Comic Book Review: Justice Society of America #22

The end is finally here for this Kingdom Come/Gog/Magog story that has threatened to last for a year. I don’t mind a slower paced story, but Johns simply took it a bit too far with the decompressed nature of this story. I am curious to see if Johns is going to be able to deliver an ending that could possibly live up to the high expectations considering how long Johns has made the reader wait for this moment. Let’s hope Johns can pull it off and do this review for Justice Society of America #22.

Creative Team

Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Dale Eaglesham
Inks: Nathan Massengill
Paints: Alex Ross

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

Synopsis: We begin with Gog telling David Reid to worship him and Gog will give him his powers back. David says that he would rather die than live without freedom. Suddenly, the JSA’ers get their second wind and resume their combined attack on Gog. Damage tells the JSA’ers to clear the area because he is about to go nuclear. The JSA’ers fall back and Damage lets off a big nuclear mushroom.

The smoke clears and Gog is still standing. Gog calls Damage insignificant and blasts Damage. Gog states that the JSA’ers lives have no impact on this planet and that the JSA’ers are truly insects. Citizen Steel then strips off his uniform so his strength would be unrestrained. Steel then punches away at Gog’s leg. Gog falls.

The JSA’ers pounce on Gog and tether him to the ground while David Reid uses his powers to blast Gog’s head off his body. Gog states that he is their savior. That this world needs a god. David says that Gog is just a parasite.

Kingdom Come Superman then picks Gog’s head up and flies up into the air. KC Superman tells Starman to come with him and to create a stargate. Starman creates a stargate and Superman carries Gog’s head through it.

We cut to Starman and KC Superman coming out of the stargate. They are in front of the Source Wall. KC Superman says that it is time for Gog to join the other gods from the Third World. Gog asks how KC Superman can judge him. That KC Superman abandoned his own planet and left it to die. Gog says that KC Superman is no savior.

Superman then places Gog’s head into the Source Wall. As Gog gets absorbed into the Source Wall, Gog fires out an energy blast from his eye that hits KC Superman in the back and destroys his cape and part of his costume. Gog is then fully absorbed into the Source Wall.

KC Superman then says that Gog was right about one thing. That KC Superman needs to go home. KC Superman says that Starman’s costume is a map of the Multiverse. KC Superman asks Starman to send him back to Earth-22. KC Superman asks to be returned to the exact moment when he left: the moment of the explosion. KC Superman says that he can stop the bomb.

Starman looks at his costume and finds Earth-22. Starman then creates a stargate and returns KC Superman back to Earth-22. We cut to KC Superman back on Earth-22 the moment after the bomb blast. Everyone is dead. KC Superman looks at Kara’s skeleton and screams “No!” KC Superman then streaks off into the sky.

We cut back to New Earth. The JSA’ers know that even though Gog is defeated that it is not over between the members. That they still have an unfinished dispute. David Reid then asks Alan Scott why he is still Magog when all the rest of the JSA’ers have reverted back to normal like they were before Gog’s “gifts.”

We shift back to Earth-22 with KC Superman attacking the UN building. KC Superman says that after all they had done for them that the UN went ahead and condemned them to death. Norman McCay then appears on the scene and tells him that Superman must forgive himself. That Superman is acting in the very manner that caused humans to be afraid of super-heroes in the first place.

We slide back to New Earth with Damage covering his scarred face with his hands while Judomaster approaches him. Damage tells Judomaster to go away and to not look at him. Judomaster pushes Damage’s hands away from his face and then hold his face and looks at him. Judomaster then kisses Damage.

We zip back to Earth-22 with Norman McCay telling KC Superman that Clark’s greatest power is his instinctive ability to tell right from wrong. That it was a gift of Clark’s humanity. That in any crisis, Clark always knew what to do. Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern then arrive on the scene and KC Superman is happy to see that they are still alive. KC Superman smiles and says “Thank you.”

We cut to New Earth where Stargirl asks Steel how he feels now that he has no hope of being “cured” by Gog. Steel smiles and says that he feels great. Starman teleports back onto the scene. Starman tells the JSA’ers to not worry about KC Superman. Starman says that he has seen KC Superman’s future and that KC Superman has quite a life ahead of him.

We shift forward to Earth-22 one year later. Clark has finished erecting tombstones for everyone who died at the bomb blast in Kansas. Wonder Woman appears on the scene and gives KC Superman a gift to help him see a little more clearly. Clark opens the box and it is his glasses. Clark puts them on and kisses Wonder Woman.

