Comic Book Review: Justice Society of America #19

Justice Society of America continues to be one of DC’s more intriguing titles. Johns is a master world builder and is clearly having fun with this current Gog/Magog story arc. I fully expect Johns to unleash several more plot twists and turns on the reader. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Justice Society of America #19.

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 on Earth-2 with Power Girl finishing explaining her story to Michael Holt. Power Girl finishes up by stating that she would understand if Michael did not believe her at all. Michael then quotes the bible by saying “Anything is possible for him who believes.” Power Girl is stunned that Michael would be quoting the bible.

Michael proceeds to explain how his wife got into a terrible car accident and was in a coma. That none of the top neurologists or most advanced science techniques could bring her out of her coma. The doctors told Michael that his wife would never come out of her coma.

In despair, Michael went to a bridge intent on jumping to his death. There Michael saw another man about to jump off the bridge. Michael stopped the man from jumping and then took him to the only place that was open at that time of night: a nearby church. The man that Michael had saved then prayed for Michael. The next morning, Michael’s wife woke up. Michael states that he believes in many things and that he believes Power Girl.

Michael then states that Power Girl mentioned that one of her friends could open up black holes from one world to another. Michael pulls out a half-finished T-sphere from his desk drawer. Michael asks for the name of the teammate who has that ability.

We cut to New Earth with Starman talking with Mr. Terrific. Thom states that he cannot afford to be sane. Michael mentions that Thom’s 31st century knowledge of science could help him find a way to bring Power Girl back to New Earth. Thom snaps that he was brought to the 21st century for a reason and it was not to teach Michael 3rd grade science.

Mr. Terrific asks Thom what was he brought here to do. Thom responds that when Gog cured his schizophrenia that Gog left Thom vulnerable. That Thom’s mind was a maze and no telepath would have been able to venture inside to learn what Thom’s mission was.

However, now Thom’s mission could be exposed. Thom says that the entire 31st century is depending on him. Mr. Terrific tells Thom to tell him what his mission is so that the JSA can help him. Thom answers that he cannot tell Michael. Thom then adds that the worst part is that he does not think that he can go through with his mission unless he is insane.

We zip forward to four days after David was transformed into Magog. The JSA members are watching Magog in the lab as Dr. Mid-Nite runs tests on David’s new power levels. Dr. Mid-Nite states that Magog’s power levels are close to Superman’s and that Magog’s energy that he is channeling is bordering on Alan’s green flame. Dr. Mid-Nite says that David has been altered to his very core and that he is not sure that David is even human anymore. We see David smiling and saying “Thank you, Gog.”

We cut to David in his room. KC Superman enters and says that David lost his humanity and that he does not seem upset at all. David responds that he is grateful that he is not dead. David continues that he was lucky he had “God” watching over him. KC Superman interjects “You mean “a” god.” David replies “That’s what I said.”

David says that he is happy that he can help people. David is not bothered that Gog remade him in his own image because he owes Gog everything. KC Superman points out that David’s power levels have increased a hundred fold and, therefore, his decisions will be a hundred times more difficult.

David answers that it will not be difficult with Gog watching over them. David then adds that since they are in uniform that his codename is not David or Lance. It is Magog. Magog then says that he knows that KC Superman and the others think that Gog is nothing but trouble. However, they cannot deny all the good that Gog has done. Magog then asks KC Superman if he ever saved as many people as Gog has. Suddenly, Jay races into the room and tells Magog and KC Superman that they have a problem.

We zip over to Black Adam following a trail of wild flowers that have popped up across the desert. Black Adam notices that the magical flowers have gathered onlookers. However, the onlookers cannot see what Black Adam sees because they cannot fly. We see Black Adam hovering in the air and looking down on the desert. The flowers have formed the shape of the lightning bolt insignia on Black Adam’s costume. Black Adam says that it is a sign and it is pointing west. Black Adam flies off thinking how Isis wants him to fly west.

We cut back to Africa with the JSA assembled next to Gog. Alan Scott is squared off against Hawkman. Alan states that the JSA cannot let Gog continue. Hawkman counters that Gog is leading them to people who need help. Alan points out that Gog’s path is taking him directly to Kahndaq and then the Middle East after that.

