Comic Book Review: Justice Society of America #20

The Revolution always looks forward to the latest issue of the Justice Society of America. This title is white hot as Johns continue to crank out excellent reads each and every month. We certainly have plenty on our plate with Justice Society of America #20 as the JSA has to not only deal with the internal schism between those who support Gog and those who do not, but they must also now deal with the JLI from Earth-2. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Justice Society of America #20.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Dale Eaglesham
Inks: Nathan Massengill

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

Synopsis: We begin with the JSI’s Power Girl demanding to know where her cousin is and why the JSA’s Power Girl infiltrated the JSI. At first the JSA thinks that the JSI members are time travelers since Jade is alive and well and because Sly Pemberton is still the Star Spangled Kid. But, Jay Garrick quickly points out that the JSI members have abnormalities in their internal vibrational frequencies. Jay states that the JSI are from a parallel Earth.
Earth-2 Power Girl sees Kingdom Come Superman and asks him if he is her missing cousin, Kal-L. KC Superman responds that he is Kal-El from Earth-22. This prompts Earth-2 Power Girl to go into a rage that KC Superman is just another fake. Earth-2 Power Girl attacks KC Superman and the rest of the JSI attacks the JSA. During this fight Alan Scott is completely shaken by the fact that Jade, his daughter, is alive. And Jade is equally as shaken that her father, Alan, is still alive.

Starman then cries out that he cannot maintain the portal between the worlds open any longer. The JSI takes down our Power Girl and takes her back to Earth-2. The JSA’s Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, Stargirl and Starman follow the JSI through the closing portal to Earth-2.
We cut to Jay, Alan, Mr. Terrific and Starman arriving in Earth-2 Michael Holt’s office. Earth-2 Michael replies that the heroes must be from New Earth. The two Michael Holt’s introduce themselves to each other. Earth-2’s Michael Holt states that he used his cosmic engine to make contact with Starman’s costume in order to create the portal for Power Girl to get to New Earth. Starman then reveals that his costume is very special and was designed by three Brainiac 5’s.

Suddenly, in walks Paula Holt. The JSA members are stunned and quickly wonder how New Earth’s Mr. Terrific will react to seeing his dead wife alive. Mr. Terrific sticks out his hand and introduces himself to her and says that the pleasure is all his to meet her.

We shift to the Batcave on Earth-2 where New Earth’s Power Girl is strapped to a table. Huntress holds a lead box with a piece of Kryptonite in it to weaken Power Girl. Robin is also there. Earth-2 Power Girl proceeds to relentlessly interrogate New Earth’s Power Girl. Finally, our Power Girl passes out from the Kryptonite.

Huntress closes the lead box and tells Earth-2 Power Girl that she is taking things to far. That it is okay to interrogate the New Earth Power Girl, but that they are taking this too far and that they are not going to seriously injure or kill New Earth Power Girl. Earth-2 Power Girl rants that she will do anything that she has to in order to find her cousin.

Earth-2 Power Girl rips New Earth Power Girl from the table she was strapped to and begins to question her again. New Earth Power Girl recovers from the effects of the Kryptonite and quickly punches the Earth-2 Power Girl and then uses her heat vision to seal up the lead box of Kryptonite. Our Power Girl then lays a beating on the Earth-2 Power Girl.

Our Power Girl then apologizes to Huntress for the misunderstand. Power Girl says that she thought she belonged here. Power Girl says that she did not mean to invade Huntress’ life. That she just wanted to be a part of it again. That it hurt Power Girl to look at Huntress who she thought was her best friends and to be told by Huntress that she isn’t.

Huntress answers that she believes Power Girl and then asks how both Power Girls can be real. Suddenly, the JLI appear on the scene and Brainwave immediately takes down New Earth Power Girl. Brainwave scans New Earth Power Girl’s mind and tells Earth-2 Power Girl that their memories diverge at a point, but other than that their brain patterns are exactly the same.

The JSA then arrive on the scene. Starman says that the JSA is not here to fight. Thom reveals that his costume is a map to the Multiverse. That his powers allow him to travel not just through time but also between the various multiple Earths. Thom says that his costume is a guide to the new Multiverse.

Thom explains how the universe expands and contracts every 38 billion years and that the Multiverse expands and contracts at the same rate, but it is out of sync with the mainline. That is started billions of years ago when Krona peered back in time and triggered the creation of an infinite number of parallel universes. The Multiverse expanded. And that includes Earth-2.

Of course, as the Multiverse was born, so was the Anti-Monitor who rose from the anti-matter universe in an attempt to consume reality. The Multiverse was then collapsed back into one single Earth. Thom continues that recently Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime triggered the rebirth of the Multiverse. And the new Multiverse began to expand and Earth-2 was reborn along with everyone on it.

