Justice Society of America 31-33: This is a tough one. Willingham and Sturges are excellent writers who obviously care about and respect these characters. And indeed, they genuinely kept me guessing about who the traitor was and whether Mr. Terrific would survive. For me, though, in the end it felt like splitting up the team was a foregone conclusion that we had to get to no matter what – it didn’t feel like an organic part of the story. Yes, they got infiltrated and it makes sense that Magog would react to that based on his military experience and even that some members would agree with him but “We have two intractable camps. We need to divide the JSA into two teams – before we tear ourselves apart!” Really? We can’t talk about it for a little more than half a page, or try a compromise first? That said, I do like the writing and I do (and the writers do) love these characters so I’m willing to accept the premise and see if we get stories I like out of it.
JSA All-Stars 1: This isn’t a bad start. I’m not in love with the idea of all the younger characters being on this team, because a large part of the appeal of the modern JSA book to me is the mix of old and young characters, but within this framework the story is true to the characters and Sturges at least seems open to the possibility that the All-Stars approach may not 100% work. Artist Freddie Williams is trying a different style that hasn’t quite gelled for me yet, but his page layouts are really exciting so I look forward to either him getting more comfortable in this style or me getting used to it.
Adventure Comics 5: The lead story is the ultimate expression of Superboy-Prime-as-metaphor, as he actually smashes into the DC offices! It’s entertaining this one last time – and Johns does imply it’s the last time – but if we see this character again, he needs to evolve past the fanboy analog because all those beats have been hit. I’m not sure what point Johns is trying to make with the ending – and he must have a point because there’s a satire aspect to everything involving Prime – maybe he’s saying that it’s a trap to give the fans exactly the story they say they want, but if so he’s making that point by violating the internal logic he’s set up for the Black Lanterns. No Legion this issue, as the Conner Kent ongoing story gets the backup slot. It’s wonderful as usual, and I’m sad we only get one more issue of it. (But it looks like Francis Manapul is going to use the same art style for the Flash, which makes me happy.)
Secret Six 13-16: The Amazon story arc that ends in #14 actually has an impact on the regular Wonder Woman book, so fans of that may want to pick up that story. I’m always amazed at how far Gail Simone is able to push the boundaries in this book, and at the end of #14 it seems that even the main characters are disgusted by their behavior. #15 is the spotlight on Deadshot by John Ostrander, retelling Floyd’s origin with some more details and bringing back a great character from “Suicide Squad” and “The Spectre” that I don’t think anyone has used since Ostrander last had a regular DC book. I’m a little surprised that the team is still together in #16, and I miss Nicola Scott’s art, but Black Alice from Gail’s “Birds of Prey” run has always been a great character and she fits well here. This continues to be one of DC’s best books.
X-Force 19-21: The end of the X-23 arc in #19-20 is well written, if still drawn a little bit too “teenage blood & torture porn” for my taste. The “Necrosha” chapter in #21 didn’t do much for me, but there’s a good scene in the middle with some X-Men wondering who among their loved ones is going to come back.
Outsiders 22-24: The Arkham villain capture stories in #22-23 are good, but it’s hard to get invested in the current direction when we know a new creative team is coming in to do who-knows-what. The “Blackest Night” crossover in #24 was not one of the stronger ones for me. The Terra scenes with her brother are not that much different than her appearance in “Blackest Night: Titans”, and as I’ve said before I don’t like stories where people’s kids come back so I’m biased against the Katana part of the story. All very nicely drawn by Fernando Pasarin, though.