Justice Society of America (vol.3) #3 (April, 2007)
“The Next Age, Part 3”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Dale Eaglesham
Inker – Ruy Jose
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Colors – Jeremy Cox
Assistant Editor – Adam Schlagman
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99
You ever notice that Marvel and DC spell “Penciller” differently? DC uses two ells, while Marvel only uses one… “Penciler”. Neither of them pass the ol’ blogger spellcheck test… but then again neither does “storyline” and a multitude of different actual words.
Seems most online haunts spell it with two ells… but, whattayagonnado?
Anyhoo… Justice Society, let’s do it.
We pick up with Courtney waiting for her new pal Maxine to pick out a costume… not to mention, a code name! This is a scene we’ve seen time and time again in fiction, just minus the forced comedy… and musical soundtrack. This is actually quite well done, and features a pretty neat discussion on how a pair of teenagers might go about picking out superhero names. Courtney never had to worry, she was the Star-Spangled Kid… though, she does warn Maxine to steer clear of the “Kid” title, lest she wants all the adult heroes to treat her like she’s still in diapers. Maxine ultimately settles on Cyclone, after her grandmother (the Golden-Age Red Tornado)’s sidekicks, the Cyclone Kids. She also chooses a costume that is equal parts gaudy and decent.
We shift back to the Heywood family reunion where the Fourth Reich continues to make quite a mess of things. It actually sorta crosses the line to gross here… We see the Nazi speedster, Blitzkrieg run right through a woman and child. I guess they had to do something to remind us we were reading a mid-2000’s DC comic. Really unfortunate… totally for shock value, and sorta undermines the tone that has been set up to this point.
Hawkman does his best to hold back the horde, but there’s only so much one man can do. Reichsmark the metal man approaches Nathan… and is just about to turn him into a molten man statuette when Nate shoves his cane down the baddie’s throat. Reichsmark proceeds to vomit a bit of liquid metal nastiness on Nathan’s face. I mean, really now…
Captain Nazi, which isn’t a cute name I made up for him… honest, smashes Hawkman with a large Commander Steel statue before withdrawing the Fourth Reich so they might look for other families “to exterminate”. As the dust settles, the police and other emergency services arrive… they are shocked by the carnage, not to mention the proliferation of shiny horrifying statues. The EMTs are unsure how they can help Nathan… but Hawkman (fresh off getting crushed) appears, and says he knows just the doc for him.
We pop in on the Wildcat father-and-son reunion. Ted tells Tom about his first son, Jake who was born back in the 1960’s… and his tragic end at the hands of the son of Yellow Wasp. Tom kinda steers the discussion here… and uses Jake’s death as a justification for why Wildcat wouldn’t want to ever be a father again… and gives the ol’ “no harm no foul”. He tells Ted all he’s got to do is wish him well… and forget about him. Ted’s hesitant… he’s not ready to leave just yet… though, he blames it on still having to finish his beer.
Back at the brownstone, Liberty Belle and Hourman are pawing at one another… which is kinda their gimmick at this point. Damaged Damage is nearby and tells them to “get a room”. At this point, Hawkman arrives with Nathan Heywood. Dr. Mid-Nite takes a look… and it turns out, the liquid metal ralf is being absorbed by his skin! Betcha can’t guess where this is going!
Green Lantern thinks aloud… the Heywood family are the second to be targeted (after the Thompsons). His little monologue is interrupted by the arrival of… Sand. That is, the former Sandy the Golden Boy, who is now the Sandman. He informs the Society that he’s had a nightmare… and they need to hear alllllll about it.
In the meeting room Sandy reveals that not only multi-generational heroes being targeted… it’s multi-generational mystery men who symbolize American patriotism! Stands to reason, we’ve seen Mr. America and his family offed… and Commander Steel’s family (mostly) taken out. Sand reveals that two other families had been wiped out (off panel)… old Justice League International member General Glory… and his entire family, and Minute-Man (who I don’t recall) and his family all had their throats slit. He tells the team that he’s already reached out to Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters to advise them to remain vigilant… however, can think of two other families who might be targeted next… Liberty Belle’s and Courtney’s stepdad Pat… Stripesy!
