Review: Justice Society #1

by Kendra Hale
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“Legends Die Together, Too” 
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Mikel Janín
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Guest Artists: Jerry Ordway, Scott Kolins, Steve Lieber, and Brandon Peterson
Guest Color Artists: John Kalisz, Jordan Boy, Brandon Peterson
Review by Kendra Hale

When I explain why Justice Society #1 means so much to me, I truly hope you can understand. I remember seeing the announcement on Mikel Janín’s Facebook for the series and screaming internally for joy. In the argument of JSA vs. JLA, my vote always fell on the side of JSA. While I have a massive love for the characters who made up the JLA, the JSA always felt more relatable.

Maybe if I say it felt more welcoming, that will better articulate what I mean. When you step back and look at the JLA, these are established heroes, most of whom have been battle hardened. Not the best proving ground for newer heroes or those still in their young days. The JSA is a different vintage. They welcomed those still learning, or who wanted and needed training. It always felt like more of a family.

The Golden Age 

Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Ted Grant, Dinah Lance, Stormy Knight, Pieter Cross, Richard Tyler, Jim Corrigan, Kent Nelson, Michael Holt, Sanderson Hawkins, and so many more have held the title of JSA Team member. With over 1255 issues to the JSA’s name, we’ve not only witnessed immense talent from both the writing and art worlds, but some of the greatest stories in comic book history.

I still hold the Alex Ross covers as the number one examples that haunt my mind, to this day, and that overtakes even the astounding covers he did for Marvels or continues to create for Fantastic Four. So, while I want to go into this series with a clean slate and no expectations it’s nigh on impossible, given what I have seen these creatives do and knowing the heights they have to hit.

That being said let’s dive into this review and meet all the players for this new generation of Justice Society.

Her Father’s Daughter

Justice Society #1 opens with a time variance between three periods in history. We revisit Bruce Wayne losing his parents, Selina breaking free, and then finally Catwoman asking for help for a baby that Bruce cannot know about who is in danger.  Moving forward 26 years, enter Helena Wayne, the daughter of Bruce and Selina, now a leading member of the current Justice Society. The JSA has helped her with carrying the legacy of her fallen Father and helped mold her desire to help by refining her purpose. We join her in her search for Doctor Fate, who’s had a vision that only she can help with.

The New Team 

Obviously, most fans have met Helena before, and know her background. Most would also be familiar with Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday. Another familiar face is Power Girl or Kara Zor-L, but not everyone will know these characters, so let me do a quick breakdown of the characters. First, we have Jim Craddock, The Gentleman Ghost, who was once an enemy of the Hawks. Then there’s Michael Mayne, the son of The Harlequin, Cameron Mahkent, the oldest child of the Icicle, Kyle Knight the current Mist, and finally Ruby Sokov the daughter of Vladimir Sokov, the Red Lantern.

Watching The World Burn

Justice Society #1 has groundbreaking names at the helm and it shows masterfully in every panel. I mean the very first page featuring Huntress sees her choking out Falcone, this set the standard quickly and captured my attention promptly with just one splash page. Justice Society is being written by one of THE greatest storytellers the game has known, Geoff Johns. Some of DC’s most pivotal stories have his name attached to them, and there are few characters the man hasn’t written about. That in itself is exciting.

Backing him on the art side is someone who most certainly has the artistic chops to bring Geoff’s words to life, Mikel Janín. Known for his exquisite work on Batman, Mikel’s art is always eye-catching and detailed. To round out the art team is Jordie Bellaire on colors and she shows her mastery. It’s absolutely astonishing that she helps breathe every scene fully to life emotionally just with the right touch of tone.

Bonus Features

For Justice Society #1 we also get variant covers that hearken back to the Golden Age art style and are supremely delicious. We have pieces by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn on the main variant cover, Joe Quinones for the ’90s Rewind variant, Jerry Ordway and John Kalisz for the 1:25 variant, and Steve Leiber and Nathan Fairbairn for the 1:50 variant.

We also get treated to bonus guest artists and guest color work, Jerry Ordway, Scott Kolins, Steve Leiber, and Brandon Peterson. Color Artists featured are John Kalisz, Jordan Boyd, and Brandon Peterson. Massive talent with tons of titles and books to their creed.

Conclusion

When I said that this book came with heavy expectations from me, that was coming from a place of love. I adore these characters and am so excited to see what comes in the next issue. There are Easter eggs throughout the book, from the covers to the artwork that flashes back.

Johns gives an easy intro into this story arc for like 5 whole seconds and from there Justice Society #1 delivers a fast-paced story that will have you desperately grasping for the safety belt, in the hopes it will keep you on the ride. There’s no mercy once the story gets going and that’s an exciting thing to see. This is a series that will have you connecting the dots, excited for not only legacy characters but their offspring as well.

The book has artwork that makes you stop and stare, and Mikel is truly on his A-game, with Jordie breathing beautiful colors into every frame. Justice Society #1 is an introduction to a seamless mix of modern and classic, fierce values, and a reminder of what it is to be a hero.  This is everything that the JSA stood for. Brava and thank you… truly.

10 out of 10

Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment


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