Comic Book Review: Justice Society of America #5

Justice Society of America has been one of DC’s hottest titles on the market. I love what Johns is doing with this newest incarnation of the JSA. And I enjoyed the first issue of this JLA/JSA crossover involving the seven missing Legionnaires. There is absolutely no way that I won’t enjoy Justice Society of America #5. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Ruy Jose

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, Batman, Geo-Force, Starman and Sandman arriving at Arkham Asylum. Sandman comments how he now has Wesley Dodds’ ability to dream prophetic visions. Sandman tells Batman that he dreamed about a laughing skeleton, a girl with a star shaped birthmark and Batman torn to shreds inside of Arkham.

Batman inspects one of the doctors who is shrieking in terror about some African velvet biters who have crawled all over her. Batman notes that this doctor lost her brother when he was bitten by one of these types of spiders while on a safari in Africa.

Batman says that someone is making nightmares literally come to life at least temporarily. We see this spider vanished into a puff of smoke. Batman notes that since Doctor Destiny no longer has the Dream Stone, that he must be using some other talisman for his source of powers.

Starman points into the Asylum and says it’s the doctor with no face. Geo-Force says that Mr. terrific has located a flight ring inside arc him. Batman says that Starman must be talking about Doctor Destiny. Starman says if he gets his heart back he will get his mind back.

Batman tells Starman to focus and asks him what Dream Girl can do. Starman says she stole his heart. And that she did not blame him for Kenz Nuhor. Starman says he misses her and that she still loves him. Starman says her powers are to see into the future.

Sandman comments that Dream Girl has powers like his. Geo-Force says that Sandman can also cause tremors and raise lava. And that Starman is able to increase the gravitational pull on objects. And that it is interesting that Geo-Force has both of their powers combined. Starman then leans in and tells Geo-Force that he smells like mud.

Batman tells Sandman and Geo-Force that there is an emergency exit in the back of the Asylum. That they can break into and sneak around to the back of the cells and get Dream Girl out of Doctor Destiny’s reach. Batman then notices that Starman has gone ahead and entered the front of the Asylum.

We cut to Starman inside of the Asylum looking at the security room that has monitor screens showing all the various cells. Batman, Geo-Force and Sandman catch up to Starman. Geo-Force says that they have left themselves exposed to Doctor Destiny and must prepare to face their own nightmares.

Batman retorts that Destiny has stronger nightmares to throw at them than their own. That he will use the fears from Two-Face, the Riddler and the Mad Hatter. Geo-Force asks what they are afraid of. Batman responds me. We then see numerous versions of Batman appear on the scene and attacks our heroes.

While Starman, Sandman and Batman battle the nightmare versions of Batman, Starman runs off toward Dream Girl’s cell. Starman busts down the wall to herself and sees Doctor Destiny and a chained up Dream Girl. Doctor Destiny then takes Starman’s greatest fear which is Kenz Nuhor, Dream Girl’s old lover that Starman accidentally killed. Kenz begins to choke Starman.

Starman begs Doctor Destiny to let Star girl go. Starman then remembers the wake up word. Starman then says “Lightning Lad” in Interlac. Dream Girl suddenly wakes up and by doing so Doctor Destiny’s connection to her power is caught off. Dream Girl then breaks free of the chains and takes down Doctor Destiny.

Dream Girl and Starman hug each other. Dream Girl tells Thom that she missed him so much. Dream Girl then tells Starman that she had a vision. And that by coming here one of them is going to die.

We then cut to the Fortress of Solitude, where we see the team of Superman, Red Tornado, Cyclone and Star Girl. Star Girl tells Cyclone to go talk to Red Tornado since she is the granddaughter of the first Red Tornado. Cyclone approaches Red Tornado and asks if he remembers her. Red Tornado says he does remember her back when his creator, T.O. Morrow, kidnapped Cyclone when she was six years old in order to lure Red Tornado back to him.

