I’m starting to feel a little better about “JSA All-Stars” now. Since its debut, the book has felt like it’s starting to refine itself and shift into something slightly more pleasing; the shedding of Magog and additions of Sand, Atom Smasher, and Anna Fortune certainly have helped. And now, with this latest issue that serves as an aftermath to “Blackest Night,” I think Matthew Sturges has written his best JSA story to date.
It helps that “JSA All-Stars” #7 feels like an old “JSA” issue under Geoff Johns, as the team pauses to mourn the death of Damage during “Blackest Night” as well as start to move forward again. Sturges focuses on Judomaster and King Chimera this issue, and to say that they’re characters that aren’t terribly fleshed out (especially Judomaster) is an understatement. The story itself is predictable, but the telling of the story itself is entertaining and pleasing. For a book that’s about a funeral of a character, Sturges makes it about as upbeat as he can. It’s a nice change of pace.
Freddie Williams II continues to draw in his new, Bart Sears-inspired style. It’s still remarkably variable; for every good moment like the two-page spread of mourners from the JSA and Teen titans, we get awkward drawings like where Judomaster’s leg (pushing out in a kick) is almost twice as long as her torso. It’s a little disconcerting, because you never know when everything is going to click into place or look disturbingly off-center. If there was more consistency in the art, I think I’d like it a bit more.
Jen Van Meter and Travis Moore continue their back-up with Liberty Bell and Hourman, which is fun but at the same time is starting to feel a little too long; with the story being told in short bursts it’s easy to start losing track of what’s going on beyond a certain point. Still, Van Meter and Moore’s feature is good looking, always full of fun moments, and I’d certainly welcome them to taking over the main feature if Sturges and Williams need a break.
“JSA All-Stars” was definitely off to a rocky start, but Sturges and Williams are starting to find their voice on the book now. With any luck, that new strength will continue to build in the issues to come. For now, though, it’s worth checking out again.