By Jerry Ordway (writer and artist), Bob Wiacek (colorist)
The Story: The Spectre takes Power Girl, Judomaster, Atom Smasher and Damage into the past to find Kung, who has kidnapped Green Lantern, the Flash, Wildcat, Hourman and Liberty Belle. In the meantime, Kung’s captives are way too close to a nuclear explosion. Green Lantern barely saves them, but something much worse soon comes after them. The Spectre brings the two halves of the team together and then it’s everyone against Kung in a race to the finish.
What’s Good: Jerry Ordway draws a great Justice Society. The cover is representative of the kind of great art you’ll find inside. The eerie light around the Spectre, the glow of Stargirl’s scepter, and Kung in his giant dragon form are fantastic. The poses and faces are natural and Power Girl is not overdone.
Ordway’s writing was more solid in this issue as well. The explanation of the background was smoother in this issue than in the last and the dialogue felt natural. I also loved how the Spear of Destiny and the Holy Grail were used in the plot, something drawn from Ordway’s deep experience with the golden age. Lastly, I liked a scene at the end where something clandestine is going on with the older guys (Green Lantern, Flash, Wildcat) protecting Stargirl from a first romance with Albert. I want to see where Ordway takes this particular conflict, because status quo isn’t going to work.
What’s Not So Good: There is absolutely nothing to complain about in the art. On the writing, there were a few wobbly moments or lines, but overall these were minor problems. My two major beefs with this book were structural.
Firstly, with a team of this size, it is inevitable that some characters will be backbenchers, and some will be spotlighted. However, I thought that jamming together eight heroes and the Spectre against Kung left the me with so little time to appreciate anyone that the story felt almost superficial. There was a lot of emotional tension to be wrung out of this story, but the amount of characters prevented a deep look into any one. Same for the action. Everybody has a chance for a couple of shots, but no knock-out punches.
Secondly, the Spectre is so powerful that some of the story felt like Deux Ex Machina. I wondered at the end if the Spectre had even needed the JSA. Damage and Green Lantern landed a few solid blows, but I see no reason why the Spectre couldn’t have gotten the same result on his own. This left me a bit unsatisfied.
Conclusion: The art is great and the writing was more solid, but this book is still far from a must-read.