Justice Society of America (vol.3) #19 (2008)

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #19 (November, 2008)
“One World, Under Gog, Part IV: Out of Place”
Story – Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Pencillers – Dale Eaglesham & Jerry Ordway
Inker – Nathan Massengill
Colorist – Hi-Fi
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor – Harvey Richards
Editor – Michael Siglain
Cover Price: $2.99

We left off with the “birth” of Magog… and with Power Girl still stuck on Earth-2… annnnd, go!

We pick up on Earth-2.  If you recall, sensing she missed her friends, Gog sent Power Girl there.  Right now (following that still unread Justice Society of America Annual #1) she is trying to get back.  In her attempt, she finds herself seeking the aid of Earth-2’s Professor Michael Holt… who is confused, but appears to be on board.  He quotes the Bible, which puzzles Power Girl.  He explains that his wife was in a terrible accident and left comatose.  Every Doctor he spoke to had told him she was a hopeless case.  Without hope, Holt considered suicide.  As luck would have it, just as he was about to hurl himself from a bridge… another fella was also there to jump!  Michael talked him down and took him to a church.  The man prayed for Michael’s wife… who woke up the very next day!

Back on “real” Earth, Starman expresses concern for his newfound sanity.  Now, this is interesting.  Ya see, his dementia made his mind into a sort of labyrinth that even the best telepaths couldn’t break through… his insanity was a safety measure!  Also, doing what he was sent from the 31st Century to do might just require him to actually be insane!

We join the Justice Society on the Fourth Day After-Gog.  They look on as the former-Lance, current-Magog trains with his new body.  Dr. Mid-Nite deduces that Magog’s strength will soon rival Superman’s… and his powers will soon eclipse Alan’s mystic Green Flame.  Superman-22 is not at all pleased with any of this noise, and makes his reservations known.  Off to the side, Courtney and Maxine try to make sense of everything… they know they should be happy that David survived, but nothing feels right.  Like, does Gog’s arrival signal the potential end of death on Earth?

Later, Superman-22 visits Magog in his room.  They have a pretty contentious little chat… clearly Superman doesn’t trust Gog, while David owes him his very life.  The conversation peaks with Magog asking if Superman ever saved as many people as Gog has in just the past few days.  Luckily, Flash zooms in before long.

Meanwhile, Black Adam is crossing the desert, following the flowers of his fallen Isis… and a stylized lightning bolt burnt into the ground.

We jump back to Africa where Alan Scott’s had about all’s he can stands… he can’t stands no more… he calls Gog out for putting on an “innocent act”.  This doesn’t exactly sit well with certain JSA members… and it’s very clear that a schism in the ranks is forming.  Alan ain’t hearin’ none’a that though… he insists that they are done moving… and, for that matter… so is Gog!  The rest of the Society arrives to ramp up the discomfort.

The elder-statesmen of the Society begin to bicker over what their next move will be.  Green Lantern is steadfast in stopping Gog… Hawkman is a believer… and poor Jay seems to just want to keep the peace, but leans more toward Alan’s side of the argument… after all, Gog can’t just turn everyone he disagrees with into a tree, right?  Well, Hawkman suggests that sometimes killing is the only option… which brings us to a Justice Society standoff.

There’s a bit of a calm… as though time stops for just a moment.  Gog defers to Magog… who insists that the opposing Society stand aside… or be forced to.  Hawkman starts to feel froggy… and before we know it, it’s like we’re reading a Marvel Comic… hero versus hero!

Somehow, the side who stood against Gog are zipped back to the brownstone.  There, they find Starman… who begins to panic.  A sort of portal opens in his chest… and out pops Power Girl… followed by, the Justice Society Infinity (from Earth-2)!

Yup… another excellent chapter.  We’ve got a little bit to unpack here.

Let’s start with the open.  We get acquainted with a Michael Holt who, affected by a moment of profundity, has found faith.  Stands to reason that something like that happening in one’s life could steer them toward (or away from) religion and faith in general.  I appreciate it being addressed here… and it actually feels pretty organic.  This isn’t just “Earth-2 is opposite” sorta writing here, it’s the story of a man who was effected by a single profound and life-altering moment.

I remember back in the mid-90’s when the Age of Apocalypse happened… and we met a bunch of surface-level “opposite” X-Men.  The variances between “616” mutants and “AoA” mutants seemed mostly defined by their having different hair lengths.  Here, things are different, sure… but not stopping at surface-level, or being polar opposite just for the hell of it.

Onto Starman.  I’d forgotten the wrinkle that his insanity was a precautionary measure to ensure the secrecy of the 31st Century plan from any curious telepath.  That’s really awesome… and makes explains why ol’ Thom has been acting like Deadpool since the launch of this volume.  I love that, with his sanity, he almost immediately realizes this new vulnerability… and understands that with all of his faculties, he just might not be up to the job!

Now… the schism.  I’m very seldom a fan of hero vs. hero bits… especially after the barrage of them we’ve seen since the turn of the century.  I mean, whole “event” stories/series and feature films (BvS) are predicated on heroes fighting other heroes.  It just feels like the toys get more and more broken each time out.

Here, though?  I’m of two minds.  It would stand to reason that people like Damage and Magog (and a wanting-Citizen Steel) would stand by Gog… and I suppose Hawkman’s “might makes right” mentality is in line too… but it still all feels a bit “sudden”.  It’s like… we get a few pages of disagreement, then we’re throwing down?  Dunno.  Feels a touch inorganic… to the point where I thought for a moment that the JSA was putting on a show to see how Gog would react.

Speaking of “putting on a show”… toward the middle, as we get into the JSAvJSA tussle, the art begins to feel a bit wonky.  I mean, if we look at the two-page “standoff” spread… the heroes look stiffly posed, and a bit “smirky”… as though they’re all saying “Put’em up, put’em uuuupp” like the Cowardly Lion or something.  Weird… because I generally love Eaglesham’s work… even here in the beginning and end of the issue, it’s great!  Not sure why the middle felt off to me.

Overall though… a highly recommended chapter from a highly recommended arc.  As I’ve been saying in many of my Justice Society discussions of late (and it breaks my heart to do so)… you’d definitely be better off grabbing the trade collection rather than seeking out the singles.

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