"Ghost in the Castle"
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artists: Jerry Ordway and Luke Ross (p), Dave Meikis and Jerry Ordway (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: The Gentleman Ghost makes his final gambit in his efforts to kill the JSA and fulfill the obligation for his resurrection. An aspect of Wildcat's past holds the key to defeating him, but only if Stargirl can get that information to her teammates.
Commentary: If anyone was going to write the finale of this particular Justice Society series besides Geoff Johns then it had to be Paul Levitz. While the plot of this story arc comes right out of his initial run with the team, Levitz managed to keep the characterization and dialogue strictly within the current incarnation. Jay Garrick and Ted Grant were given some nice screen time, but so were Mister Terrific, Jakeem and Stargirl. Overall, the story had a high adventure vibe to it. I mean, how many JSA related stories end not only in a sword fight between a former boxing champion and a ghost but between opposing armies of phantoms? It's strange and everything about the concept says that it shouldn't work, but it does.
The two epilogues were especially well written. The brief scene between Power Girl and Stargirl had a good bit of humor to it, which was nice since Stargirl obviously felt like she let the team down. Power Girl was quick to set her straight, and I liked how it brought the second and third generations of the team together. As good as that scene was, the final one was better and cemented why the JSA is so important. Joan was right. It isn't the headquarters that made them not only a team but legends, it was their actions. Yes, there are other teams of heroes out there, but the JSA was the first. They're an inspiration and are still needed.
Sure Levitz highlighted this philosophy by having Joan Garrick slapping her husband upside the head, but what better way to drive a point home?
Jerry Ordway came through again with the art in this issue. I really like to see him draw the Golden-Age characters. They just look right. There have been some great artists on this title, but it was Ordway's art on All-Star Squadron that made me a fan of DC's Golden-Age characters, so on a personal level this arc has been a real treat. Luke Ross' work on the flashbacks was solid as well and once again, it served to separate the two parts of the story and give them each a distinctive feel.
In The End: I would be upset that this is the last issue of JSA if it wasn't for the fact that a new series is coming out in a few months. As last issues go, this one was very strong. Levitz hit all of the beats to close down shop, and while he told his own story, he also worked the feel that the series has carried for eighty-seven issues. This is the first Justice Society book to go the distance and, as far as the modern audience goes, attract a decent following. There's a lot to be said for that. JSA has come a long way since James Robinson and David Goyer first started it back in 1999. It was a gamble, but over the years it became one of my favorite books. I'm sure the new series will be good, but part of me is going to miss this one.
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