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Mild Mannered Reviews - JSA Comics

Justice Society of America #5 Justice Society of America #5

Justice Society of America #5

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 25, 2007

Cover date: June 2007

Writter: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Fernando Pasarin

"The Lightning Saga - Chapter Two"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Sandman laments his inability to sleep peacefully, speaking of his predecessor as he approaches Arkham Asylum with Batman, Geo-Force, and Starman.

They find a doctor who has been driven mad by a real manifestation of her psychotic horror. Sandman reluctantly reveals to the Batman that he has seen him killed in a dream, torn to shreds inside Arkham Asylum.

Batman realizes that it's Doctor Destiny, and they plan to sneak in. As they do, Starman rushes ahead, sneaking about to find Dream Girl.

Doctor Destiny uses his powers to make the team feel what the Arkham Asylum inmates fear: Batman. The Batmen attack, and the team defeats them.

Starman bursts in on Doctor Destiny, who conjures Kenz Nuhor, Dream Girl's former lover, to haunt Starman. Starman, desperate, speaks Dream Girl's wakeup word. Dream Girl tells Doctor Destiny how he will die, tortured in his own sleep, then pulls free, smashing him. Dream Girl tells Starman that by coming there, she's condemned one of them to die.

Superman visits his Fortress with his own team, getting his Legion ring. Red Tornado and Cyclone meet. He reveals that he was once a member of the Legion, (pre-Crisis style), and indicates that he hasn't seen any of the members since after the first Crisis.

Cyclone sees something wrong with Superman's many Legion statues. Superman sees Wildfire, speaking the code word to release the ring. He collapses, and Wildfire ejects Batman's belt, indicating that Brainiac 5 is behind the frozen Legion members.

4Story - 4: There's a factor I don't usually have to run with in plots, or at least, one I haven't really had to touch upon for several years. The introduction of a canon element. It's a rare thing. Birthright was a pain in the butt to deal with for this reason, but here, in this issue, it's pretty obvious. Apparently, Superman remembers the Crisis, he remembers what he used to know, he was also Superboy (or at least flew with the Legion), and he had his powers at a much younger age, presumably.

I don't like the idea of the sentimental, statue-collecting Superman. It smacks to me of an arrogance that doesn't befit his character, at least the character as I enjoy him. I see Superman as a guy who does what he does because it's the right thing to do, and to have a series of statues and a zoo and a place where he can banish people he doesn't like to a form of hell, well, I'm glad it disappeared in many ways. It's hard to make practical, and this issue is a good reason why. It looks corny. Even with Geoff Johns writing it, making it more serious, and taking it into a modern context, something he does admirably, it's still a grown @$$ man in a room full of wax statues he stares at when other people aren't around, and that's creepy.

I've no attachment to the Legion. I've tried. To me, it seems a very odd proposition, a group of heroes with no Superman in the future. The paradox angle, the similarity of the names (Lad and Girl), and most of the schlocky feel of the Silver Age turn me off. I LOVE the Silver Age, I do, but it has passed. At least for me.

So this really drug the story down for me. It's disheartening. Now I know what's going on with continuity, but I'm still not necessarily enjoying it, which sucks, because I WANT to enjoy Johns' work, and have for years. This story, even so, is pretty darned great when it isn't reveling in its decompression. "Ah, look! A new continuity feature!" That, coupled with Tornado and Cyclone spending a good bit of time on their meeting, pulled a bit at the story for me. Granted, the museum fed into the story, and that's great. It's still highlighted, and it's not something I'm particularly fond of. If anything, given the nature of paradox and how much Superman would know how time travel and mucking about can harm, it seems a step backwards for him to reveal and be playful about it.

I don't want a grim and gritty Superman, but I don't want the Superman where he was when I was five years old again. I mean, it's nice to look back, and that's why I read showcase characters, but stuff like this makes me believe the character has come to a prolonged utter standstill.

Tell me, honestly, what significant forward motion has occurred with Superman's character in the last ten years, since he got married? Anything? And yet the past continues to change.

That regardless, however, the story told, that of Doctor Destiny and Dream Girl, expounded further on the character of Starman, and gave us an interesting glimpse into the potential motivation of the villain. We learn it's a cross-time story with three major groups, and there are even hints of the Kingdom Come universe. I dig it. It was a very basic tale, but a strong one. Still going strong, even despite the Superman thing.

And it's not that I disagree with re-introducing the Legion as something a young Superman met and interacted with, or even what appears to be the complete reintroduction of the Silver Age. It's more that what came before was not really, ultimately, that horrible, and could have led into this without a destruction of what came before. I don't understand the need. It opens up contradictions. So Superman remembers pre-Crisis, now? Does he remember Byrne? Does he remember Birthright?

So say the editors: Neal, be patient, we'll tell it in story!

Says Neal, in response: But why?

5Art - 5: Fine work. The characters are all vivid and very personal. I especially liked the multiple Batman renditions, the Gotham police, Superman wherever he was, and with a spread like the Legion had, it's hard not to make a boring image, and yet it popped, which rocks.

5Cover Art - 5: I'm just waiting for this same style of cover to get boring. I'm ready to leap. I've indicated as much in previous review. But it just keeps ruling, I can't really complain. This is one of the better pictures of Sandman that I've ever seen.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2007

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