I’ll be honest.
I used to be a MASSIVE fan of Geoff Johns’ work. When I was a kid reading his comics, something about that nostalgic resurgence of all the great Silver Age heroes, the ones I saw watching Super Friends growing up, rather than the confusing new characters I’d never heard of (Who’s Blue Beetle? Why is Green Lantern’s hair black and not brown? Wally West is great and all, but Barry Allen is the real Flash!) really hooked me. It was… safe.
That’s the best word I can think of to describe Johns’ work. “Safe.” Even when he’s writing some giant, universe-shaking status quo “changing” piece like Flashpoint or Doomsday Clock, it always feels so… safe. Things get wild, universes collide, timelines shatter, but everything’s back the way it should be at the end. Sure, a character might die, or a city might be different, but nothing changes.
I’m hoping that changes with this 12-issue mini. We’ll have to wait and see, I suppose.
Blast(ed) from [read: to] the Past
This issue does an entire heel-turn from the first issue. Huntress, during a fight with Per Degaton (who is actually very well done), is sent back through time to 1940. Not to mention her entire team from the first issue is killed in the fight. So, hope you weren’t excited for a new, fresh team idea. We’re doing classic, old-fashioned, safe JSA roster stuff in here!
There is a small change here, though. A big change, even. It comes in this line about The Flash:
As part of his effort to shoehorn a bunch of new characters into the timeline, Geoff Johns has given Jay Garrick a daughter. Slight problem, though, as Joan, his wife, is canonically barren. There’s even a whole issue, written by Johns no less, where Jay talks about turning to adoption for this very reason. Now, there’s a couple explanations as to why this could be wrong. Maybe Johns forgot. Maybe, since Helena is from Earth-2, that world’s Jay and Joan had a kid, while Earth-1’s are still childless. Or maybe, just maybe, Johns is so desperate to retcon in his new OCs that he’s willing to break and bend his own lore to do it. Now, we haven’t gotten the chance to see Judy yet, and that lore is from two continuities ago, so maybe that’s not a thing anymore, but I do think it’s a little weird how far Johns is willing to go for these new characters that really add nothing to the universe.
Okay, rant over.
The actual content of the issue is pretty good, if a little confusing. The meat of this story is Dr. Fate being catapulted through time in an effort to find out more about Huntress, and as a result, we get to see where Johns places certain events on the timeline. For instance, did you know that Zero Hour apparently takes place seven years before the New 52? I sure didn’t! Best not to think about it!
What really shines here (aside from the art, which is doing a LOT of work here) is Johns’ dialogue. His attachment to these characters manifests itself in strong, unique voices for everyone here, and I think they work well. Standouts are Doctor Fate (of course, he has probably the most screentime here) and Per Degaton. Seriously, I really love the cold, calculating mastermind Johns has turned Degaton into. He’s a scary villain that keeps every scene he’s in tense and dangerous.
Of course, he wouldn’t be able to do any of that without the art. As Casper pointed out last issue, there’s several odd switches between Mikel Janin’s art and that of Jerry Ordway and Scott Kolins. I understand what they’re going for here; it’s made more clear that we’ll be seeing prolonged stories and moments in other timelines, separated by different art styles, but I think Janin could have handled it on his own more than fine. The styles clash a little more than they probably should, especially for what this book is trying to do, and it results in a very visually confusing read. Overall, though every artist here is putting in work, and if any of them were by themselves on the book, they’d be killing it.
- You like Geoff Johns.
- The JSA are near and dear to your heart.
I’m still on the fence about this book, particularly when it comes to overall continuity and the mess involved. We’ll see how this goes.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.