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Justice Society of America #16

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2008
By: Erik Norris

Geoff Johns
Fernando Pasarin, Rebecca Buchman (i), Hi-Fi (c)
DC Comics
Justice Society of America has become quite a drag. It saddens me to no end because this relaunch started off so incredibly strong with the first arc, “The Next Age”. But this Kingdom Come sequel seems to be taking its damn time and I have grown rather bored.

Issue #16 is the first chapter of “Gog” but it sure doesn’t feel like it. The last arc “ended” without a concrete conclusion (sure to make trade waiters rather pissed) and this arc starts right where the last ended off. We have a god, Gog, from the 3rd World that has survived, buried under Earth, and he has finally been set free. The twist comes when this God isn’t the villain the Justice Society tags him as, instead a true savior of humankind. He parades around, curing incurable diseases and the society doesn’t know how to react. People that make up the Society are the ones supposed to be helping hold up humanity, but instead they have become mere set pieces, a true twist on the superhero / savior situation.

The first highlight of the issue comes from Mr. Terrific coming face to face with a being he has no faith in. See Mr. Terrific is an atheist, meaning he doesn’t believe in gods. They are ideologies, but he is now staring one in the eyes, towering 60 feet taller than he and his reaction is precisely in character. However, it’s unfortunately poorly depicted by Fernando Pasarin. Not to say Pasarin’s craft is crap but this would have been a perfect issue for Dale Eaglesham to handle because of the emotional resonance with a lot of characters, fitting his style. Instead he drew last month’s giant fight, and now has to sit out what could have been a blockbuster of emotion in issue #16.

Speaking of truly emotional moments, Damage gets his due this issue and it’s probably the best moment of the book. A focus since the series’ relaunch, Damage has grown a lot. Starting as a completely self hating young adult, rivaling Peter Parker’s worst days, Damage has evolved into a member of the society who now recognizes his faults, but focuses on his strengths to better his self esteem. He has become a much lighter and happy character, even with the burden he continues to carry. It’s for this reason I absolutely love Damage. He has been the best character, given the most depth and development even in the middle of a cast of fifteen plus. His defining moment came in issue #4 when he told Hourman, “I don’t wear the mask because I want too, I wear it because I have too,” in reference to his horribly scarred face from Infinite Crisis. He never set out to honor the legacy of his father, Al Pratt, but instead to hide his disfigurement. That is why the emotional weight of what happens at the end of issue #16 hits hard for readers that have been following Justice Society of America since its debut issue. However, while it hits hard now, it removed a lot of the mystic of the character and I now feel like his story is capped off and he will now disappear into the huge cast without further development, which is saddening. I feel like this disfigurement and torment could have carried far more stories and emotion. The surface was barely scratched, and now it’s over. Also, Fernando Pasarin does a fair job on the sequence but the emotion in Damage’s face would have had so much more weight if Eaglesham was penciling it.

At this point I feel like this review has shaped into why Dale Eaglesham should be chained to a desk and drawing Justice Society of America, without fill-ins, for all eternity. Geoff Johns is obviously taking this series in a more emotional, dramatic direction and the only penciler that should be drawing this is Eaglesham. Instead we get the series’ regular fill-in artist, Pasarin, and heavily emotional moments fall flat, thus making the issue rather boring. No plot developments really move forward, hinging all the weight of the issue on emotions hitting readers which they fail to deliver. Justice Society of America, please get better.



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