Thursday, 3 December 2009

JSA All-Stars #1 review

I'm rather pleased to see the Justice Society of America split into a pair of teams, as of late the sheer number of characters has proven unwieldy, with no writer of today seemingly willing or able to share out the panel time in the way classic writers of similarly sized team The Legion of Super-Heroes did.

This book focuses on the trainees, with Power Girl and Magog in charge of Wildcat III, King Chimera, Cyclone, Citizen Steel, Judomaster II and Damage. Hourman II is also an instructor, and Stargirl cheerleader in chief. It could be that some of the throng I mentioned are also trainers rather than -ees, surely the oddly named female Judomaster knows how to fight, for one? It'll all be made clear, I'm sure - writer Matt Sturges starts filling in the details of the new regime once the team reaches their fresh HQ, a ranch in New York State. Before and after that the kids battle two nondescript villain teams sent to take them down in the wake of the recent multi-super-villain attack in the parent book.

This is entertaining enough, but the best scenes of the issue see members enjoying a spot of R&R while trying to come up with a name; a conversation between Stargirl and Powergirl; and training scenes which see Magog's bullish personality toned down to acceptable levels.

Sturges does a wonderful job ensuring everyone has a moment or two while progressing the 'how come no one attacks Stargirl?' storyline. The answer comes at issue's end on a final page which could have been drawn a bit more clearly by Freddie Williams II. There are a few apparent teething problems in places this month, but I can't fault his enthusiasm - there are no lazy panels here, as Freddie fills every inch with people, robots, rubble . . . and Power Girl's tits.

Lord, I was going to stop remarking on Peege's boobs, but when an artist is so keen to show that he has a compass and knows how to use it, what's a fella to do? I give you exhibits A), B), C) and Double-D): GET A GRIP, MAN. Or at least even things up with lots of prominent shots of the biggest male member (that would be the currently missing Atom Smasher, I suppose).

Mind, to show he's not entirely a breast man, Freddie does give us this: I reproduce it only because it's pleasingly Kirbyesque in its shading.

Oh, and Peege's costume gets ripped not once, but twice. Power Girl has worked for years to get a bit of respect in the superhero community, and she's recently become a JSA leader, so please Freddie, don't strain to shove Karen's breasts in our face. Some of the panels I reproed look really awkward due to the overemphasised decolletage. If we must have a team sex kitten, Wildcat III is a natural.

Kudos to the creatives for adding characters not on the announced roster, Sand - who's not had a decent scene for what seems like years - and the original Hourman, who delights with his willingness to insert 'pickle' into a sentence.

Art quibbles aside, this is a belter of a first issue for an angle with a lot of promise. Straight off it's made clear that, despite the team name brainstorming session, this isn't yet another 'taking the fight to the bad guys' book; it's about proper training for a new generation of heroes, the stated intent at the start of the most recent Justice Society run. I'm excited to see where this will lead.

And more clockwork crocodiles, please.

14 comments:

  1. Did you mean the name Judomaster is odd for a girl? I thought gender had been dropped for things like that. We seldom say "actress" anymore round here, but maybe it's just the States. "Judomistress" just doesn't have the same impact.

    But yes, I'd think that name implies she already knows how to fight, and I would think anyone allowed to take the name Wildcat already had a few lessons too, but maybe they're there to learn teamwork?

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  2. I'd like the new Wildcat to be Tomcat - I'd assumed that was why he's called Tommy.

    And yeah, I use 'actor' for a female thespian (that's THESPIAN!), but I use 'actress' just as much. I suppose it's because I always think of martial arts masters as chaps that I expect Judomaster to be male. And I don't see that the 'mistress' ending is reductive.

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  3. Heh, your review pretty much encapsulates my feelings (though I have no problem with "Judomaster" as a woman's name. as far as I know, Martial Arts masters who are women don't tend to go by "mistress" after all).

    I love everything this comic chooses to be...except the art. Power Girl aside, even, it's like the artist doesn't realize that the majority of male comic book characters have stopped being built like giant 90s' comics rejects toward the end of the 1990s. Even the characters that are supposed to be reasonably thin (Sand, Rick) are practically grotesque looking.

    I'm guessing once this storyline shakes out, Kara won't be around as much though (since I'm thinking Sand'll take powerhouse/leader role, if I'm reading the set-up right, and she's more likely to trust him to manage it than Magog) and thus there will be less opportunity for inflatable chesticles and ass-first thong shots.

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  4. Oh, I forgot, I would imagine Judomaster is also a trainee, too. Just because someone's a master martial artist doesn't mean she's immediately adept in team tactics or specifically anti-supervillain techniques. (It'd be kind of cool though if the kids got to train each other in their specialty areas too, though.)

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  5. I love the idea of the kids training one another. And yes, Freddie Williams' figurework has taken, for me, a step back lately. Isn't he now pencilling digitally or something? Maybe that's the difference, but some of the figures are too twisty-odd for me (eg Stargirl hovering).

    Oh please be correct about Sand replacing Magog. I liked him in his lance guy incarnation but now, not so much.

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  6. I actually like Magog more now (Possibly I have a thing for assholes, and I think his flaws are fairly reasonable for someone ex-military and very set in his ways shoved into a group of crazy superheroes) but he is pretty much a terrible leader and doesn't seem to have any real way of relating to the kids.

    But, Kara's pretty much there in this issue as a place-holder, I think. To demonstrate their need for a powerhouse who knows how to lead. Sand IS an earth monster, and he did lead the team for a good 25 issues or so without any real major fuck ups (at least none that can be blamed on him.) So yeah. :-)

    Besides, having been a kid hero, he can probably figure them out a bit better than poor Magog. (And Kara actually respects him, so she'll be more likely to leave the new team alone if he's in charge.)

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  7. Those boobs are ridiculous.

    This comic looks shit.

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  8. I'm not reading it; I'd probably be picking it up if I could budget it, since I like the JSA so much, but it's not in the cards for now. Still and all, the progression you're describing, Kalinara, is one I'd like to see by the time I'm able to drop in.

    And I liked Williams's art much better back when he was doing Flash. It's like he's been possessed by Bart Sears. Everyone looks like ground beef pressing against cling-wrap.

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  9. Ah, Bart Sears, I can see that. Good observation.

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  10. I thought the art, boobs or no, was atrocious, and there are far too many (new) characters for me to figure out who's who, what's what, and why the heck I should care.

    If Peege weren't in this, I wouldn't get it. As it is, I may drop it. I'm so tired of the Legion of JSAers. And I think guys who run around with giant horns on their heads are more laughable than awe-inspiring.

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  11. Love the comment about drawing boobs with a compass, which looks quite accurate.

    Raight after seeing the panels you show, I saw the pic of Tiger Wood's model wife in a yellow bikini. I don't know if she can act, but physically she'd be perfect to play Power Girl. She seems to be drawn with the same compass.
    http://sports.rightpundits.com/?p=135

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  12. The body I see, Blue, the face, not so much - she looks too docile for Peege.

    Carol, forget the book, I'll tell you if anything exciting happens with Kara.

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  13. A panel without Power Girl's knockers is like a day without sunshine... both are rich in Vitamin D....

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