Gog interrupts and says that he will walk every inch of the Earth and make everything good. That these wonderful creatures deserve it and so does Alan. Alan flies up to Gog’s face and tells Gog to stop the innocent act. Alan says that Gog is aware of the complexities of Earth, but it simply choosing to ignore them.

Damage then jumps in and tells Alan to leave Gog alone. Wildcat then gets in Damage’s face and tells Damage to shut up and that he doesn’t tell Alan what to do. Wildcat v. 2.0 then says that Gog has only wanted to help so maybe Alan is wrong. Amazing Man and Citizen Steel agree that all Gog has done so far is help them. That they should be grateful. Hourman replies that they still do not know what happened to Power Girl.

Alan then says “Let me be clear. We’re not moving forward and neither is Gog.” Suddenly, Magog teleports onto the scene along with KC Superman, Jay Garrick, Dr. Mid-Nite, Stargirl and Cyclone. Jay tells Hawkman and Alan that the three of them need to talk. Hawkman says that what Gog can do for this world is bigger than the JSA and that Jay and Alan want to stand in Gog’s way.

Alan retorts that Gog killed many soldiers. Alan says that the JSA does not kill. Ever. Hawkman counters that sometimes killing is the only choice. Jay disagrees and says that killing is never a choice. Hawkman fires back that Jay should tell that to soldiers like David or to the cops in Keystone City. Hawkman says that Jay’s sense of Justice is as strong as anyone he has ever met. But, that Jay’s sense of reality is pure fiction.

Hawkman tells the JSA’ers who want to move forward with Gog then come with him. Alan stands in front of Hawkman and raises his ring and says “We can’t let you.” Hawkman replies “I don’t think it’s only me, Alan.”

We see the JSA members square off against each other. On Hawkman’s side is Magog, Citizen Steel, Damage, Judomaster, Amazing Man and Wildcat v. 2.0. On Alan’s side is Jay, Wildcat, KC Superman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Hourman, Liberty Belle, Stargirl and Cyclone.

Alan tells Hawkman “Don’t do this, Carter.” Hawkman replies “All you have to do is step aside, Alan.” Gog then says “Magog.” Magog steps forward and says “Step aside or we will have to move you.” Hawkman then lets out a battle scream and attacks Alan. And with that we officially have ourselves a good old fashioned slobber-knocker as the JSA members lock horns with each other.

During the brawl, Jay tells Hawkman that it is not good for the kids to see this. Hawkman growls that the kids can make up their own minds. KC Superman tells Magog that he does not know the path that he is heading down. Magog fires back that KC Superman let his Earth go bang and that Magog is not about to let this Earth do that. Magog says that Gog is going to help them save the Earth.

Magog then blasts Alan and his supporting JSA’ers with a teleportation beam and they disappear from the scene. We then see Alan, Jay, Wildcat, KC Superman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Hourman, Liberty Belle, Stargirl and Cyclone suddenly appearing in the JSA’s brownstone where Michael is talking with Starman.

Starman asks KC Superman what is going on. KC Superman replies that there is a war. Alan then snaps that there is not going to be any war. That the JSA doesn’t fight itself. Suddenly, Starman begins to glow. We hear Power Girl and Michaels’s voices from Earth-2. Thom continues to glow and we here Power Girl yelling that she has made contact. We then hear Michael yell that “they” are here and for Power Girl to fly toward the light. We then see Power Girl entering the room via the portal that Thom has opened up.

Power Girl falls to the ground as her teammates run to her aid. Power Girl says that they found her. Suddenly, we see the Earth-2’s Justice Society Infinity entering the scene through the same portal from Thom. Earth-2 Power Girl snarls that Power Girl cannot escape from them. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Justice Society of America #19 was another good read. Johns continues to keep me on the edge of my seat with each installment of this story. Johns turns in another well plotted issue. Johns continues to impress me with his wonderful long-term vision and ability to weave multiple plotlines into a delightfully complex story arc.

I enjoyed the scene on Earth-2 with Michael and Power Girl. I am simply a sucker for alternate versions of New Earth’s characters. It is a part of why I love the Multiverse so much. I liked the little twist that Johns puts on Earth-2’s Mr. Terrific by making him a man of faith.