The team knows they gotta roll out! I only include this image because I see something funny about Cyclone’s eyes… it’s almost as though she’s looking at the reader incredulously here. Very Jim Halpert from The Office.
From here we get some rapid-fire vignettes… in Philadelphia, Libby Lawrence (the Golden-Age Liberty Belle) is at, the Liberty Bell! In Blue Valley, Pat Dugan is picking his son (I think it’s his son) up from school… both find themselves under attack of the Reich. Back at the Brownstone, we learn what Dr. Mid-Nite saw lodged in Mr. America’s lung… it’s an arrowhead! Also, Wildcat wishes his son well, and prepares to leave.
As Wildcat goes for the door… he gets flattened! In the doorway stands our big bad… Vandal Savage! Tommy says he knows Savage, and refers to him as “that caveman”. This appears to vex ol’ Vandal… who then proceeds to explain his entire plan to the lad. Not sure why he feels the need to unload, but I guess it must get lonely being an immortal conqueror… so, we’ll allow it. He claims to be using the Fourth Reich because they’re easy to manipulate… and he’s only using them to execute the “scab” members of the Justice Society… he’s saving the full-timers for himself. Tommy grows anxious… and claims he doesn’t want to fight. Then… something strange happens.
The lights go out, and Vandal attempts to hunt down the boy… however, what he finds might not be exactly what he expected!
Still having a great time revisiting these old friends. I’m almost surprised how much I’m enjoying this.
Let’s get the ugliness out of the way first… the extreme violence early on was a bit much. I remember the various times I returned to reading DC Comics throughout the 2000’s… and each time I was more and more put off (and surprised by) the level of violence. The last time I “returned” was after a bout of unemployment… and I was just in time for Brightest Day. In the back of all the books that month was a teaser for the newest volume of Green Arrow… which featured him shooting a man’s nose off with an arrow. I think that’s when it was clear to me that extreme violence was no longer to underscore a scene… but was just the way things were done now. In rereading these post-Infinite Crisis issues, I guess it had been the way things were done for awhile.
I dunno, I guess my thought process is that you can make something more disturbing and sadistic (if that’s what you’re going for) without showing any gore at all. Maybe it’s just me. Just feels kinda cheap, and below the Justice Society.
For the rest of the issue… loved it! We’re getting a lot of great interpersonal stuff here. From Courtney and Maxine’s chat in the dressing room, to Liberty Belle and Hourman pawing at one another… and finally, to Wildcat and Son having their moments. All of the scenes worked great for me.
Courtney and Maxine… now, I can’t claim to hang around teen-agers… nor can I claim to really ever being one… but this is how I imagine the less annoying ones converse. Granted, this is 2007 and before txt and social media speak took over completely… but, I enjoyed this bit and thought it sounded exactly how it should. So often these “dressing room” scenes feature purposefully horrible (or dated) costumes as early choices for comedic value… I gotta say, I’m glad we sidestepped that meme.
The Cat family dynamic was pretty cool. I’m not sure if it’s me projecting or what, but you get the feeling like these two really want to have a family… but are both scared to say it outright. Tommy’s been on his own without anyone to really rely on since his mother passed… he probably feels like he doesn’t need anybody. And Ted… well, Ted’s Ted. He doesn’t often let his softer side show… his refusal to leave, because… ya know, he hadn’t finished his beer… it like the perfect little bit.
Our big bad is revealed… and it’s Vandal Savage. It’s been… yeesh, ten years since I last read this, so I don’t recall where this is going… but I’m looking forward to it. Still not sure why he felt the need to spill the beans to Tommy… but, I suppose exposition’s gotta be delivered somehow… this was good a way as any!
Overall… this is one of my favorite 2000’s DC Comics, and I’d recommend it without reservation. Well worth your time!
DC Nation (for added time-capsule-ness):