Comic Book Review: Justice Society of America #7

The JLA/JSA team-up has concluded so Johns is kicking off a new story arc with Justice Society of America #7. It appears that this issue centers on the new Citizen Steel. DC’s teaser for this issue also hints that the JSA is going to start getting clues that the Multiverse exists once again. I’d be stunned if Justice Society of America #7 isn’t a great read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Dale Eaglesham
Inkers: Ruy Jose & Rodney Ramos

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: We begin with Nate waking up from the nightmare of his family all being killed by the Fourth Reich. Dr. Mid-Nite explains to Nate that the metal from Reichsmark was absorbed by Nate’s skin. That Nate’s amputated leg grew back and that his skin turned into some kind of organic steel. That because he is now made of organic steel, that Nate can no longer feel anything and can’t control his own strength. Dr. Mid-Nite tells Nate not to touch anything until they can get his powers under control.

We cut to Nate and Dr. Mid-Nite at St. Anthony’s hospital where the children who survived the Fourth Reich’s attack on Nate’s family reunion are being given medical treatment. Dr. Mid-Nite tells Nate that he cannot go in and touch the children. Nate goes to open to door to visit the kids and he mistakenly rips the door off the wall and crushes it. Dr. Mid-Nite tells Nate that the JSA might be able to help him so that he can touch people again.

We shift to the sanitarium in Opal City. Starman is understandably excited as it is “Sloppy Joe Day” at the cafeteria. Superman then appears and tells Thom that the JSA is allowing Superman to talk to Thom first. Thom asks Superman if he wants a sloppy joe. Superman accepts Thom’s offer.

We hop back to the lab in the JSA’s brownstone. Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific have come up with this elaborate process of placing Nate in a smelter and pouring a special liquid metal over him that will act like a second skin. This metal will cut Nathan’s strength to about half and allow him to touch things without destroying them. The downside is that Nate has to go through this complex process each time he wants to put on his “costume.”

Nate steps out of the smelter and is wearing a metallic costume that looks like Commander Steel’s old outfit. Nate is angry and exclaims that he didn’t want a costume. That he is not the “new” Commander Steel. That his uncle was and that his brother could have been, but not Nate. It wasn’t supposed to be Nate.

Power Girl enters and says that members of the American Supremacist Party have taken a world culture class hostage over at NYU. (Oh for the love of Pete. Can we just leave the white racist power group villains alone? Based on what you read in comic books, you would think that America was simply overrun by white supremacists.) Power Girl asks Nate if he wants to come along.

We zip back to Starman and Superman talking with each other over platefuls of sloppy joes. Superman asks Thom why he didn’t go back with the rest of the Legion. Thom responds that he has to stay in order to help. The black hole is supposed to help her see the truth and then he’ll come and the JSA will show them all the way. And that it is not just this world or this present time period that needs better good guys.

Superman asks Thom why the Legion came to the present. Thom answers that there is trouble in the 31st century and that Superman can’t help them. That “Clark Kents can’t come.” Superman asks why and Thom responds “Common sense.”

Superman asks if the Legion came to the present to bring Wally West back to life. Thom responds “From the vibrational plane. Zip! Zoom! The Legion of three Worlds! Do you remember XS? She had such a crush on you. And I got to meet another Thom and another Thom!” Superman says that he has no idea what Starman is talking about. Thom agrees that he doesn’t either.

We hop over to NYU where Powergirl, Wildcat, Wildcat version 2.0, Damage, Stargirl, Cyclone and Nate. Nate lags behind the rest since even with his suit he still moves slowly and is creating craters in the cement where he walks. Nate comments that he is still having trouble walking and can hear the wind, but can’t feel it. Power Girl tells Nate to stay where he is and play catch. The rest of the team bust down the wall and start grabbing the Nazis and throw them out of the building. Nate catches the Nazis and bonks each one on the head.

After throwing the last Nazi out of the building, Stargirl utters the words “Boo to Nazis!” (Oh my god. I never thought I’d be reading a comic book in 2007 set in present day America where a character would be uttering the words “Boo to Nazis!” Yes, boo indeed to the ever present Nazi threat that plagues America. I can’t even go to the grocery store without being attacked by Nazis.)

Members of the media appear on the scene and ask Nate if he is the new Commander Steel. Nate responds that he isn’t and that he is just a guy. A news reporter comments that the super hero claims to be a regular old citizen. Power Girl comes to Nate’s side and announces that he is Citizen Steel.