We zip forward to ten years later at Clark and Diana’s home. They have two sons, a daughter and a brand new baby. Bruce Wayne is holding the baby.

We zip forward to twenty years later and see everyone at what I guess is Bruce Wayne’s funeral.

We zip forward to 100 years later with Clark and Diana watching Kryptonian ships blasting off from Earth. (I am guessing here.) Clark is wearing a Kryptonian outfit like what Jor-El wore in the Silver Age.

We zip forward to 200 years later and see that New York City is completely flooded.

We zip forward to 500 years later and see Clark tending to a futuristic farm.

We zip forward to 1,000 years later and see a very old and frail Clark staring up into the sky and watching the Legion of Super Heroes fly through the air. Clark holds his glasses and smiles. End of issue.

Comments

The Good: What a fantastic conclusion to this epic Kingdom Come/Gog/Magog story. Justice Society of America #22 was an excellent read as Johns is able to surprise me and deliver an ending that was satisfactory and fulfilling for the reader.

The first half of this issue delivered a great brawl between Gog and the JSA. Johns did a fine job choreographing this final battle. I liked that Johns had Citizen Steel use his perceived “curse” in his strength and invulnerability that he wanted Gog so badly to cure in order to take down Gog. It was a pretty cool moment to see Steel hammering Gog.

I also dig that Johns had Magog be the one who severs Gog’s head from his body. This emphasized David’s renunciation of Gog and affirmed the fact that David is a true hero. And I enjoyed the fact that KC Superman was the character who got to carry Gog’s head into space and place it into the Source Wall. With all the trauma and personal conflict that KC Superman has been through, he deserved this moment of triumph over Gog.

Even when the other JSA’ers were unsure if Gog was a force of good or evil, KC Superman’s instinct never wavered over the fact that Gog was evil. And this thematically played nicely into the later scene between Norman McCay and KC Superman where Norman talks about KC Superman’s greatest power being his instinct to know right from wrong no matter the situation or crisis.

The final fate of Gog was logical and well done. There was really no other way to effectively and definitively defeat Gog other than to place him into the Source Wall along with the other gods from the Third World. This was the perfect conclusion to this fight.

As always, Johns delivers plenty of strong character work. Johns understands these characters so well that this is what I fear is going to suffer the most when Johns leaves this title. The best part of the character work in this issue was the new positive attitudes that a couple of the JSA’ers came away with in the wake of this event.

Steel has been suffering with the “curse” of his powers in not being able to feel anything. Johns has Steel come to grips with his powers and the current direction of his life. Steel finally realizes that being a hero and all the good that he is now able to do for the world outweighs his own personal sacrifice. It is nice to see Nathan at peace with himself.

The other character who emerges from this even with a more positive view of his current condition is Damage. Johns properly had Grant immediately react to having his face scarred once again with anger and hostility. Seeing Damage go nuclear on Gog emphasized Damage’s rage at his current condition.

However, Johns has Grant realize that what matters is on the inside as we see Judomaster holding Grant’s face and then planting a big kiss on his lips. Grant deserves a break and I am glad that Johns finally gives Grant something positive in his life.

I enjoyed the fact that Johns was smart enough to know that even though the fight is over between the JSA and Gog that the members of the JSA realize that the fight between each other is not over. The battle with Gog simply brought to the surface the fundamental philosophical differences between the various JSA’ers. And these differences must be addressed in order for the JSA to move on as a cohesive and unified team with a shared philosophical belief and mission. It appears that we are headed for a roster shake-up as Johns prepares to exit this title and Willingham and Sturges prepare to take over.

Johns threw a curveball at me with David Reid’s character. I honestly thought that David was slated for the scrap heap. I am glad to see that Johns decided to keep David around. And I am very curious to learn why David is till Magog considering that all of the other “gifts” from Gog disappeared once he was defeated.

The final several pages that took place on Earth-22 were powerful and touching. Johns lives up to the hype and seamlessly integrates this current story arc into the fabric of Kingdom Come in a pleasing and respectful fashion. Johns adds another layer to the Kingdom Come story without ever detracting or diluting the original source material.

I like how Johns has Gog provide the impetus for KC Superman realizing that he has to go back to Earth-22 and try to save everyone from the bomb. This folds nicely into the final dramatic scene to the original Kingdom Come. Johns then treats the reader to several panel shots of what happens on Earth-22 after the ending to the original Kingdom Come. The hardback version of Kingdom Come ended with Bruce being asked to be the godfather to Clark and Diana’s child.

