JSA Reread Part 3

This brings us to the end of the first year of this book, with another one off cool down issue, like issue 6, and the opening act of the title’s biggest story yet. Also thrown in there is a goofy crossover title, that while far from essential in the big scheme does have some worthwhile developments. These are necessary issues to the feel of the title, if not strictly important ones. The fate of the world can’t hang in the balance in every story, there has to be some dramatic highs and lows. This is a bit of a low, though it is only a low by superhero standards.

JSA 10: Wild Hunt

Written by Geoff Johns and David Goyer. Art by Stephen Sadowski and Michael Bair

This issue, a bit of a breather between big arcs, is a solo issue for Wildcat, who had to sit out the last arc after Black Adam broke his arm in issue #6. It also introduces the Justice Society’s opposite counterpart, the Injustice Society. The Injustice Society is an evil version of the JSA. Like our heroic team, their focus is legacy. They are a combination of Golden Age villains and replacements for Golden Age villains. It is led by Johnny Sorrow, a Golden Age villain that can kill with a look. It has the 2nd Icicle, who inherited his powers from his father, and 2nd Tigress, who had two supervillain parents, one the first Tigress and the other the Sportsmaster. Count Vertigo and Geomancer are on the team, as is Blackbriar Thorn, an old GL villain. And lastly is Golden Wasp, who is another legacy villain who hides a secret.

The whole team breaks into the JSA Museum with Wildcat the only JSAer on the premises. In fact, he was taking a bath and maybe having phone sex with Catwoman. While Johnny Sorrow goes after a vial labeled The King of Tears in Flash’s lab, the rest try to take out Wildcat. Using his knowledge of the Museum and their overconfidence, Ted manages to separate and take them down. He runs down Geomancer and Count Vertigo with his catcycle, smashes Blackbriar Thorn in the elevator, traps Icicle on an operating table and knocks out Tigress and Killer Wasp. It also very heavily hints that Killer Wasp has some connection to Ted through Ted’s son who was kidnapped years ago. Of course, while Ted does this, Sorrow gets what he’s after and teleports everyone, other than the smashed Thorn, out. And Ted, knowing what’s really important, tries to get back in touch with Catwoman. The references to Catwoman are not just throwaways because they are both feline themed characters, there is a not terrible Wildcat/Catwoman miniseries (written by Chuck Dixon and Beau Smith and likely existing because they are both feline themed characters) where they team-up to stop/pull off a casino heist and flirt. It turns out that Wildcat trained Catwoman in his gym, though they only know each other as civilians.

Other than introducing the Injustice Society, there isn’t a lot to grasp in this issue. It is a relatively low stakes affair that gives Wildcat a chance to shine and to seed a couple of future storylines. It is a fun issue, but not a particularly important one.

Sins of Youth/Sins of Youth: Star-Woman and the JSA Jr.

Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Drew Johnson

This is a brief detour of a mini-event. Sins of Youth was primarily a Young Justice story, but every DC superhero team gets involved. Through machinations not worth going into, Klarion the Witch Boy manages to turn all of the child heroes into adults and all the adults into children. This affects every superhero and team in the DC Universe. It is gives the heroes and sidekicks a chance to see how things look from the other side of that relationship. The JSA, as the oldest heroes, get turned into the youngest children. Except for Star Spangled Kid, who becomes an adult.

In the JSA’s issue, they go with Doiby Dickles, a Brooklyn cabbie who was Green Lantern’s old sidekick and eventually left Earth to marry an alien princess, to the planet Myrg to get an age changing gun to try to fix everybody. Along for the ride is Merry Pembertonm Gimmick Girl, the sister of Sylvester Pemberton, the original Star Spangled Kid. She hasn’t taken too kindly the current bearer of that title, the JSA’s own Courtney Whitmore. As the lone adult on the team, StarWoman, as the adult Courtney calls herself, has trouble keeping all the toddler JSAers together long enough to help Doiby retrieve another ageing gun.

The only truly important part of this story is that Star Spangled Kid shows that she has the makings of a true hero, holding a team of super-powered children together through space. It is one of her first big steps in going from the bratty kid to a full team member. She also uses Jack Knight’s Star Rod, which he will give to her when he retires from superheroing in a year or two.

JSA 11: Split

Written by Geoff Johns and David Goyer. Art by Bair and Buzz

This issue starts a new two part arc. This is when the title really starts to dig deep into DC universe history. The title has always been about history and legacy, but it now it takes on a wider view than just the team. It brings in ties from Infinty Inc to Zero Hour to Blackhawks.

