Pick of the Week

April 29, 2009 – Justice Society of America #26

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530
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Avg Rating: 4.4
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 15.6%
 
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Size: pages
Price: 2.99

Longevity is a rare commodity in comic books these days.  Most creators don’t stay on books for an entire year, let alone multiple years. Except for most of 2006, Geoff Johns has been writing the Justice Society since late 1999. When all the issues are counted that’s right around 8 years of chronicling the adventures of the Justice Society of America. This is his final issue. This is his good-bye.

When talking about team comic books, the word that is most often bandied about is “family”.

The X-Men aren’t really a team, they are a family.

The Teen Titans are really more of a family than a team.

While these statements might be true, on occasion, they are really more philosophical and less practical. But not when it comes to the Justice Society of America. They are a family, first and foremost, and that strong sense of family has really been a hallmark of Geoff Johns’ run on these characters for the last 10 years.

My favorite stories in superhero comics have always been the breather issues. The one shot story that usually takes place between arcs where there are no major disasters to avert, or plots to twist, where the characters get to relax a little and we get to know them better. It’s always been that way, all the way back to when I was a little kid comic book reader. In Justice Society of America #26, we get just that.

Sometime during the last arc, in which the Justice Society faced off against Black Adam, Courtney Whitmore (AKA Stargirl)’s birthday passed and they didn’t get to celebrate it because, well, there was punching to be done. Now that life has settled back to a non-Black Adam normal, the Justice Society has thrown a surprise birthday party for Courtney, and everyone on the team is invited. This creates the perfect setting for fantastic character stuff from a guy who knows the people on this team like he would a member of his own family. This is especially fitting and poignant in this case because the focus of the story is Courtney, a character that Geoff Johns created to honor his own sister named Courtney who died in 1996.

Courtney Whitmore first appeared in the same year that Johns first started writing Justice Society (back when it was called JSA) and as Stargirl she has become an important part of the Justice Society ever since. Even though the character herself is around 16, her many years on the team has turned Stargirl into a highly respected veteran. This is pretty much spelled out in Justice Society of America #26 by Wildcat as he stands together with Courtney, Alan Scott and Jay Garrick and refers to them all as the vets of the team. And just one page earlier, Courtney finds out that all of the other young members of the team look up to her as their teacher, as the one who shows them how to be a true member of the Justice Society of America.

But while Courtney might be the focus of this issue, it’s not just about her. This is a love letter to the entire team, and everyone gets their moment, from Hourman and Damage going on an ice cream run to the local grocery store, to crazy (and hilarious) Starman, the time and universe displaced Legionnaire, buying out the entire inventory from a little girl’s lemonade stand.

Dale Eaglesham returns to pencil duties one more time with this issue. His look has so defined this team for the past two years, so it’s nice to see him draw these characters one more time. I especially like his take on Wildcat (I love that his mask is stitched up), Alan Scott and Jay Garrick. He gets across that they are old without losing the sense that they are still strong and vital heroes. It’s a fine line to walk with this team. You can’t make the older members seem too old or too young. Dale Eaglesham’s art is going to be missed just as much as Geoff Johns’ writing will.

Justice Society of America has always been a book that has, at times, nudged right up against hokey, and you either like that kind of thing or you don’t. You either find endearing the idea that the entire team would show up at Courtney’s dentist appointment to see her get her braces removed, the entire lot of them crammed into the… operating room (what do dentists call that?), or you find it silly. Me? I buy into the conceits of this book hook, line and sinker. This issue made me grin from ear to ear for almost the entire time I read it. The love that this team… this family has for each other just radiates off the page.

This is one big happy family, and being with them for these last 10 years, I’ve felt like part of them too.

Conor Kilpatrick
And now I want ice cream.
conor@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. I totally agree with this pick. Full of heart and energy. Great send-off to a damn fine book.

    Now the real question: Who’s dropping this like a $4 hot potato?

