JSA by Geoff Johns Book One

JSA by Geoff Johns Book One
JSA by Geoff Johns Book One review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 978-1-4012-7490-0
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2017
  • UPC: 9781401274900
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

This is a third reprint format for the Geoff Johns JSA, indicating how popular the series remains. Unlike the 2014 Omnibus, this selection dispenses with the preludes to the 1999 series and dives straight in to the first issues. These have no contribution from Johns, being written by David Goyer and James Robinson. Indeed, Johns doesn’t begin contributing until a third of the way through, and is never the sole writer, mostly replacing Robinson as Goyer’s collaborator.

While allowing that it’s a rare ongoing series where the starting point is the peak, what is certain is that the series improves when Johns comes on board. There’s a touching opening with the passing of the 1940s Sandman, his spirituality conveyed along with an awareness that his death will reunite the Justice Society. It’s the character moments that remain the strongest over the opener, as the plot of finding a successor for Doctor Fate rarely rises above average, greatly carried by what at the time was the significant artistic find of Stephen Sadowski. As seen on the sample spread, he ensures multiple people have different reactions to the same event, and unusually for the era, while a couple have skintight costumes, most wear their clothes. If preferred, Justice Be Done was the first paperback presentation.

Darkness Falls, itself a thick paperback, first reprinted the remainder of this content, and it’s a succession of stories pitching the JSA against a succession of heavyweight threats. First up is time-travelling Extant, followed by the Injustice Society, the God-like Black Adam, leader of a terrorist cult Kobra and one of their own, Obsidian. While more-action oriented than the earlier material it’s really good superhero action, constantly surprising, with the villains having motivations, none more so than the tragic Obsidian, Goyer and Johns cleverly rationalising his earlier episodes of poor mental health. There are surprise returns for characters assumed dead, a neat continuity revision and the beginnings of the personal journeys both Atom Smasher and Black Adam would take throughout the series. Indeed, without the progression under Johns, it’s doubtful there would ever have been a 2022 Black Adam movie.

For all the planet-threatening action supplied, the best story stars Wildcat, in terms of super powers a lightweight, but with a heavyweight personality, and in some ways the JSA’s key member. Recovering from injury and with the remainder of the team away, he has to deal with the Injustice Society solo when they invade the JSA’s headquarters. They’re also the threat opening JSA by Geoff Johns Book Two.

While this isn’t the series peak, it’s a strong opening volume overall. Almost twenty years on from the original stories it’s more likely readers are going to be attracted by Johns as a creator rather than the JSA as a team, but readers to whom these are a new bunch of characters are likely to be as enthralled as those welcoming a revival in 1999.