Friday, October 9, 2009

An Extended Look at Justice Society of America #31

Writers: Bill Willinham and Matthew Sturges. Art: Jesus Merino.

What Happened: This issue opens with the fight between Magog and Wildcat that was brewing at the end of the last issue. This leads to a brawl between the entire team until Dr. Fate walks out of the medical lab and tells the JSA that their fight is distracting Dr. Midnite, who is in the process of trying to save the life of the near dead Mr. Terrific. The team calms down and they all go to give blood for Terrific. They discuss the information they gleaned from the few villains they captured last issue, which was basically that some mystery villain gathered all the JSA's enemies and directed them to attack the JSA, but gave them explicit orders NOT to harm Star Girl.

Flash(Jay Garrick)decides to see if he can fix the destroyed security cameras, and after some work, he manages to get a grainy image of the All-American Kid stabbing Mr. Terrific in the back several times. Power Girl, Jay and Mr. America pull Kid into a room and try to interrogate him, but Kid swears that he never left his room(even though King Chimera saw him leave the room), and that he would never stab a member of the JSA(even though the video evidence says otherwise). Jay runs off to get the video to prove to Kid he was responsible, and from there we head to the villains who escaped the JSA last issue. They begin to bicker and fight because of their loss, until Icicle arrives and tells them that his master is still expecting them to defeat the JSA. A few of them want to leave, but Icicle promises them that if they disobey his master they won't live long enough to regret their decision.

The JSA members are STILL arguing amongst themselves, with Magog complaining about the naivetè of the older members of the JSA, who just allow anybody on the team with little to no background checks. King Chimera begins to complain, which cause Jay(who was passing through with the video equipment)to take Chimera aside to try to convince him to make an attempt at getting along his teammates. Before Jay can finish the conversation with Chimera, he gets a summons from Green Lantern(Alan Scott)to meet him in the medical lab. Jay rushes over and this issue ends with Alan informing Jay that Mr. Terrific has died.

What I thought: This issue was AWESOME!!! Remember when I was worried about Geoff Johns leaving this series? Well, I'm no longer concerned. Bill and Matthew have a perfect feel for this team, these characters and this series. With the exception of Mr. Terrific dying, this issue was perfect to me. I absolutely love Magog's role as the antagonist on this team, and you know what, I find myself agreeing with nearly everything he says! The beauty of Magog is that he talks down the beloved older statesmen on the team, which should make me hate him, but how can I hate him for being 100% right?

From All-American Kid's teary denial, to Magog dressing down the entire team, to the meeting between the villains, everything in this book was done beautifully. With each passing issue, we get a few more hints as to who the evil mastermind responsible for the attacks on the JSA and the apparent death of Mr. Terrific is. Icicle describes his boss as someone not motivated by revenge, greed or power. He goes on to say that his boss is deeply and thoroughly evil, patient, fabulously wealthy and very committed. Right now I have three characters in mind who could potentially be the evil mastermind. Suspect #1 would have to be Johnny Sorrow. My reasoning for this is that Icicle has worked for Sorrow before, Sorrow is pure evil, patient and very committed. However, Sorrow has always been driven by his need for revenge against the JSA. Plus, I can't fathom how Sorrow would have been able to possess All-American Kid, turn Obsidian into a shadow egg or why he wouldn't want anything bad to befall Star Girl. Suspect #2 would have to be(and I hate to even say this)the Shade. The Shade isn't motivated by revenge, greed or power, he is patient, fabulously wealthy, and very committed, plus he does have a connection to Star Girl through Jack Knight. Shade also would have been able to turn Obsidian into a shadow egg, since controlling shadows is his power. The major problem with this theory though would be the fact that the Shade is more of a force for good then pure evil. I'd consider the Shade a tweener character, one not quite good, but definitely not evil. My final suspect, suspect #3, is a character WAY off the map, and is one that I'd bet almost nobody has even heard of. Simon Culp. Who? Simon Culp was the arch-Nemesis of the Shade from the "Starman" series. Culp can do all of the things the Shade can do power-wise, and is also pure evil to boot. What would Culp's motivation be? To frame the Shade of course! I think the Culp theory makes perfect sense, because Culp fits every one of the traits listed by Icicle. The only problem with the Culp theory is that he's dead, but when has that stopped a villain before! Of course I'm probably wrong on all three guesses, but what the hey, if I'm right, I'll look brilliant!

Score: 10 out of 10!!!You tell 'em Magog!


  1. Huh, you think? What would be his motivation? He was an admirer of Ted Knight's work though, wasn't he? That would explain why he doesn't want Star Girl harmed, he would want the cosmic rod... I guess his motivation could be simply gaining possession of the cosmic rod. Hmmm, you might just be on to something Robert!