The heroes then enter Superman’s Memorial Room. Superman gives Red Tornado his Legion flight ring. Red Tornado tell Superman that he is still detecting another Legion flight ring within the fortress. Star Girl comments how she has never heard of the Legion of Super Heroes before today. Star Girl asks Superman who they were. Superman says that they were his friends. We then get a splash shot of several Legionnaires from what it appears to be various versions of the Legion of Super Heroes.

Superman comments how when he was a teenager he wasn’t lucky like Star Girl to have a friend like Cyclone. Superman says he had to keep his powers under control. And that he accidentally broke a boy’s arm when playing foot ball when he was 12. That for years the only people he could be himself around were his parents.

Then one day after school, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl showed up and told him that when Clark gets older he would become the inspiration that would help found the Legion. That they took Superman to their future and made him an honorary member. Superman said that the Legion had a clubhouse and flight rings. Superman says that in the end they inspire him more than he inspired them.

Superman says that the Legion gave him the statues on the last day he saw them years ago. Each one in a costume from an adventure they wanted him to remember them by. Superman said that after the first Crisis occurred he never saw them again.

Superman says that he doesn’t know what is wrong with Starman. And that even karate kid has a certain sadness to him. Superman wonders what happened to the Legion of Super Heroes when they grew up. (I know what happened. The TMK Legion happened. That is enough to make anyone sad.)

Red Tornado then tell Superman that he has located the other flight ring. That one of the statues is wearing it. Cyclone then points out that there are two statues off Wildfire. Superman says that one of them is not a statute. Superman says the wake up word in Interlac. Wildfire then wakes up.

Wildfire comments how he could not move or say anything. Wildfire says that he is going to kill Brainiac five. Wildfire mentions a storm. Superman asks Wildfire what storm he is talking about. Superman asks Wildfire why the Legion are here in their time.

We cut to Batman, Sandman, Geo-Force and Starman arriving back at the hall with Dream Girl. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Justice Society of America #5 was a fantastic read. I thought it was well paced with a good blend of action and dialogue. Johns also gives us a well plotted story. Johns is clearly and methodically putting into place various pieces of the puzzle that is sure to result in a wild climax. Johns also does a nice job continually teasing the reader. With each question that is answered, another question springs up to take its place.

Johns also does a nice job writing the various characters. Johns has a good feel for the different personalities and that shows in his strong dialogue. Each character has their proper external voice. The well crafted dialogue and effort to focus on each character’s personality creates some impressive chemistry between the various members of the JSA and the JLA.

I’m still not over the excitement of once again seeing a classic JLA/JSA team up. It is so cool to see the various rosters broken into smaller teams and mixed together. I really dig the combination of Batman, Sandman, Starman and Geo-Force. Johns does a nice job writing the various characters.

Johns has consistently done an excellent job with Starman’s character. Johns has developed an interesting and fractured personality for Starman. Plus, Johns has had fun making sure that Starman’s insane rambling actually has many clues and hints about other characters and the storyline in general.

And that continues in this issue. Starman mentions that Geo-Force smells like mud. That has to be a reference to Terra’s earth based powers that Geo-Force has developed. And that Terra’s spirit is somehow inside of Geo-Force. This certainly got my attention and it should be interesting to see where this plotline leads.

I am totally digging this new version of Sandman. Sandy was also a dependable character, but not one that really got my interest. That has certainly changed now. I love this new direction for Sandy. I like how Johns has mixed Sandy’s character from just before Infinite Crisis with Wesley Dodds’ noir version of Sandman. Sandy has a wicked cool look and his powers are quite interesting.

What surprised me is that Johns actually writes a pretty darn good Batman. I have always gotten the feeling that Johns never really liked Batman and usually portrays him as a total jerk or a bit of a punk. Not in this issue. Batman shows compassion to his teammate in Starman knowing that he needs Starman to be level headed in order to accomplish their mission. That is the mark of a good leader.

However, Johns’ Batman isn’t a wimp. He still has his tough no-nonsense attitude and displays detective skills beyond anyone else on the planet. Plus, Johns shows the intimidation side of Batman by making the greatest fear of the various inmates of Arkham Asylum even more dangerous than each hero’s personal fears: the Batman himself.

