Review: Justice Society of America #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Mikel Janin, Jerry Ordway, and Scott Kolins
Colors: Jordie Bellaire and John Kalisz
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
The mystery deepens for Helena Wayne as she meets the Justice Society in 1940. Dr. Fate tries to “share” her memories with the rest of the team, but things go haywire!
With The New Golden Age #1 and Stargirl: The Lost Children, Geoff Johns and DC Comics have begun reinvigorating their Golden Age legacy characters. In the Silver and Bronze Ages, these characters lived on a separate parallel earth known as Earth-Two. With Justice Society of America #2, despite taking place on the main DC Earth and ostensibly “in continuity,” it genuinely feels like the creative team is carving out its own corner of the DC Universe that feels like a separate timeline.
In Stargirl: The Lost Children, Emiko Queen and Oliver Queen are part of current continuity, yet Oliver’s time in the past as the Golden Age Green Arrow is such a different feeling character from the traditional Earth-One Green Arrow. Likewise, Helena Wayne in the Justice Society of America is a character that channels not only her own pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, but brings her dad (yes, main continuity, Prime Earth) Bruce Wayne along for the ride.
As she wakes up in an infirmary at the beginning of Justice Society of America #2, having arrived in 1940 at the end of last issue, she thinks she hears her father’s voice. It’s a small thing, but a detail that connects the ideas in a meta way. Readers know that Batman was originally part of the JSA, but his history doesn’t show that after all the reboots. It’s how Johns is able to connect the past with the present in a way that acknowledges the characters histories. Sliding Helena’s timeline forward is the same sort of thing.
These elements point to great world building. It’s honestly ok if it doesn’t feel like the main DC Universe. That’s what was always special about Earth-Two and the JSA- it didn’t feel like the main DCU. They could co-exist and here we have it again in a new way. It helps that most of the characters are different, but more so in this case it’s the fact that we are getting elements of the past woven into the present continuity .
This makes new characters like Judy Garrick and Salem, the Witch Girl who we see more of in this issue more likable and feel more appropriate. Like issue #1, there are other glimpses of events at the end of the issue that readers may remember. Alan Scott in his Sentinel days is seen 8 years ago, 13 years ago, Selina Kyle stepped out on a balcony in her Catwoman garb for the first time and Khalid Nassour gained the helmet of Fate just a year in the past.
Mikel Janin, Jerry Ordway and Scott Kolins combine on art again, each providing wonderful visuals for a distinct part of this time travel story. Jerry Ordway’s work always recalls the Earth-Two stories of the ’80’s in All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. Besides being a fantastic comic book artist, this adds another nostalgic element to the series that is greatly appreciated.
Per Degaton is finally revealed and named in full as Selina Kyle Wayne plays an important role in the story. The plot is developing nicely, but it is moving at a measured pace in order to provide space for the character development and world building that is so critical to a comic like this. This isn’t “villain of the month,” and it shouldn’t read like it.
The real question here is will this series based on so much history bring in new readers?
The world building continues as Johns, Janin, Ordway and Kolins deliver another great issue of this new series. The details bring out so much in the story as the nostalgia anchors the new elements. This book looks great, it’s fun and by having Helena on a journey of discovery, it allows readers to see things through her eyes. So if you don’t know what’s going on, neither does she and even a new reader can discover this corner of the DC Universe with her.