Review: The Final Justice Society of America

In the last week before the classic DC Universe is wiped away, JSA #54 illustrates how poorly this changeover has been handled.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Justice Society of America #54

Next week, DC is only publishing two books – Flashpoint #5 and their brand new Justice League #1, which is set to introduce a significantly altered status quo.  A new world in which the Justice Society of America never existed to be the forerunners of and inspiration to the JLA.  After over 70 years of history in this iteration of the DCU – or, if you want to get technical, 26 years since Crisis on Infinite Earths shifted things around enough to qualify as a reboot – you'd think this whole world of classics we've come to know and love would get a warm and cherished send-off before we welcome in the new, right? 

Unfortunately, it's not the case.  The last month or so of DC Comics has felt very much like playing out the string, Flashpoint included, as creators have to rush their books towards satisfactory conclusions of their story arcs, many of which were obviously not meant to be grand finales.  Marc Guggenheim's story about a JSA team-up with the Challengers of the Unknown to explore a hidden city beneath Monument Point had been a reasonably fun read, but judging by how swiftly everything comes to an end, complete with a very forced tragic death (and a head feint towards another one), it's not hard to see that this was likely an effort to get everything out of the old brownstone building before it was condemned, so to speak. 

Per Degaton's machinations, Jesse Quick's ominous guilt trip, Mr. Terrific's recovery, Jay Garrick's rejoining the team despite his new position as mayor, and the rampage of the unknown godlike being D'arken who can only be stopped by a hero's noble sacrifice are all crammed into this one issue.  There's no real sense of pacing or dramatic build – only the notion that there's a big bag of beats Guggenheim and artist Jerry Ordway had to hit to give any sense of closure at all, and he's not really to blame.  The JSA of late has always been about juggling an absurd amount of characters, but this is just too much to ask.

It's an admirable effort to find a way to bring all that to bear while finding a way to give a good sort of stalwart ending to honor the JSA's passing into "rest," or whatever it is that Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Co. are going to do with them, though.  Everything around them is wrecked, and Jay Garrick pledges that they'll do what they always do, rebuild and endure, with a narrator's note that it's "Never The End."  But it's certainly the end for a good long while.

Or so it seems.  There was that rumor that James Robinson and Nicole Scott were working on some kind of new JSA project post-reboot, leading to plenty of speculation on our part.  If we're being honest, for any characters DC has that we've been lamenting the loss of – be it Ted Kord, Captain Marvel, Sue Dibny, Stephanie Brown or Wally West – we know that eventually, in some capacity, they'll find their way back into the pages of comics.  Hell, Barry Allen did, so anybody can and probably will.  As much as we'll miss reading about the JSA and the full horde of cool heroes, we know they'll eventually grace the pages of DC Comics again in the future. 

We really just don't want to have to wait that long for someone to be given all the time they need to tell those good stories in their own time.  The JSA, as well as most of the classic DCU in general, deserved a better send-off than we've seen, but maybe all this will be moot once all is revealed in the New 52, and we'll see that all our worry was for naught.