Justice Society of America Annual #2
Ever since the end of Infinite Crisis, the JSA have been struggling. The Geoff Johns-helmed relaunch was plagued by delays and a general lack of focus, although the actual story was very entertaining. Once Johns left, DC wisely decided to split the overgrown team into two books, but the story leading up to the split was again awkwardly handled. There has been some light at the end of the tunnel though, as the recent issues of Justice Society of America and JSA All-Stars, by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges, respectively, have been quite good.
Unfortunately, as soon as the two teams join together for an annual, things fall apart again. This story is the continuation of a plot in the Magog ongoing, as well as the beginning of the end of Magog’s membership in the Justice Society. The fact that the story focuses heavily on Magog, one of the worst characters in modern comics, should be a huge warning sign. The story largely hinges on the drastically overused “hero v. hero” cliche, as the larger JSA blames Magog for a prison breakout, and Magog, being the worst character in comics, does not bother to explain his actions. By the end of a huge fight, Magog has confirmed his overall douchiness: his inability to cooperate with anyone leads to the destruction of Haven, and he unrepentently blasts Cyclone when she gets in his way. Oh, there are some bright points to the story: the characterization is strong, and some of the dialogue is clever (I loved Mind Czar), but I just cannot get over the general crappiness of the central character in the story. The art is serviceable, but not spectacular. Tom Derenick’s layouts are good enough, but there are few facial expressions besides general scowling, and many of the character poses were somewhat pedestrian.
I have been enjoying Matt Sturges’ work on JSA All-Stars, but I cannot give this a recommendation. The story is nothing special, and it is ultimately inconsequential to both the JSA books and the Magog ongoing. Truly, the sooner Magog is gone from the DCU, the better.