March 18, 2010

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JSA Volume 1

Written by James Robinson and David Goyer
Illustrated by Scott Benefiel, Stephen Sadowski, Derec Aucoin and Various Artists
DC

This is another one of those series that I feel like I should have been reading before now, but here we go, better late than never.

Once upon a time (and once in awhile when DC needed them), the Justice Society was as big as the JLA. But their time had passed, even if a few of the heroes still remain active.

All this changes when Wesley Dodds (the original Sandman) has one final dream before death. If the old and the new carrying the torch of the JSA don't stop a sinister baby-snatching, the world will suffer a terrible fate. Soon a new band of heroes must form a new JSA to right the wrongs only they can--okay, well maybe the JLA could, too--fight.

I enjoyed this well enough and I'm happy to see some of these characters get featured (for no good reason I really like the Golden Age Flash and Green Lantern), but the problem for Robinson and Goyer is that DC's continuity is just so screwed up at the time of the writing (I can't speak for now) that they have to jump through all kinds of hoops to try and get this team together. Frankly, it's distracting. Think of the Fantastic Four having to say things like, "well, Reed's aging back to normal and Sue really traveled back in time to have those adventures. Johnny's the son of the original Human Torch while Ben was the Thing for many years, then got caught in one of his thing suits and now lives on to fight crime."

You see what I mean? I wish I was making those up, but all of those ideas are in here.

I also feel like some people are shoe-horned, like Mr. Terrific and particularly Hawkgirl, whose debut does not come off very well at all. The cast of the JSA is just too big to be doing origin stories in the team book. Imagine if Morrison's JLA (or even the new one) took most of the first arc trying to tell us how the Big Guns got their powers. It slows things down if you're trying to do it at the same time as a main story.

Still, there's a lot to like. Black Canary's monologue while fighting is great, as are the scenes in a certain location. They do the best they can to get everyone screen time, and I like that they didn't forget about the link between Dodds and Gaiman's work. The art is serviceable, though nothing special. The creations of Alan are pretty cool, though, and props for using John Stewart in a supporting role while his legs were being fixed.

Robinson and Goyer do a good job with the dialog in general, even if it does have to be exposition-heavy. They got the JSA off to a good start; I'm sure as the book progresses it will lose some of the clunkiness and be worthy of some of the hype.