Cancelled Comics Cavalcade Week - JSA All-Stars #18 review

I've been a fan of this Justice Society of America spin-off. It got off to a sticky start as the junior, 'bad ass' team, but once the brutish Magog left, the book became an interesting read - never the most amazing comic, but always a good companion. Writer Matthew Sturges came up with stories that felt fresh, handled Power Girl, Hourman and co well, and introduced such intriguing characters as magician Anna Fortune and increasingly annoying artificial intelligence Roxy. And Freddie Williams II gave us dynamic layouts and character work, despite some of his artistic choices not being to my taste. It's a team book I looked forward to every month.

So it pains me to say that this final edition of the series is really pretty poor, especially having liked last issue a lot. The plotline is just about clear, but the overall ride is distinctly bumpy, and the dialogue is among the worst I've seen in a good while. The story has a super-powered chap named The Prince bidding to somehow bring back a parallel world he believes he remembers by blowing up 500 miles of America's Eastern Seaboard. Only the All-Stars stand in his way. And they fail, meaning the series manages to go out with both a bang and a whimper.

I can only assume Sturges was rushed, or downhearted, as he's a much better writer than this issue indicates. One amusing oddity, though, is this self-referential panel, which just turns up for gag value. I'll include the previous panel, so you can get a flavour of the rest of this issue (click to enlarge). And yes, I know Cyclone is a motormouth, but the things she says aren't usually dumb.
On the positive front, after a splendid cover illustration, Williams turns in my favourite art job yet. It looks as if he stopped pencilling digitally a few pages in and decided to play rough - the occasionally awkward glossiness of earlier issues vanishes in favour of a rough hewn, Joe Kubert-style finish that's very attractive. I hope we see more of this approach, wherever the talented Williams turns up next.

As for the All-Stars, they've already been absorbed back into the mother book, bringing along characters we've never heard of - such as Red Beetle and Darknight - making it even more crowded than previously. Goodness knows if JSA writer Marc Guggenheim will have the room, or interest, to reveal the backgrounds of Anna Fortune and King Chimera, or kill off the painful  Roxy ... we can but hope.

So farewell, JSA All-Stars, it was fun while it lasted.


  1. Both JSA and All-Stars have far, far too many characters—95% of them uninteresting—running about. I don't know who most of them are, and don't care to find out.

    Here's hoping that the merger will result in a lean, sleek JSA (five members is my opinion of optimum size) with characters whom we can care about. And decent art, too.

  2. What, we don't need two Wildcats on one teen, a new Batman knock-off, a female Blue Beetle, Judymaster ...

    Two many members, definitely. Maybe ten, five is too few. I'd bring back the old rule about anyone who has their own book being dumped, which gets rid of, uh, Power Girl. She can go JLI full-time. Take out Blue Devil, whom I love, but he has team affiliations already. The old guard can retire, seriously, even with all the mystic energies they've absorbed, it's bonkers that Jay, Alan, Ted and co don't want to find a nice porch to sit on ...

  3. Ha, that's a funny, but astute observation on that one. You'd think so right, but clearly a superheroes' work is never done, especially if you're a superhero with a work ethic from the "Greatest Generation."

  4. It's a tough call, Dale - I love the originals, revere them mightily (well, except when they begin dressing as teapots), but so long as DC reminds us of their Forties debuts, it's hard to ignore that they're coming up to 100.


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