Comic Book Review: Justice Society of America #8

Johns continues to amaze me with his incredible work on Justice Society of America. This title is a dependable read and I expect nothing different with Justice Society of America #8. Let’s hit this reviw.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Fernando Pasarin
Inkers: Rodney Ramos

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: We begin with Liberty Belle and Hourman on a snowboarding vacation together. We then flashback to when Liberty Belle was a little girl. Her father Johnny Quick is trying to get her to tap into her speed powers. Johnny Quick believes that his mathematic equation that grants him his speed is just a mantra that allows him to focus and tap into a power inside of himself. Johnny believes that Jesse also has that power.

The original Liberty Belle, Jesse’s mother, walks in the room and tells Johnny that he has to stop filling Jesse’s head with this nonsense. Johnny responds that Liberty Belle’s powers responding to the sound of the Liberty Bell is her mantra like Johnny’s equation. Liberty Belle tells Johnny that he has to stop being obsessed with this theory. That all of their old friends from the All Star Squadron have stopped visiting them because of Johnny’s crazy ramblings.

Johnny retorts that Max Mercury’s Speed Force theory is garbage. That Johnny’s formula works. Johnny says that Jesse has the potential to tap into his speed powers and Liberty Belle’s strength powers. That Jesse just needs to find her mantra. Johnny tells Liberty Belle not to take away Jesse’s change to be special. Liberty Belle responds that Jesse already is special. Johnny realizes he misspoke and begs Jesse to forgive him.

A year later, Liberty Belle divorced Johnny Quick. Jesse lived with Johnny Quick and managed to unlock the formula and got her speed powers. Jesse swore she would cut everything out of her life that wasn’t perfect. And that included her mother, Liberty Belle.

A few months later, Johnny Quick found out that Liberty Belle was right all along and that his powers came from the Speed Force. That Johnny Quick died protecting Jesse from a psycho obsessed with controlling the Speed Force. Jesse then gave her speed away to the Flash when he went up against Zoom.

We cut to Jay Garrick chasing Zoom. Power Girl, Green Lantern, Damage, Stargirl and Cyclone all follow. Power Girl comments how Jay is now able to keep up with Zoom now that the Speed Force has returned. Our heroes arrive at the Georgia state line and Alan Scott tells Damage that he can’t come with them. That Damage knows he promised never to enter Georgia again after blowing up half of Atlanta. Damage snaps and says that he has to confront Zoom for what Zoom did to him. Damage then uses his powers to blast off high into the air into Georgia.

We shift to Rick and Jesse having dinner together. Jesse thinks about how much she loves Rick and what a great man he is. That Rick showed her something she had never seen in the Liberty Bell before. That the Liberty Bell became everything to her. It became her mantra. Suddenly, their JSA communicators go off. Power Girl tells Rick and Jesse that Damage has snapped and has Zoom hostage in downtown Atlanta. That they need them here immediately.

We zip to Liberty Belle and Hourman arriving on the hostage scene in Atlanta. Power Girl tells them that Hourman and Liberty Belle have taken Damage under their wing and that he may responds better to them. That if Damage explodes then hundreds of thousands of innocent people will die.

Liberty Belle tells Hourman that she will go in by herself. Hourman tells her to be careful. That Zoom is in there and that she is no longer Jesse Quick. Liberty Belle points to the symbol on her chest and says that she knows. Liberty Belle tells Hourman that she loves him.

We cut inside the building where Damage has Zoom in a headlock. Zoom yammers on about how the loss Zoom inflicted on Damage has made him a better hero. Liberty Belle enters the room and tells Damage that he can’t deal with Zoom this way. Damage says that Zoom disfigured his face. That Damage will never be able to be with a woman looking this way.

Liberty Belle responds that Damage is more than his face. That she didn’t react negatively when she saw his face after his mask was ripped off during a fight. Damage responds that Liberty Belle is different than most people. That she and Hourman are the perfect couple. Always laughing and smiling.

Zoom comments how Liberty Belle didn’t lose her speed powers, that she felt unworthy of them. Liberty Belle agrees that after her father died, she felt like she didn’t deserve to be Jesse Quick anymore. Jesse’s mom visited her and asked why she quit being Jesse Quick. The two got in a huge argument.

Jesse says that she was always striving to be perfect and that she expected everyone else to be perfect to. Hourman didn’t understand why Jesse was so hard on her mom and on herself. Hourman drew a picture of the Liberty Belle. Hourman said that just because something has a crack in it doesn’t mean you throw it away.

Damage responds that what his foster father did to him is more than a crack. That being outlawed form his hometown is more than a crack. That his disfigured face is more than a crack. Liberty Belle responds that it doesn’t have to be that way. Damage hesitates and then powers down.

Zoom then takes this opportunity to slip free from Damage’s grasp. Zoom says that Damage will always be a failure. Zoom throws a piece of an iron bar at Damage’s face. Damage stands there as the metal is about it puncture his eye. Suddenly, Liberty Belle says Johnny Quick’s formula and in a burst of super speed, grabs the piece of iron and save Damage. Liberty Belle then throws the piece of iron back at Zoom and hits him in the head. Zoom is down for the count.

Damage says that he thought Liberty Belle believed that she didn’t deserve super speed. Liberty Belle responds that she got over it. Liberty Belle grabs Zoom’s body and she and Damage walk out of the building. The Atlanta police tell Damage to freeze and that he is under arrest. All the members of the JSA stand up and say if the police are going to arrest Damage then they will have to arrest them as well.

