Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Justice Society of America (vol.3) Annual #1 (2008)

Justice Society of America (vol.3) Annual #1 (September, 2008)
"Earth-2, Chapter One: Golden Age / Chapter Two: The Hunted"
Writer - Geoff Johns
Penciller - Jerry Ordway
Inker - Bob Wiacek
Colorist - Hi-Fi
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor - Harvey Richards
Editor - Michael Siglain
Cover Price: $3.99

Alright, we're finally covering the Earth-2 portion of the JSA/Gog storyline.  Not that I haven't wanted to share this one... it's just that I couldn't find the dang thing.  As mentioned (and likely to mention several more times this month), we're moving house... which makes much of our livable space look as though several comic shops have exploded.

Could'a sworn this one was filed in my spare-room library... but, nope... it was in the loft, amid a pile of unread Marvel.  Oh well, better late than never!


We open atop a building in Gotham City where the Huntress (Helena Wayne) discusses the current state of her world.  Batman is dead... several of his villains are also dead.  She peers into a hospital window where she sees a man wrapped in bandages.  This is Harry, more on him in a bit... and the man behind his injuries is the Joker.  Helena vows to find the Joker and do to him what Batman wouldn't.

As she swings off the roof, she witnesses a bolt of temporal lightning resulting in a loud pink flash of light slamming into an alley below.  Upon investigation, she discovers her old friend Power Girl!  She radios Star-Spangled Kid with the news.

We shift to Kara being examined by Dr. Midnight as Jade looks on.  In the hallway, Huntress is approached by an excited Robin (Dick Grayson), hoping that if Power Girl is back, perhaps Superman and Lois won't be far behind.  Here we learn that Helena has been on an extended leave of absence from their team... and also, a bit more about the identity of our bandaged buddy from earlier.  His name is Harry Sims and he's a Gotham City District Attorney.  With Harvey Dent dead, the Joker decided to try his hand at making another Two-Face, by splashing acid in his face!  Knowing that Sims and Helena had gotten engaged that night (more on that in a bit), Dick attempts to comfort her.  She pulls away... claiming that she will bring the Joker in herself.

Jade pokes her head out into the hallway to let the quarreling Gothamites that Power Girl has begun to stir.  Kara is, understandably shocked to find herself surrounded by her old friends, and immediately assumes that it's a Psycho-Pirate trick.  As her friends attempt to comfort her, she shoves them away and attempts to flee the facility.  Along the way, she recalls the events of Justice Society of America (vol.3) #17, where Gog began bestowing "gifts" on the team.  She slams through a door... and sees a logo, that's almost familiar.

She looks up, and finds that she has just bellied up to the table of the Justice Society Infinity!  I gotta say, how awesome must it have been for Jerry Ordway to draw this page?  Who says you can't go home again?  Well... more on that in a bit, I suppose.

Coming around to the idea that this isn't some sort of hallucination or trick, Power Girl starts to break down.  After a group hug and collecting herself, we get some Crisis on Infinite Earths discussion... and learn that (post-Infinite Crisis), Earth-2 was never folded into the singular DC Earth... instead, that Earth was simply a "new" Earth, an amalgamation of the other Earths!  Ya follow?

The conversation shifts to "Whatever Happened to their Man of Tomorrow?", and Kara shares with them the story of his sacrifice (and message) during Infinite Crisis.

That night we join Dr. Fate and the Spectre as they share their feelings on the "blood of the Multiverse".  They fear that Earth-2 is not safe.

Also that night, Power Girl decides to join Huntress on her patrol.  Helena is staking out a fella who is trying to get a gig working for the Joker's gang... hopeful that he will lead her to her quarry.  She is apologetic about leaving her back the J.S.I. headquarters, and alludes to having differences with the team at this point.  Kara shares that she left a lot of good people behind on "her" Goggified Earth... and she's really like to contact them.  Helena offers to bring her to see Jay Garrick the next day, suggesting that he should be of assistance.

The pair continues their surveillance until the time is right... and then take the fight to the Joker's gang, making rather short work of them.  They bust into a back-room (with a door which reads "Do not Open til X-Mas"), and finally find... the Joker.  Holy smokes, is he wearing The Button?!

Huntress heads in for (presumably) the kill, but Kara holds her back.  The Joker compliments Helena on growing up to look so much like her mother, before bursting into some painful laughter... ya see, it hurts him to laugh, which is quite the quandary.  He fires up a bad-ass joy buzzer, and goes to grab Helena.  Kara steps in, and grabs his hand instead... frying him but good!

We rejoin Kara and Helena back atop the building from the open.  They are looking into the hospital window where Harry Sims lay.  It's now revealed that the Joker's attack happened literally just as Harry proposed marriage... robbing her of the opportunity to say no.  Now she's stuck with a man she doesn't love... because, to leave him now would be a pretty cruddy thing to do.  She admits to having been in love with another for her entire life... and it doesn't take a genius to realize she's talking about Dick Grayson.

Helena makes Kara promise not to tell anyone... especially not Dick himself, and the pair embrace, until they are interrupted by... Power Girl???

This second Power Girl claims to be the Earth-2 original... and explains that she has been off searching for Superman.  She quizzes "our" Power Girl about something she had told Helena before leaving... and she comes up blank.  This is enough for Power Girl-2 to throw down.

Huntress is a quick convert to Power Girl-2's story... and suggests our "windowed" version might be Clayface... or his daughter.  She is furious that she spilled the beans about her feelings for Dick to an "imposter"... and the Earth-2 duo continue to beat the hell out of Kara.  The issue ends with the Justice Society Infinity being tipped off... and heading out to track down the "fake".


Well, there we go!

A little bit to unpack here... starting with the Crisis blibbuh-blabbuh.  It's an interesting wrinkle (if I'm even understanding it right) that the post-Crisis DC Earth wasn't the "sole" merged Earth after all, rather a new Earth comprised of elements of all the others.  I suppose it doesn't make a terrible amount of difference either way... but it's still fun to consider the amount of thought put into it.

Speaking multiversally, I was just joking when I pointed it out, but if they can find a way to tie this into The Button/Doomsday Clock event, how wild would that be?  Even as just a throw-away... that would be pretty fun.

Seeing the combined Justice Society and Infinity Inc. team was pretty neat.  It feels like a natural progression... especially considering that the "statesmen" of the Society have aged and retired.  Minus Alan and Jay, the Earth-2 Society did have a decent-sized hole to fill... so why not promote some of the heirs?

I mentioned it during the synopsis, but... man, how cool must it have been for Jerry Ordway to revisit these characters?  Not to put words in anybody's mouth, but getting this assignment must've been like "going home" again.  Just such familiarity and passion here.  It really is quite the good-lookin' book.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it in earlier discussions, but having all of the Earth-2 bits in "Ordway vision" has been a ton of fun!

I don't wanna go too deep into the particulars of the story... as we'll be discussing much of the fallout as our Justice Society reread continues.  I can say that I'm having a great time, and was really glad to finally get around to reading this chapter.  If I were to make a single non-glowing observation... I think I'd suggest that this might've made a better series of back-up strips for the main JSA series.  There would be feelings of progression, rather than getting everything at once.  This issue, while enjoyable, kinda flew by... once I found myself getting comfortable... it ended!  Now I'll concede, that might've been the point... but I feel like it might've been more impactful had we a little time to reflect.

Overall... great issue... great story... great series!  If you're reading the Gog storyline, this is a must-have.  This issue is included in the Thy Kingdom Come collection as well as the JSA Omnibus, Volume 3... it is available digitally.


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