That re-enforces what an intimidating figure Batman is to the people that he battles. And it also led to a great action scene of our heroes taking on the various nightmarish version of the Batman spawned from the minds of the various inmates in Arkham.

It was a sight for sore eyes seeing Dream Girl freed and hugging Starman. It invoked visions of a much better time in Legion history before the first Crisis on Infinite Earths devastated the Legion of Super Heroes. Even if it is temporary, it was so awesome to see these Nura and Thom back together once again.

Of course, Johns hints that either Dream Girl or Starman is going to die. That Dream Girl saw it in one of her visions. I hope that our heroes are able to prevent any of these seven Legionnaires from dying. It has been so long since I have been able to enjoy a story involving my beloved Pre-Crisis Legionnaires that I would hate to lose one so soon after getting them back.

The scene at the Fortress of Solitude was pretty cool. We finally got a great splash shot of the statues of the Legion of Super Heroes that we got a very small glimpse of in Action Comics Annual #10.

We have Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy (Yeah, he has his antennas, baby! Take that, Waid!), Karate Kid, Sun Boy, White Witch, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet all in their Pre-Crisis outfits that they wore during the Great Darkness Saga. Shrinking Violet is sitting on Gim’s shoulder which leads me to believe that the versions of these two characters are from when the two of them were dating.

We also have the imitation Invisible Kid known as Jacques Foccart, the real Invisible Kid, Dawnstar, Mon-El, Star Boy, Dream Girl, Matter Eater Lad, Ferro Lad, Bouncing Boy Duo Damsel, Wildfire, Ultra Boy, Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Timber Wolf, Element Lad and Lightning Lad all in their Pre-Crisis outfit.

Cosmic Boy’s outfit appears to be like the one he wore in the Adventure Comics Era. What? No Mike Grell designed costume? I’m disappointed. Lightning Lad’s hair makes me think he is from the 1970’s Legion. Element Lad’s long hair instead of an afro makes me think that he is also from the 1970’s Legion. And Timber Wolf with his wolf-ish face is also from the 1970’s Legion.

Polar Boy and Sensor Girl are in their Post-Crisis yet Pre-Zero Hour outfits. And lastly, we have Blok in what I can’t remember for sure but I think is his Post-Crisis yet Pre-Zero Hour costume.

I find it very interesting that Johns inserted three characters from the Post-Crisis yet Pre-Zero Hour Era. This makes me even more curious about what is going on with the Legion and the time stream in the DCU. Of course, I am thrilled that the overwhelming majority of the Legionnaires in this splash shot are from the Pre-Crisis Legion of Super Heroes. That kicks ass!

The Pre-Crisis Legion is by far and away the most superior version of the Legion of Super Heroes. For me, the Legion has consistently gone downhill ever since the first Crisis on Infinite Earths occurred. No team more affected by the first Crisis than the Legion of Super Heroes.

The first Crisis just destroyed the Legion and wreaked havoc on their history. The first Crisis gutted the Legion and mortally wounded the team. The damage inflicted by the first Crisis combined with the fan fiction stories of the TMK Legion directly led to the Legion having to be completely re-booted during Zero Hour.

The complete re-boot was in order to make sense of the massive mess that was the history of the Legion. And that massive mess of the Legion’s history was all started by the first Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The Teen Titans, the Outsiders and the JLA weren’t devastated by the first Crisis like The Legion of Super Heroes was. The fact that the Legion has now had to have two total and complete re-boots is a total joke. DC has completely fumbled the handling of the Legion of Super Heroes ever since the first Crisis.

Now is the chance for DC to finally rectify their previous mistakes. I hope that the return of the Mutliverse and the changes to Superman’s history as well as to the time stream of the new DCU all lead to a re-birth of the Legion along the lines of the Pre-Crisis Legion of Super Heroes.