We then cut to Nate arriving back at the hospital where the children from the family reunion are recovering. Dr. Mid-Nite tells Nate to go visit the kids and that he won’t hurt them with his suit on.

Nate enters the room and all the kids crawl all over him and hug him. Nate thinks how this is the first time in a long time that he has felt anything. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Justice Society of America #7 was a solid issue. It was not as good as the stories that we got with the JLA/JSA crossover, but it was still pretty good. This issue was well paced as Johns wastes no time delivering us the all new Citizen Steel and lets us see him in action and then get some closure to the attack on the Heywood family reunion.

Johns always gives the reader good dialogue and this issue is no exception. Johns has an excellent feel for the various members of the JSA and it shows in the little touches in the story. Even though Wildcat and Wildcat v.2.0 didn’t get much panel time, in just a few panels Johns is able to get across to the reader a nice sense of their personalities. It is the small things like Wildcat slapping his son, Wildcat v.2.0, in the head for cracking wise about Citizen Steel.

We also get a good sense of the different personalities that this father and son duo have when during the fight Wildcat mentions how fists are nature’s problem solvers and Wildcat v.2.0 responds that Alan Scott says that the mind is nature’s problem solver. Wildcat asks version 2.0 what Hawkman’s says about that and version 2.0 responds that Hawkman just grunts.

In just a few lines of dialogue during an average fight scene Johns manages to give the reader a better sense of the personalities of Wildcat, Wildcat v.2.0 and Hawkman. Johns shows his talent for character development by even using an average fight scene to try and re-enforce the different personalities of the JSA teammates.

I totally dig Nate’s character. I love the name Citizen Steel. It pays homage to Commander Steel, but reflects Nathan’s own personality and his view that he is nothing more than your average Joe. That Nathan doesn’t view himself to be the big war hero like the original Commander Steel. This is an excellent way to pay homage to a Golden Age hero while still giving the new version of the character their own unique personality.

I like the twist on Nate’s powers. You knew that Nate would get super strength and invulnerability. But, Nate not being able to feel anything at all and not being able to control his powers was unexpected. I dig how Johns is handling Nate’s powers and these complications should prove to make Nate’s life a bit more of a challenge.

The concept of a suit to restrict his strength is also pretty cool. Rarely does a super hero need his powers cut in half in order to be a productive member of a super team. And I definitely like that Nate’s power looks like Commander Steel’s costume. Commander Steel always had a great costume design and I’m glad to see that Johns decided not to mess with perfection.

Johns does an excellent job developing Nate’s character in this issue. Johns takes Nate from being a broken and hopeless young man who was addicted to pain killers and transforms him into a hero who is now the patriarch of the Heywood family. It was nice watching Nate become the center of his family. This is a role that Nate never believed that he was supposed to carry. Nor is this a role that Nate has ever desired. However, like it or not, that is the role that Nate has now inherited.

The final scene to this issue was very touching. It is worth nothing that the only survivors of the Heywood family reunion slaughter are children. This immediately makes Nate the elder statesman of the Heywood family. It also emphasis Nate’s new role as the head of the Heywood family. I found the last page quite emotional and a rather satisfying ending to this issue.

Of course, despite all the quality character work and development and the well done dialogue, Johns still knows that you have to entertain the reader so he managed to give us plenty of action. If you like seeing Nazis getting their asses kicked like it was 1945 then you will love the fight scenes in this issue.

Of course, being the huge Legion of Super Heroes fan that I am, the Starman and Superman scenes were my favorite. I liked that Johns showed the tenderness between Superman and Starman. The reader gets a good sense of how deep the bond is between Superman and the other Legionnaires.

We get several cool hints about the Legion of Super Heroes. Starman clearly mentions that there are three Legions running around. The mentioning of X-S is a nod to the post-Zero Hour Legion since she was only a member of that version of the Legion. So that means that the three Legions that Starman is referencing is a variation of the Pre-Crisis Legion, the post-Zero Hour Legion and the current Legion. I love it. The thought of all these different versions of the Legion existing at the same time absolutely rocks.

I cannot wait to learn more about the different versions of the Legion and to find out which one is the Legion from New Earth’s future. I still maintain that the Legion over in their own title is not the Legion of New Earth since they have no connection with Superman. I am holding out hope that it is revealed that the variation of the Pre-Crisis Legion is actually the Legion from New Earth’s future. Obviously, I’m biased, but I feel that the Pre-Crisis Legion deserves the honor of being the Legion of New Earth’s future. All of the other versions can be from the various multiple Earths.

