The Justice Society of America’s New York Brownstone must be getting rather cramped by now. Not only did the JSA pick up quite a few new members during last year’s Thy Kingdom Come storyline, but now two other recruits are moving in. For many writers, the group’s ever-expanding roster would offer some insurmountable storytelling challenges, but luckily one of the new writers on the book is Bill Willingham, who has dealt with large casts before on his magnificent Vertigo series Fables. Willingham and former Blue Beetle scribe Matthew Sturges pen a rather interesting opening chapter to the current arc of what is now DC’s most crowded team of heroes.
As this issue opens, the group finds that Obsidian’s “presence” has disappeared from their building at the same time that a mysterious black egg-shaped object has appeared. While Mr. Terrific tinkers with the egg in his lab, most of the team heads out on a distress call and winds up fighting a massive team of B- and C-list villains, all of whom are equally matched with at least one member of the team. What seemed like a sure bet for the JSA at first soon turns into a struggle for survival.
Geoff Johns has been sorely missed on this book, but Willingham and Sturges do a great job of engaging the reader early and making them curious enough to come back for more. Jesus Merino’s art fits the old-school style of the book just fine, and his two-page splash depicting the massive battle between the JSA and their adversaries would make a fantastic poster. If artists were paid by the number of characters they have to draw on a single book, Merino would be the industry’s highest-paid artist based on this issue alone.
Seriously, this is one packed team. So packed, in fact, that they will soon be getting two separate books, as announced at SDCC last weekend. This is probably a good idea, since new readers may shy away from such a large team, and longtime readers may feel like their favorite characters may get lost in the shuffle. Perhaps Willingham and Sturges should take Tomer’s recent Retcon This! article to heart and slowly phase out Jay, Alan and the original Wildcat, at least from active status. Whatever their strategy, however, it should make for some good reading, based on this issue.
Rating – 4 out of 5 pissy magician kids