By Jerry Ordway (writer and artist), Bob Wiacek (colorist)

The Story: Atom Smasher is wallowing in his sorrows in a bar when he’s called out by Stargirl, and told how Obsidian has gone weird, and has taken Green Lantern, Wildcat, the Flash, and Liberty Bell hostage. They then head to the mansion, and as it turns out Obsidian is just trying to protect the hostages, but people don’t believe or trust him yet. There’s talk of ghosts and then outside, something jumps into Stargirl through her Cosmic Rod and possesses her. Then, things get much worse.

What’s Good: Ordway’s classic art is always a treat. He knows what the JSA is supposed to look like and it shows. His characters, even relaxed, look dynamic, but not artificially so. Ordway has also always been really good at texturing and shading with very fine lines. From the smallest details of each character’s costume, to the splash page of the Spectre, Orday’s art doesn’t disappoint.

What’s Not So Good: It’s sad to say, but I’ve always liked Ordway as an artist, but never as a writer. The plot was pretty convoluted and hard to follow. It seemed like it was edging towards the old “idiot plot” where most of the problems of the story would have been solved if the characters had just calmed down, talked to each other and worked together.

The individuality of the characters also never came into focus for me (something the best writers can do). I couldn’t figure out why they were so angry, argumentative and sarcastic. Yes, conflict between characters can create a dynamic scene, but if you don’t do it right, it comes off as contrived.

Furthermore, the villain’s dialogue was really cheesy. It’s a pretty basic rule that villains do not perceive themselves as villains, but this surprise villain dropped some ridiculous lines about not being able to put aside his anger or thirst for vengeance. It didn’t get any better when he said “…allow me some theatrics, won’t you?” No. Sorry. Readers won’t. Whenever a writer can’t maintain the suspension of belief, or can’t deliver something that we can imagine might be real if the laws of the world were different, then the reader puts down the book.

Conclusion: Strong art, but weak writing. I wish I could recommend this book, but I can’t. If this is what the next five or six issues are going to be like, I might think about dropping JSA from my list.

Grade: C-

-DS Arsenault