I thought Johns did a wonderful job with Thom’s character in this issue. I am completely intrigued as to what Thom’s mission is. We do learn that the entire 31st century is depending on Thom’s mission succeeding. And Johns drops the bomb on the reader that Thom’s mission is so daunting that he no longer thinks he can execute it without being totally out of his mind. It is possible that Thom’s mission has something to do with the story over in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds. Maybe the team of Legionnaires that are headed back to the 21st century are coming back for Thom.

I liked how Johns handles Magog in this issue. Now that David is Magog he is suddenly transformed from a dull and generic character to a highly interesting and cool character. I appreciate the fact that Johns does not make Magog an over the top bad guy. This is a rarity for Johns who has to battle his weakness of not being able to craft compelling villains who have complex personalities.

But, the fact is that Johns does a fine job explaining why Magog is so supportive of Gog. And the reader can easily understand Magog’s position. And even though there is no overtly menacing qualities to Magog, Johns does give the reader a subtle ominous hint with Magog’s character when Magog makes the little verbal slip by referring to Gog as “God.”

And speaking of Gog; the entire debate over Gog and his mission that the members of the JSA engage in was wonderfully handled by Johns. Johns is able to deftly split the JSA into two warring faction concerning their moral beliefs with regards to Gog and his actions.

What is so impressive is that Johns is able to handle each side’s viewpoint with honesty and equal time and effort. Johns never tips his hand and clues the reader onto which side they are supposed to agree with. The result is that the reader ends up conflicted about which side to support. Imagine that. I wish this technique had been carried out in Marvel’s big event concerning that “civil war” between the super heroes.

The scene where the JSA splits in half and squares off against each other was excellently done. Johns crafts plenty of tension in this scene. And I loved that Magog resolved the conflict in a nonviolent manner by teleporting Alan Scott and his supporters back to the JSA brownstone. That was not a predictable or typical response.

I completely enjoyed the fantastic chemistry that Johns creates between the JSA’s holy trinity in Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and Carter Hall. Johns writes an excellent Hawkman. Carter’s aggressive attitude is perfectly done without going over the top. I also loved how Johns conveyed Alan Scott’s absolute authority and extreme confidence in his position. Alan is a natural born leader who fully accepts the role as the elder statesman for the JSA.

Johns treats the reader to an enjoyable teaser involving Black Adam. We see Black Adam following Isis’ flowers that form the shape of his lightning bolt logo that is pointing in a specific direction. I am psyched that Isis appears to be making a come back. I love this plotline and am eager to see where Johns is headed with it. Black Adam is easily my favorite character on this comic book so I am obviously glad that Black Adam is once again getting some panel time on the JSA.

Justice Society of America #19 ends with a dramatic hook ending as Power Girl returns to New Earth along with the Justice Society Infinity. Next issue should be total chaos as the JSA has a ton on its plate. The team is split in half and fighting with each other. They have Gog to deal with on one hand. And on the other hand, they now have a pissed of JSI in their brownstone and reading for a huge brawl. Johns certainly has grabbed my attention and I am sure that next issue is going to be a blast to read.

Dale Eaglesham and Nathan Massengill combine to deliver some solid artwork. Personally, I am not all that huge a fan of Massengill’s inks. Eagelsham’s pencils have looked much better when handled by other inkers.

The Bad: Justice Society of America #19 was a poorly paced issue. This issue was just excruciatingly slow. The plotlines are creeping along at a mind numbingly slow pace. There are soap operas that have faster plot progression than the Justice Society of America. Johns’ preference for writing for trade format rather than the monthly format continues to be the greatest defect in his monthly titles.

While I appreciate how well Johns has handled the philosophical debate concerning Gog, this plotline is beginning to get old. Johns needs to go ahead and stop having the JSA standing around and recycling the same tired dialogue concerning Gog that we have gotten for the past several issues.

Overall: Justice Society of America #19 was another quality read. Johns continues to try and trump himself with the ending of each issue. This title should certainly satisfy readers who love plot heavy stories that offer the reader plenty of substance in which to savor. However, this title is not for everyone. If you cannot stomach decompressed storytelling then you probably will not enjoy Justice Society of America #19.

1 Comments

  1. Cap’n Johns, the engines, she canna take anymore!

    I still like it, but this is getting to be too, too much.

    Three huge story lines crashing together, one of which (Magog) requires a lot of depth and skill to deal with, and is at make or break time.

    I am still entertained, but My faith continues to be tried.

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