This is the first entry in a new weekly — hopefully — series I am writing about the Geoff Johns/David Goyer (later just Johns, who is the writer of focus here) JSA, which is hands down my favorite comic series. This series is the reason I went from someone who liked superhero movies and had read some X-Men comics long, long ago to a someone who actually buys and reads comic books. JSA is not a book that would normally be considered a good series for new readers. It is the reason I am never convinced that that continuity is the reason comic sales are in a prolonged funk. (I’d finger general awareness and physical accessibility.) JSA is not just a book with some reliance on continuity, it is a book steeped in it; it revels in it. JSA is about history, it is a book looking back at and remembering the past. That the JSA was dropped, at least temporarily, in the re-launch makes sense. The series focuses on the legacy of a world with superheroes and DC seems intent on jettisoning that, for better or worse. Without history, there is no Justice Society.
Despite the title’s reliance on history, JSA was still a new reader friendly series. Each arc, if not each issue, is comprehensible to people who have never read the book before. That is impressive especially with the fact that most recognizable character in the series is probably Hawkman. Maybe Captain Marvel or Black Canary, I’m not sure which one is best known. C-list characters at best no matter how you look at it. Much of this is thanks to the writing team. While he is certainly never subtle, Johns (I’ll credit him since he has done this on more books than this. Goyer certainly contributed as well) has a knack for distilling characters down to a core idea that drives all their stories. Not that the characters are one note; it gives them a central, relatable theme. As he does this for each of the numerous characters, he also does it for the team as a whole. And the theme of JSA is legacy. They are a team built on remembering the past, on how that past affects the future. They are about carrying on an ideal and a specific legacy; it is about the importance and dangers of following in the footsteps of parents/mentors/teachers.
Before we got to the run proper, there are the first 5 issues of the series to deal with. Because while Goyer was on to start the book, his co-writer is James Robinson for the first arc rather than Geoff Johns. Robinson was at the time closing in on the end of his wonderful Starman series and was at the time a superstar. Since Goyer was co-writing, I am going to cover it. It is part of the run; it sets up much of what comes later, even though it isn’t Johns work. That being said, I am not going to give it quite the same level of focus that I do the later issues. So let’s begin with JSA issues 1-5