Great Pages: JSA #55

From JSA #55 (2004)

From JSA #55 (2004)

A character only one month younger than Batman, Ma Hunkel was straight out of the Golden Age. Originally a supporting character in a semi-autobiographic feature in the pages of All-American Comics, Ma found success when she donned a homemade superhero outfit to battle local hoodlums. Not having a fashion designer on hand, she crafted her outfit from old long johns and a cooking pot she used for a helmet. Thus was the original Red Tornado born.

Ma was a parody of the superhero genre who faded from the limelight after 1944. However, Geoff Johns and Leonard Kirk remembered her. On this page from JSA #55, the elder statesmen of the Justice Society track a retired Ma down and invite her to rejoin them. She’d been on the run for years, afraid that a gang might want revenge on her and her kids. Knowing that the gang had all passed away, the JSA offered her a spot with them as their museum curator and loving mother figure. They gave her a place to belong.

This page exemplifies the wonderful mix of legacy and family that was the cornerstone of Geoff Johns’ time with the Justice Society. Giving an entire issue over to a character that few remembered was a risk, but it paid off wonderfully. That final image of Ma hugging Jay as we watch from a distance still makes me tear up. It shows a respect for Ma few had afforded her in the past. Leonard Kirk absolutely nailed the reaction of an old lady given a new purpose.


  1. Awwww I miss the OLD JSA… :'(

  2. The absolute worst part of the New 52 is the loss of these legacy characters. I am enjoying Earth-2 but that JSA is never going to be the JSA to me.

    • Ain’t that the truth? I complained about the loss of the JSA and legacies when the new 52 was announced. There was a lot of history and continuity to the old (old, it was in the early 2000’s!) JSA book, but it was soooo worth it. Sorely missed.

  3. I still regard this considerable run as Geoff Johns’ best work, to date. This was a moving moment in a run that had emotional peaks & troughs a-plenty. Amazing storytelling!

  4. I teared up then too and I just teared up again. *SNIFF* Thanks, Jeff!