  2. I thought this was a great 4-star book, but I doubt it’ll make POTW for me. Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much, though! Great review!

  3. Damn you Conor! You’re heartfelt review means I have to pick this book up now.

    *shakes fist*

  4. This issue was totally bonkers. Reading this I was like "Oh, this is what you’re going to do here? Fantastic!"

  5. I knew it was going to be JSA, it was awesome and a nice send off for johns, however it does not detract from the sheer continuity porn of Legion of Three Worlds

  6. This was an astounding win (esp. in the face of the Legion book which was outstanding). Poor George Perez in all his might, just couldn’t compete against this heartfelt farewell. Hard to believe I was a full decade younger when Courtney showed up on the scene, but the perspective by placing her as the dominant character in this piece is stunning.

    I hope anyone who joined JSA in this volume seeks out the entirety of the previous one because it’s a great bit of work (highlighted on this cover in the absent portraits in the back: the golden age Hourman, Jack Knight – Starman, Hawkgirl & Black Canary – off suffering in JLA’s abortion, Capt. Marvel in editoroial Limbo, the robot Hourman, & the shuffled aside Dr. Fate).

    As reflective as it was, I can’t wait to see what’s next for Stargirl, Wildcat, Damage, Cyclone, Sandy, Mr. Terrific, but most of all Starman. Here’s hoping we get Fables Willingham and not Shadowpact/Decisions Willingham. I don’t have alot of faith in the unknown artist they’ve solicited in for their debut. Hopefully not as weak as what they lined up for other franchises Geoff has left behind (Hawkman, Titans, sadly, etc.).

  7. I have a feeling this is gonna be one of those weeks that I’m just at odds with the community. I thought this issue of JSA was decent — a cute, sappy story that definitely sums up Johns’ theme on JSA and gives a little added closure to his old Stars and STRIPE series as well.

    Meanwhile, Legion of Three Worlds, which appears to be a favorite on the site, really continues to bug the hell out of me. This issue just felt like Johns cramming another "rebirth" into this series (which has already had one with Kid Flash), and all of that feels very much like an apology from DC. It’s not that I care whether or not DC has killed various characters in recent years — it’s that they’re undoing these deaths a year or two after the enacted them in the first place. And with silly contrived plot devices that aren’t much more original than the "superboy punch."

  8. i loved GL, i liked legion of 3 worlds…but then i read this, and i forgot all about them. POTW by a mile.

     

  9. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Yes!!!

  10. This issue was amazing.I loved it for all the reasons you’ve said. Courtney has been one of my favorites for a while, and I love Jakeem Thunder, and just… little character moments are the ones you remember, and this one was full of them, and showed what the JSA should always be like.

    If Lo3W hadn’t come out, it totally would have been my pick.

  11. Im Drunk 4 U!

    (U=Conor)

  12. Excellent review.  I have only read this series on and off but it sounds like the wrapup is well worth getting.  And I love Stargirl, didn’t know that about her history.  Thanks!

  13. My POW as well!

  14. As soon as I read this I knew it was POW.  Excellent.

  15. That room is called an "operatory".

    The legacy aspect of the DCU is not really something I dig, but when you said "Dentistry" I knew I had to have this.

  16. @ultimatehoratio – Could you operate with that crew looking over your shoulder?  I am sure you are a dentastic dentist, but even the best would be on edge in that situation.

    I fully expect you to rip out that page and post it in your operatory room.

  17.  @stuclach

    When I work on professionals like other dentists or optometrists or MDs it does put me a bit on edge (for no logical reason, really).  If I had to work on a patient while the JSA watched I would literally poop on myself.

    Ten years ago the mere suggestion of tearing a page of a comic would have made me go Amy Winehouse, but nowadays I use comics as kindling.  That’s a mighty fine suggestion!

