Sunday, November 4, 2007

... And Justice for All

One word: "Wow."

Still with me? Good. I may still be relatively new to this whole comic book business, but I can say I think without a doubt that Justice Society of America 10 is the greatest comic I've read, certainly in recent memory.

Now, to fully understand it, you need to go back in time to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and learn there were once TWO Supermen, Earths 1 and 2. Kal El, the original Superman, and Kal L, the one who's cousin is Power Girl. Got it? Good.

Apparently, at the end of that Crisis, when the Multiverse was destroyed, Kal L (Earth 2 Superman) was stuck in the only universe left (Earth 1) with no purpose whatsoever. When Infinite Crisis came around (95-96) DC killed off Kal L and Power Girl (his cousin) mourns his death.

Still got it? Maybe? Well, don't worry if you don't understand every emotion coursing through this book, because all you need to appreciate this issue are a pair of eyes and a sense of wonderment. It's gorgeous, from the Geoff Johns and Alex Ross storytelling, to the Dale Eaglesham artwork, to the specially painted pages by Ross, this comic comes nothing short of brilliant.

To summarize, at the end of JSA 9, the team had solved the problem of a dead super-villain causing an inextinguishable towering inferno by having Starman (Thom Kallor) create a black hole and toss the dead Goth inside. This apparently had the dubious effect of bringing a whole new Superman from... somewhere, none of them knowing quite who he is.

Remember when I said there was supposedly no Multiverse? Uh, yeah. Didn't take, I guess. Actually, taking Marvel's explanation of chronal physics (Steve is frothing at the mouth about now) a new Universe exists for each choice of every decision that is made. So even if the Multiverse was destroyed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, there's no reason to think that new universes didn't immediately start popping up since. Okay, end of the Marvel allegory right there.

Anyone who's read Kingdom Come (and shame on you if you haven't, read it and come back later) will know exactly who this man is. This is the Superman from Earth-22 (as Starman refers to it), transported from an Earth where superheros run rampant, and only Superman and his allies were keeping it from destroying the people they'd sworn to protect. All the Sudden, this Superman finds himself in what is almost a complete opposite, where teams like the Justice Society keep those kind of things from happening to begin with, where people are protected by the heroes, not protected from them.

There's one sequence (if you check out this book, you'll know it when you see it) that is just done beautifully. I won't give any details away, just read it if you haven't already... or, hell, even if you have read it already. I've reread that sequence a dozen times already, and it still hits me right there, every time. As I said before, the artwork by Dale Eaglesham is good enough anyway, but when the new Superman thinks back to his Earth the flashbacks are done in gorgeous Alex Ross paintings. It makes me desperately want a new Alex Ross book to read, or to just go back and reread Kingdom Come. There's simply nobody like Ross. There really isn't anything wrong with this issue. The ending does seem a little slapped together, but not so much that it detracts from the rest of the book. And that's really just a minor quibble.

Probably the most intriguing part of all this is that DC's new promotional ad is a two-page spread reciting: "...And Evil Shall Inherit the Earth." Among other interesting parts of the spread are a trio of Supermen who appear to be the "evil" supermen. One is Hank Henshaw, the robotic Superman who appeared after The Death of Superman. But one of the others is this alternate Superman, apparently harnessing the power of the Atom. It's one more piece of the puzzle that we're getting from this current JSA run, and I can't wait for more from this team, and to see where it all ends up.


Elmo said...

And so you see- the height of Geoff Johns' powers! This is what makes DC Marvel's superior opposite number, namely, a LOVING curation of the characters' past.

Kevin Caron said...

Unless they want to rape and kill characters from the past to seem more 'badass'...

(No, I'll never forgive them for Sue Dibny!)

Great book, tho - Dale Eaglesham has gotten better and better.

Note how E-22 Superman talks about the Kingdom Come superhero 'gulag' - now, where have I heard that idea since? Hmmm...

Gianni said...

In DC, they get the great idea of putting the gulag in the middle of the fricking USA. At least in Marvel, there's no danger of them hurting anyone from the Negative Zone.

Elmo said...

And we've yet to receive an ongoing title that chronicles all the bullshit to be expected of running a superhuman prison in an alternate dimension... oh wait, what problems could there possible be?

Sam said...

the 'Kingdom Come' gulag is for VILLAINS, not political dissenters - slight difference there!

Kevin might still be sore about Sue Dibney, but the thing I'll never forgive is the death the DC powers that be handed out to the original Superman, the legendary icon who started all this superhero stuff. Not this years-later alternate-history version, but the original Kal-L, who was given a great ride-off into the sunset at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, then brought back for this last crisis and ... bare-knuckle beaten to death by a homicidal teenager. No point, no final sacrifice, no redemption - just some punk pummelling grandpa. Shameful.

Still, I agree whole-heartedly with the review - lil' Elmo is right: 'loving curation of the characters' past' is the key.