Justice Society of America #43

Starting next month, the new creative team of Marc Guggenheim and Scott Kolins takes over "Justice Society of America," but this month Jesus Merino pencils one final issue while James Robinson wraps up one or two of the loose ends from his "Dark Things" crossover.

The best thing about this issue's writing is, easily, the idea of the new Starheart world serving as a home for magical creatures. This part of Robinson's script reminds me in some ways of his old "Starman" run, mixing DC Universe history and characters with slightly new situations and offering up political treaties and groupings based on what we've seen so far. It's a nice set-up, although I can't help but have a sneaking suspicion that all writers not named James Robinson will probably ignore it and eventually it will be forgotten. That would be a shame; there's a lot of potential in it and it's an interesting addition to the DC Universe.

On the other hand, it's a slightly clunky issue in other aspects. I don't have a problem with a comic that's an issue-long conversation (Robinson's "Talking With David" issues of "Starman" were a high point of the series), but this feels slightly dull and sluggish in places. In many ways it's nothing more than a prolonged justification of the new status quo for Obsidian and Jade no longer allowed to be near each other. The problem is, it comes across as feeling forced and a little too artificial in the way of angst. Obsidian whining about his new fate doesn't help matters, but there's something about it that doesn't sit right. Don't let the big "Brightest Day" banner on the cover fool anyone, it's still dark and dreary in the DC Universe, yet again.

Still, Merino's pencils are beautiful and it's a shame that he's off the book after such a short time. His shifting from inks to pencils was a great move for DC Comics, and I hope his departure here will quickly be followed up by a high-profile arrival on another title. From the extravagant towers, cathedrals, and pagodas of the Starheart, to the thoughtful and lined face of Alan Scott, Merino brings every single page of Robinson's story to life, and I'll definitely miss his presence here.

"Justice Society of America" this month is a lot like Robinson's run on "Justice League of America," with good intentions but coming across slightly uneven and a bit of a muddle to boot. Merino's art is a nice temporary salve to an ultimately unsatisfying issue, but I'd hoped for something stronger here.

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