Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"It's Wednesday, After All!"

I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed Justice Society #7, but I guess I shouldn't have been.

Justice Society has always been Geoff Johns's best book, and this, the first issue that wasn't the kick-off "Let's get the band back together!" storyline, or the good parts of the otherwise unreadable "Lightning Saga" crossover, shows off his greatest strength, action scenes with emotional payoffs.

In this stand alone story, Johns creates the anti-Penance in the new Citizen Steel, taking an overly melodramatic character and turning him into something uplifting.

First, Johns gave Steel the absolute worst, most emo origin ever: Nate Heywood was a crippled former football star who watched his family slaughtered by Nazis and was puked on by one, which is why he is now a metal man incapable of feeling. Yowza, if you're going to go that way, why not listen to Death Cab and get a MySpace Haircut while you're at it?

But by the end of the issue, Nate is a reluctant superhero and the protector of orphaned children, something a lot closer to Jack Kirby and Joe Simon's great shield slinging hero, The Guardian.* That's a hero I can get behind, that's a man I can root for.

And it doesn't hurt that his journey from whiney loser to father figure is a fun adventure involving Power Girl actually acting like a team leader (making the plan, taking lead, watching out for her team, offering encouragement when needed, Black Canary take notes), some fantastic lines ("Fists are nature's problem solvers"), and the JSA beating the crap out of a ton of Nazis ("Boo to Nazis").

However, this is almost outshone by the utterly charming Starman/Superman sequence, which just is a perfect demonstration of why we love the Big Blue. Starman's been talking up his sanitarium's Sloppy Joes since issue #1, but Superman is the first person to actually sit down and share one with him. Add to that a mental health facility shown as an actual hospital and not a 19th Century insane asylum/prison, plus hints that the Zero Hour Legion of Superheroes (and XS) are still in continuity, and you've got a sequence that just left me all smiles.

Dale Eaglesham's art is also amazing. It's easy to talk about the "acting" he puts into the characters' faces and postures, or the earth shattering fight, but I loved just the little stuff he threw in: Hawkman wearing his helmet under a welding mask, Superman quietly drinking his milk after Starman tells him it'll make his bones stronger, the way Dr. Mid-Nite's owl watches Steel at all times, even when the Doctor himself is distracted. I also love how Eaglesham models Superman on his namesake, Clark Gable (most noticeable on page 8).

It was just a fun comic, a story in and of itself, that nonetheless got me interested in reading the next issue. How cool is that?All I need to do now is wait for Rachelle "Irate Canadian Lass" Goguen to post the "It's Wednesday, After All!" panel, if only to steal it for future reviews!

*What other guy?


SallyP said...

It WAS splendid. I did find the scenes with Thom and Superman to be both moving and hilarious. Nice to see Superman acting in character as opposed to his portrayal in Justice League.

And Peej was amazing as usual.

Carla said...

Color me getting that book! A fine sell.