Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "jsa"

Book Review: Showcase Presents All Star Comics, Volume 1

Showcase Presents: All Star Comics Showcase Presents: All Star Comics by Paul Levitz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The original run of the Justice Society of America ended with All Star Comics #57 in 1951. The JSA were retired with sales of Superhero comics lagging and a new group of heroes emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s but with the brilliance of "The Flash of Two Worlds," it was established the Golden Age heroes existed on Earth Two while our Silver Age friends existed on Earth One and the old JSA got together with the Justice League of America every year and finally got their own title back with the return of All Star Comics.

While in modern day Superhero comics, no one needs much of an excuse to create a whole new Issue 1, despite a lapse of twenty-five years in All-Star Comics, the Justice Society's Adventures try to pick where they left off in All Star Comics #58 and continue on through Issue 74 before having a run as one of several features in Adventure Comics #461-466 and DC Special #29. Unfortunately, the JSA couldn't just go back.

There's a lot of interesting features in this book. It includes the first appearance of Powergirl, aging of Superman and Batman into middle age with Bruce Wayne (as Gotham City Police Commissioner) declaring war on the JSA in the best storyline of the book. DC Special #29 offers in untold JSA origin story with an absolutely stunning full page picture of Superman punching through a squadron of Nazi planes. Indeed, even when the storylines let you down (as they often do) the artwork remains very good throughout the entire book. We also have the Huntress taking a big role as a bit of a Batman surrogate for the new generation, and the Psycho-Pirate is a solid villain in several stories. Also being set on Earth 2 allowed DC to play around with the universe and kill off a famous hero who they never would in main continuity.

However, the book is one of the weaker Showcase Presents collections I've read. Due to success at Marvel with characters who bickered rather than being "Super Friends," many Superhero books were being written with heroes who didn't get along and weren't always the best people to be around. However, trying this tact on the first Superhero team from a company known for iconic role model heroes, it doesn't feel right and it's hard to like most of these characters. The Flash abandons his team in the midst of a battle, Powergirl begins as a hypersensitive 1970s Comic Book feminist who takes everything as a sexist slight and thinks that the less men who are on the team the better as there will be less men to compete with her. She does mellow out later on but it takes a while. Wildcat is constantly facing mortal injury. No one on this team is all that likable which makes the stories a challenge. This isn't help by a 17 page book length and a roster that just kept changing. You also do see the book blame the end of the Justice Society in the 1950s on the Red Scare (despite any real foundation in this story) which is certainly a lot better tale than "low post-war Circulation."

Overall, this book has some charms but it also has plenty of reminders of why the Justice Society's 1950s revival was so short lived.

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Published on October 26, 2015 20:13 Tags: bronze-age, jsa, justice-society-of-america

Book Review: All Star Comics Archives, Volume 4

All Star Comics Archives, Volume 4 All Star Comics Archives, Volume 4 by Gardner F. Fox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects four issues of All Star Comics from 1943 in Issues 15-18. This volume sees the Justice Society back off a bit from the war. While Americans were all for our War Efforts, they didn't want to hear about war in every book, movie, radio program, and certainly not every comic book. However, Issue 16 would be an exception to this.

Each issue told one over-arching story with the Justice Society together at the end and the beginning of the story while each hero had his own six page mini-adventure.

First off, Issue 15 has every member of the Justice Society so busy they can't attend the meeting but not too busy to send their secretary Wonder Woman their excuses. Wonder Woman's biggest role in this book is getting her and all the girlfriends of the heroes captures. (Wonder Woman couldn't take part in battles because she was only the secretary.) The story itself introduces a great supervillain for the Justice Society in Brain Wave. Still, his plot using mirror images does get a little old plus the nonsensical girlfriend plot weighs this down. Grade: B-

Issue 16 has the Justice Society taking on a series of Nazi spies trying to pit Americans against one another. It's a beautiful patriotic story. For those of us who admire the greatest generation's sense of unity and purpose, this is a gorgeous illustration of that, particularly the last couple pages. Grade: A-

Issue 17 marks the return of Brain Wave and this time he's shrunk the Justice Society. The story is better than the last time though there are a few sore points. It doesn't even make sense to shrink the Spectre given his powers, the Thunderbolt has to appear in all the stories to bail Johnny out. Grade: B+

Issue 18 sees the Justice Society battling King Bee who has turned men into human bug creatures with the powers of Insects. It's a fun concept and a b it educational too. Overall, a decent final story. Grade: B

The book has a warm and nostalgic introduction by James Robinson who wrote the modern day Starman revival. Overall, this is an enjoyable installment and a step up in quality from Volume 3 and a very enjoyable chapter in the career of the Justice Society.