This one opens on a jet with an elderly woman, who identifies herself as Atom Smasher’s mother. As she chats with the woman seated next to her, the villain Kobra appears on a screen in the plane. He announces that he is taking over control of the plane and blows it up. Kobra is the last of the concepts Jack Kirby created in his time at DC. It was so late in his time there that it didn’t actually come out while he was still there and it was partially redrawn before it was published. Jeffrey Burr is Kobra, the leader of the Terrorist Cult called Kobra. He is a genius and also has a psychic link with his twin brother that makes them share experiences. He’s fought everybody from Wonder Woman to Batman.

Back in the JSA Museum. Mr. Bones, a former villain turned hero turned leader of the Department of Extranormal Operation (DEO) as well as inadvertent killer of the original Star Spangled Kid, is giving the team a rundown of the situation. He explains that Harold Jordan, a cousin of Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who operates as the hero Airwave, has been captured by Kobra. Airwave is just the kind of hero that the JSA, and the old DC Universe in general, overflowed with. In the Golden Age, Larry Jordan was the original Airwave until he got married and retired before training his son to take up his mantle. Kobra is planning on using his powers to take control of all communication and create and Age of Chaos. Kobra has taken over Blackhawk Island, the base of the Golden Age fighter pilot team the Blackhawks, and Mr Bones wants the JSA to take them out. The simple set up for this story takes a turn when Sylvester Pemberton, the original Star Spangled Kid remember, who was killed years ago by Mr. Bones, appears in the building.

Hourman immediately deduces that his appearance is Extant’s doing. Extant is the time traveling villain from the event Zero Hour and formerly the hero Hawk from the pair of Hawk and Dove. In that story he killed a handful of JSAers, the original Atom, Dr. Midnight and Hourman. So they call in all the reserves and split into two teams. Robot Hourman, Sentinel, Hippolyta, Flash, and the Star Spangled Kids board Hourman’s time traveling Viking ship and trek through time to find Extant. They discuss the danger that Extant possess and the SSKs have a little heart to heart. He is glad to see someone carrying on his legacy and offers to help her with the belt. Then they are gone for the rest of the issue and the next one.

Starman, Dr. Midnight, Sand, Wildcat, Black Canary and an understandably upset Atom Smasher go after Kobra. They infiltrate the island and are soon joined by the new Mr. Terrific. Mr. Terrific immediately shows his worth by using his “T-Spheres” to display a 3D map of the island and outline an attack plan. You’d think an attack plan would be something they had before they showed up on the island.

They split up, with most of the team going to take out the island’s generators. Sand makes his way to where they are holding Airwave, but before he can rescue him he is attacked by Kobra, who uses comic book science to freeze is his sand based body. He then proceeds to use Airwave’s powers to broadcast him executing Sand on Times Square.

JSA 12: The Blood Dimmed Tide

Written by Johns & Goyer, Art by Buzz

The next issue starts with Kobra gloating over taking out the leader of the JSA, going full villain monologue with how he plans to use killer satellites to destroy every city on Earth. Kobra is not a villain with a strong historical or thematic connection to the JSA. He is just a run of the mill conquer the world supervillain, this time with satellites set up around the world to destroy all major cities with X-Rays. He is quickly disappointed when he finds out that he executed a hologram made by Mr. Terrific and Sand is fine.

While Dr. Midnite helps Sand, Mr. Terrific fights with Kobra. Though he has the upper hand, Kobra manages to slip away. They free Airwave, who takes out the satellites, but Kobra activates the base’s self-destruct and escapes in a plane. Airwave takes off the stop the satellites, leaving the others to make their escape.Except Atom Smasher grows to as big as he can and snatches the plane out of the air. He then debates killing Kobra to get revenge for his mother’s death, but Jack talks him down. This anger is a problem that Atom Smasher tries to deal with as the series goes on, and Kobra is a villain that will be back later.

The team escapes the exploding island on an old Blackhawk plane and discovers that Blackhawk Island is a DEO base, they were dealing with a DEO created problem to begin with.As they have it out with Mr. Bones, something crashes onto the roof. It is Hourman’s Timeship, piloted by Metron, one of the New Gods. He quickly claims that the other team is dead and that they have only seconds to save the universe.

There big occurrence in this issue is Atom Smasher struggling with reigning in his rage. It is all action, not necessarily a bad thing but it doesn’t leave a lot to discuss. It is pure fun. That is where we stop for now. Next time the team will have to deal with this crisis, as well as the crisis of the swollen ranks.

 

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