Monday, August 08, 2005

JSA #76

I waffled for a few days deciding whether or not I should discuss this book. Because it pissed me off on many different levels and that was just by skimming it. I couldn't make it through a reading where I actually paid attention to the word bubbles. I should have known better than to try to read anything with Mister Terrific on the cover.

Just out of curiosity, when did JSA stop actually being about the JSA? What we got here was an advertisement for OMAC Project and Villains United all wrapped up in a "plot" that was merely Geoff Johns ripping himself off -- and admitting it. "Remember the last time we were here?" Mister Terrific asks Hawkman. Yes, Michael, I do remember. Pretty much the same thing that happened this time except Johns swapped out the civilians brainwashed into serving as Kobra agents and stuck in civilians transformed into OMACs. And you haven't killed off Sand again. Yet.

The members of the JSA don't have their own adventures anymore -- they are dragged along on everyone else's, used wantonly to fill some other book's plot holes, and graced with endless guest appearances by characters whose arcs get more time than anything the JSA gets to do. Which is usually just look confused or impressed.

Johns has retrofitted the Black Reign arc, which was probably the only decent JSA arc in recent memory, into a prequel for Villains United and dragged JSA along with the ride. (I'd have liked JSA/JSA more if "Continuity Cop" Johns hadn't blithely ignored everyone else's continuity and made up his own.) And this current drivel, a fake redemption of Al Rothstein for crimes never quite made clear -- yes, yes, he did impugn the sovereignty of Kahndaq's old dictator -- and Courtney moping angstily about it while the old fogeys act like old farts, is just a launching pad for the meat of the story. Which is about OMACs and the Secret Society.

The OMACs pretty much clean up on the JSA, which shouldn't be that surprising all considering (it shouldn't have been quite so easy, either). Nor is it especially surprising that Michael Holt, Mr. Terrific, can do what even Batman couldn't do and pretty much defeat the OMACs without lifting a finger. Because he's just that terrific. *gags* I'd love to blame Holt on Johns, but I seem to recall that JM DeMatteis thought him up during the best-forgotten Spectre series John Ostrander can in fact be blamed for the mopey whininess. Johns is only responsible for turning him into a Mary Sue who has degrees in everything and can perform rare surgeries and wins friends instantly while he fights injustice. He's certainly to blame for the trick of Holt being a technological blind spot (and the Swiss army knife-like T-Spheres that come loaded with more options than Batman's utility belt did even when there was Bat-Glacier-Repellent.)

We shouldn't forget the absolutely random and belated pages of Metamorpho and Fire coming to tell Power Girl that Blue Beetle is dead -- I told you nobody bothers to tell the JSA anything -- and the gratuitous reminder that Johns doesn't remember any of the previous times he's written Dr. Mid-Nite trying to examine Power Girl (hint: you flashed back to the first time only last month in JSA Classified). Amanda Waller showing up on the last page doesn't make up for either.

And, finally, in case all of this wasn't enough to convince you that the JSA are the doormats of the DCU, you'll never guess who shows up next issue. Donna Troy and Hal Jordan. (With the flawless Holt and the perfect Jordan both sharing page space, the resulting discussion may crack the internet in half) What either Donna or Hal have to do with the JSA is currently beyond my ken, but I think we're past that being a problem for anyone at the DC offices.

... wow. That was a lot more verbose than planned.


Blogger Rob S. said...

Hi, Shrew.

I really enjoy your reviews, but I have to correct you on this one: Michael Holt/Mr. Terrific was created by John Ostrander in his earlier Spectre series. Which I thought was pretty damn good, by the way.

Tue Aug 09, 12:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Julio Oliveira said...

Funny, I was gonna write the same correction... And Spectre was really good indeed. But the Mr. Terrific from Ostrander was just a "sportsman from the ghetto", the steriotypical NBA basketball player or something... It had a lot more in common with Luke Cage or Black Lightning than with Mr. Terrific being portrayed by Johns. But rest is all true: Geoff Johns is quickly becoming a parody of himself.

As for Metamorpho and Fire appearence... I didn't thought was too bad, but yes, was random. Well, at least they are still around... With the death of Maxwell Lord on Wonder Woman and of Rocket Red Seven on Omac the Giffen/Matteis league is really on its way for complete obliteration. Never saw so much petttyness and so much grudges against fun comics before.

Tue Aug 09, 01:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger The Comics Shrew said...

*sigh* I had Ostrander, then changed it to DeMatteis because I've read much more of the DeMatteis and figured that was what I remembered him from. It's what I get for not fact-checking completely.

*goes to change*

Tue Aug 09, 10:04:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only read a few issues of the DeMatteis Spectre run and didn't think much of it... but the Ostrander series was fantastic and worth chasing down if you haven't read it.

Fri Aug 12, 03:05:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Ashtur said...

Don't have this yet (because of my monthly mail order lag), but I can understand your frustration with Mr. T.

What they really need to do is push the idea that he doesn't always get the "human" element. Have him totally louse up a mission because he misread the people involved. If he has a blind spot, that's where it is, and it could work well.

Fri Aug 12, 08:58:00 PM EDT  
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