Sorry about the delay, the holiday’s got in the way. I have one ready to go here, and another one by the end of the week. This entry finishes up the Injustice Be Done storyline, including the epilogue issue.
JSA 19: Into the Labyrinth
Johns, Goyer, Sadowski, Bair and Champagne.
This issue starts with Wildcat and Black Adam at the Rock of Eternity. Wildcat doesn’t believe that Black Adam has actually reformed, while Black Adam argues the he doesn’t need reformation. According to him, all the villainous acts he did were under the control of Theo Adam, his descendant who gained his power. They are at the Rock of Eternity to ask the wizard Shazam to help them find the Spectre. Instead, they find the Spectre right there waiting for them. This Spectre is not the same Spectre from last issue’s flashback. Now the soul controlling the Spectre’s powers is former Green Lantern Hal Jordan, a character that Geoff Johns has quite a history with. He wrote the series Day of Judgment where he made Hal Jordan the Spectre. A few years after this story, Johns will finish Jordan’s redemption with Green Lantern Rebirth and make him a Green Lantern again.
Now it moves to Johnny Sorrow and Sand at the center of the maelstrom. The King of Tears is coming into the world and as he does so the world is changing to fit him. Once he is completely manifested in reality, then the barrier between his dimension and ours will disappear and all sorts of unworldly horrors will come through. Some already are. According to Sorrow, the JSA has only hours.
Continuing the check up on each member of the team, Star Spangled Kid, Hawkgirl and Mr. Terrific burst into a hospital with the dying but stable Green Lantern. Terrific has managed to save his life, but only for the time being. He needs a real doctor. Back in the horror dome, Black Canary is giving Dr. Mid-Nite CPR. She manages to revive him. It turns out he didn’t die when he looked as Sorrow’s face because he is technically blind. Also, Canary is in tears. Their abortive relationship is one of the great disappointments of the series. They had something interesting going, but then somewhere else Green Arrow got resurrected and she ran right back to him. As they chat, Flash shows up, covered in electricity from absorbing Rival’s speed (and stealing his helmet). The three of them can’t stop the reality altering themselves, so Flash runs to get help.
He comes back with JJ Thunder, a character introduced by Grant Morrison in JLA’s Crisis Times Five, who has Johnny Thunder’s genie. So he summons the genie and uses it to fight off the bug looking monsters that are appearing. As the four of them fight, Black Canary wonders what happened to the team’s other heavy hitter, Dr. Fate. Segue to him looking for his missing wife. He is visiting the comatose woman that gave birth the baby version of him in the first issues of this series. He uses his Dr. Fate magic to reveal that the Jane Doe coma patient is actually his ensorcelled wife. Which adds another layer of creepiness to his story, since remember she gave birth to him. And that is the entire interlude with Dr. Fate.
Back with the team, the genie is being overwhelmed. Just as he is about to give up, Mr. Terrific and the others arrive. Terrific gives him a pep talk while the girls jump right into battle. Star Spangled Kid goes to Black Canary with the growing problem of Hawkgirl’s weirdness. Finding his confidence thanks to Terrific, JJ uses the genie to take out all of the bug monsters. However, that doesn’t do anything to stop the growing problem of reality changing. Luckily, just then Wildcat, Black Adam and the Spectre show up. The Spectre goes one on one with the King of Tears, who strips him down to just a skeleton.
JSA 20: Godspeed
Goyer, Johns, Sadowski and Bair.
As they team watches in disbelief at the defeated Spectre, the Spectre’s body fixes itself in front of them. Since the Hal Jordan version of the Spectre is about redemption instead of vengeance, he can do nothing against the King of Tears, because it has no soul to be redeemed. So he apologizes and disappears, freaking everyone out even more. Hawkgirl calls Black Adam by his ancient name, Teth-Adam. She is still having memories of her previous lives.
Terrific the hatches another plan, to send Flash running at lightspeed and knock the King of Tears back where he came from. However, the only Flash that can run at lightspeed is Wally West, the main Flash. However, with the speed he stole from Rival and stealing speed from the superfast Black Adam, Jay might just be able to go fast enough. In order for this to work, someone will have to disorient Johnny Sorrow so he isn’t controlling the King of Tears anymore. Dr. Mid-Nite thinks he has a plan to deal with that, though.
After a brief, possibly last, chat with his wife, Jay and Black Adam take off. The rest of the team starts fighting the returned monsters. The Spectre shows back up to take away all the citizens’ fear so they can fight as well. And just to toss one more thing on, Hawgirl call Mid-Nite McNider, the name of the previous Dr. Mid-NIte. As Flash steals Black Adam’s speed, Mid-Nite fights his way to where Sorrow is. He then reveals his plan: he used his goggles to record Sorrow’s face. He plays it back a Sorrow, disabling him, giving Flash the opening he needed to punch the King of Tears back out of reality, which causes the city to revert to its natural state.
The team recovers Sorrow’s mask, all that is left of him. Hawkgirl finally breaks down when Star Spangled Kid somewhat rudely asks her what is going on. The only problem is that the Flash is still gone. The last few pages show Jay almost lose himself into the speed force, but he uses Black Adam’s speed to pull him back to reality. However, instead of coming back to the team, he ends up with Teth-Adam in ancient Egypt. And it’s not just Teth-Adam, but also Nabu, the wizard that helps Dr. Fate, and Prince Khufu, the ancient precursor to Hawkman.
