Comic Book Review: Justice Society of America #17

Johns continues to crank out a fantastic read with this current story arc. Justice Society of America is one of DC’s more dependable and consistently good titles. I am looking forward to seeing just what Johns plans to do with Gog. I am confident that Justice Society of America #17 will be a strong read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Story: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Fernando Pasarin
Inks: Prentis Rollins & John Stanci

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

Synopsis: We begin with Cyclone chasing her pet monkey across the JSA brownstone. The monkey ends up crashing into Damage’s legs. Cyclone grabs the monkey and then looks up at Damage and is stunned that his ruggedly handsome looking face has been healed. Cyclone is clearly smitten by Damage’s good looks and stammers about how Jakeem had the Thunderbolt make a little vest with wings for her monkey to make him look like he was from the Wizard of Oz. Damage is in a great mood and Cyclone is stunned by both his good looks and his positive attitude.

We cut back to Africa where Gog has traveled from village to village healing the sick and saving the poor and the hungry. The JSA and the JLA are flying and walking behind Gog following him from village to village. The JSA and JLA have gotten the US army to agree to not do anything about Gog and to let the heroes handle the situation.

As Gog heals the villagers, they all fall in line behind Gog and praise him and follow him from village to village. The crowd of worshippers keeps growing with each village. Kingdom Come Superman is stunned and thought that Gog’s spear would pass to someone else and that they would become Magog.

Gog notices the JLA’ers who have arrived on the scene. Gog mentions that the JSA’ers have brought others who can fly to him. Wonder Woman introduces the JLA to Gog. Wonder Woman comments that she has meet many gods and that not all of them were friends to humanity. Gog replies that he is a friend to humanity.

Gog then states that the JLA and JSA are protectors. Gog then asks who protects the protectors? Gog then answers that he will now protect our heroes.

We cut to Dr. Mid-Nite at church. Mr. Terrific approaches Pieter and asks him if he really thinks that Gog is a god on Earth. Pieter responds that he does believe so, but that it is not Pieter’s god.

Michael comments how Gog did not hear him when Michael yelled out for him, but Gog heard Amazing Man when he whispered to Gog. Michael states that his wife had a faith as unshakable as Pieter’s. Michael says that Pieter knows him better than any other JSA’er does. Pieter replies “And you, me.” Michael says that he doesn’t have faith in God not because he doesn’t want to. Michael says that he wishes with all his heart that he had faith because that would mean he would see his wife again someday. But, something inside Michael won’t let him believe.

We shift to Stonechat Museum where Hawkman and Hawkgirl are looking over the various artifacts from Gog. Hawkman says that one of the newest JSA’ers, David Reid, gets his powers from Gog. That Reid has Gog’s symbol on his weapon.

Hawkgirl then mentions that the JLA wants Hawkman back. Hawkman spits that he spent enough years listening to Green Arrow and that Red Arrow’s mouth is even worse than Queen’s.

We cut to an American air base where Jay Garrick and David Reid have met with the general to get him to agree to stand down and let the JSA and JLA handle the situation. The general says that he hopes this doesn’t turn out like Black Adam and World War III. The general comments that they do not need another Biayla on their hands.

Reid says that what Gog has done is amazing. Reid states that if Gog is truly here just to help them then this could be the greatest day in the history of the world. That this could change everything.

We slide back to Africa with our heroes still following Gog. Power Girl notes that Kingdom Come Superman has not said anything and it is making her nervous. Stargirl comments how Gog makes her feel useless. Gog suddenly stops and tells Stargirl that she is not useless. That she inspires many like herself across the world.

Gog says that the heroes need protecting, too. Suddenly, Sandman collapses to the ground. Gog says for them to not worry about Sandy. That Sand will awake in twenty-four hours. That he will have the most wonderful sleep. We see a big smile on Sand’s face.

Gog then addresses Dr. Mid-Nite and comments how his faith is undying and he has sacrificed much for the health of his fellow man. Suddenly, Pieter’s eyes glow. He rips off his goggles and exclaims to Mr. Terrific that he can see.

Steel realizing that Gog is helping them yells out for Gog to heal him so that he can feel once again. However, Gog ignores Steel and addresses Starman. Gog says that Starman’s mind suffers and that Gog will make it good again. Starman suddenly takes off his mask and says “I am Thom Kallor. I am from the 31st century. (Oh yeah, bitches. The real Star Boy is back and better than ever.) Thom then tells Mr. Terrific that he can finally think straight.

