Justice Society of America | Kingdom Come Special: Magog
Written by: Peter Tomasi (w/Geoff Johns)
Art by: Fernando Pasarin (w/Scott Kolins)
Published by: DC Comics
Three one-shots spin out of the pages of Justice Society this month, adding some background to the epic “Thy Kingdom Come” storyline currently unfolding. The second issue, devoted to newcomer Magog, hit the stands this weeks and serves as a bridge between the events of Justice Society of America #19 and, uh, well, the next issue.
Why does the title need such a bridge? Because Geoff Johns, not content to have just one big storyline in his book, has shoehorned in a parallel storyline that unfolded in the JSA annual and issue #20, centering on Power Girl and the multiverse.
And for those of you with a sense that you might have read this book, say twelve years ago, aren’t entirely off base. There was a four-issue series penned by Mark Waid and Alex Ross (who has handled the covers and art chores on some of the current Kingdom Come specials) called Kingdom Come, and there was even a Waid-written sequel to that book called The Kingdom. But this book isn’t a sequel, and it’s not a “re-imagining,” as we trendy types like to say.
Confused yet? I sure was.
There’re two ways to look at one-shot comics. I’ve always thought they should serve as a way to attract a new reader, forming a jumping-in point to a larger storyline, if you will. But, from a fan point of view, sometimes one-shots are great ways to tell single-issue stories that complement regular continuity without distracting you from the flow of the monthly title.
This book fails on both those accounts for me. Unlike last week’s Superman Special ( which was a gorgeously rendered and written standalone by Ross) or the JSA Annual, which took Power Girl on a left-hand turn, this book was mystifying unless you had read the last few issues of JSA proper. Seeing as I had, it’s also not complimentary to say that I had to go back and re-read them just to get a handle what the heck was going on.
But, if you’re willing to invest all that energy to get into this book, what will you find? A not half bad regular issue of JSA, one that focused on the reasons behind the growing rifts in the Justice Society. Some of it is wrapped in a simplistic morality tale that telegraphs the ending (if you couldn’t guess, this whole arc will end in tears) but there are a few gorgeous panels of great superhero style wonder. Landing, as this book did, on the anniversary of the Jonestown massacre, the panels of dead bodies, floating quietly in the river and underfoot in the villages that line it, have an extra level of creepiness.
Pasarin’s art is best when he presents wide-angle, long shots, and diminished by close-ups: His composition is superb, but his faces have a blocky similarity that makes it difficult to distinguish characters and convey emotion. Hi-Fi’s coloring helps loads, as always.
Better yet is the Starman backup, written by Johns with art by Kolins. It’s always impressive when a writer can wedge backstory, foreshadowing and make you care about a character in a single issue… and downright devastating when done, as here, in just six pages. This is the kind of work that makes other writers jealous.