Well, now the reader gets to see what happens after that scene. We learn that Clark and Diana have four children. We also see what appears to be Clark in the same outfit that Jor-El wore seeing off the people of New Krypton. We learn that there is a massive flood that destroys New York City. And that eventually, Clark helps re-build the Earth once again.

Of course, as a die-hard Legion fan I found the final page to be the best of all. We get to see Clark as a frail old man smiling at how he inspired the creation of the Legion of Super Heroes. Even though I prefer the Legion to stand on their own two feet rather than be mere supporting characters to Superman; I do love the fact that DC is making sure that Superman’s connection to the Legion as their inspiration and foundation is receiving a concerted push. The connection between Superman and the Legion is vitally important to the Legion.

What I found most interesting is that it appears that the Earth-22 Legion is the re-boot Legion that we got after Zero Hour. The costume designs of the Earth-22 Legion appear to be the same as those of the post Zero Hour re-boot Legion. The only obvious difference is that there was no Superboy or Supergirl in the re-boot Legion. If the Earth-22 Legion is in fact the re-boot Legion then this was a pretty cool way for Johns to tie this Kingdom Come story back into his Legion of Three Worlds event.

Justice Society of America #22 offers the reader plenty of excellent artwork. Eaglesham does a fine job with the scenes on New Earth and Alex Ross paints some lovely panels for the scenes on Earth-22.

The Bad: I do think that Johns delivered an ending that might appeal more to fans of DC continuity than to your average comic book reader. Sure, I geeked out with the final pages of this issue that gave the reader a peak into the future of Earth-22 that lead up to the unveiling of what appears to be the re-boot Legion of Super Heroes. But, not everyone cares about the Multiverse and the Legion of Super Heroes. Some readers might find this ending anti-climactic given the length and build-up of this slow moving story.

Overall: Justice Society of America #22 was actually a rather sweet ending to this massive Kingdom Come story. Johns delivers an ending that was worth the wait. This was a touching finale that offered the reader a fine combination of action and impressive character work. I would certainly recommend picking up this story when it comes out in trade paperback format.

4 Comments

  1. In comics today, the theme oftentimes is that the hero loses, or if they win, they win at a personal cost. thats fine, and t makes for some good story telling, but every once in awhile, you need to give everyone their happily ever after.

    Damage found love, Steel found happiness, superman went home and created his perfect world. You know there is still fighing in the team and all that, and i’m sure other writers will take full advantage of it, but just for now, and at the end of this arc, everything is ok.

    Oddly enough, the person I’m happiest for is Batman. Writers always seem to give him the most dystoic future possible. It happpens in Earth 2, Dark Knight Returns and Batman Beyond. Is it wrong to want him to settle down with Selina and enjoy his life at the end. Thats why for me it was so nice to see him playing with the children like the dotting uncle. But what really did it for me was the funeral picture. It’s easy to miss, but in the right courner, there is a woman wearing a widow’s vail and crying. Notice the ring on her finger? To me, that little hint of something more was the most powerful scene in the book, but mabey i’m an old softy.

  2. I believe the underwater New York City panel is a reference to Kamandi.

  3. ..

    But then, WHAT was the purpose of KC Superman? WHY did he come to New Earth? Simply to serve as the McGuffin to resolve the plot?

    Couldn’t the New Earth SM have filled the same place?

    It just seems like fan-fic to go back and show ANY more in the Kingdom Come Elseworld. It’s like showing the Watchmen world AFTER the events in the story.

    And so now we have yet ANOTHER Magog. But to what end? If Dido intends to set up a KC situation then our comics reading lives are going to get very boring. I mean…we’ve already READ that story.

    I want NEW themes, NEW plots, NEW antagonists. I’m tired of reading the same 12 story ideas over and over and over.

    And the worst part of that recycling is the DETAIL YOU NEVER KNEW.

    That’s the hook for the 2000s, it seems to me: the ANGLE on the obtuse continuity.

    I won’t even run the list but it starts clearly with the re-do of Dr Light as a rapist. And that decision sits at Dido’s feet. That decision taints everything that has come after it.

    I’ll stop now. I hope I made a valid point.

    ..

  4. “The Watchmen is the only DC story that I never want to see a sequel to.”

    Come on, I’ve already been working on a script

    watchmen 2: Watchmen go Hawaiian
    Think about it.

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