Jesus Merino and Jesse Delperdang do work in “Justice Society” #40 that’s superior to much of what we see from the DC house style. They have that classic illustrative style that’s of the Neal Adams by way of Ivan Reis school. And there’s certainly a Carlos Pacheco influence as well, though Merino has a style that’s a bit less dynamic than his longtime collaborator. But it’s a good-looking superhero comic. It looks the way a “Justice Society” feels like it should look: sturdy, detailed, full of action involving a group of characters with their backs together, battling against the forces of evil.
But it’s not a very good issue.
Bill Willingham gives us a series of epilogues here, instead of a story. This issue is more of a machine to seemingly get the JSA from their most recent epic to a place that can better fit into DC continuity. Their battle with the Super-Nazis led to a parallel reality where things took a really bleak turn. This issue is a reset button on all of that, basically saying, “hey, that was crazy, and now things are back to normal. Or are they?”
Well, they are, because the JSA has a multi-part crossover with the JLA scheduled to begin next month. So it’s not surprising that issue #40 feels like an attempt to wrap up all the loose ends and clear the path for James Robinson and Mark Bagley.
All of this may have been planned, and Willingham may have wanted this issue to unfold exactly the way it did, but it’s still a clumsy issue. It’s told in the way Bendis told the finale of “Secret Invasion,” with a highlight reel and narration. At least, that’s how most of this issue unfurls, but then there are also the moments of comedy — Obsidian is cured of his homosexuality! No, he’s not! It was just a joke, and you should have seen the look on his dad’s face! (That really happens in that issue) — and moments of discussion about what might have been.
As a single issue of a comic book series, there’s not much to like about the narrative in this issue, although it may work better as the culmination of the past half-year of JSA stories, but I can’t imagine it does, since everything that happens here basically says that those previous issues didn’t really matter in the end. And yet this issue has the words “New Beginning!” and “New Triumphs!” slapped on the cover.
No, this isn’t about beginnings or triumphs. It’s about kicking the ball away because the clock is winding down and its time for someone else to play.