Power Girl yells for Gog to stop. Gog then tells Power Girl that she is lost and that she wants to go home. Suddenly, Gog greatest a swirling vortex of green energy that transports Power Girl away from the scene.

Kingdom Come Superman flies toward the vortex to try and grab Power Girl before she is gone. He fails. Superman shouts at Gog where did Gog send her. Gog says that Power Girl is home with her friends. Gog says that Superman is from another world that he does not want to go home to. Superman responds what is Gog talking about. That there is no world to go home to.

Thom says that Amazing Man has the strongest connection with Gog and should reestablish contact and find out exactly where Power Girl went. Thom comments how he is clearly thinking for the first time in quite a while and that it is a bad thing.

Amazing Man then asks Gog where he sent Power Girl. But, before Gog can answer, he suddenly smells death. Gog states that there is violence ahead. Gog says that he has eradicated famine and disease from these lands…it is time to eradicate war. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Justice Society of America #17 was a fantastic read. Johns serves up a well crafted issue. Johns continues to move the story along at a steady and measured pace designed to build tension in the reader. This issue is well plotted as Johns continues to move forward with a purpose. Johns has created a story arc that is progressing in a logical and pleasant fashion as each issue builds solidly on the last one.

Johns does not give us any action at all in Justice Society of America #17. But, action scenes really are not needed at this point in the story. Johns has already given us a couple of issues full of jaw dropping furious action on this story arc. At this point of the story arc, Johns is dedicating more effort to intrigue the reader with the mystery surrounding Gog and his intentions for Earth.

Johns focuses on fleshing out Gog’s mission on Earth with this issue. Justice Society of America achieves its goal of getting the reader utterly confused as to if Gog is truly a benevolent force or not. Johns gives the reader ample evidence on both sides of the question and makes it difficult for the reader to draw a conclusion about Gog’s intentions.

Johns dishes out plenty of great dialogue. It is so obvious when a writer truly likes the characters that he is handling versus a writer who is simply writing a title for a paycheck. Johns loves these characters and has a great feel for their personalities. This leads to some natural dialogue that has a pleasant flow to it.

Justice Society of America #17 boasts some excellent character work. Johns uses this issue to focus on several JSA’ers and their personal reactions to the appearance of a god like Gog. All the JSA’ers are well developed and Johns whips up some powerful chemistry between the various members.

The weakest part of the issue was the beginning, but it served the purpose of showing Damage’s new take on life and how it impacts his teammates. Damage certainly has a new attitude that is radically different from his morose and withdrawn take on life that he has displayed ever since he joined the JSA. And the way that Cyclone practically swoons at the sight of Damage’s restored face and his new friendly personality was a nice touch.

Damage is one of the JSA’ers who has absolutely no reservations about Gog’s purpose. Damage is going to be a follower of Gog and that may put him at odds with his teammates should the JSA have to lock horns with Gog. I have this sinking feeling that Johns is setting Damage up for a bad fall.

The scene that had some of the most powerful character work in this issue was the one with Pieter and Michael at the church. What a wonderfully crafted scene. Johns weaves some poignant and powerful dialogue in this scene. Johns delves into both characters and gives the reader a nice look into their hearts. This was a cool examination into two close friends who are both men of science and yet have such radically views of faith.

Mr. Terrific has always been one of my favorite JSA’ers and Johns continues to do a fantastic job with Michael’s character. This scene offers a visceral look into Michael’s soul where he is plagued by his lack of faith. I thought Johns did a great job describing Michael’s dilemma. And it is one that I can relate to.

The scene with Hawkman and Hawkgirl also offered up some entertaining character work. Johns does a fine job handling the undercurrent of tension that exists between these two former lovers. The reader gets a great sense of the hostility in Hawkman that he has for Green Arrow and Red Arrow. And it is obvious that Hawkman is unable to deal with Hawkgirl being with anyone other than him. I found the amusement on Hawkgirl’s face in response to Hawkman’s ranting to be a humorous touch.

Johns also uses that scene to tease the reader about a connection between David Reid’s powers and Gog. Reid has Gog’s symbol on his arm and it is clear that his powers stem from Gog. Add to this the fact that Reid is obviously moved by Gog’s appearance and exclaims how this could be the greatest day ever for Earth. It appears that if the JSA goes up against Gog that Reid might end up aligning himself with the god over his new teammates.

I love how Johns has the general who meets with Reid and Jay reference the actions of Black Adam during World War II that led to the destruction of Biayla. It is nice to see Johns building off of past events in order to shape how characters will view this current event concerning Gog. A sense of history that influences characters’ views of current events makes the story a much deeper read.

