Current Reviews


Justice Society of America #9

Posted: Monday, September 17, 2007
By: Thom Young

“Thy Kingdom Come” (Prologue)

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist(s): Dale Eaglesham, Ruy Jose (i)

Publisher DC Comics

I enjoyed the first eight issues of Justice Society of America enough to continue buying (and reading) this series despite my efforts to cut down on the number of comics I buy. I found the best parts of the recent JLA/JSA crossover, “The Lightning Saga,” to be in this title rather than in Justice League of America.

Then, when I read the summary of Justice Society of America #9 on DC’s Web site, I started looking forward to this issue because DC told me to not miss “this important prologue to an event that will rock the world’s first and best super-team!” I knew what that event was, and I had no intention of missing it.

The title of this current story arc, “Thy Kingdom Come,” clearly indicates what this “event” will be—and I’ve been anticipating it ever since Mr. Terrific said in the second issue, “I’ve been working on a theory of superstring, dark matter and hyperspace for the last year and a half. Some scientists believe gravity is a weak signal from a parallel universe.”

Essentially, Geoff Johns is using M Theory to have Mr. Terrific “prove” the existence of parallel universes. Thus, as far back as that second issue, the idea of gravitational forces as some sort of connecting point between universes seemed inherent in what Johns was intending to do.

Additionally, given that he has gravitational powers (and seems to be from the future of a parallel universe based on Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come miniseries), it was obvious that Starman was to play a major role in the upcoming “parallel universe” storyline—and that he would probably cause the opening that would lead from one universe to the other.

Guess what? It all happens in this “prologue.”

Unfortunately, it all happens in the last four or five pages of this 22-page story. However, I guess that amount of space is appropriate for a “prologue” to a story arc. I’m not really complaining that we have only the last few pages devoted to the plot point that I’ve been waiting for. After all, DC’s summary for the issue on their Web site also indicated that this issue would have these subplots:

  • A fight between Wildcat and Wildcat
  • A firehouse pancake breakfast
  • Power Girl’s quest to unlock the secrets behind her cousin’s death
  • Citizen Steel’s new family, and
  • The fate of Starman!

That’s a lot to pack into one issue, so who could complain? However, we didn’t really get “the fate of Starman” in this issue—unless it’s that he was fated to open a doorway to the Kingdom Come universe.

I was also very interested in “Power Girl’s quest to unlock the secrets behind her cousin’s death”—but that was covered in a one-page dream sequence followed by a one-page “Power Girl in bed” sequence. Not much to go on there—but I wasn’t immune to the “charms” of the “Power Girl in bed” page.

Still, we did get that fight (for charity) between Ted “Wildcat” Grant and Tommy “Wildcat” Bronson. Father and son engaged in a pugilistic display in which Ted continuously sucker punches his boy (for charity) with blows to the back of Tommy’s head and lower back because, “What do ya think super-villains do?”

I guess the answer is that they hit you from behind with cheap shots.

Of course, maybe a Golden Age hero who is putting on a boxing exhibition for charity in front of a crowd of grade-school kids (page 10, panel 2) might play fair instead of sucker punching his own son. Maybe the lesson on what super-villains do should have been reserved for a private training session instead of a public exhibition in front of a group of impressionable youngsters.

Those youngsters, of course, are Citizen Steel’s nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, cousins, second cousins thrice removed, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. He’s like a new version of Simon and Kirby’s Guardian with his own huge extended-family version of the Golden Age Newsboy Legion.

In fact, at times, I felt like I was reading an old Simon and Kirby story from the 1940s—and that’s a good thing. The heroes getting together with a local fire department to host a pancake breakfast for the kids is very reminiscent of the type of thing Simon and Kirby (and other Golden Age creators) would do back in the 40s.

The problem, though, is that back in the Golden Age, the charity breakfast and the accompanying shenanigans of kids in the kitchen helping to make pancakes would have taken up one page in a 12-page story—with, perhaps, a “special pin-up picture” showing the heroes, the fire fighters, and the kids.

(Strange, but true: Back in the day, comic book companies used to actually encourage readers to cut a page from the comic and pin it up on their bedroom walls—not to get the readers to buy two copies of the comic, but to get them to save at least that one page.)

However, it’s no longer the Golden Age of comics—so we get 11 pages of the “pancake breakfast” (which includes the exhibition on how to sucker punch your son).

Those 11 pages include not one “special pin-up picture” but four—a one page pin-up of fire fighters and the two Wildcats with some villain; a two-page spread of the JSA, the fire fighters, and the kids in the station house; a one-and-a-half page splash of the two Wildcats in the boxing ring; and a two-page pin-up of the JSA and a fire truck racing down the street.

For those of you keeping score, that’s six and a half pages of “special pin-up pictures.” And that’s not all! Power Girl’s one-page dream sequence is a full-page splash. Starman’s opening of the gateway to another universe is a full-page splash. And the appearance of a hero from that parallel universe is also a full-page splash.

But wait, there’s more! We also have four other pages that have “half-page splashes.” All totaled, we have eleven and a half pages of special pin-up pictures and/or splashes!

Of course, DC needs all of those half-page, full-page, and double-page pictures to take up space so the story arc can be collected in a trade paperback within two months after the final issue comes out. It’s ridiculous—and it’s not like there wasn’t other things that could have been done with those pages.

For instance, Starman creates the rift between parallel dimensions by creating a black hole in a paint factory as a way of getting rid of a corpse that’s burning with a magical fire that Power Girl can’t handle. The problem, of course, is that creating a black hole on Earth would not just get rid of the corpse, it would also get rid of the Earth.

I know Starman doesn’t think too clearly, but someone should have told him to haul the corpse into deep space before creating his miniature black hole. His Legion flight ring would have protected him from both the heat of the fire and the vacuum of space (as he actually tells Green Lantern and Power Girl in the story).

Some of those half-page, full-page, and double-page pictures could have been replaced with actual story details—such as Jay Garrick explaining why Starman shouldn’t create a black hole on Earth, and Green Lantern transporting Starman and the corpse into deep space (et cetera).

We would have still had enough pages to fill up the eventual trade paperback, but it would have been pages of story rather than pin-ups.

However, I would have kept the double-page pin-up of the JSA racing down the street with the fire engine. It had a nice Golden Age feel to it. Otherwise, I’d like to see more story and less filler.

This wasn’t a bad issue, but it certainly could have been better—if only the creators had been more interested in telling a story than on filling the pages of the eventual “collected edition.”

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