Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges waste no time with introductions and start this issue off with a mysterious ebony egg. While there is no sign of any ebony chickens anywhere, the egg turns out to be rather important to the JSA. A little deductive reasoning, combined with knowledge of the JSA roster will help you solve the first mystery presented by this new creative team. Taking a note from Geoff Johns, and seemingly not content with only adding two new characters to the action in these pages, the new writers jam a whole mess of villains into this issue as well. The villains of this piece are lesser-knowns, with Eclipso being the most recognizable of the lot.
The JSA, themselves, are welcoming two younger members on board — All-American Kid and King Chimera, two characters whose legacy connections are explained in this issue. Even though these characters are left at home (with Mr. Terrific filling the role of babysitter) while the rest of the Society charge into battle with the seemingly lame Tapeworm, their story in this issue is vitally important.
Speaking of Mr. Terrific, Sturges and Willingham seem to be still trying to pin down the voices of the characters as Terrific and Power Girl seem out of character (especially placed in the context of the “JSA vs. Kobra” series). The team charges into battle and is promptly overwhelmed, perhaps because the leaders (to this point) do not quite seem to be leading. Magog steps in, gets bossy, but then disappears in battle. Power Girl is little more than a cameo appearance and the old guard seems perfectly content to let Ted Grant develop their battle plan. Admittedly, this book has a dozen or so more characters for a writer (or two) to get accustomed to, but certain established voices should remain established.
Merino admirably steps in on the art chores for the book, drawing more than one scene that would make George Perez hesitate a time or two due to the sheer numbers of characters on display. For a first effort, Merino delivers a great deal on the page, and manages to avoid cookie cutter characters, giving the JSA a variety of body types, features, and postures. While I’m not fond of the visual choices Merino has made for Wildcat in particular (what is up with the fur on his shoulders?) I do want to applaud the effort in these pages. As he gets more comfortable with the characters and his writers, Merino’s going to bloom into an exceptional talent. We’re lucky enough to see the process start.
Set up as a perfect jumping on point for new readers, this issue is anything but. True, a new story starts here, but the only characters a new reader would learn much about are the two junior members. Perhaps the rest of this initial arc will play out as being more embracing to readers jumping onto “Justice Society of America” for the first time.