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The Team Hasn't Split?

January 17, 2010

     As the second piece of the new status quo for the Justice Society of America, we have Matt Sturges’ JSA All-Stars, which features the younger members of the team (mostly) training to be superheroes under the watchful eyes of Magog and Power Girl.  The team’s first threat is a random neo-communist organization that attacks New York City, seemingly under the direction of the same mysterious threat that organized the assault in the normal JSA title.  After discovering that the enemy is a bunch of androids, they manage to win rather easily and capture one android for information-gathering (though Power Girl still finds time to get some of her clothes shredded).  Newscasters ask some of the rather obvious questions that I have been asking myself, like why Magog is one of the two leaders of the team, and the already repetitive question of whether or not Liberty Belle and Hourman are getting divorced.  The team goes back to their new headquarters, the caretaker of whom is the original Hourman, Rex Mason.  They analyze the robot and then spend some time trying to figure out a name for their team.  Power Girl explains to Stargirl that she asked her to join the team because she sets a good example for the rest of the group.  Then, we get a charming training montage that shows just how inept and mismatched the team is, and Cyclone and King Chimera get a little crush on each other.  The current Sandman, whose name has for no apparent reason reverted to Sand, has more bad dreams, and Power Girl and Magog hold a news conference to explain the new JSA setup and unveil a museum.  Athur Pemberton, the original Star-Spangled Kid’s nephew, attacks with some gadgets and some assistants, Cyclone coins the name for the team, and Pemberton kidnaps Stargirl and executes all the people who were helping him.  And Power Girl’s clothes get shredded some more.  Then, the villain behind all these recent attacks is revealed to be Johnny Sorrow.  All the while, everyone claims that the team hasn’t split into two and is instead “trying something different,” despite the fact that, aside from Hourman and Liberty Belle, there seems to be no interaction between them.

     Well, I thought the whole arc leading up to this convinced me that this was a bad idea.  But this title convinced me even more.  Magog is a total prick, far less nuanced then when Geoff Johns wrote him, as is King Chimera.  I don’t know why some twit out of the marines thinks he’s capable of leading a superhero team, but he clearly isn’t as he tries to treat it just like an army.  Even though some of these people are kids with their own personalities and powers to back up their willfullness.  That’s not to insult marines, but I doubt that any normal marine would think himself a fit leader with no actual training.  Stargirl, Hourman, Cyclone, and Power Girl definitely don’t belong on this team either, at least not the way it’s being portrayed.  And Sturges is using Power Girl as nothing more than a foil for Magog and some cheesecake for whenever there’s a fight.  I mean, that’s how her character is often used, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  I’m not really sure why someone who was a young adult when he died has a nephew who is an old man, but maybe I’m just missing some continuity there.  Speaking of continuity, why is Sandman back to being Sand?  Anyway, don’t know much about Johnny Sorrow either, but he looks like he could be interesting.  And Freddie E. Williams III’s art is pretty terrible, with characters like Magog and Citizen Steel (due to their metal parts) just looking like masses of muscle lines and glinting metal, characters’ faces often getting scrunched up, and the treatment of Power Girl that goes along with the cheesecake thing.  Add to that the obvious lack of proper editing (misspellings and King Chimera saying a line that was obviously meant for Damage), and you’ve got a pretty crappy comic book.  I’ll stick to trade paperbacks for the Justice Society from now on, and that’s just because I care about the characters.  But at least Bill Willingham isn’t totally mishandling them.  And I still see no real justification for splitting up the team aside from Magog being an self-important ass.

Plot: 5.0      Art: 5.7      Dialogue: 5.2      Overall: 5.0

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