JSA All-Stars #18

DC does it again. What's "it" you ask - cancels another title? Spoils another ending? Ends a story without a solid ending? The answers are yes, yes, and kind of. Some say DC was simply making room on its production schedule for the "Flashpoint" flood; others say the book was underperforming. Whatever the cause, the reality is that this is the final issue of "JSA All Stars." What happens to the All Stars? Well, if you've been reading the "Justice Society of America" main title, you full well know that the All Stars fold back in to the main title, effective, well, about two issues ago. As for the non-ending, well, Matt Sturges does wrap up the Prince storyline, and given the complete lack of finality for the members of the All Stars, the seeming lack of direction (and by that I mean the absence of a "Follow the adventures of these characters in 'JSA'" blurb or some such) with that final page just seems, well, anti-climactic.

Unfortunately, before that point, this issue suffers as many final issues do: trying to wrap up too much with not enough space. There's a big fight between the Prince and the All Stars that leads to the Prince fleeing the scene with a big piece of equipment, turn the page and we're in another location with the rest of the team and the Prince descends upon them. It's a bit jarring, but this story doesn't suffer from lack of action.

Freddie Williams II's art in this book is significantly more grainy than I'm accustomed to seeing from him, but it adds to the calamity and chaos of the issue. A great deal of his characters are either speckled with grit, or slathered in ketchup as the gore in this book is cranked up to eleven. It's not the most beautiful work of Williams' career, but it is a consistent effort from Williams all the way through. The final image of "JSA All Stars," moreso than any other image in the book to this point, seems very heavy influenced by, or homaged to, Joe Kubert. That's applause-worthy in and of itself.

This book never really clicked for me. It never made its way to my "must-read" list. Now that the book is done and the characters are returning to the mothership, I'm not sure what to make of this title as a whole. It was a nice interlude and a fun diversion for diehard JSA fans, but for more casual fans, it floated out there with nothing to make it shine. I'm interested to see how well the characters integrate back onto the main squad, and wouldn't be adverse to either Sturges or Williams (or both) finding the time and space to revisit some of these characters in solo stories in the future.

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