Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Justice Society of America 80-Page Giant #1 - anyone know a good shrink?

Some weeks there's just not the time to review every comic I'd like to. Especially when they're giant-sized issues (which barely anyone buys - seriously, you should see my stats when I try to give a multi-story special its due. Pitiful).

Still, I'd not sleep if I didn't at least try to bring a little story from the recent Justice Society of America 80-Page Giant #1 to your attention. The tale is certainly a nightmare, which is appropriate as it stars Sand, the team's resident bad sleeper. The guy just can't catch 40 winks without having a terrible dream.

In Night Terror, the former Sandy the Golden Boy meets girl, a sculptor named Jen. Things are going well until a vision tells him they're 'doomed'. DOOMED! His shadowy dreams are never wrong, he thinks. So far, so depressing.

And yes, Jen does send him a text message informing him that she doesn't date 'freaks'. Which is sad, but survivable. Yet Sandy's dream didn't end there - he saw himself shooting a member of the police department, point blank. Oops.

So, you're an associate of one of the most powerful super-teams on the planet, certainly the one with the biggest pot of accumulated wisdom. It's replete with super-scientists, mystics and men who have fought evil for 70 years. Do you go to your colleagues for their point of view? Ask them to watch over you and make sure you don't top a cop? Have them lock you up for awhile in Dr Fate's doorless tower? 

Here's the approach Sand takes in the strip, nicely illustrated by Leandro Fernandez (click on image to enlarge):
Okaaaaaaay ... why even try to stop a prophecy coming true when you can just go with the flow and kill a chap? It could be the start of a whole new career. It's not as if prophecies are warnings that can be heeded, is it? 

As it turns out, the prediction does come true, but not in the way Sand expected. That's the thing with shadowy dreams - they tend not to be big on detail. And there can't be a reader who didn't see this coming, unlike our so-called prophet.

Alarmed by how far down a dangerous road he's gone, Sand quits the JSA and checks himself into a clinic for psychological counselling ... 

... actually, no, I made that bit up. He simply continues his depressing internal monologue and heads home, for another night of fitful sleep. The end.

To say Sand comes across as disturbed in this tale is an understatement. Crime novelist Jason Starr's script isn't lacking in craft, it's simply a weird story and the idea that editor Chris Conroy stewarded it through to the printed page is a headscratcher. Sometimes - ofttimes, even - it seems that DC Comics will let successful writers from outside comics run with any wacky notion they come up with (>cough Superman< >Wonder Woman<) because, well, they're famous.

And yet, why not take a leaf out of Sandy's book and go with the flow? A superhero ready to murder a man because his dreams said he would is certainly original. If followed through it'd give Sand the character arc he's been denied in years of sporadic JSA appearances.

Heck, give the entire book to Jason Starr, let's see all those buttoned-up heroes follow their whims. Jay Garrick could throw away the union suit and become the fastest streaker alive - it's not as if anyone can see him. Know-all super-athlete Mr Terrific might refuse to talk to his teammates because he's so far above them. Pill-popping Hourman could improve his colleagues' performance by supplying them all with drugs.

The possibilities are endless! A breath of fresh insanity could be just what the JSA needs. So if you missed it, rush back to the comics store and buy this issue. One day it'll be worth millions.

3 comments:

  1. Wow, I didn't buy the book, but that maybe one of the biggest give-ups on characterization I have ever seen.

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  2. I think the 80 page Giants are very good actually, I bought the last Superman one and enjoyed it thoroughly, but the price plus popularity/quality of the main book is a big big decision in why not to buy one of these.
    JSA ia & always has been a personal favorite of mine but since Geoff Johns moved on it has been a very tough read.
    The JSA All-Stars split was never a good idea and I think it shows, but something really evident in writers today is just how hard it is to write any team book.
    Think on it - JLA has been pretty good since Robinson took over but when was the last time the X-men was great? Teen Titans? The Avengers?

    I wouldn't buy this JSA Giant for exactly that reason plus while the mini-story format can work a treat if the stories, like that Superman 80 pager, are treated as independent and in told in differing styles but anything else such as a 'spotlight' issue such as here is a bit of a bore at that pagecount....

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  3. Yeah, I prefer the 80pp giants to be as varied as possible - the last Superman one (reviewed here) was very good ... I hope more titles get them.

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