I liked the twist that Gog announces himself the protector of the protectors and then proceeds to heel Sand, Pieter and Thom. I have to say that I am mystified and intrigued as to why Gog completely ignored Steel’s cries for his help in curing Steel of his condition. This is a fine example of Johns showing Gog doing amazing acts of kindness and then doing something like ignoring Steel that gives the reader pause about Gog’s supposedly altruistic mission.

I love that Thom has his mind back. It was fantastic to see him take off the Kingdom Come Starman mask and look like Star Boy once again. Beard and all. I got goose bumps when Thom stated his name and that he was from the 31st century. I hated it when Thom got dramatically retconned when the Legion was three-booted by Waid. It was nice to see the real Star Boy that I grew up with back and better than ever. And seriously, the beard and the sweet starry costume is one of the best character designs ever.

Johns also teases the reader with the fact that Thom getting his sanity back is a bad thing. Clearly, Thom remembers why he was sent into the past and what terrible event is on the horizon. I am curious to learn if Thom is referencing the events of Final Crisis or something other dire event. I am looking forward to Johns fleshing out this plotline in the future.

I absolutely freaked out when Gog transported Power Girl back to her Earth. What a fantastic plot twist. Up until now, very few characters in the DCU have had knowledge of the newly reborn Multiverse that occurred at the end of 52. DC has been wise to keep the Multiverse a secret from our characters of New Earth for the past year and a half. This makes the excitement and tension of seeing our New Earth characters slowly discover the new Multiverse all that much more exciting. I am eager to see Power Girl’s reaction to being returned to her long lost Earth.

Johns ends Justice Society of America #17 with a fantastic hook ending. You just knew that something bad was going to happen. After lulling the reader into a false sense of calm and complacency with this entire issue, Johns swerves the reader by suddenly switching gears and having Gog turn violent and get ready to eradicate war.

I am interested to see how Gog decides to go about “eradicating” war. This should definitely provide the reader with plenty of action in the next issue. I have a feeling that Johns hinted to the reader through Kingdom Come Superman’s dialogue how Gog will deal with war.

Superman’s steely reservations about Gog are evidenced in his comment about how he thought that Gog’s spear would pass onto another person who would then become Magog. It appears that Gog will create Magog in the next issue as Gog’s tool to “eradicate” war.

And taking it a step further, lets’ speculate about which character will be transformed into Magog. Could it possibly be that David Reid will become Magog? After all, David is a soldier, he is also a believer in Gog and we have learned that David gets his powers from Gog.

Fernando Pasarin, Prentis Rollins & John Stanci combine to deliver some artwork that is simply gorgeous. Justice Society of America #17 is a fantastic looking issue. Seriously, Pasarin is one insanely talented artist. I was completely blown away by his work on this issue.

Pasarin is able to convey such emotion in the characters’ faces. Kingdom Come Superman’s expression of concern and worry. Michael’s feelings of sadness. And Pasarin is able to draw Gog in such a fashion that simply shouts that he is a god and not just some giant metahuman character.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Justice Society of America #17 was an excellent read. Johns is delivering such a well crafted story arc on this title. The only readers who may not enjoy this issue are readers who demand action in their comic books and prefer fast paced reads. For everyone else, I would recommend giving this title a try. Johns has certainly done his best to make the JSA one of the top reads on the market.

2 Comments

  1. JSA is one of the books that got me back into making regular runs to the comic store. One of the things that I’m really happy about is that there will be a JSA Annual!

    Annuals may be old-school but I loved them back in the day. “Events” like Final Crisis and Secret Invasion would be far more palatable to me if they were dealt with in annuals, a la Armageddon 2001. Marvel’s “Kings of Pain” story was one that I really enjoyed, and that was contained entirely within four annuals.

  2. JSA is the best book, that wouldn’t exist, if i had my way. (Way too many Supermen, Flashes, and the like in the DCU).

    This story is good so far, but I worry that the writers have bit off more than they can chew.
    It ain’t going to offer any insights into real religion, and I worry we are going to get the old Star Trek, leave-humanity-be speech at the end (which is really a cop-out when you think about it)

    And in the DC world, ‘gods’ have a weird function, that’s hinted at but never really fleshed out. They come across as average Super-beings but are more. (Ex: Darkseid. All children know who he is, but guilty adults convince themselves he doesn’t exist, or to paraphrase Morrison, he has no shadow, because he is your shadow. That’s more than a just some science/magic based superhuman). Do they have the imagination to run with this?

    I want to believe in Johns and Ross, but my faith is weak.

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