  18. @Ultimatehoratio: have you ever fitted a massive gold grill onto a gansta? do you have a grill that says "edward"…

    anyway, i have never really brought the family aspect of any team book, the exception being Fantastic Four, it just seems creepy the way these people are overly familiar with each other.

    it’s like that forced niceness when someone at work has a birthday and the boss makes you sit around and chat with a piece of cake in your hand. it’s just not the way people normally interact.

     so maybe they’re are more like a cult than a family

  19. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Okay, it’s not iFlossboy.  

  20. I agree this was a great book and a nice send off by johns to the character that was inspired by his sister, but i think the book that had the most "holy shit" moments in it was Legion of 3 worlds. 

  21. @MrGlass L3W had the most ‘holy shit’ moments? I’d go with half of that . . .

    As for this JSA, it was pretty good but . . . actually, I don’t know how to post images here and there’s a couple I wanted to bring up. OK if I redirect, briefly?

     http://dangermart.blogspot.com/

  22. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    No offense, Mart, but it almost seems like you’re actively trying to dislike your comics. You make some valid points, but even as a snob, I’m kind of shocked at the cynicism. 

    Then, I’m a pretty sappy snob.   

  23. No offence taken, but there are loads of positive reviews. I’m not here to advertise my cheap little blog (anymore than I have, ulp) but the Underground review I also did tonight was hugely positive, JSA was generally so. OK, I hated L3W but liked the first couple of issues (which I think I reviewed) and just going down April an awful lot of my picks are very positive – Mighty Avengers, Oracle, JLA, Superman: WONK, Secret Six, Dark Reign FF . . .

     Hey, I’m Little Marty Sunshine.

  24. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Wildcat loves you, Mart.  

    (Don’t mind me. Too sensitive about my Justice Society.)   

  25. I loved this issue, but I just thought L3W was better, slightly.

    However, this issue was heartwarming and exactly how I wanted to see how this run ended. 

  26. The Life and Times of Saviour 28 was REALLY good. it’s about a Captain America/Superman type superhero that realises the fulitity of voilance at the end of his career and is labelled a traitor after campaigning against the war in Iraq. REALLY good. it’s reflects on americia’s obsession with violent entertainment.

    @Conor: being in New York and all, are you super paranoid about the swine flu? i would be lossing my mind. MY MIND

  27. @edward

    Not a lot of ganstas here.  Full of Redneck Mafia though.  Instead of getting grills they prefer not to bother with brushing or flossing.

    JSA is one of those books I always wanted to like and tried to get into several times, but it never stuck.  Back in the 80s I was a big fan of The All-Star Squardon.  Maybe with the new creative team I’m ready to give it another go.

  28. Don’t worry, Mart — I’m pretty much with ya on the reviews. Legion of Three Worlds encapsulates, for me, everything DC is doing wrong in recent years. It’s an overly simplistic plot (one long fight scene, really), that seems to exist to undo steps that DC editorial has made recently — and it’s doing it with explanations that are barely less hokey than a "superboy punch."

  29. (apologies for repeating myself)

  30. @edward: No, I’m not.

  31. got all 3 of the issues to make the awesome picture!! it was an awesome issue and i missed Eagleshams art!!

  32. @Conor

    I agree with all your sentiments by saying that this final issue made me sad.

    re:swine flu.  I don’t understand why everyone gives a sh*t when most won’t even get a regular flu shot.

  33. man, i live in sunny australia i have the flu like a motherf%^&*&. i think seeing the media turn the story into a stephen king novel made my immune system to give up

  34. give up, no "to"

  35. @UncleBob – because of Babe

  36. Finally read this issue; it’s definitely my pick this week.

    Fantastic issue.

  37. Totally agree, this issue was FUN in a totally different way and Egelsham(?) art was the sweeet icing

     

  38. It’s like, I don’t know what to make my pick of the week, Johns? Johns or….Johns!?!?!

     I ran laughingly from room to room in my apartment to show my girlfriend the page where the entire team is in the dentist’s examination room. DE-lightful. My only concern is with Johns leaving this book, is it bound for the horrid domain of Titans and Teen Titans alike? Answer: Probably.  

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