Monday, February 25, 2008

Justice Society: Volume 1

by Paul Levitz, Gerry Conway, 4 pencillers, 2 inkers, ...

I've stopped reviewing comic reprint collections that I've borrowed from the library, but I think I'll make an exception with this one. The writing is somewhat awful, but I'd like to buy it someday.... Perhaps I should explain. I've been a fan of comic books on and off since childhood. Back in the eighties, when I was in an "on" period, I had a serious collector's mentality. No, not the type that would move me to buy a comic book, seal it in plastic, and monitor the Tokyo Comics Exchange for just the right time to sell. I was more of a comics archivist. If I discovered a title or character that I liked, then I would suddenly want to accumulate all the stories of said character. It was through this practice that I discovered that just because one writer and/or artist can create magic with a particular character, it doesn't mean that every writer and/or artist has done so. In fact, since the cheapest back issues were usually the klunkers of the series, I discovered this aspect of comics history relatively quickly. I didn't care, though. I just wanted to fill up all the spaces in my little comics ledger. Anyway, when I fell in love with Roy Thomas' All-Star Squadron back then, I found myself seeking back issues featuring the Justice Society of America. That proved to be a rather frustrating quest. The original Golden Age comics, of course, were way out of my price range. On the other hand, amassing the All-Star Squadron issues I had missed was an easy task. In between were JSA guest appearances, Golden Age reprints, and the short lived revival of All Star Comics in the mid-seventies. The latter was the source of my frustration. I could get a random issue here and there, but rarely could I get many issues in a row. All I had were sporadic glimpses at the overall story, making for a awkward and uneven reading experience.

Finally, in this era of trade paperback reprints, I have been able to achieve my dream of fully experiencing the 1970s JSA. Unfortunately, it's still an awkward and uneven reading experience. The plotline jumps around from subplot to subplot. The writers seem to want to include all of the JSA members, but not at the same time. So, characters come and go, sometimes in the middle of a story. The attempts at personal drama make the heroes seem like high school kids, rather than the mature, "old guard" of super herodom. Objectively, the only redeeming qualities of the issues collected here is the artwork by Wally Wood and Keith Giffen and the character of Power Girl, who, despite her stilted, stereotypical characterization, adds some life to the drab storytelling. (Of course, there's also the eye candy factor, but I'm too old for that sort of thing...) In the end, this collection is pretty bad. But, doggone it, I still have empty spaces in my comics ledger....

It's truly only waiting room material.
LibraryThing link

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