Justice Society of America (vol.2) #2 (September, 1992)
“Days of Valor”
Writer – Len Strazewski
Pencils – Mike Parobeck
Inks – Mike Machlan
Letters – Bob Pinaha
Colors – Glenn Whitmore
Editor – Brian Augustyn
Cover Price: $1.25
Boy, it’s been ages since we covered the first issue of this series. Ages! As luck would have it… my JSA box somehow made it to the top of the pile(s) during a re-sorting. I probably ought to come to grips that… this is my life now… organizing, and reorganizing boxes… a Sisyphean task, if ever there was one!
We last left off with Jay and Alan doing their best Wayne and Garth impression… Not! Either way, they’re back in the game… but, they’re not yet a Society. We open in a subway where a protester is about to get his block knocked off by a couple of big dudes… we’ll find out more about this conflict as we continue. Lucky for the fella, a pair of septuagenarians happen to enter the scene. They are Ted and Al… better known to some as Wildcat and the Atom. The buff baddies refer to them as “geez” (which we’re gonna assume is short for “geezer” and not the plural of goose)… and so, a fight is on.
Al’s a bit trepidacious… after all, they’ve only been back from the “other place” for a little while, and they’re not totally secure in their powers. Also, it wasn’t too long ago that Ted Grant didn’t have the use of his legs. Regardless, the pummel the punks, and Ted even hands the victim a business card for some personal training.
The former heroes continue on their merry way, passing even more protesters during their walk. Looks like there’s an evil corporation called Ultragen mucking with the environment. Al waves it off as “politics” before he and Ted enter the GBC Building… both wondering if the other brought their costume.
In the down below, Ted and Al find their path lit by a green light. It’s Alan Scott… and he’s got something to show them. He and Jay had brought all of their old Justice Society relics out of storage and set up a neat little base of operations.
Ted thinks it’s pretty cool… especially seeing his old heavyweight championship belt among the decor. Al, the rational one, thinks this is all childishness which really ought to be left in the past. He calls it a museum… and refers to themselves as nothing more than “museum pieces”. He goes on to harangue Alan and Jay for wearing costumes in their seventies, that looked silly even when they were in their twenties.
Ted asks Al to lighten up a bit, and just hear Green Lantern and Flash out. Turns out, Alan (decked out in his gaudy GL costume) kind of agrees with Al! He agrees that they’re just old fools… but continues, and says that they used to be young fools anyway. But, they’ve come back for a reason…
The Justice Society still stands for something… it’s just a matter of finding out what that is. Al crosses his arms and asks a pretty simple question, “Where’s everyone else?”. Apparently, the only former JSAer yet to check in is Johnny Thunder. Sandman is still recovering from his episode (last issue), Starman “sends his support”, Hourman is dealing with his sick son, and Dr. Midnight is busy opening up a clinic.
So… whattabout the Halls? Well, let’s head to the videophone and find out. Turns out Carter and Shierra are in the Middle East, presumably on a dig. A heated political climate precludes their leaving just yet. Also, their son Hector recently passed away… in an issue of Sandman… which, I gotta say, I never thought would actually be “footnoted” in a mainstream DC book!
The team chats a bit more. Carter brings up how he had the opportunity to work alongside the Justice League… and thought they were a great team. He hopes that perhaps some of his talents might’ve rubbed off on them, to make them even greater. Just then, the Halls are called away… something big appears to be happening off-panel.
And with that, Al and Ted seems to come around. Maybe the Justice Society’s purpose is in bolstering the next generation(s) of heroes. As it turns out, Ted and Al are already in the process of opening a training complex anyway.
Alan receives a phone call from his wife Molly (the former Harlequin)… she tells him that there’s some trouble brewing with the Ultragen protesters being beaten by some storm troopers, or something. The JSAers decide now’s as good a time as any to shake off some of the rust. Turns out both Ted and Al brought their costumes.
Topside, the Society tries to manage the hostile situation. A mummy who just happens to be looking on (and who is familiar with the JSA), manages to taze Jay. Then, Alan is shot at with some wooden bullets, which puts him down. Looks like this Ultragen group is well-prepared.
Well… maybe not. Wildcat finds himself under a dogpile of storm troopers… and it looks like Al’s about to be run over by a tank… when, the Atom punches through the tank with his Atomic Punch!
The Justice Society is victorious… and as the dust settles, we learn that a mysterious shadowy figure has been watching these events unfold… and they’re not happy.
We wrap up with the team returning to their new headquarters… and boy are they surprised by who they find there!
Ya know, no matter how much fun I have with this volume… and how annoyed I get for DC cutting it off at the knees, despite it being a (relatively) strong seller… when reading back, I kinda get it. This definitely wasn’t the kind of story DC (or superhero comics in general) was trying to promote back in ye old ’92.
It’s sorta funny how something that could be viewed as “dated” during the time, went on to actually feel rather timeless. You ask me, this aged so much better than most things that were clogging up the shelves back in the early 1990’s. Sometimes, the formula oughta just be “don’t mess anything up”. Fine classic superhero storytelling, with clean and dynamic art. That sorta thing was at a premium during the era of excess… and it’s why stories such as this stand above so many of its contemporaries. For more of the day’s offerings, take a look at the Entertainment This Month… ad below!
For the issue itself? It’s relatively low-stakes “street level” stuff (for the moment). It was a neat way for Al and Ted to shake off some of their limbo-rust, and hop back into action.
Al especially was an interesting character here… and I really appreciated his conflicted point of view. Seems like he’s the only one who realizes that they’re all at an advanced age… and really, are only being held together by magic, which could “go away” at any moment. Of course, that mix of nostalgia and peer pressure is too much for him to deny, and so… he’s back in his togs.
I wanna mention that footnote to Sandman #12 (which we did discuss here… ages ago). I thought this was especially cool… simply because I never expected it. Sure, Vertigo wasn’t yet a thing (I believe we were 3-4 months away from the official rebranding at this point), but still… those proto-Vertigo books (Sandman, Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol, Animal Man, Shade the Changing Man) always seemed to be so disconnected to the goings on in the mainstream DCU, that any mention of any of them feels special. As a big fan of lore and the “everything matters” school of storytelling, this really tickled me.
Overall… a fun romp, with some wonderful characters… and amazing art. Well worth a revisit.
(Not the) Letters Page: