Justice Society of America (vol.3) #2 (March, 2007)
Back in Brooklyn, we see a… hmm, well, it’s not touching, but it’s a father and son reunion (can we call it a reunion if they’re only meeting for the first time?). Wildcat is surprised that young Tommy is not surprised to hear that he’s his pop. Ya see, Tommy’s known all along. Alan and Jay are alerted by an alarm from the brownstone… it would appear as though the skylight has been breached… by a fella they had their eye on.
We remember our other cliffhanger, right? Mr. America crashed through the skylight and landed right on the JSA conference table. It’s here we see just how hard he landed… the detail here is amazing. We can see droplets of blood and tiny shards of glass everywhere… even on some of the other Society members. I suppose we can deduce that Mr. America was a potential new recruit for this new look-JSA.
Damage makes some insensitive, but not completely out of line comments about Mr. America’s arsenal and costume… “all he’s got is a domino mask and a whip”. Yeah, he’s got a point… but now’s probably not the time. Suddenly, everything starts going wonky… everything (and everyone) begins to float. Turns out the schizo-Starman isn’t handling this all that well, and his gravity powers begin overwhelming him. He is also haunted by memories of murder… Kenz Nuhor… a vote that didn’t go in his favor (hmm…). It’s funny, all Dr. Mid-Nite can say is that he’s “contaminating a crime scene”. Power Girl helps him get things under control… and once the dust (and everything else) settles, Starman states that there’s a Lightning Storm on the horizon.
We rejoin Ted and Tommy in the latter’s apartment. We learn that his mother’s name was Marilyn Bronson, and she passed away from Cancer the year prior. It’s clear that she was just a one-night-stand for ol’ Ted… something that Tom doesn’t hold against him. While he harbors no ill will, he isn’t interested in pursuing an actual father-son relationship. In a cute bit, he claims he won’t follow Ted’s footsteps into costumed crimefighting… and says the last time he got into a fight was the eighth grade… not missing a beat, Ted asks if he “won”. Tommy replies, with a smirk, that he didn’t.
Back at the brownstone, Stargirl and Maxine have pulled away from the group. Maxine is having a difficult time processing what she had just seen. Hell, she was up close and personal with the event, she had bits of the poor guy’s blood spattered on her! Courtney does her best to comfort her, revealing that on her “first day” Wesley Dodds was murdered. She leads Maxine into, er, the Justice Society’s sewing room so they can design her a costume.
Elsewhere, Dr. Mid-Nite is preparing to perform an autopsy on Mr. America. He mentions that he can “see” an object lodged in the poor fella’s chest with his infrared vision. The trio lament the fact that, in light of the Thompson family tree being hacked to pieces on this day, Mr. America’s bloodline has been wiped out.
We meet up with Nate Heywood as he arrives at the latest Heywood family barbecue. He is hit in the back with an errant football, which drops him to a knee. His… cousin, nephew, brother… some kid named Kirk runs over to check on him. They have a sorta contentious chat, Nate really doesn’t feel up to seeing the fam. Suddenly, Hawkman bursts into the scene doing battle with the Fourth Reich! Kirk gets tapped by Reichsmark… which turns him into a metallic statue!
We learn that the Reich is working under the orders of a mysterious “benefactor”. It would appear as though they’re here to chop down another superhero family tree!
Back at the Brownstone, Starman is wracking his brain scribbling away on a chalkboard while Power Girl and Mr. Terrific try to make sense of everything that’s been going down. Starman mentions that the Great Disaster is coming. He continues his calculations… parallel universes… maybe he’s from the future… maybe he’s from somewhere else altogether… maybe it’s both… maybe it’s neither… all he knows for sure is that he had been trapped someplace that was “blown to Kingdom Come“!
We comics enthusiasts often refer to stories/runs/issues as being “love letters” to such-and-such era/creator/character… and as much as I hate being cliche, this is totally a love letter to just about everything All-Star. Reading something like this makes it so difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that Geoff Johns was completely “on board” for the universal toilet flush that was The New-52!. He seems to do his best work when he is covered with a continuity-quilt. This is where he seems the most passionate. Even if, from time to time, he adds wrinkles I don’t necessarily agree with or appreciate, he almost always makes things “fit” and feel like they matter… and belong.
We’ve got some stuff to unpack here… let’s start with the “benefactor”. I’m sure a lotta folks reading might already know who’s behind this… but I won’t say it outright. I think their approach here is really interesting, hiring baddies out to methodically chop down superhero family trees. Seems so sinister, while at the same time… so simple! I will say that it was really cool to see Hawkman wrecking some fools too!
The Heywood deal was interesting… a former football star (and family hero) having lost his leg, and apparently hooked on pain-killers opens up some story options. Plus it’s another dude who is angry and bitter toward the world… which often leads to nice stories of overcoming obstacles and whatnot. Commander Steel was never a favorite of mine (not that I disliked him either), but I’m still interested.
Ted and Tom’s scenes were… not at all what I was expecting. Perhaps it’s due to my having watched Days of Our Lives for the better part of twenty years, but I’m used to “secret offspring” stories being far less subtle than this. It’s either the kid turns up being spitefully evil… or, totally loving… but, secretly spitefully evil and just waiting for the perfect time to lash out. Tommy here just seems cool with everything. He’s not aggressively off-put by Ted’s visit, while at the same time isn’t really keen on forging any bonds. Their chat didn’t feel contentious in the slightest… just tinged with discomfort, which feels like the most human reaction to such a situation.
The brownstoners… Damage being a jerk about Mr. America’s gear fits the character. He’s angry at the world… and when you’re in such a state, sarcasm and pithy commentary are pretty much your “go-to’s” (trust me). Maxine and Courtney’s little scene was nice. I remember the first time I read this I was so impressed that they’d turned newbie-POV character Stargirl into a bonafide veteran. Here she was comforting this volume’s fish out of water newbie. What’s not to like about that?
It feels like in any other book the Starman bits would be the runaway highlight… but in a book this packed, it’s just yet another excellent and engaging scene. I love him having memories pop into his head… referencing the death of Kenz… being voted out of the Legion. I might love it more that I actually have the context, which I am well over 100% certain I did not have the first time around. The mysteries just keep piling on, even referring to…
… Hey, Kingdom Come being pulled into the mainstream DC Universe! Howsabout that? When the initial shock of DC Universe Rebirth wore off, and we knew that the Watchmen mythos was on its way to the mainstream DCU, this was the story that popped into my head as the last time I’d experienced something like that. I’ll lay it out, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kingdom Come (to be fair, I only read it the once… and it was forever ago), buuuut, being a lore guy, I love it anytime we’re told in no uncertain terms that “this matters” or “this happened”.
Overall… should go without saying, but this is whole-heartedly recommended. If you’re a fan of DC Comics history, I think you’re going to love this… and get a lot out of this. It is, of course, available digitally. Well worth your couple’a bucks.