I am thrilled that DC has firmly re-established the Legion of Super Heroes back into Superman’s history. This is a brilliant move. We now know that Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl all traveled to the past to meet Clark when he was a teen. That the original Legionnaires said that Superman was their inspiration for forming the Legion of Super Heroes.

We also learn that Superman traveled to the future, was a member of the Legion and had numerous adventures with his fellow Legionnaires. This move pushes the Legion back to its original Pre-Crisis history. I honestly couldn’t be any happier than I am right now. This is just what DC desperately needed to do to try and rehabilitate the Legion of Super Heroes.

It is an excellent idea by DC to re-introduce the Legion of Super Heroes into the new DCU’s time stream and history in the pages of the JLA and the JSA. This move firmly cements ties between the two premier super teams of the present day DCU. Also, by linking the Legion with the JLA and JSA it elevates the Legion as a team of the future on the same level of importance to the DCU as the JLA and JSA. Plus, this allows DC to introduce this new take on the Legion in the new DCU to a large number of readers who follow the popular JLA and JSA.

And we find out that Wildfire is one of the seven missing Legionnaires. Sweet! Wildfire rocks! Wildfire has always been one of my all-time favorite Legionnaires. It always irritated me that it took forever for Wildfire to appear in the re-boot Legion. And once he did appear, his origin and character was so drastically different that I had zero interest in his character. Plus, Wildfire was treated as a very minor character. Then we got the three-boot and we are still waiting for Wildfire to make his appearance.

So, needless to say, it was awesome to see the real Wildfire once again. Wildfire is a great character and I’m psyched that we are going to get to see him in action once again. And what is this storm that Wildfire references? I certainly am interested to learn more about that plotline.

I am not familiar with Fernando Pasarin at all. But, let me say, the brother can flat out draw! Pasarin’s artwork is gorgeous. I absolutely love his style. He delivers one wonderfully looking comic book. Pasarin’s artwork did a great job complimenting Johns’ story and brining it to life.

The Bad: I still can’t get into Cyclone’s character. I can’t believe it was possible, but Johns managed to deliver a character even more incredibly annoying than Star Girl.

I will admit that Justice Society of America #5 probably would be seen as a bit slow and not terribly gripping if you weren’t a Legion of Super Heroes fan. This story arc seems a bit too tailor-made for long time Legion fan. Now, I am a long time Legion fan so I have no problem with that, but I’m wondering how non-Legion fans are digging this story arc.

Overall: Justice Society of America #5 was another excellent read. I absolutely love this JLA/JSA team-up. I cannot wait to learn more about our missing Legionnaires and what DC has planned for the Legion in this new DCU. I hope that DC has a different version of the Legion in store for us than what we are currently getting over on Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes.

4 Comments

  1. “porn to shreds”? Sorry, I just got a kick out of that.

    Silliness aside, I’m always amazed at how thorough of reviews you crank out.

  2. It wasn’t batman’s belt. The girls just thought it looked like Batman’s belt. It was Wildfire’s standard costume belt possibly augmented to keep wildfire immobile till the wake up word was spoken. I don’t think he is capable of sleping like the others. It popped off because Wildfire is prone to energy explosions and he almost had one.

  3. I am completely confused about THIS Legion’s relationship to the Legion currently starring in its own book (Earth 1 & 2 versions, perhaps) and probably enjoy the Waid Legion more than you.

    That said, it is wonderful to see the original – and by all means best – incarnation of the Legion back in comics.

    You’re right about the original Crisis’ (and Man of Steel’s) effect on the team, and its high time DC took steps to rectify those mistakes.

    Superman’s speech about the Legion was touching as well. Summed up my feelings about the team nicely.

  4. i became a comic junkie thanks to identity crisis… so im rather new to this. that being said, i mostly have no clue whats going on in this story arch, but im still entertained enough by it to keep going. just the JSA alone has been hard for me to figure out, but thanks to your amazingly consistent site, the library, and wikipedia, im starting to kinda understand. thanks for your great reviews. i visit your site often and you have helped steer my comic purchasing choices.

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