Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just Simply Absurd: JSA #44

Marc Guggenheim, what on Earth-2 are you thinking?

Usually, I’m not given to pure reviews of new comics here at the Absorbascon. And Guggenheim was part of the beloved Sub Diego run of Aquaman (beloved by me, anyway), so I’m naturally favorably inclined toward anything with his name on it (even though he killed Bart Allen, who later got better).

But this new issue of Justice Society? Unacceptable.

Page one? Jay Garrick gets appointed mayor of Monument Point, a previously unheard of city (unheard of by me, anyway), and decides to retire from super-heroics.

Well! I’m a foe a decompression, so getting right into the swing of Big Changes on the first page is fine by me. For example, the first few pages of the beloved Sub Diego run of Aquaman began in medias res, with half of San Diego already sunken into the sea; a brilliant and dramatic opening. But the Mayor of Monument Point is not a brilliant and dramatic opening…

Jay is a chemist and a superhero; why would anyone think to select him as a mayor and why on earth would that seem attractive to him? Oh, and he wasn’t elected, he was appointed. Guggenheim pretty much has to lampshade / handwave the affair, with less explanation and aplomb than was accorded
Chief Screaming Chicken’s repossession of Gotham City in 1966.

Jay, retiring? What, again? Because… why? He’s tired? Or because the world’s fastest senior citizen doesn’t have enough time on his hands? It’s tough to reconcile such a decision with his “Barry brought me out of retirement” speech in recent issues of the Flash. In fact, it’s not in character any more than the near argument he has about it with Alan Scott.

Speaking of Alan Scott, let’s portray one of comic’s most experienced heroes as an overconfident, domineering blowhard, who gets his neck snapped because he doesn’t notice how tough his opponent is (the one who just kicked the rest of the JSA’s butts) and seems to forget that his magic ring doesn’t require him to be within 3 feet of his foe. Doiby Dickles wouldn’t have made that kind of mistake.

All these shenanigans are a clumsy way to take the JSA’s two most dominant figures off the table, I suppose so that some lesser lights will shine more brightly. Similarly clumsy is the, what, six hour fight (during which NO other superheroes/teams show up!!!) with the unnamed “super-terrorist” that destroys downtown Monument Point. Gosh, I wonder whether the heroes, feeling guilty, are gonna rebuild Monument Point into a wonderful new city of tomorrow and take up its protection? Oh, and what happened to Alan Scott’s ridiculous Moon Colony for Magical Friends? I must have blinked when editorial (if such a thing still exists) decided to ignore/retcon that away.

Look—there is NO bigger supporter of the individualized fictionopolis as the backdrop for superheroics than I. Having the JSA in NYC was awkward (no matter what the Past Scipio thinks). But why not simply use
Civic City, the original location for the JSA? That would at least have a Golden Age connection and make Jay Garrick a (marginally) more logical choice as mayor.

Mr. Terrific has caught magical movie disease that is slowly lowering his intelligence? Oh ,for pity’s sake, the Kingpin-o-matic “Put the Heroes Through the Wringer” machine is going to burnout from being in overdrive; heck, it’s already broken the suspension of disbelief in the engine of my imagination.

Clumsy. The JSa--and we--deserve better.


greywulf said...

Seconded, absolutely.

I love the Justice Society (and the all Stars too, for that matter), but this comic is pure amateur hour treck wreck from start to finish.

We, the readers, deserve better.

Anonymous said...

I still like it better than what James Robinson did with the JSA, when he was supposed to be writing the JLA. THAT is where the magical moon colony came from.

SallyP said...

I...I love the JSA, but I haven't been loving it lately. We NEED more old farts in tights, not fewer of them!

Kevin T. said...

I have never not bought a comic with the JSA in it.

I'm thinking about it now.

Bryan L said...

Kevin, you summed up my feelings as well. I've followed the JSA for decades. And now I'm ready to drop it, too. A

suedenim said...

I was in Kevin T's boat too, but I dropped JSA with the issue before this one.

I'm no completist as such, so it's no more or less irksome than "dropping a title I don't care for at the moment," but it is disappointing.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to wonder if there has ever been a coherent editorial plan for this particular series--there's been that vague "elder statesmen training heroes for the next generation" concept that started with the previous "JSA" series, but that has seemed more like an excuse to chuck the book full of vaguely familiar characters who then go on to randomly fade in and out of existence without ever quite seeming to be developed into anything. Oh, and of course, to ladle in all sorts of warmed over leftovers from Kingdom Come... The creative teams change, but the game of musical chairs seems to be all that remains.


Diamondrock said...

Let's just be glad he didn't end up writing Action after all...

suedenim said...

Another thing they've never quite nailed down is how the JLA and JSA functionally interact. A while ago (can't remember who the characters were or in what book) two characters were talking about whether one wanted to be "promoted" to the JLA, and she didn't look at it like that... but what IS the JSA's function?

The JLA is clearly established as Earth's first line of defense, the number you call if a Khund invasion fleet is approaching, etc. So what's the JSA "for," exactly? Why not (from an in-universe perspective, not a publishing one) just merge the two into a Justice League Unlimited-style thing?