Current Reviews


JSA: Classified #17

Posted: Monday, October 2, 2006
By: Jim Beard

Writer - Tony Bedard
Artists: Scott McDaniel (p), Andy Owens (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

JSA Classified was sick, but it got better.

After a strong kick-off and a soon-after nose-dive of tepid and pedestrian stories, the JSA companion title has returned to a bit of greatness with the newest issue. Writer Tony Bedard surprised me with a solid tale of a JSAer that never really turned me on before, either father or son incarnation: Hourman.

The Man of the Hour’s never been a particularly flashy hero, basically being a strong guy with a cape and a more-or-less old school cliché of “powers from a substance.” But Bedard waded into this JSA:C story with both fists flying, a solid artist beside him, and an intriguing look at a notorious and controversial Bat-villain…, and came out with a heckuva good opening salvo (this issue is part 1 of 2).

One of the things I appreciated most is the use of the original Golden Age Hourman, Rex “Tick Tock” Tyler. Not only does ol’ Rex get some quality panel time, he almost gets some quality lovin’ t’boot! His amorous night with his beloved wife is interrupted by none other than Batman’s bane, Bane. The hulking baddie has some news for Rex and his son, Rick (the current Hourman): he’s dying and he wants to live. The plot spins out from there as Rick and Bane race to Rex’s old chemical company stomping grounds to dig up info that will make or break Bane’s existence, and possibly save innocent lives in the villain’s native country.

What’s important here is the strange set-up between Bane and Hourman. Both are men who derive their powers from a drug, yes, but one might think the similarities end there. Not so, and we learn a few things on both sides that elevate this from the usual super-hero romp. I gauge a good comic book by how much I am absorbed into the goings-on. How did this issue of JSA:C suck me in? Well, let’s just say I was practically yelling out loud to Rick to watch his back, stop being so stupid, and never, ever let Bane into his heart.

What? Did I just call Rick stupid? Hourman, a dummy? How can that be a good comic? Read it, my friends, and let Bedard’s plot and dialogue snatch you up into the funky relationship between these two characters and you’ll see what I mean. Rick slowly begins to let his guard down over the course of this issue, and you’ll be on tenterhooks waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it does. It’s also an important story, as far as it having a possibly major impact on an original JSA member, one Rex Tyler.

Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens deliver some clean lines, strong layouts, and slam-bang action in this book. There are plenty of McDaniel detractors, sure, but when you peruse these pages, you’ll realize that he’s the perfect artist for Bane, and possibly even for Hourman. It’s a pleasure to spend a bit of time with JSA: Classified once again.

Can’t wait for Part 2!

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