Thursday, October 27, 2011

80-Page Thursdays: JSA 80 Page Giant #1!

Split up, and stay together...which is it?
For the next stretch, as long as I can find them, every Thursday we'll check out an 80-page comic! Not 64, not 100, 80-page giants only! Today, Justice Society of America 80-Page Giant #1! Or JSA 80 Page Giant 2010. Or maybe some other title entirely. Written by Zander Cannon, Jerry Ordway, James Robinson, and more; with art by Ordway, Scott Hampton, Freddy Williams II, and more.

Even more so than any other team comic, even the JLA; I don't think it's possible to tell a JSA story longer than 23 pages without everyone splitting into smaller groups for individual chapters. So, of course when things get weird at the Justice Society Brownstone, the team splits up faster than the kids on Scooby-Doo. (Spoiler: the reason for the weirdness is some mystic doohickey left behind by Dr. Fate; ostensibly as an early-warning system. It's main function seems to be to distort time and space and leave a really vague prophetic warning, that may or may not have anything to do with future storylines.)

In a Golden Age-set story, like he did so well in Starman, James Robinson has Cyclone tell the current Mr. America about his predecessor's meeting with her grandma, the original Red Tornado. There's stories catching up with the most recent heroes to carry the names Steel and Amazing Man; but I really wouldn't get too attached to them. Wildcat's son gets a bizarre flashback of his dad, his werecat Mom, the Golden Age Huntress, and the original Dr. Mid-Nite. The original Wildcat, Ted Grant, comes off as a cad in that one; then again in another story with Cyclone and Power Girl.

Damage gets the trippiest, and probably best story of the issue: separated from his group, he ends up in a dark room, with the current Dr. Mid-Nite. Realizing he's on an operating table, Damage hopes the good doctor has finally worked out how to fix his wrecked face. Um...not so much.
Mid-Nite turns out the lights, needing darkness for his abilities, for surgery. Bleeding out puts his ugly face into perspective, but here's where things get weird for Damage: after a visitation by Vandal Savage, he sees Mid-Nite remove foreign bodies from his stomach: tiny versions of his foster parents. While they protest, Damage points out they were more jailers than parents, and Mid-Nite dumps them, like excised tumors, into a biohazard bin.

Where Savage had been, Zoom now visits Damage's bedside: Zoom wrecked his face, but also claims to have made him far tougher for the experience. If Zoom had met him earlier, perhaps Damage's girlfriend wouldn't have been killed by the snake villain Splatter. (I know I read a few issues of Damage's solo series in the 90's, but I don't know if those events all happened there or in JSA.) Mid-Nite removes tumors of the dead girlfriend and Splatter; and now Gog appears like Dicken's third ghost. Gog claims without that poison in him, Damage could be anyone. Instead, he asks for his pain back. It's a creepy, visually striking story; I don't know if Cannon and Hampton were fans of Damage, or just did their research, but they did it well.

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