Justice Society of America (vol.3) #4 (2007)

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #4 (May, 2007)
“The Next Age, Chapter 4”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Dale Eaglesham
Inker – Ruy Jose
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Colorist – Jeremy Cox
Assistant Editor – Adam Schlagman
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99

“More JSA?” asked nobody.  Sure, why not!

We pick up right where we left off with Vandal Savage facing off with Wildcat’s son Tom… who appears to be a, Werecat?!  After some small talk, they lunge toward one another.  At the same time in Blue Valley, at least I think it’s the same time… could’a sworn it was nighttime in Brooklyn, and it’s mid-day here.  I dunno, I’ll just blame it on daylight savings time.  Anyhoo in Blue Valley, the Justice Society arrives save Pat Dugan and Son from the Fourth Reich.  We get a neat bit about Cyclone, and how she was a huge JSA fan, and of Stargirl in particular.  She had a fan club and she was the lone member (at times).  It’s almost cringy, but overall pretty touching.

We shift to Philadelphia where the rest of the JSA arrives to aid the Golden-Age Liberty Belle.  The Fourth Reich ain’t messing around… even going so far as to wield the actual Liberty Bell as a weapon!  Main takeaway during this scene is an internal monologue from Damage.  He recalls all the, er, damage he’d done with his powers… then, he proceeds to advise the team to “evacuate” so he can go boom to take down the Reich… but goes off before Liberty Belle (the current one) can escape the blast radius!

Back in Brooklyn, Savage and Tom-Cat continue their tussle.  Vandal cuts a gas main with his blade to erupt a fireball.  In a cute bit, Tom mocks the “caveman” for trying to start a fire… without missing a beat, Savage informs him that he was the one to discover it in the first place!  After the explosion, Wildcat stirs back to the waking world, and notes that perhaps his boy left out a detail or two when discussing his past.

In Philadelphia, Hourman rushes to Liberty Belle’s side… and it looks like she’s going to survive.  She tells Rex to cool his jets, as what Damage had done was just an accident.  Amid the chaos, Captain Nazi grabs Damage and unmasks him… revealing his horribly scarred face (though not to the reader).  Hourman pulls his disfigured fat outta the fire by hurling the Liberty Bell… the actual bell, not the woman, into the bad Cap’n.

At this point the battles of Brooklyn and Philly wrap up.  The Wildcat family’s fight with Vandal Savage is taken to the streets… where the latter gets nailed with a Fire Engine.  Damage kayos Cap’n Ratzi with an explosive sock to da mush.

The next day… I’m assuming, Wildcat and Tommy arrive at the JSA Brownstone… it’s here that Tom tells his Pop that his transformations began when he was in kindergarten… and is the reason why he has shied away from fighting ever since.  Fair enough!  At that very moment(ish) the founders, Green Lantern, Flash and Hawkman make Power Girl an offer she can’t refuse… Chairwomanship of the Justice Society of America!

Deeper in the Brownstone, we visit with Dr. Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific.  Mid-Nite’s looking for a second opinion on his patient Nathan Heywood… who appears to be growing a new metallic limb!

We shift down to… I wanna say Virginia, where we meet up with Mr. America’s pal and contact, Jeffrey Graves.  Upon learning that he was associating with a mystery man, he’d been relieved of his duties with the FBI.  As he’s walked out, we hear the narration of Wildcat.  Vandal Savage thought chopping down a few key family trees would kill the Justice Society… but it’s not about “bloodlines”, not completely anyway.  It’s about symbols… these heroes are iconic symbols of justice and what is right.  When one falls… another will be there to claim the mantle and continue fighting the good fight.  Maybe even one Jeffrey Graves, it seems.

We rejoin Wildcat as he is about to introduce the Justice Society to his “kid”, Tom.  This is another amazing two-page spread.  Eaglesham continually knocks these spreads outta the park.  Just jaw-dropping work (which my photos do absolutely no justice)!

We conclude in Gotham City where some colorfully clad kids are running amok… hmm.  We also meet out old pal John Dee… ya know, Doctor Destiny.  He’s got himself a hostage… with a strange star-shaped beauty mark on her cheek.  What in the Dream Girl might this be?!

Another excellent chapter here.  Man, I say this every single time we cover the Justice Society… but, I love this team… and this run.

This was a great way to close out the first story arc… basically a trio of fight scenes on different fronts.  It allowed for a bit of a focus on characters who had been left sorta-kinda on the periphery thus far.  Most notably (for my money), Damage.

Damage recalling the events of Atlanta… I really like that.  It’s weird, it’s not really a “deep-cut” but it is a part of his history I thought they would glaze over.  I feel like in the post-New 52! and Marvel NOW! (the first one… the first-first one) writers are more hesitant to make plain references to events in a characters’ past for fear that they won’t jive with what they want that character to be.  So often continuity gets conflated with “baggage”… and, don’t get me wrong, I can see how it might pigeon hole characters or limit what a writer can do with a story… but sometimes ya just gotta play the ball where it lay.  Geoff Johns gets that better than most… which, again… baffles me as to why he’d be on board with “Flashpointing” the DCU just four years after this.

Let’s chat up Power Girl’s promotion.  Makes perfect sense to me.  This entire story arc is about the “next age”, the next generation of the Justice Society of America.  Power Girl was one of the first of the “next generation” back in the day, dating back to the Super Squad in All-Star Comics… she is the best choice to lead the team into the next age.  At the risk of being controversial (and one of the criticisms I get most often is how uncontroversial I am), I feel like if this scene were written today, it would be wrapped up in the fact that a woman was leading the team… rather than a seasoned veteran who has more than earned her place (and the respect of the entire superhero community) is now leading the team.  Johns handles this with class… and appropriate pomp, without resorting to making it all about Power Girl being… ya know, a Girl.

If Legion of Super-Heroes were a subject in school… I’d probably say I’ve got a, I dunno… fourth grade understanding of them at this point.  Made me positively giddy to recognize Dream Girl on that last page… I can say with 150% certainty that I hadn’t the foggiest idea who she was the first time I read this.

Overall… we get a satisfying ending to our opening arc, a pretty good idea at who several members of Justice Society: The New Class are going to be, and a cliffhanger into a good ol’ Justice League of America/Justice Society of America crossover.  Not much not to dig here!  Highly recommended.

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