Therefore, the people on Earth-2 or not the JSA’s Power Girl’s friends and this Earth-2 is not our Power Girl’s home. That the newly reborn Multiverse provided this new Earth-2 their own Power Girl.

Our Power Girl inquires what about her? What has the universe provided her? The Earth-2 Power Girl then asks what about their Superman. Jay Garrick answers that they simply have not found him yet. Alan Scott says that the JLI should be grateful that their Superman may still be alive.

Our Power Girl then asks what does she do now? Where does she go from here? Jay answers “You come with us, Karen. You come home.” And with that Starman makes another portal and the JSA members return back to New Earth. Huntress yells out “Wait!” and Jade yells out “Dad!”

We cut to the JSA’ers reappearing back at the JSA brownstone. Jay and Alan are both holding Power Girl. Alan tells Power Girl “You can let go of our hands now, Karen. We’re home.” Power Girl keeps holding Jay and Alan and answers “I know.”

We shift to Dr. Mid-Nite examining Power Girl to make sure she is all right. Thom and Stargirl are watching. Stargirl asks Thom if Power Girl is going to be all right. Thom replies that he knows a bit about Power Girl’s future. Thom continues that Power Girl is going to be better than all right. That she will make the most out of her life both inside and outside of the JSA. And, although she does not know it, that the JSI will one day help her out in ways she could never imagine.

We then slide over to Alan Scott approaching Mr. Terrific. Alan states that Michael is the smartest man that Alan has ever known. And that Michael does not believe in gods. But, Michael has seen the power of Gog. That Michael saw Gog resurrect David. Alan asks Mr. Terrific if it is possible that Gog could bring back his daughter and Mr. Terrific’s wife. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Justice Society of America #20 was another good read. Johns crafts a nicely paced read which is a bit of a surprise. For Johns, this issue actually moves along at a fairly steady pace. Johns manages to deliver a balanced issue as we get equal parts drama and action. Overall, the issue had a pleasant flow as Johns employed smooth scene transitions throughout the issue.

Johns’ dialogue was excellent. And that has come to be expected on this title. Johns understands and gets the JSA members like no other writer. This strong feel for the various personalities allows Johns to fashion a unique external voice for each JSA’er. The dialogue has a pleasant natural feel to it and it never feels stiff or scripted.

The character work on Justice Society of America continues to be a strength. Again, Johns gets these characters and knows exactly what makes them tick. Each JSA’er is well developed and fleshed out. Johns has done his best to make sure there are no cardboard cut-outs on the JSA’s roster. And the strong character work affords Johns the ability to create plenty of excellent chemistry between the JSA’ers. It is so easy for the reader to lose themselves in this story and as these characters seemingly spring to life from the pages of this title.

I also appreciate the emotion that Johns pours into his characters. The reader is able to get a good sense of Power Girl’s loss and sadness that envelopes her in this issue. The scene where Power Girl refuses to let go of Alan and Jay once they arrived back home was perfect. It was touching and poignant without ever crossing the line and becoming overly dramatic.

Johns cranks out a well plotted issue. The incredible long range vision and wonderfully complex and detailed plot lines on the Justice Society of America is impressive. There are very few titles that can rival the depth and range of the plotting that we get on the JSA.

Johns manages to nicely fold the Earth-2 plotline into the larger Gog plotline. On the surface, it appears that Johns places the Gog plotline on hold while he wraps up the Earth-2 plotline. But, upon closer review, Johns slyly uses the Earth-2 plotline to further the Gog plotline by pushing two of Gog’s biggest critics closer to accepting this seemingly benevolent god.

I loved all the plot reveals concerning Thom. I dig the concept of Thom’s costume being a map of the Multiverse. This works well with the fact that Thom’s powers afford him the ability to travel between the various parallel Earths. The fact that Thom’s costume was created by three Brainiac 5’s is evidence that Thom’s journey to the past begins during the Legion of Three Worlds story.

Johns is finally tipping his hand by showing the reader how the events of the Legion of Three Worlds are tied to Starman’s mission that he has kept mentioning in the pages of the Justice Society of America. I appreciate the fact that Johns has begun to weave the Legion of Three Worlds story into the Justice Society of America.

Once again, I am duly impressed by Johns’ incredible long range vision as Johns has been planting the seeds for the Legion of Three World story on the Justice Society of America with Starman’s appearance that occurred way back in Justice Society of America #1. I respect and appreciate it when a writer demonstrates such professional dedication and commitment in crafting complex plotlines with a view for not just one year down the road but for stories three to four years down the road. This is part of why Johns is a master world builder.