We then cut to the JSA all on a snowboarding trip together like one big happy family. Jesse thinks how great her life is but that it still isn’t perfect. And nobody in her life is perfect. And nobody has to be. End of issue.

The Good: Justice Society of America #8 was an excellent read. Johns continues to crank out gem after gem on this title. Johns delivers an issue that is well plotted and paced. The story moves along at a nice flow and gives the reader an enjoyable mix of action and drama.

Johns clearly understands the storied history of the Justice Society of America and gives this issue a great Golden Age flavor. Johns has such a nice sense of history and constantly pays tribute to the Golden Age characters that have ties to the JSA. The flashback scene when Jesse was a child was awesome. I am a huge Johnny Quick fan and it was so cool to see him back in action. Johnny was always my favorite character from the All Star Squadron and it was cool to see him getting some panel time once again.

Johns does an impressive job fleshing out the fractured marriage of the two longtime sweethearts in Johnny and Liberty Belle. In such a short scene, Johns gives the reader a nice feel for what happened to these two characters later in life. Rarely do we get a snapshot of aged heroes well after they have chosen to retire from their roles as super heroes. Seeing heroes after their glory days are over only serves to make them more realistic and deeper character.

The flashback scene served both the purpose of giving the reader an insight to the crumbling marriage of Johnny and Liberty Belle as well as giving the reader insight into Jesse in order to better explain why she acts like she does and thereby giving her character more depth.

Johns does an impressive job using Justice League of America #8 as an opportunity to perform some fantastic character work on not only just Liberty Belle, but also Hourman and Damage. Johns is a smart enough writer to fully understand that without strong, deep and well developed characters, a comic book will never be able to achieve its fullest potential. And that is exactly why Justice League of America is one of the better titles currently on the market.

I love all three characters that Justice league of America #8 focuses on. And this issue only made me like Liberty Belle, Hourman and Damage even more than I did before I read this issue.

Liberty Belle a fantastic character that is only cooler after this issue. I dig how Johns handled Johnny’s concept of a mantra that grants Jesse her powers. The fact that Jesse draws her power from a symbol that reminds her of her mother in the Liberty Bell and the formula that reminds her of her father is pretty cool.

The scene with Liberty Belle and Damage was well done. Liberty Belle bares her should open to the reader as we get a much better sense of her character. And of course, the admission that Jesse gave up her speed powers because she didn’t’ feel worthy of them after her father’s death was pretty powerful. This all just made it that much more dramatic and cool when Jesse spit out her father’s formula and kicked into high speed and saved Damage and then took down Zoom.

This was a surprise move by Johns as Liberty Belle has now got a considerable power upgrade now that she has both the powers of her mother and father. I dig it. It is a nice tribute to her parents who were great heroes in their own era.

Liberty Belle is a strong, intelligent and interesting character. She is certainly one of my favorite characters on this title. Liberty Belle is a shining example that a female super hero can be sexy yet still have plenty of depth and complexity to her personality. That a female super hero can rely on a well developed personality to define herself rather than having to rely on things like a short cheerleader style mini-skirt, big boobs or being a lipstick lesbian in order to define her character.

Johns also gives the reader a bit more insight into Hourman’s character. I love the outgoing, gregarious and slightly brash personality that Johns gives Hourman. Rick’s unbridled love for life is a great way to live life. Johns shows us that Rick is a good man who always has the best intentions in mind.

I dig how Johns handles the marriage of Liberty Belle and Hourman. Johns generates some incredible chemistry between these two characters. They are a fantastic couple and they complement each other so well. And it is great to see how Rick has rubbed off on the uptight and unforgiving Liberty Belle. The strong and happy marriage of these two characters is a nice change of pace compared to what you usually find in the world of comics.

I keep liking Damage more and more with each issue. Damage is a great character that fills an important role on this team. The JSA is a family and the vast majority of its members have strong bonds with each other and get along well. Damage fills the role of the agitator that you need on any team who stirs the pot in order to keep things from being to stale. Damage gives the JSA some attitude and a bit of an edge.

The final scene with Damage, Liberty Belle and Zoom was rather powerful. Johns does a great job conveying the pain and trauma that have engulfed Damage. The overwhelming feelings of hopelessness that have blackened Damage’s soul. This character is so badly fractured that he may never be able to pull himself back together again.

Zoom is a great villain that the reader love to hate. I have always enjoyed Zoom’s twisted logic that only by suffering great trauma can a super hero truly become a better and more capable hero. Zoom’s belief that Damage not killing Zoom makes him a weak hero and that Liberty Belle’s compassion toward Damage makes her a useless hero is a pretty sick belief.

I dig the nice little goofy happy ending to this issue. This style of ending wouldn’t work on many titles without seeming forced or totally out of place. However, it works great on the JSA. This ending emphasizes that unlike the other super teams in the DCU that the JSA is truly a family through and through. And that is one of the aspects that makes this title so enjoyable.

Pasarin and Ramos serve up plenty of nice looking artwork. One sign of a quality guest artist is one that is able to make the reader barely notice that the regular artist has taken the issue off. Pasarin is able to convey the emotion of all the characters which compliments Johns’ well written story.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue at all.

Overall: Justice Society of America #8 was a great read. Johns delivers an emotional read that grabs hold of the reader from the very start and doesn’t let go until the end. Johns continues his trend of making the roster of the JSA one of the most developed roster of characters that you are going to find on any team title currently on the market. If you still haven’t given this title a try then you should really do so. Justice Society of America is well worth your money.

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