Comic Book Review: Justice Society of America #3

The Justice Society of America has quickly become one of The Revolution’s favorite reads each and every month. Aside from the continual Nazi Rule violations, Johns has delivered one incredibly well written and enthralling storyline. There is no doubt in my mind that Justice Society of America #3 is going to be yet another excellent read. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Dale Eaglesham
Inker: Ruy Jose

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: We begin with Stargirl helping Maxine choose a new codename. Maxine unveils her truly hideous looking costume and announces that her codename will be Cyclone. (Yippie. My IQ just dropped 40 points after reading the dialogue between those two bubble headed characters.)

We cut to the Fourth Reich (Breeep! Breeep! Yup, Johns continues to violate The Revolution’s Nazi Rule. We knew that this would happen again in this issue.) who are killing the relatives of Commander Steel. Hawkman is on the scene and is brutally kicking ass like only he can. Hawkman takes down Swastika and Blitzkrieg.

Reichsmark turns Nate’s mother into a steel statue. Nate freaks out and attacks Reichsmark with his crutches. Reichsmark pins Nate to the ground. Reichsmark tells Nate that Reichsmark is bonded with the very metal from Commander Steel’s body. Nate uses his broken crutch and jams it deep into Reichsmark’s mouth. Liquid steel pours out of Reichsmark and onto Nate.

Hawkman takes out Reichsmark and then one of the other Nazi villains takes out Hawkman with the statue of Commander Steel. The Fourth Reich’s mission is completed so they teleport away from the park.

We cut to the police arriving on the scene along with paramedics to tend to any survivors. Hawkman tells the paramedics that he will take Nathan with him so that Dr. Mid-Nite can try and figure out what is going on with Nathan’s body and the liquid steel that is all over him.

We shift to Wildcat with his son Tommy. Tommy tells Wildcat that he can leave and head out the door and forget about Tommy. That Tommy understands that Wildcat has no desire to be a father unlike JSA’ers in Alan Scott and Jay Garrick.

We cut back to the JSA brownstone. Hourman and Liberty Bell are all up on each other. Damage tells them to get a room that they are making him sick. Damage says he doesn’t even know why he is with the JSA. That he never met his dad and could care less about the old Atom and his “legacy.”

We see Hawkman arrive at the JSA brownstone with Nate in his arms. Dr. Mid-Nite immediately tends to Nate’s condition. Alan Scott comments that the attack in the Heywood family is the second one so far. Suddenly, Sandman appears out of nowhere and tells Alan that there have been more attacks. Sandman tells Alan to assemble the JSA in the main meeting room.

We zip to the meeting room where Sandman is telling our heroes that he had nightmares taking him to some disturbing crime scenes. That last Sunday, Donovan Wallace, also known as General Glory was killed at his own wedding. The next night, someone killed Jack Burton, the former Minute-Man and his children and grand-children. That someone is sending killers after the mystery men who symbolize American patriotism.

Sandman says there are still two more families left: Liberty Bell’s family and Stripesy’s family. The JSA split up into two teams. One headed for Liberty Bell and the other headed for Stripesy.

We cut to Philadelphia where the original Liberty Bell is suddenly attacked by one of the Nazi villains. We then cut to Blue Valley where Stripesy is suddenly attacked by one of the Nazi villains.

We cut back to the JSA brownstone where Dr. Mid-Nite tells Mr. Terrific that Mr. America came to their brownstone because he knew they would find what was inside of his left lung. It is an arrowhead. That is a clue to the identity of the mysterious leader of the Nazi villains.

We cut to Tommy’s apartment. Wildcat is at the door about to leave when Vandal Savage breaks down the door and punches out Wildcat. Vandal Savage tells Tommy that Savage has orchestrated every significant war that mankind has ever had. That Savage is going to continue to shape the world for the war of tomorrow. Savage’s tomorrow.

Savage says that the Nazi’s were easy enough to manipulate. That the Nazis were ordered to kill off the families of the scabs of the Justice Society of America. However, the families of the original members are left to Vandal Savage to exterminate.

Tommy says he doesn’t like to fight. That he did not what to do this again. Tommy’s eyes glow yellow and turn cat-like. Tommy thinks that it fights him at first. That it has been a while since he could control the change. Tommy morphs into a panther humanoid creature and attacks Vandal Savage. End of issue.

The Good: Justice Society of America #3 was another excellent read. Johns continues to impress by cranking out consistently good issues on this title. Johns understands that in order to create a hit comic book that you have to unleash a storyline on the reader that starts quickly and grabs the reader and pulls them into the story. Many new titles begin far too slowly and fail to hook readers into coming back for more. Johns has wasted no time in getting this story arc off at quickly and completely captivating the reader.

Justice Society of America #3 is well plotted. Johns knows exactly when to ease off the accelerator and allow the reader to catch his breath and let the story soak in. And then Johns knows when to give it more gas and get the pace moving briskly. I like that Johns employed shorter scenes and jumped back and forth between the scenes the closer we got to the ending. This is a great way to increase the tension and intensity of the story. That way, the reader is quickly turning the pages anxiously heading to the great hook ending.