UPDATE: Upon further review, I am now unsure of how this current direction with Thom fits in with the Legion of Three Worlds story arc. Clearly, the suit created by three Brainiac 5’s has to take place during the Legion of Three Worlds story since that is the only time when we would have three Brainiac 5’s all in one place.

However, I could have sworn that during the Lighting Saga that Johns had Dream Girl state how Thom was a part of the team from the Levitz Era Legion sent back into the past to use the lighting rod to capture the essence of an unknown person who I personally believe is Bart Allen. Johns had Dream Girl mention that Thom took out Colossal Boy and surreptitiously took Gim’s place on the team and that the time beam was not calibrated for Thom’s body. Therefore, this caused a distortion in the time beam that caused Thom to go back into the past to Earth-22 instead of New Earth.

So, at this point, I have to admit being at a loss as to how Thom could have a suit designed by all three Brainiac 5’s if he was sent back with the team of Legionnaires during the Lightning Saga which takes place before the Action Comics story arc involving the Legion as well as the Legion of Three Worlds. I look forward to having Johns attempt to explain this to the reader.

Johns gives an excellent and impressively concise and clear re-cap of the history of the Multiverse. I found it interesting that the Multiverse expands just like the universe does. This would suggest that the new Multiverse will continue to expand and will eventually keep growing past the original 52 worlds. This would seem a logical way to bring back the original Multiverse that had an infinite amount of Earths. I have a feeling that the Multiverse will certainly not be limited by the original 52 Earths that we saw at the end of 52.

I liked Johns’ explanation for the two Power Girls from Earth-2. It makes sense that when the Multiverse was reborn that it would automatically re-create the characters necessary for each multiple Earth. And that would mean that when Earth-2 was reborn that the universe would provide for it a Power Girl as well. Since this is technically a re-born Multiverse and not just the old Multiverse brought back to life this was a logical enough explanation for me.

But, what was so exciting about this explanation was the stunning revelation that the Golden Age Superman from Erath-2 could still be alive. That the Earth-2 heroes simply have not found him yet. It would be absolutely fantastic if Kal-L was still alive. I am looking forward to the moment when the Golden Age Superman makes his dramatic return.

Johns ends Justice Society of America #20 with a fantastic hook ending. The adventure on Earth-2 and the sight of their loved ones alive once again appears to be enough to get Alan Scott to finally buy into Gog. Alan has been the leader of the faction of the JSA who do not trust or believe in Gog. That appears to be changing. I am curious to see how Mr. Terrific reacts to Alan’s question.

Dale Eaglesham and Nathan Massengill combine to deliver some good artwork. Eaglesham’s nice clean style of art always makes Justice Society of America an easy and pleasant title to read.

The Bad: I only have one minor complaint. I thought that the Earth-2 Power Girl began channeling a bit too much of her inner Superboy-Prime with the maniacal way that she interrogated our Power Girl and the general over the top presentation of Earth-2 Power Girl’s character.

Overall: Justice Society of America #20 was another strong read. Johns continues to impress with this title as Justice Society of America remains one of DC’s best and most consistent titles on the market. If you enjoy incredibly complex plotlines along with quality character work then you should give Justice Society of America a try. This title is balanced enough in terms of action and drama that should make it appealing to a large percentage of comic book readers.

5 Comments

  1. Here’s what I don’t get: Thom came back with the Legion around the time of the Lightning Saga, but that group was from before the Legion of Three Worlds series – Karate Kid and Una stayed behind for Countdown, later dying.

    So…how can Thom be from after that, having his suit built by the three Braniac 5’s?

  2. Thanks for that. But (without having any of the issues to hand), during the Lightning Saga, wasn’t Starman one of the Legionnaires who were assigned to the past in order to get Bart (presumably) into the rod?

    In which case the implication was that he arrived there – by way of E22 – after leaving the future with the rest of them, even though they left before that as you mention, being as the follow up to that from the Legion’s POV was the arc in Action?

    Or am I misremembering?

  3. I’m pretty sure that in one of the reviews I read for “Legion of Three Worlds” Brainy 5 mentions that the 3 groups had seen each other before…and I believe Superman mentions a Legion of Three Worlds adventure during the Lightning Saga as though it had already happened to him.

    Are we being given hints about something else besides what we currently see happening in the Lo3W books?

  4. I agree about what you said about the Earth-2 Power Girl. That got annoying really fast. Especially when both Justice Societies were telling her she was acting like a crazy person.

  5. Re: Kal-L being dead. I believe it was at the end of Infinite Crisis when he said something about “Their all still out there.” I think he was talking about the multiverse, and that means that all of the characters who died and all the elseworlds can be re-explored.

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