Monday, October 20, 2003

JSA #53 - A Review

Written by: Geoff Johns
Penciled by: Don Kramer
Inked by: Keith Champagne
Colored by: John Kalisz
Lettered by: Ken Lopez
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC Comics

Keep your Teen Titans and Outsiders, kids. Give me the choice of but one superhero team book a month and I’ll stick with the old school any week of the month! Because more than any other book published today, I can always count on a ripping yarn and some pretty pictures every time I open up this title. In truth, I can count on several stories to keep my interest.

Geoff Johns manages the neat trick of spinning several subplots here and not only does he do so in a totally effortless manner; he makes each plot seem equally important, regardless of how many or few pages it may receive. And more than that, he makes this issue easy to get into even if you haven’t read a single issue of JSA before. And just to give all of you a taste of what gets covered….

*deep breath*

* The origin of the new Crimson Avenger
* The how and why of her efforts to kill the pugilist Wildcat
* Dr. Midnight and his depression over no longer being a real doctor.
* Jesse Quick and her depression over having become depowered since the events of Flash #200
*A growing friendship (and maybe more) between Dr. Midnight and Power Woman
* Black Adam’s further efforts to add on to his more militant team of superheroes.

This much drama could easily become angsty or over the top and yet, it never seems that way. And here’s a big thank you to keeping Dr. Midnight in the limelight on this book… no pun intended. I’ve enjoyed Johns’ take on the character since he first appeared in the book and am glad to see that he is still getting developed, even after his relationship with Black Canary went the way of the dodo- a decision spurred mostly by editorial mandate and pretty much ignored since then by the writers of Birds of Prey and Green Arrow until recently. But I digress.

Kramer had a heavy task to fill taking over the art chores on this book, but he has more filled Leonard Kirk’s shoes. I could talk about how well he draws a gunshot wound or how he manages unique expressions for each character, despite many of them wearing masks that cover their faces. But where he really shines is in the drawing of eyes. You actually get to see the eyes instead of a generic white hole through the masks of his characters… and the eyes say so much from moment to moment. Ted “Wildcat” Grant shows a mischievous twinkle even as he is in danger and Alan “Green Lantern” Scott looks every bit the concerned father as he talks to Jesse Quick. Quite ironic for a book that features a number of physically blinded characters.

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