Wednesday, April 7, 2010

JSA All-Stars Review

JSA All-Stars has reached it's 5th issue as I write this. I was somewhat concerned about the Justice Society splitting up into two books. It seemed to fly in the face of the consensus at the end of Geoff John's run on the JSA - that everyone was staying a member of the team - that no one was going to be left behind. Essentially, this in-fighting between the younger and older generations seemed entirely forced - with Magog being the sole catalyst for this team split. Now Magog has finally been kicked off the team - and at the end of the recent JSA Annual, Stargirl asked why their teams couldn't be together again. GOOD QUESTION! There really is no reason for them to be split up, besides the economic reason of having two JSA books. More JSA is fine and good - but does the team have to always be at odds with each other, to explain the reasoning for two books? Why not just say there are two strike forces - like what the X-Men did when they first expanded into two books. That way they can even live in the same place.

Besides my gripping over the forced team-split, otherwise how is this new JSA All-Star team doing? It seems like the All-Star Team is still bursting with too many characters who don't get enough screen time. (I still want to see Judomaster's story continue) But even with the team's size, there are still characters missing in action. JakeemThunder seemed to drop off the face of the Earth - so I'd like to really see him come back. They at least got Sand and Atom Smasher back in action.

The plot-line, so far, has been nothing short of erratic. Johnny Sorrow, the villain leading the Injustice Society, has focused on Stargirl for some reason. We don't know why - but it all has something to do with resurrecting some even more horrible monster. The reasoning and planning of Johnny Sorrow seems to make no sense - beyond a lot of mystic mumbo-jumbo - and it all boils down to a somewhat unsatisfying excuse for the new team to charge in and fight.

The art of the series, I'm sure, has been a source of controversy. Freddie Williams II's art is exaggerated, cartoony, and sometimes far too artistic for it's one good. That said, I've still not disliked him either. His art is strange, but it does burst with kinetic energy - and I thus far haven't been disappointed with the pacing of the storylines. It's serviceable art, I suppose is the best I can describe it. Sometimes he pulls off a great stylistic shot of characters - and the backgrounds are nicely detailed giving it a rich appearance. It's not great, but it's good.

What has also concerned me is the regular back-up feature. The first story-line they decided to do features Liberty Belle and Hourman. I thought this was great - as this is where some of the more ignored characters can get a chance to shine. But, as 5 issues, I see this same storyline draging on. It seemed cute, at first, to have Liberty Belle and Hourman (newly weds) going on an over-seas mission of espionage and murder. The problem is this storyline has gone on far too long, taking my patience with it. The plot clumsily has Hourman and Belle continually running into a villainous duo of Icicle and Tigress. They fight some, get away, fight again - and now they are teaming up. I simply stopped caring about this entire storyline 2 issues back! This should have been a smaller and more condensed storyline. As is, being 6 (or more) parts long has just made me feel ripped off.

The series, also of note, has had some glaring continuity problems. One instance is when Wildcat II expresses his like for the name "Tomcat" (he asked his father never to call him that) Sand suddenly has lost his silicon-based powers, which allowed him to turn into sand and travel underground. When, exactly, did this change take place??! Also, during the Hourman/Liberty Belle storyline, it's off handedly mentioned that Rick Tyler no longer has flash-forwards anymore. (Where he sees events one hour into the future) I don't recall him loosing that ability - and, apparently, it doesn't matter - because the story pointed this power-loss out, and then promptly ignored it. It's like a character saying that a toaster is broken, and then 5 seconds later toast is being made.

So, with all of my complaints - what's my verdict on this new title so far? I'm going to keep getting it, despite it's flaws. It does seem like this is the title where all the action is actually happening - in comparison to the dwindling ranks of the regular JSA books. (The did just get back Hawkman and Hawkgirl. That should eventually bolster their ranks.) The story and art seems to be all over the map - but not in an unenjoyable way. It just needs to be a little more focused. As it stands I have hopes the series will continue to do better after finding it's bearings. Actually finishing the Liberty Belle and Hourman back-up storyline will definately help as well.

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