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JSA: All-Stars #8
writer: Geoff Johns
artists: Sal Velluto and Bob Almond

It's a mixed blessing that JSA has been both popular and well-done. Much like JLA, its success means that in addition to a regular monthly, fans get subjected to extra mini-series that run hot and cold, feeding a demand that they themselves create.

Much of this mini-series, however, has been, if not hot, at least entertaining. Set against a villain calling himself Legacy who kidnapped the surviving original members, the younger set of heroes have to face their own fears and character flaws. Not a bad macguffin in order to explore characters with little life outside the team, but one that led to wildly uneven stories. While Hawkgirl's personality really developed, for example, stories about the new Hourman and Mr. Terrific felt rushed, and Dr. Mid-Nite's spotlight just kept repeating the same information over and over.

Saving the books, however, were back-up stories featuring the Golden Age heroes in their youth. A wide range of talent came onboard to present tales that exposed the strengths, charms, and in some cases weaknesses of the original comics. One standout was Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon's take on Mr. Terrific, likely the best story ever actually done about the hero who believed in "Fair Play."

With this issue, the division of chores is over, and even writer Geoff Johns is on his own. Previous issues had David S. Goyer co-writing, but presumably he got too busy finishing up the scripts for Batman: Intimidation Game and Blade 3. It seems that Johns got too busy, too, for this story rushes along and flails wildly looking for a moral.

If you've paid attention to the whole mini-series, you might also note that the "surprise revelation" of the villain's identity invalidates the framing sequences of the solo issues. It's just sloppy plotting, and surprising from a writer of Johns' quality. In the end, the story didn't really move anything along - even a crystallized Sand gets restored with a minimum of trauma.

However, Velluto and Almond make a good team. I think Velluto worked on the misbegotten Justice League Task Force, and his art then was the main reason to buy the book. It still makes a strong case, as does a really clever cover concept.

When it comes time for the trade paperback, there are some gems here, but overall this series feels like just a grab for extra money from fans. And that's a pretty crappy legacy.


Derek McCaw

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