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Let The Superteams Give Thanks
A Response To JSA #54

Batman smiled? He smiled twice! Batman hasn't smiled since Frank Miller sucked the joy out of the character in The Dark Knight Returns (he added life to the character but he removed all the joy) back in 1986. Geoff Johns is an amazing writer. In JSA #54 he accomplished two things that I had thought I would never see in a modern comic.

The first, as previously mentioned, was seeing Batman smile again. The second was the scripting of an almost battleless cross-over between the JSA and the JLA. This is the book that I have wanted to read since my very first JLA/JSA x-over (the original Mr. Terrific was killed by the Spirit King in issue #171) way back in 1979.

Before Johns the stories for these get-togethers always began at the "end" of the party. I always felt as if the other readers and I had been cheated out of an interesting opportunity to understand how these characters thought and what motivated them to be heroes.

Why couldn't someone just write a story were "nothing" happened? I know that the combined forces of the JSA and JLA are going to defeat Per Degaton. What I really wanted to know was whether or not Green Arrow or Wildcat got drunk at these shindigs. Apparently at least one of them does. Why did we never see Batman ask the adult Robin from Earth-2 how to deal with the rebellious teenage Robin of Earth-1? Wouldn't Kal-El have asked Kal-L what it was like to be married to Lois Lane? Did Supergirl ever drop in to advise Power Girl to relax? When Carter Hall was in the same room with Katar Hol did they swap tips on how to keep their wings clean? Were the JSA members uncomfortable around the Martian Manhunter? Did Dr. Fate give the JLA the creeps? These are the questions I wanted answered.

The villains that showed up for these conflicts were always superfluous (for every time they teamed up to fight Darkseid there was an issue when the heavy might as well have been the villainous Elliot S! Maggin) when the real story should have always been about how these characters interacted with each other.

Geoff Johns is the first writer to understand this. The "villains" in this book didn't even show up until page 18. Although it was amusing, it did almost seem like a cop-out, as if someone at DC issued a mandate that there must be a fight scene in a mainstream super-hero book.

Next year I really just want to see a book with nothing but heroes talking to other heroes. I will, however, accept the appearance of the "Super-Villains" if used simply as a plot device to allow Batman to smile again.

He smiled! Batman really smiled.

Troy Benson

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