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Published on November 24, 2015 18:42 Tags: golden-age-comics, jsa, justice-society-of-america

Book Review: Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volume 2

Crisis on Multiple Earths, Vol. 2 Crisis on Multiple Earths, Vol. 2 by Gardner F. Fox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Four of the annual crossovers between the JLA and JSA that occurred in the late Silver Age between 1967-1970. This book collects the last two crossovers written by Gardner Fox and the first two by Dennis O'Neill while also including the final book penciled by Mike Sekowsky and the first three by Dick Dillon.

The Super Crisis that Struck Earth Two/ and the Negative Crisis on Earth One/Two: Black spheres turn four average people of various moral standing into powerful supervillains the JSA can't defeat, so they turn to the JLA for help and ultimately a solution is reached that involves exposing Flash (Earth One), Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Earth One), an Hourman to the same spheres which could turn them evil. This is the weakest story in the book, partially because there's no real explanation for the source of these black spheres. There's also the introduction of an adult Earth Two Robin who is in a costume halfway between the Robin and Batman costumes and its the worst of both worlds. However, there, are some fun superhero fights and other interesting moments to make this not a bad read. Grade: B-

The Stormy Return of the Red Tornado/T.O. Morrow Kills the Justice League Today: A robot appears at a JSA meeting claiming to be Red Tornado, a hero last seen in the pages of All Star Comics #3. However, things start going wrong for the JSA and we learn it's the plan of Dr. Morrow, a Golden Age villain out for a rematch. Once he's finished with the JSA, he's ready to go after the JLA. This is a fun story. Morrow is a formidable foe with some cool tricks that make him a credible threat. The story moves at a great pace and is very fun to read. Grade: A-

Star Light, Star Bright, Death I See Tonight/Where Death Fears to Tread: Earth Two is Imperiled when people start going randomly beserk. The root cause is the evil influence of Aquarius, a star creature who was punished thousands of years before by his fellows. Now he sets to wreak havoc and the JSA sends for help because they have little choice. This is a really compact but epic story with a great sense of imagination. We have some heroes fighting that goes on long enough to give us some cool moments, but doesn't harm our heroes' image and leaves time for several other good moments, such as the Earth One Green Lantern reciting the Earth Two oath. I have mixed feelings about the death at the end, but this one is sold. Grade: A

Peril of the Paired Planets/Where Valor Fails...Will Magic Triumph...The Earths are in the crosshairs of an alien being whose bands who plans letting Earth One and Two to be destroyed so he can build a new planet for his clients. It's up to our heroes to stop them and it is an epic struggle with many heroes trying, but ultimately a line of mystical heroes is given a chance to shine. Overall, great story with some grat battles, een though there a few logical lapses. Grade: A-

Overall, the stories in here hold up as truly memorable and imaginative tales. Definitely worth a read.

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Published on May 12, 2018 23:19 Tags: crisis-on-multiple-earth, jla, jsa

Book Review: All Star Comics Archives, Volume 7

All Star Comics Archives, Vol. 7 All Star Comics Archives, Vol. 7 by Gardner F. Fox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Golden Age Justice Society team of Hawkman, the Flash, Green Lanter, Doctor Midntite, the Atom, Johnny Thunder, and Wonder Woman as Secretary return for five post-War adventures in Issues 29-33

Issue 29: The Man Who Knew Much: Landor, a man bored with a Utopian future returns to the 1940s only to discover it takes money to live so he sets out to commit some daring crimes to capture the attention of the Justice Society. Really fun. Grade: B+