It is incredible how Johns has worked more magic with the Legion in the pages of the JSA and Action Comics than anything that has gone on the Legion’s own title since the original Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Starman also mention a black hole and a “her” who is supposed to see the way. I have no clue what that is all about, but it definitely piqued my interest. Starman also mentions that “Clark Kents can’t come.” I would imagine this must be referencing the various Clark Kents from the different multiple Earths.

Starman also mentions that the JSA is to take center stage in this conflict. Also that the JSA will be the role models and show other metahumans how to be a hero. I certainly like that role for the JSA. I dig that Johns has carved out the JSA’s niche in the DCU as the role models for all the other heroes including even the big shots over in the JLA. For a long time the JSA never really had a defined role or purpose in the DCU and were treated like red-headed stepchildren. I’m glad that Johns has rectified that issue.

Eaglesham turns in some fantastic artwork. I really dig Eaglesham’s style of art. Eaglesham makes the JSA a very visually pleasing comic book and really boosts Johns’ already strong writing.

The Bad: Justice Society of America #7 runs afoul of The Revolution’s Nazi Rule. A Nazi Rule violation constitutes an automatic two Night Girl deduction from the story rating. Honestly, I can’t think of anything more unimaginative and uncreative than Nazi themed villains. Hopefully, Johns is finished foisting these mind numbingly boring white supremacist themed villains on us. Johns is simply too talented to give us uncreative villains like this.

Now that Starman has mentioned X-S, I have that sinking feeling in my heart that the person that Karate Kid caught in his lightning rod over in the JLA/JSA crossover is not either Barry or Bart, but is X-S. That would really suck. I never liked X-S and she certainly can’t hold a candle to either Barry or Bart.

Overall: Justice Society of America #7 was another fine read. Johns continues to make the JSA one of DC’s best titles. This comic book boasts quality writing and wonderful artwork. Readers also get treated to good character development and entertaining action. If you haven’t tried this title then definitely check it out. This is a good time to hop on board as we are in between story arcs.

6 Comments

  1. Your tastes in comics often seems to run fairly old-school, so I’m surprised you don’t like Nazi villains. They aren’t complex or anything, but I think they can be fun; they’re easy to hate, and have no defenders (probably why they’re so popular).

  2. Marvel and DC missed such a perfect opportunity for a company crossover. JSA and Punisher War Journal should have had a multi-part story where the Justice Society and Frank Castle team up to fight a bunch of rhidiculously over-the-top neo-Nazi supervillains. Captain Nazi and Hate Monger could turn out to be the same guy (they might as well be). Fun for the whole family, as our heroes punch and shoot their way through hordes of superpowered goose-steppers. It’s 1942 all over again, for the millionth time!

  3. Stop hatin’ Nazis. What did they ever do to you?

    Really, though, I agree with you on villains. I prefer sympathetic villains like Magneto (the greatest villain of all time, in my opinion). However, I also enjoy the campy comic villains like Nazis on occasion; it’s sort of a tradition at this point.

    Regarding why I assessed you as an “old school” fan, you talk a lot about DC’s rich history.

  4. Coincidentally, I’m also currently a double-major in English and History (although I’m doing an Honorus degree in History, so that side wins out). UPEI doesn’t do any graphic novel courses that I’ve seen, but I’m hoping to work them in somewhere in one of my reports (I also informed one of the English professors who handles folklore and faery tales of the existence of Fables).

  5. Citizen Steel doesn’t really seem all that well thought out to me:

    “He’ll have to bend the metal around him every time he moves. That should reduce his strength by half.” Um, no..that should tire him out twice as fast, but his strength level should remain roughly the same. The running gag of the damage he does when he walks got old quickly. I think I’d rather stick with the missing leg than lose my ability to touch, as well. I liked Nate better when he was normal and still defeated the villan using nothing but his brain.

    Plus, am I the only one who wonders how he goes to the bathroom in that costume?

  6. “He’ll have to bend the metal around him every time he moves. That should reduce his strength by half.” Um, no..that should tire him out twice as fast, but his strength level should remain roughly the same. The running gag of the damage he does when he walks got old quickly. I think I’d rather stick with the missing leg than lose my ability to touch, as well. I liked Nate better when he was normal and still defeated the villan using nothing but his brain.

    Plus, am I the only one who wonders how he goes to the bathroom in that costume?

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