And Johns most definitely delivers an excellent hook ending! Vandal Savage and the revelation that Tommy is some sort of were-cat certainly were both unexpected plot turns. Once I was done with this issue, I was already anxious to read the next one. That is the sign of a well crafter, plotted and paced issue with an effective hook ending..

As always, Johns serves up plenty of well written dialogue. Johns has a wonderful feel for each character’s personality and that enables him to create the proper external voice for each character. Johns also is manufacturing fantastic chemistry between the characters. The characters are all well developed and distinct.

Johns gives us some quality action in the scene where Hawkman brawls with the Nazi villains. It is great to see Hawkman back in action and dispensing his own brutal brand of justice. Johns does a good job playing up Hawkman’s warrior spirit and his violent tendencies that make him such a feared adversary.

Just as we thought, it appears that Nate is slated to become the new Steel. I dig Nate’s character. Johns has done a great job walking the fine line between whiny and tragic with regard to Nate. Some writers might have gone a bit overboard and would have made Nate seem more like a whiner.

However, Johns has spent time to develop Nate’s background and his feelings that are raging inside of him. Nate comes across as a tragic character. However, Johns also hints to the heart of a hero and a fighter that lurks deep inside Nate. I’m not too sure that Nate even realizes how special he is. That his strength doesn’t come from his physical prowess but his heart.

I absolutely love Hourman and Liberty Bell. They are a fantastic couple. I dig how they are always all over each other. And, honestly, I think that is probably the most realistic portrayal of a super hero couple than what we see in most comic books.

You are talking characters that have powers that are physical based. They are both incredibly good looking. They dress up in skin tight costumes made of leather or spandex. It only makes sense that super heroes would be highly sexual people. Plus, Hourman and Liberty Bell provide for some comic relief in the way that they completely annoy poor Damage. .

And speaking of Damage, I am totally digging his character. Johns is doing a good job using Damage as the disruptive and negative force on a team that is overwhelming populated with positive heroes. Everyone in the JSA views each other as family. Except Damage. This makes Damage a necessary and important literary tool of providing the requisite hate and discord on a team that would probably be just too positive. Nobody wants to read about a team where everyone completely gets along.

Sandy’s new look absolutely rocks! I love it. It is a great melding of Sand’s modern looking mask that he wore with the original Sandman’s costume design. Combine that with Sand’s powers that enable him to appear from out of the earth and you have a cool looking character who can make one dramatic entrance.

I like that Johns went with a more retro design in order for Sandy to pay homage to his mentor Wesley Dodds. I’m also glad that Sandy has adopted the Sandman codename. It is nice to see the legacy of Sandman being carried on.

Now, all that leaves to discuss area the two major plot surprises that happened at the end of this issue. First, Johns reveals that the mystery leader behind the Nazi villains killing mystery men and their families is revealed to be none other than Vandal Savage. I dig it. Vandal Savage is a good choice for the main villain.

Savage has a long history that rivals many of the members of the JSA. Savage first appeared way back in 1943 in Green Lantern #10. Savage was a prominent villain that battled the JSA during the Golden Age. Savage definitely has the pedigree worthy of being the mastermind behind the plot to kill off the families of the Golden Age’s Mystery Men.

The second of the two major plot surprises is the fact that Wildcat’s son, Tommy, is literally a wildcat. Or at least some were-cat version of a panther. I have to say that I definitely did not see this coming.

And with this move, Johns integrates another character similar to what we saw in the Kingdom Come Universe into the DC Universe. In Kingdom Come, Wildcat was a humanoid panther with the soul of Ted Grant.

Here, Johns makes the humanoid panther Ted’s son. I like it. It should be very interesting to see what Johns does with Tommy’s character. Having said all that, if Johns’ plan is to replace the real Wildcat with this new version then I will be less than pleased. To me, it is not the JSA unless you have Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and Ted Grant. Period. No exceptions.

Dale Eaglesham supplies plenty of solid artwork. I do find his art to be a bit inconsistent with some panels looking incredible while others are rather ordinary. For the most part, Eaglesham creates a nice looking comic book. I certainly like Eaglesham’s Hawkman. He looks wicked. I also dig Eaglesham’s Damage. And Eaglesham draws a fantastic looking humanoid panther in Tommy.

The Bad: Had it not been for the Nazi Rule violation I would have given the writing 9 Night Girls out of 10. However, I had to apply the automatic 2 point deduction for Johns violating The Revolution’s Nazi Rule. I won’t make an exception for Johns even though he is one of my favorite writers. I expect more from Johns.

Seriously, Maxine’s costume is moronic. Maxine looks like a homeless Jazzercise dancer from the 1980’s. I already find her character to be insipid, so I think her idiotic costume is an excellent match to her character.

Overall: Justice Society of America #3 was another fantastic read. Johns has made Justice Society of America arguably DC’s strongest title. Even if you have never really gotten into the JSA, you should really give this title a try.