for this is pretty simple, actually. It's not bad writing. This issue is great writing, generally. It's focus, and the focus is what pulled me outta this one.

In Action Comics, he's writing a Legion story guest starring Supes. In this story, he's writing a Superman of Kingdom Come story guest starring the JSA, after spending an inordinate amount of time introducing a TON of characters he hasn't done anything with yet. It makes you scratch your head and go, "Huh? All that build up with Mister America just so he can introduce the concept of Gog, which the scrawl on the wall did, for Kingdom Supes?"

I mean, look at the cover. Look at the opening lineup. How many of them have speaking roles in this issue? I'm not suggesting that there should have been small cameos for them all, but rather pointing out that much of my enjoyment of this run so far was prefaced behind the rationalization that these introduced stories, all of them, would somehow become some kind of coherent narrative. Instead, we're, well, deviating.

It's an awesome deviation. Superman and Superman, relating over tragedy. The fight with Hercules was left field and unnecessary, but it was still awesome enough that I didn't care, but technically speaking, it's very indulgent.

The Jakeem stuff has me going, "Huh?" I don't even know who he is, and here's another character in the mix. And BLACK LIGHTNING'S DAUGHTER (thanks, letter writers who smote me for missing a small detail that missed the small detail of my correction in the comments, heh). The room scene seemed thrown in and distracting from the main story, which wasn't the main story. Does that make sense?

This whole issue, to make another point, is an explanation from Superman as to why his own continuity's so screwed up in favor of fan service... as an act of fan service. Johns, the man who made Infinite Crisis, that which was supposed to adjust continuity and, according to Kurt Busiek, changed Superman's continuity to essentially what they want it to be at any given time, is now going to extraordinary lengths to do what we were hoping for INSTEAD of guys punching walls, trying to put old continuity in the New Earth context.

From what I understand, however, this isn't Johns being contradictory. As I recall, he didn't want the punches changing continuity, and it was his intention (if I recall my interview with him correctly) to simply change a few things, like Joe Chill and the Phantom Zone villains, and that took on a life of its own.

But the point being, if we're nerds enough to know who the Kingdom Come Supes is, and we're reading a book chock FULL of obscure characters, you don't have to explain a comic event from three years ago for the posterity of the trade, and it pulled me out of the story, when not dragging at my heart showing Kingdom Supes mourning for Lois.

This book, were it any other writer, would be a five. But I KNOW Johns is better than this. I KNOW it. So I'm gonna hold him to that standard, that bar he set himself. Because I should.

And to be clear, I fully believe this will turn back around once the Kingdom Supes has made his run and gone.

5Art - 5: I miss Grawbadger, but their fill in did a fine job. The opening two page spread could have been very boring, and instead, there's a TON of expression in Mister America.

The inking is heavy handed, and at times distracts badly, but otherwise, fine work. The panels that lack a background (and there are more than typical) are more than made up for by fine background detail work. Great stuff.

3Cover Art - 3: Again, a miss for me from Ross, likely as a result of the fact that, like Johns, I KNOW he's better than this. The people are all photorealistic and up to Ross standards, but the pose just isn't that incredibly dynamic and awesome, and again, the light source makes the painted images stand out as painted images. Call me crazy, and I know some dude will gladly fork over five grand for this cover, because it's very nostalgic, but it just seems a bit cheesy and with an odd pose to me.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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