Sometimes, you start to wonder when you’re reading a comic if something was wrong with your copy. It wasn’t until I sat down with “JSA All-Stars” a second time that I realized that no, I hadn’t missed some pages. After packing a lot of plot into the first two chapters of the current storyline, Matthew Sturges seems to have slowed down a bit. While I’m all for letting the readers catch their collective breath, this feels like not enough is happening.
Part of the problem is that after telling a story set simultaneously in Los Angeles and Parador, Sturges brings them together in one fell swoop. Doing so, though, seems to only happen by having two characters (Power Girl and Stargirl) act slightly out of character by leaving their teammates behind in order to go after the Parador Gods that awakened last month. And even once they do confront these beings, there’s shockingly little that happens. The stage is set for next month’s conclusion, but from there it’s more of a holding pattern, waiting for “JSA All-Stars” #11.
Even the subplot involving King Chimera and Cyclone — which is probably the most interesting thing this issue — feels thrown in and then just as quickly forgotten. There’s a strange “hurry up and wait” attitude coming off of the finished book this month, which is disappointing since it’s felt the last few months like “JSA All-Stars” had finally found its voice. On the plus side, I think this issue had the best art from Freddie Williams II to date. It’s very forceful and strong, and his new angular style seems slightly more tempered this month. The Parador Gods look powerful and majestic here, and Power Girl and Stargirl both are given their own artistic spotlights that make them look like the strong heroes that they are.
The pacing also felt slightly off in the second feature; Jen Van Meter’s story appears to be wrapping up, but the chapter this month seems to stop mid-stream. I can see what she was going for here, but the last panel feels slightly ill-executed. Likewise, Travis Moore’s pencils look good as always, but I can’t help but feel that the final panel is missing the right focus to make what just happened more apparent, resulting in a little too much expository dialogue. It’s something that will certainly read better in the collection down the line, but for now it just seems to stop with no warning.
After a few months of strong “JSA All-Stars,” this one feels like a slight relapse. Hopefully these pauses are just building up towards a much stronger conclusion next month.