Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come (Part I) – A Graphic Novel Review

I’ve always enjoyed JSA, mostly because Geoff Johns has made a point to keep one foot in the past with the title while keeping the other foot firmly planted in the future.

With the Justice Society of America re-launch, the team has a new mission statement of making sure the world has better heroes, and so they are first tracking down legacy heroes and training them to deserve the mantle they’ve assumed.

Thy Kingdom Come is particularly fascinating because it reintroduces Superman from Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come series.  In expert juxtaposition, Johns makes a point that while the Earth-2 Superman thought Earth-1’s heroes weren’t heroic enough, the Kingdom Come Superman finds Earth-1’s (New Earth’s) heroes inspiring and invigorating.  Any writer will tell you that good writing means making use of unusual perspectives, and Johns does just this with KC Superman.

Furthermore, I love the KC Superman because he has an edge to him.  He’s damaged goods.  After all, he watched his world’s heroes demean and destroy themselves and did nothing until the (relatively) very end.  He wants a fresh start as well, a chance at redemption, and that makes him very compelling.

But among such heavy themes and dangerous adventures, Johns also brings about quite a bit of joyfulness.  Boxing matches between Wildcat and his son, fundraising at the local firehouse, and ski trips are just part of what makes this team such a delight to follow. 

Johns also mixes established, semi-established, and brand new characters in this book and gives each a chance to shine in an appealing and engaging manner.  To have characters over half-a-century old such as Flash and Green Lantern interacting with brand new legacy characters such as Wildcat II, Cyclone, and Citizen Steel brings an unpredictability that is missing in several other DC titles.  Throw in semi-established characters using familiar names like Hourman, Liberty Belle, and Starman, and you’ve got something exciting, amusing, and captivating.

For me, Justice Society of America continues to be a must-read and I really look forward to where the title is heading with its heavy referencing to Kingdom Come and multiple-subplots.

Justice, Vol. 3 – A Graphic Novel Review

Let me first accentuate the positive by saying that all three volumes of Justice have absolutely brilliant art and are plain and simply fun to read. Seeing all of our favorite heroes and villains together in mostly their “Silver Age” glory with a modern twist is a fun trip for an old guy like me.

That being said, all three volumes of Justice have some glaring weaknesses as well. First of all, the overall plot is poorly conveyed and, at times, muddled beyond clear comprehension. I’m not going to say the plot was poorly conceived because I don’t know the exact intended storyline, so I say “conveyed” because I’m basing it upon what I read. Secondly, the narration sometimes tends to shift from character to character without an apparent signal. This shift fails in come cases because the “voice” of the narrator alone is not strong enough to help the reader figure out which character’s perspective we’re getting. I noticed this to be particularly the case in Volume III when the colors of the narration boxes were not enough to convey the viewpoint.

Finally, Volume III in particular got a bit heavy-handed with the heroes donning armor in order to face their foes. This felt a bit like a promotional toy move than anything, and furthermore it was difficult to figure out who was who beneath the armor in some cases.

All in all, I think Volume II was the strongest in terms of story, narration, and dialogue, but all three volumes had astronomical art with very cool interpretations of character’s designs. If you’re a fan of Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, Doug Braithwaite, the Silver Age, or the old Super Friends cartoon, you’ll probably enjoy this work. Just be ready for a convoluted storyline and (at times) confusing narration.

Justice, Volume I – A Graphic Novel Review

Justice: Volume I is a good start to what seems to be an interesting story. The artwork is captivating and the writing is adequate enough to keep me looking forward to the conclusion. This story line is not contingent upon the current DC Universe continuity, so we have a lot of heroes in their Silver Age composition but set in modern times. The villains’ interpretations are more eclectic.

I’ve heard some people compare the general cast of heroes and villains to that of the old cartoon Challenge of the Superfriends. I can certainly see the validity of such a statement in terms of who is being used and the costumes, but otherwise this story is far grittier, mature, and complex.

Again, the story in Justice is not anything groundbreaking, but the art and the interpretations of characters, especially the villains, make it an entertaining read.