JSA 21: Guardian Angels
Goyer, Johns and Buzz
Here is the cool down issue that got interrupted to start the Injustice Be Done story, with Sand running about the being rebuilt JSA Brownstone headquarters putting out fires, metaphorical ones, of course. First there is Black Adam, who is petitioning to be allowed onto the team. He makes a strong case, if you believe that Black Adam and Theo Adam are different people. The JSA team, currently short Green Lantern Alan Scott, is underpowered and Black Adam needs the credibility of the team name to rehabilitate his image. Black Adam is not going to make this easy on Sand either, intimating that he knows the fate of Flash without telling. Black Adam’s arrival, or at least more permanent arrival since he has been showing up since issue 6, is the big game changer for this series. With many of Geoff John’s runs on superhero books, the most dynamic characters tend to be morally grey villains. He built up the rogues on the Flash (especially Captain Cold), took Sinestro through a whole rise and fall redemption arc and is currently doing the same thing with Lex Luthor in Justice League. Johns is great about getting in the heads of the bad guys and showing how they tick, as well as realizing that good villains do not see themselves as such. His work with Black Adam, mostly on this title, is the ultimate expression of that. It works best here because Black Adam is largely Johns’ creation, appearing only a handful of times before Johns got ahold of him here. With this attempt to join the team, Black Adam manages to come off both sincere and menacing.
Sand them moves on to Hawkgirl, confronting her about her recent odd behavior and aobut how little the team actually knows about her, plot threads that have been running since the very start of the series. He points out the scars on her arms, last seen in the all ladies annual, which seem to be from a suicide attempt. Hawkgirl flies off, upset and unwilling to answer his questions. As we’ll see later, the Black Adam story and the Hawkgirl story are related. They really combine quite organically and make for a solid history, especially with what is coming for the Hawk characters.
There are a handful of asides that finish up the Wildcat’s son abortive subplot (Killer Wasp is not his son, but he did know him), Alan Scott recuperating and talking with and about his two kids, and a slight furthering of Atom Smasher’s walk down his dark path. This is mostly making sure everyone is caught up on where the major players on this team are, with many of these stories stuck in a holding pattern for now.
After that it is back to Kendra, who is struggling with the changes she is facing. She meets up with Zauriel, a fallen angel, hence the title of the issue, and Justice League member. Actually, he is the character introduced to take the place of the off limits Hawkman in Grant Morrison’s JLA, which was supposed to use all the big heroes. He tries to offer Kendra help, but she’s not having anything he’s offering, whether it is religion or love, which is what caused him to fall. That love talk does segue into a two page aside with Black Canary and Dr. Mid-Nite on another date, which both seem to be enjoying. Then is back to Kendra and Zauriel. He finally gets her to open up about her attempts at suicide after her parents were murdered. When she was unconscious after ODing, she sensed someone there with her. Someone named Khufu.
With that name, the scene jumps back to Ancient Egypt, with the Flash. Khufu was an Egyptian Prince, one who would later be reincarnated as Carter Hall, better known as Hawkman. Flash is not quite sure if he believes that, though he does believe in the Thanagarian warship Khufu has. This is a key piece of Geoff John’s revival of Hawkman. There were several distinctly separate versions of the character that were hard to reconcile. The first was the reincarnated Egyptian Prince, later was the space cop from the planet Thanagar. Then there was the avatar of the Hawkgod and the other Thanagarian space cop. Those, plus a ton of retcons made the characters a giant mess and they were abandoned for half a decade or so. But Johns and Goyer smartly found a way to work around all this, starting with Flash finding the space ship in ancient Egypt, creating a tie between the two major versions of the characters.
Next is the most heartwarming part of the issue, with Mr. Terrific, Star Spangled Kid and JJ *ahem* Jakeem Thunder signing autographs and playing basketball at a youth center. This is one of the great things about the JSA; that they are shown to do things besides fight bad guys. Like the X-Men’s occasional relaxing issue has the team playing baseball or basketball, the JSA members spend their downtime doing charity work. Jakeem is a little put off by this, and also gets in a pretty sick burn on Mr. Terrific.
After a page of Jakeem railing at Mr. Terrific about how being a superhero is a bunch of nonsense (not necessarily untrue, but not on point when they are helping out at a youth center) and generally just being unpleasant, Mr. Terrific walks away, only for Star Spangled Kid to tear into him for being a disrespectful little jerk. It shows the growth her character has been through, both in this title and her Johns penned own book. She starting out as nothing more than a disrespectful little kid and has grown into a fine heroine.
It then goes back to Kendra and Zauriel for one more little conversation, with Kendra asking him about reincarnation. After going back and forth for a little bit, Kendra supposes that her memories of past lives are from her near death experience after her suicide attempt. Zauriel has a different guess, that her suicide attempt was successful and a new soul now inhabits Kendra’s body.
Now that there is a solid base to build from, this is when the title really starts to take off. Most of the seeds for this run have been planted, with Black Adam, Atom Smasher, the Hawks, and Dr. Fate. All of the characters are firmly established and the JSA really finds another gear. There is certainly a lot to chew on with this somewhat downbeat issue. There are no fights, just the characters coming to terms with how things stand now. Still, it really sets the table for stories to come.
Next Time: The Return of Hawkman.