Issue 30: Dreams of Madness: An old JSA villain Brainwave tricks the JSA into going under so that he can use their dreams to drive the mad. Can anyone save the JSA? This is the best story for Johnny Thunder I've ever read. A very fun ending. Grade: B+

Issue 31: The Workship of Willie Wonder: A toymaker is turned evil by a mini-red evil alien sun creature and designs stuff for criminal. A bit meh for me on this one. Grade: C

Issue 32: The Return of Psycho Pirate: Psycho Pirate returns in a story that serves to teach kids the dangers of letting various emotions get out of control. Not sure the writer understands humility, but anyway not a bad story. Grade: B

Issue 33: The Revenge of Solomon Grundy: JSA Headquarters has been trashed, Green Lantern's disappeared and his old enemy Solomon Grundy is on the loose. It's easily one of the best JSA tales I've ever read. Very tense ending. Grade: A

Overall, this is a strong volume. The worst story is only mediocre. I actually found myself enjoying the Johnny Thunder chapters, and everything else is as good or better than previous volumes. One big bonus of this book is Roy Thomas' loving introduction. His passion and enthusiasm for the series shows and is quite contagious. A very solid read.

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Published on June 26, 2018 23:11 Tags: all-star-comics, golden-age, jsa, justice-society

Book Review: All Star Comics Archives, Volume 8

All Star Comics Archives, Vol. 8 All Star Comics Archives, Vol. 8 by Gardner F. Fox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 34-38 of All Star Comics. There are several big changes that occurr. First, Johnny Thunder is benched, so no adventure is saved by him saying, "Say you."

Issue 34 sees the Introduction of the Wizard, a villain who believes the Justice Society must be pretending to be heroes for some reason but really trying to make money on the side. Issue 35 features the villain Per Degaton in time travel tale that was a bit advanced for the Golden Age and also a bit confusing. Issue 36 is a tale of men corrupted by drowning in a body of water that turns them evil. Superman and Batman appear in this one and actually take part in a JSA golden age adventure for the first and only time.

Issue 37 sees the introduction of the Injustice Society and our heroes face a grim battle. Disappointment in this one is that Johnny Thunder are captured off-panel. Issue 38 sees a big shake-up as all the male JSAers are apparently killed in the first pages and Wonder Woman has to revive them with the help of Black Canary (who makes her first JSA appearance.) and we get a long adventure without individual chapters which is a first for All Star Comics.

The book features an enthusiastic introduction from comics legend Roy Thomas. Whether you agree with Thomas that this was the JSA at its best, this is certainly one of the best volumes and showed that even though the golden age was nearing an end, this book wasn't running out of steam at all. My complaints are mostly minor. This book is a classic must-read if you're a fan of Golden Age comics.

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Published on April 18, 2019 05:56 Tags: all-star-comics, golden-age, jsa, justice-society

Book Review: Stargirl

Stargirl Stargirl by Geoff Johns

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book reprints the first 14 issues of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. in which Courtney Whitmore teams up with her stepfather to fight crime as the new Star Spangled Kid, and then issue #4 of JSA All-Stars in which Courtney takes on the name Stargirl.

The book is really of interest because of the TV series based on Stargirl as a comic book series, it's not particularly remarkable. It's Geoff Johns first work in comics and as a book it's not bad, but that's about all you can say to it. The characters are shallow, the villains aren't that inventive, and the plots are a bit forgettable.

However, it's of interest because of the TV series. Johns did use much of the plots in the book in the first season of the TV series. However, because he's older and maybe a bit wiser, he offers different twists on the ideas in the book in the TV series. There are differences between the Blue Valley plot and what the villains plan is. The relationship between Pat and Courtney and indeed Courtney's entire character is very different in this book v. the TV show. I thought she could be a bit stubborn and irrational on television, but the book version was definitely worst in that regards.

If you liked the Stargirl TV show and want to find out the origin of some ideas in that series, this book is worth checking out, or if you're a fan of Geoff Johns work and want to see his first project. Otherwise, this is mostly unremarkable.

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Published on October 31, 2020 23:24 Tags: jsa, stargirl

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
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