Justice Society of America (vol.3) #1 (February, 2007)
“The Next Age, Chapter 1”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Dale Eaglesham
Inker – Art Thibert
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Colors – Jeremy Cox
Assistant Editor – Harvey Richards
Editors – Stephen Wacker & Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
Been a bit of a rough week at ol’ Casa Chris… let’s make it all go away with some good old comfort food.
We open during the end of World War III… the second one the DC Universe had. Ya see, the first one happened during the Grant Morrison JLA run… the second, as an aside toward the end of the weekly series 52. Two World War III’s in seven years? Them’s some bad times. Anyhoo, here we observe a trio of Golden-Agers, Flash, Green Lantern, and Wildcat being approached by Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman about how this new world needs “better good guys”. Alan’s got an idea.
We shift scenes to a crime scene in Westmoreland County, Virginia. There is a dead woman, and her two children in a house swarming with local police. At the door stands Mr. America, otherwise known as Trey Thompson… not Tex Thompson, who was the Mr. America who first appeared wayyyyy back in Action Comics #1. Following his thoughts, we learn that he was an FBI Agent who kinda took the law into his own hands… beating the holy hell out of a rapist who looked to be dodging a charge. His former partner, Jeffrey Graves is present at the crime scene, but is nice enough to pretend not to recognize him. We learn here that the family who lived in this house, was Trey’s. It’s his wife and kids who were just murdered… by poison.
We jump back to the Justice Society brownstone, where our Golden Age buddies are tacking some photos to a bulletin board. So far, they’ve chosen Mr. Terrific, Power Girl, Liberty Belle, Hourman, Stargirl, and Dr. Mid-Nite.
Turning the page we get a neat callback to the cover of All-Star Squadron #1, where Flash, Green Lantern, and Wildcat are poring over photos for perspective new members. Love stuff like this!
From here we get a nice timeline of the Justice Society… even featuring the Super Squad! Man, talk about a thing that was just under my nose the whole time. Since this is post-Infinite Crisis… I think that means that Earth-2 stuff happened… maybe? I dunno, it’s been forever (and several reboots) since I’ve read it. Seeing the Super Squad here, including the Earth-2 Robin makes me think so. Either way, the JSA is on a recruitment tour… and they’re going to take us along for the ride.
We jump to Philadelphia where Damage is in the middle of a fight with Rebel… he’s the one wearing the Stars ‘n Bars, by the way. The fight gets personal, as Rebel mocks Damage’s er, damaged face. Our boy rallies and beats the baddie.
|The 52-Fetish has already begun!|
After exchanging some more pleasantries with the Confederate criminal, Damage angrily throws a squad car… which is luckily caught by Hourman and Liberty Belle before it can cause too much, er… damage.
They offer the lad a spot in the Society… but he starts playing hard-to-get. He claims he’s already turned down offers from the Teen Titans and the Freedom Fighters… whoa-oh… Now if we know anything about “standards”, we know that the 1 Year Later Teen Titans didn’t have any when it came to adding new recruits. Hourman and Belle convince him to join up by paying for the, er… damage he’s done. This kid sure lives up to his namesake… but I suppose that’s the point.
We rejoin Mr. America as he is in pursuit of Catalyst, the Human Drug Arsenal. It had been deduced that his family was poisoned and died all within an hour… which made him recall a World War II era chemical weapon referred to as “Dew of Death”. He confronts Catalyst just as he’s about to kill his (Mr. America’s) younger brother. The scene cuts off before we can say for certain… but it appears that Mr. America might just have used some lethal force here.
And now for something completely different… we next meet Harvard student Maxine Hunkel… Hunkel, now that sounds familiar, don’t it? We get to see her be a star student and all-around goody-two-shoes. We also get to see her atop a building about to jump! No, no, she’s not suicidal… although she does have herself a bit of “atypical depression”… she’s up there to see if she can fly! And, um… turns out, she can!
After her gravity-defying exhibition, she finds herself joined by Power Girl and Mr. Terrific… and she is offered a spot on the Justice Society of America. She’s, ya know… kinda excited.
Next stop, Opal City where a news copter is trying to get a better shot at a burning building. In flying too close, they wind up losing their main rotor blade… it’s a good thing for them that Starman… no, not that one, or that one… not even that one… but this one, is nearby!
He places the chopper down… and talks about how happy he is that it’s “Sloppy Joe Day”. Looks like our man’s got himself a bit of an issue. We follow him back to the Psyche Unit he resides in… and, lemme tell ya, dude dances his way back home… if he was painted red you’d almost mistake him for Deadpool.
