JSA Re-read Part 4

This is the big ending to the first portion of this title, and one of the most disappointing arcs in the series. It isn’t bad, but it feels like a missed opportunity. This is a super team all about history and legacy. When they fight a time traveling villain that is an opportunity to exploit that, but they don’t with these three issues. This is still a fine story, but not one that seems too specific to the team. I think it is telling that Sylvester Pemberton, the original, and dead, Star Spangled Kid mysterious revived played all but no part in this story, other than a few conversations with Courtney. Instead of exploiting available storytelling space, this arc is used to clear the deck for what is to come. That is an ultimately forgivable fault, since what is to come is so good. Let’s get started.

JSA 13: Time’s Assassin

Johns/Goyer and Sadowski

This issue opens with a monologue from Mr. Terrific, who is new to this whole superhero game and not used to dealing with things like time travel and space gods, as the team flies through time in Hourman’s repaired Time Ship. The team understandably wants to know how Metron, the New God who crashed into their HQ, the Brownstone, came to in control of the Time Ship. He explains, through a flashback, that the other team found him adrift in the time stream, his time traveling Moebius Chair having been stolen by Extant. Flash even gets to show a puckish side by taunting him over this.

Metron explains that Extant is after the Worlogog, a map of space and time that Hourman was supposed to be guarding. He felt it too powerful, so he broke it apart and scattered the pieces. If Extant reassembles it, he will have control of the whole of the universe. As Dr. Fate explains who Extant is, formerly the hero Hawk who became villainous because fans figured out the Captain Atom was the hero supposed to turn evil in the crossover Armageddon 2000 his partner Dove was killed by his time traveling future self who had already become evil. Don’t look into it, it’s real dumb. Their conversation is halted when Extant attacks. They have a hard time fighting him because his powers can cause someone to age to dust in a second. Luckily, the team has a few immortals.

Unfortunately, Extant manages to escape after being wounded by Hippolyta. After everyone gathers themselves, he attacks again, using his powers to change history. He stops Jay from being in the accident that gave him his speed, turning him into just a man. He does similar things to Hawkgirl and Dr. Fate, removing them from the battle before Hourman catches on and uses his own time powers to everyone else from “chronal energy,” which sounds like something he ought to have done as soon as they knew they were fighting Extant. They fight back, with Sentinel (man, I really just want call him Green Lantern) making construct version of the heroes he killed in Zero Hour.

It only provides a momentary distraction for Extant, who proceeds to explode the Time Ship, apparently killing everyone except for Metron, who manages to pilot the mostly destroyed ship back to the brownstone. That ends the flashback, with the team now approaching the place in time where Extant is changing everything. Having assembled the Worlogog, he is starting to remake reality, creating a world that seems to be based on his former partnership, with everyone looking like Hawk or Dove.

JSA 14: Chaos Theory

Johns/Goyer and Sadowski

Now the team is on this crazy new world and fighting with the medieval knight looking inhabitants. They have more trouble than just a horde of Hawks and Doves. Sand’s seismic powers aren’t working right and neither is Starman’s Cosmic Rod, because the laws of nature aren’t the same in Extant’s new world, it being made out of just chaos instead of chaos and order. The team is able to fight off the knights, though. Afterwards, the ever helpful Metron tells them they are already doomed, unless they can get the Worlogog or Moebius Chair from Extant. Then, Sand pulls out his secret weapon; Fate’s Amulet.

The other team is not dead, before Extant killed them Dr. Fate managed to transport everyone inside his amulet, the same place that they imprisoned Mordru and where Nabu, along with all the previous Doctors Fate, live. Inside, the team is willing to try anything to stop Extant, including seeking help from Mordru. They aren’t happy about it, but they have to stop Extant somehow. It also plays up the difference between Hector Hall and Dr. Fate, though they are supposedly the same, Hector acts completely different with the helmet one.

Dr. Fate meets with Mordru, who tries to play some classic villain mind games with him, guessing that Hector is overwhelmed by being Dr. Fate before giving him two pieces of advice. The first should not have been necessary. Hourman kept a piece of the Worlogog when he split it up, what Extant assembled is incomplete. They didn’t need Mordru for this, Hourman is right there. The other piece is more essential: Extant has stashed Dove, his former counterpart, somewhere in this new world. The team needs to find her to help distract Extant. Before he leaves, Mordru drops one more piece of knowledge on Hector, his wife Lyta is still alive, somewhere. The team outside the amulet has found their way to a castle and inside they found the Moebius Chair. Shocking no one, Extant is also lurking in the castle. He quickly starts to take the team apart, but Sand and Mr. Terrific hang back. When Extant turns on them, he finds he can’t see their future. Sand then springs the rest of the team from Fate’s amulet.

That starts round two for most of the team with the villain. Meanwhile, the rest of the team sneaks off to find Dove, with they do in the castle dungeon. She springs from her chains into her superhero costume, which is where the issue ends.

