By Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges (writers), Jesus Merino (artist), Allen Passalaqua (colorist)
The Story: The gigantic JSA cast is in the brownstone where Wildcat and Magog have thrown down their gloves. No one manages to break it up until everyone is reminded that Mr. Terrific is dying on the operating table and needs blood. Jay Garrick obviously gives blood fastest, so he starts trying to rebuild the security system so that he can see what happened to Mr. Terrific. Everyone is shocked with what he finds. In the meantime, the villains who were out to get the JSA last issue are licking their wounds (some literally) and regrouping. Back in the brownstone, a philosophical thrown down occurs, no less heated than the opening of the book, accenting the fractures in the team. Something has to give; and what does will surprise you.
What’s Good: Merino and Passalaqua deliver some fine art in this issue. Merino seems equally comfortable drawing dynamic action scenes, wrinkled clothes, evocative expressions or trickier light effects. Each panel has something to keep the eye lingering and the choice of camera shots either propels the story (see the page 1 fight between Magog and Wildcat), cranks up a sense of momentum (see the blood donor scene) or evokes a mood (see the villain interrogation page or the page where Flash sits down with King Chimera).
Willingham and Sturges also delivered the goods. The story was told entirely through art, dialogue and monologue and the amount of different voices these two writers had to produce, so that most of the characters had their moments to shine, was astonishing. In almost every character, I think they got the voices, tones and cadences right. Willingham and Sturges revealed at San Diego Comic Con that they were laying the groundwork in the JSA book to break the team into two books. You can see some of their handiwork here and I can guess already where some of the divides are going to happen. DC has two great podcasts of the panel and interview where they talked about it (http://www.dccomics.com/media/podcasts/DCComics_2009-07-26_Spotlight_on_Bill_Willingham_at_SDCC_2009.mp3 and http://www.dccomics.com/media/podcasts/DCComics_2009-07-23_JSA_The_Great_Society_at_SDCC_2009.mp3). A final good thing is that it’s a bit of a relief to be able to read a DC book right now that isn’t staggering under twice its weight in super-powered zombies.
What’s Not So Good: I said that Willingham and Sturges got most of the voices right, especially the key players driving the plot. However, they hit some tiny notes in the dialogue, like in the operating room scene and in the interrogation of Mr. Terrific’s attacker. However, these were minor moments that didn’t detract too much.
Conclusion: Willingham and Sturgess promised us lots of tension and lots of conflict and they are delivering with the help of Jesus Merino. I’ll be back for issue #32, when I expect that the fractures in this oversized team start to break open at the same time as the team of villainous bounty hunters hits them again.