When he gets back to his room, he is joined by Dr. Mid-Nite and Stargirl… they’d like to offer him a spot on the team, despite a doctor advising them that this Starman is a Borderline Schizophrenic. Starman is more than happy to join… as he’s “lost his mind” and is hopeful Dr. Mid-Nite might “help him find it”.
We jump back to the brownstone where Wildcat is going to town on a heavy bag. He is joined by Green Lantern and Flash… who have something important to tell him… well, make that, someone important to show him. Ted’s concerned because Jay’s no longer smiling… and, Jay’s always smiling.
Back to Mr. America, as he sits atop a building… haunted by the sounds, smells, and visions of his family. Before he can truly cope… truly digest what happened, he is approached by a shadowy individual.
Back at the brownstone, Maxine has arrived. She hugs her grandmother, Ma Hunkel… ya know, the original Red Tornado, with the pot on her head. Worth mentioning that we also see that Obsidian is present as sort of a security guard. Ma guides Maxine into the meeting room, and we get our first look at the new team.
We wrap-up our chapter with the Golden-Age trio heading into Brooklyn where they see a boy named Tom. At the very same moment, the body of Mr. America plummets through the Justice Society skylight… landing right on their meeting table. Back in Brooklyn, Wildcat learns that this Tom… is actually his own son!
Dammit I love this series.
It boggles my mind that DC Comics didn’t want the JSA as part of their history post-Flashpoint. I’ll leave that there, because I could easily write several hundred (repetitive and ranty) words on the subject… and let’s face it, we’ve already been there and done that several times over at the humble blog.
This book, despite some of the violence, is always so comforting to me. There’s just something about the Justice Society that feels “homey”. No matter what the roll call, setting, or situation, it always feels like home.
Let’s chat up this issue a bit. We’ve got Mr. America… who, if research is to be believed, makes his first appearance… here. This Trey Thompson version isn’t the Golden Age fella, clearly… I think last we saw that guy, he was being thawed out by the Hero Hotline. Anyhoo, his family has clearly been targeted, and likely by the shadowy figure who approached him on the roof. I appreciated his depiction here as a guy willing to take the law into his own hands. Especially during this time of loss and stress… it would only seem natural for a dude with “justice issues” to resort to lethal force… if, in fact, that’s what happened. I guess I can also appreciate the ambiguity.
We also meet Maxine Hunkel, who might be the first clue that the Kingdom Come future might come to pass… the first of many, especially in this series. Can’t say that I was the biggest fan of Kingdom Come, though I did read it when I was a relative DC Comics novice, I am a big fan of lore… and making everything matter. So, I was definitely on board for bringing Kingdom Come into (a) continuity. For the character herself, I dig the “fangirl” approach, and find it somewhat charming. Similar attempts have been made lately elsewhere… and I found those wildly annoying… and a touch too clever by half.
Having Deadpoo… er, Starman join is pretty neat (and another excellent use of DC Comics lore), and I don’t recall how it all worked itself out. It’s almost jarring just how Deadpooly he is here. I’m intrigued though, and (time permitting) would love to work my way through this series to see where the ball lands.
Wildcat being revealed to be Tom’s dad… eh, I can take it or leave it. I’m not opposed to it, and it does serve to facilitate a new team member down the line, so that’s cool. I really like Ted knowing Jay’s “tell” though, him not smiling tipping him off was a neat touch, and showed how well they all know each other.
Personal aside, I recall working on a project for a major pharmaceutical company some years back. I was brought in as a transitional director, and was tasked with “filling seats”. Basically bringing temp workers in to replace full-timers who were moving on to other departments or retirement… or the unemployment line, while the main department moved across country.
This is where I learned that I had a tell when it came to delivering bad news. Turns out any time I had to “walk somebody out” I wouldn’t be carrying my coffee cup. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a 24-hour coffee drinker… hell, I’m drinking a cup right now. I guess I bring that with me when I’m working… and tend to always carry my mug. That being said… anytime folks saw me approach without my coffee cup, they braced themselves for bad news. Nobody told me this “tell” until the project was wrapping up… and I’m sorta glad they didn’t. Don’t know if I’ll ever have another opportunity to share that (wildly interesting) story, so figured why not stick it here?
How ’bout that art? I mean, really now… how ’bout it? Damn, this is a pretty book. I mean, on all cylinders… pencils, inks, colors… that cover (!!!), what a package! This truly feels like an “event”… an important next chapter in the lives of some beloved (and new) heroes. If/when DC finally decides to reintroduce this team, I can only hope it’s treated with half the reverence it gets here.
Overall… duh, read this comic. It’s only a buck digitally! It’s also been collected, so there’s that too. I definitely believe that if you’re a fan of DC Comics, you’ll dig this book.
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