Justice Society of America (vol.3) #7 (September, 2007)
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Dale Eaglesham
Inkers – Ruy Jose & Rodney Ramos
Colorist – Jeromy Cox
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor – Harvey Richards
Editor – Michael Siglain
Cover Price: $2.99
When I was entering the latest Lightning Saga-related Justice Society of America reviews into the Review Index, I discovered that… for whatever reason, when I jumped ahead a couple months back, I also skipped issues #7 and 8! Haven’t the foggiest idea why… I must’ve thought The Lightning Saga went on far longer than it did (not that it didn’t feel overlong at times!).
Welp, we’re all about filling in gaps here… and since my Justice Society longbox is one of the few I can actually access without putting holes in the wall (moving is an absolute delight… I recommend it to anyone… ahem), I guess we might as well continue along!
We open up with a recap on the life and times of Nate Heywood. We already know all of this… his grandfather was the original Commander Steel, his cousin Hank was the Steel who ran with the Detroit-era Justice League. His story went a bit differently, as he chose to pursue athletics… he suffered an injury, which led to a pain-killer dependency… and ultimately to an amputation. During the most recent Heywood family picnic… the Nazis attacked!
We join Nate in the present as he wakes up from a horrible nightmare. His peripheral vision picks up a vision of Captain Nazi attacking his young cousin… and pulls himself out of the bed to stop him. A couple of observations… One: he’s hallucinating, and Two: He’s also standing… on two feet!
Dr. Mid-Nite enters to inform Nate of everything that has gone down over the past little while. Turns out, when he pierced Reichsmark’s throat… and had that liquid metal ooze vomited onto him, it was absorbed into Nate’s own skin… and somehow, while transmuting his normal skin into an organic metal, also regrew him a whole new leg and foot! It’s not all good news, however… he also can no longer feel anything, so there’s that.
Body-issues aside, Nate laments the fact that his entire family was killed in the attack while he survived. Mid-Nite informs him that that’s not entirely true. We zip over to St. Anthony’s Hospital… and learn that Nate’s niece and couple of nephews got out alive. He excitedly attempts to enter the room… however, his new stronger/heavier body proves to be quite the menace. Fearing that he would crush his loved ones should he even try to touch them, he backs off… Mid-Nite suggests that the Justice Society might be able to help him.
We shift over to Opal City to join Starman… and good news, it’s Sloppy Joe Day! He grabs his tray and is about to chow down… when he finds himself joined by Superman! He’s still a bit salty over the Legionnaire’s deception during The Lightning Saga, and is looking for some answers.
Next stop, the Justice Society’s… refinery? Mr. Terrific, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Hawkman (in a welding visor!) are coating Nate’s new body with an alloy that will restrict his movement enough to help him not to… you know, crush his loved ones. With a FASSSH, Nate emerges from the vat… in a very patriotic uniform, and he ain’t all that pleased.
He proceeds to ream out his new pals… he doesn’t see himself as a hero… and having never been in the military, doesn’t feel worthy of wearing the uniform of Commander Steel. He is interrupted by an entering Power Girl, who delivers news of the American Supremacist Party coming out in support of the Fourth Reich… and are currently holding a group of NYU students hostage.
Back in Opal, Starman sorta-kinda fills Superman in on the Legionnaire’s plan. It’s still silly Starman, so it doesn’t make all that much sense… we get some cryptic commentary on multiple Thoms… and Three Worlds… Superman’s inability to help… and future-speedster XS. Superman’s confused… and so am I. Superman’s Legion story will continue in the pages of Action Comics… and maybe we’ll get around to them soon.
Back at NYU, the Justice Society gets into place. Nate is instructed to wait outside… which is probably for the best, as he’s leaving great holes in the ground with every heavy step… plus, he really doesn’t know what he’s doing just yet. Power Girl lets him know that they’ll just throw things (meaning bad dudes) at him.
And so, the next several pages consist of Nazi-stomping action. This isn’t just some superficial fight scene though… it also features some great character-building. This is some very early super-heroics from characters like Cyclone and Wildcat (II), and we get to watch them go through their paces. Very well done… really adds to what might’ve been a boilerplate battle scene.
The fight wraps up with Nate standing over a pile of battered Nazis. He calls out to Power Girl to ask how he did… and she seems quite pleased.
The Society finds themselves swarmed by reporters… and it’s here that Power Girl introduces their newest member… Citizen Steel! We wrap up the issue back at St. Anthony’s where Nate is finally able to touch and hold his loved ones.
Glad I read this… I was wondering when the whole Citizen Steel issue was addressed, and hadn’t the foggiest idea how I missed it! This provides some really good context for the Gog stories we’ve already covered as it pertains to Nate’s willingness to be faithful.
I didn’t dwell on it during the synopsis, but Nate’s a rather tragic hero. It’s nothing Earth-shattering… well, I mean, when we walks he does literally shatter the Earth… but, you know what I mean. He can’t feel things… not knowing his own strength, he risks injuring anyone he touches. He’s got a bit of Robotman-esque tragedy in him. Can’t feel the breeze, warmth, all that jazz. Fair enough… his presence adds a “doomed” wrinkle to this incarnation of the Justice Society.
The Superman/Starman chat is kinda mind-boggling, but fun. I always think of this issue because it’s Eaglesham variant cover features Superman watching Starman chow down on a Sloppy Joe. That’s one variant that I’d actually be interested in tracking down. We get a decent amount of breadcrumbs here. I can’t remember if I ever made it through the Superman and the Legion story arc in Action Comics, so I can’t speak to that… yet. I just hope it winds up being a bit more satisfying than The Lightning Saga.
Overall, worth a read. Some nice character beats here… and amazing Eaglesham art. It is definitely an important chapter that lays a bit of the groundwork for what’s to come.
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