For many years, Justice Society could be counted on as one of DC’s best books. Recently it has fallen on hard times. Bill Willingham got off to a rough start but seems to be finding his voice. The one strike this issue has against it is being the second part of a multi-part story. Let’s see if this one is an exception to the middle issue letdown.
Writer: Bill Willingham
Penciller: Jesus Merino
Inker: Jesse Delperdang
Colorist: Allen Passalaqua
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Twenty years from now…Michael (Mr. Terrific) Holt is being interviewed by a woman. Michael is explaining how the JSA took the fight to the “heroes” of the Fourth Reich. The woman says that the same Darkness Engine that removed the JSA’s powers is also giving the Reich heroes their powers. She says that humanity will no longer have to suffer under the guidance of the super-powered overlords.
Michael describes how the JSAers defeated the members of the Fourth Reich. A wood like creature called the Shadow of War produces the Darkness Engine. It is powered by Obsidian in his egg form. Shadow uses it to remove the JSA’s powers. They are taken prisoner.
His captor promises Michael special rations. He is in solitary confinement because of his cooperating with the Reich. Later that night, Michael escapes through a trap door. He meets up with various superheroes in one of the barracks. Batman asks how their favorite collaborator is doing. Batman is scheduled for execution in the morning. Michael wants to move up the escape attempt. Batman says no. They are not ready. In order to get the last chemicals he needs for the escape, Michael needs beat up and sent to the sick bay. Blue Beetle volunteers even though he knows he will be killed for his actions.
The Good: Merino’s strength seems to be in the battle scenes. The shots of the JSA fighting the heroes of the Reich. The special effects pop off the page.
The best design award goes to the Darkness Engine. The Kirby type machine powered by Obsidian in his egg form is a classic comic book design. This is one of the areas where good comic book art excels. I wonder if this is a preview of the upcoming Justice League/Society crossover. It is supposed to tie in to the Starheart that powers Green Lantern, Jade, and Obsidian.
The appearance of the old heroes was very interesting. My favorite was Superman with a Nick Fury style eye patch.
Willingham’s plot involving a hero having to volunteer for a suicide mission was a great way to showcase that a hero is more than a costume. Blue Beetle’s sacrifice adds an interesting twist to the story.
The Bad: Merino’s art is inconsistent in the non-action sequences. Some panels feature awkward looking characters. It looks like he put more time into the action scenes.
Willingham’s story did not do much to advance the plot. I know we are in the era of decompressed storytelling but at least move the story forward a little bit. When a reader shells out his money to buy an issue, they should a new portion of the story. Maybe the next chapter will advance the plot.
Overall: An issue that can be missed. Last issue set up the story. The next issue should move the story along. I would wait and pick it up.