JSA 15: Crime and Punishment

Johns/Goyer and Sadowski

This issue starts with narration from an older Star Spangled Kid, who in this future has married Atom Smasher. That is a relationship that the book spends a lot of time building, with the biggest hurdle they face is that Courtney is something like 15 right now and Atom Smasher is at the very least in his mid-twenties. She is remembering the end of one of their first big turning points, for her and Atom Smasher. She also quickly lays out where things stand, with Extant’s omnipotence momentarily blinded and Dove rescued from the dungeon. They start to fight, with Extant going after Hourman, but Dove jumps in the way.

While Extant is distracted by Dove’s death, Dr. Fate and Hourman put their plan into action. They are going to distribute the team throughout time and attack Extant at numerous points in time. Doing so weakens Extant, allowing Atom Smasher to grab him and pull the Worlogog out of him. Doing so reverts the universe back to the way it should be, including having the original Star-Spangled Kid disappearing, but not before he has a little heart to heart with Courtney.

Using the last of his strength, Extant tries to escape into the timestream. Metron and Atom Smasher go after him. They can’t stop, he has already started time traveling, but Atom Smasher has a plan. They head back to the point in time where Al’s mother was killed in the plane crash and they swap his mother for Extant, killing him and saving her.

That is the end of the conflict, now it is just time for the wrap up. Despite proving completely useless in this whole encounter, Metron scolds Hourman about not taking care of the Worlogog before disappearing with it. Good riddance. Feeling he failed, Hourman leaves the team. So does Jack Knight, gearing up for the end of his own title where he retires. Hippolyta goes as well. None of them will return to the team, though Hippolyta has one more story and we’ll see Hourman again. Atom Smasher and Dr. Fate also take a leave of absence, but neither of them stops being part of the team.

This is a turning point for the book. It is the end of Robinson’s JSA. The characters that leave are narrative deadweight for this title. Jack Knight is Robinson’s pet character, on loan but the JSA was never his story. Hourman had his own title; he was never going to be more than a bit player on the team. Hippolyta was only there as continuity quirk, a stand in for Wonder Woman’s Golden Age appearances. They were also characters that the writing team never did anything, or could do anything, with. They were part of the team that Robinson assembled in the first issue, with them gone it clear for the team to make the team their own. It is a change of tone for the title, with more emphasis on the characters and their relationships. This is the end of phase 1 of the title.

JSA Annual 1

Johns/Goyer and Buzz and Caton

This is hard book to place in this reread. Is the start of the new era or the end of the old? I’m placing it here as a coda to the early tenure of the team, if only because it is the last appearance of Hippolyta as a member of the team. Most of the events of the book don’t come into play in the main series until much later, though. The biggest point of note for this issue is that it features only the female members of the team, Hawkgirl, Hippolyta, Black Canary and Star-Spangled Kid.

The first part of the book, written solo by Goyer and drawn by Caton, details the origin of the new Nemesis. Nemesis, let’s see if you’ve heard this before, is an old DC hero moniker taken by a new character. Soseh Myrkos is a super-soldier created by “The Council” a shadowy organization ran by her father. When her mother died, her father used preserved eggs to create a pair of children. Then he performed all sorts of experiments on them to make them his perfect soldiers. At the start of the issue, Soseh is fighting the elite troops that sheand her sister were supposed to lead. They are still lead by her sister. They fight and Soseh wins, but is unwilling to kill her sister, so she must escape before being killed The Council’s troops. So she dives off the island into the ocean.

That takes us to the second part of the story, written by Johns and drawn by Buzz, is fortunately more than a fight scene and an origin. It starts out on Paradise Island, with the older team members, Canary and Hippolyta, sparring against the younger, Hawkgirl and Star. The more experienced fighters win, of course, much to the chagrin of Hawkgirl. Hawkgirl is actually showing more desire to be part of the team, along with again pointing out the scars from her attempted suicide.

Then Phillipus, one of Hippolyta’s aides, shows up. They have an intruder on the island. It is Nemesis, of course. There is a fight, of course, and then she goes over her origin again, in case the reader forgot it from the first part of the story. Hippolyta and Black Canary realize that this Council is responsible for several altercations with the JSA, including Sand’s fight with Geomancer in issue 5. Nemesis knows where a base of theirs is, in an abandoned missile silo on Crete, so they team up to go after them. There they find a Council cloning lab.

They also find that the missile silo is not quite as abandoned as previously thought. Black Canary calls on Oracle, her teammate from the other books she stars in, Birds of Prey, to help her disarm the warhead. Hawkgirl stays there to help Canary while the rest set about destroying the clones. Nemesis’s sister reappears and they fight again. While she got the codes to disarm the warhead, but it was rigged with another bomb to go off if the nuke was deactivated. Soseh fights with her sister, finding that she has bought in fully to her father’s schemes with the Council. So she kills her. The JSAers escape one way, but Nemesis disappears another, leaving them wondering if she made it out at all.

The epilogue has Nemesis seeting out to destroy all her father has built, and he threatens to unleash “The American,” a threat I don’t know was ever elaborated on, but his hand is stayed by his ally: The Ultra-Humanite.

Next Week: The Return of the Injustice Society

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