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Mild Mannered Reviews - JSA Comics

Justice Society of America #16 Justice Society of America #16

Justice Society of America #16

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 4, 2008

Cover date: July 2008

"One World, Under God, Part One: He Came, and Salvation with Him"

Writer: Geoff Johns and Alex Ross
Penciller: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Rebecca Buchman

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Damage recalls the mauling that caused his face to become permanently damaged.

Back in the present, Gog appears, saying that he comes in peace. The heroes, concerned that the "God" has killed Gog, watch in concern as Gog appears to enjoy birds, smiling in a disquieting but friendly way.

Mr. Terrific tries to talk to Gog, but Gog ignores him. They postulate that it's because he's an atheist, and Markus Clay steps up and speaks to Gog. Gog begins to respond, but walks off midsentence.

The heroes follow as he visits the nearby village blighted by a volcano.

A group of looters visit a tomb with renditions of Black Adam, Isis, and Osiris on the walls. Black Adam, in one of the tombs, rises and kills the looters, revealing that he's gotten his powers back from Mary Marvel. He sees a white rose, and considers that perhaps Isis has returned.

Flash arrives, telling Sandman that the headquarters is decimated, but the damage is controlled.

Kingdom Come Superman speaks to Gog, asking him where he's from. Gog explains that he was exiled as the old gods warred for not taking a side, descending to Earth in near-death, remaining buried until a native discovered him and build a shrine from his face. He also indicates that William Matthews stole his power as he slumbered, and that the death was merely taking back what Matthews stole to prolong his own life artificially.

Damage steps forward, angry, pointing out that they all know where this is leading, and telling Gog to drop the pretense. Gog reaches down, apologizes for Damage's disquiet, and heals his face. He then asks who else he can make good again.

ratingStory - 5: This is probably my favorite comic since Adventures. This comic nearly made me cry. It's insanely good, amazing storytelling, and compelling as hell.

Gog appears, and, if you read my last review, the obvious is expected. The big god fight. Instead, we have a character that pops up and, despite looking like a demon, starts walking around and making things beautiful. The heroes, all of them, stand around not knowing what the hell to do. The atheist is rebuffed by what appears to be a true god, and Damage's face, a central dilemma of the last few years, is resolved in a snap, unexpected move, right when you're expecting Gog to attack.

THIS is how to write a story with very little conflict that is extraordinarily compelling, because the lack of conflict is the crux of the fear. He's taking a convention, turning it sideways, and playing with our minds. That's damned good writing.

But I think what really makes the idea of this story so compelling to me is the fact that we see a situation that we really wish could happen. All of the bad things, all of the horrible things, if some giant dude who enjoys birds and the sun and life just suddenly appeared and started making things better, we'd all be more the better for it. Being an atheist like Mr. Terrific, I think it's a large crux of what makes the idea of God so appealing. If you get to go through a given day seeing horrible thing after horrible thing, living through dilemmas as small as a rude boss to as big as a lost child or loved one, or the potentiality of losing your own life, how comforting the idea of a God that can save you from yourself and others must be, and to have that suddenly appear outside of fantasy, outside of the supernatural, is an INSANELY complex dilemma. How would Mr. Terrific react? How would a soldier react? How would someone who has unduly suffered react. This comic explores that, and in the process joins some of my favorite issues of all time. JSA is a gold standard bearer, and this issue is the most compelling reason I've seen.

Now, granted, we're going to see this go straight to hell, and we know it, as the audience. But the conflict is so palpable, you can wait a whole issue and still raise compelling questions for a huge, diverse cast.

This issue also expands the mythos, giving us a hint into the Third World, and the fact that this is the muse.

Personally, my instinct is that Gog is going to be exactly what he says he is. A person who can make the world a better place at his will. And just like a story I heard about (and have been trying to find for a decade, actually) whereby the heroes of the world are sent to rescue evil after it has been vanquished, because the world is a bland place with nothing to live for, the dilemma will be to stop Gog from doing good. That's my guess. This issue has me amped, either way.

It came out on time, after a series of late issues. It delivered on story. It cemented my love for this title. Where is this on other books?

INCREDIBLE. If you are not reading this book, this will be the issue that will make you a reader. Just for this issue, I will be buying this series, no matter how it turns, in trade.

Black Adam looms in the background, obviously looking to plague the JSA again. My guess is that he will ask for Isis from the God, who will not have the power to grant it, and potentially cause another brawl. Either way, the idea of a good god fighting a bad god over ideas sounds... there's very little way this can end badly.

Thank you, Geoff Johns, for making my life better with this book. A damned fine issue to do my 600th article for this site to.

ratingArt - 5: That creepy smile that may be earnest, may be sinister.

Damage's face.

Humans on a scale with a god, plausibly.

Beautiful coloring.

Emotion, detail, heart, and everything you want for a story this compelling.

ratingCover Art (Gog) - 5: Gone is the bad light source, here is an image that depicts what happened gloriously, with a painted cover that really drags you in. Insanely good.

ratingCover Art (Black Adam) - 5: Not the focus of this issue, but still a very compelling issue. Though both are winners, this is slightly the lesser for not being the focus. It's still a poster quality image.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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