Justice Society of America #50

A quartet of books from DC Comics ran fans a cool $21 this week. Among them were "Action Comics" #900, "Justice League: Generation Lost," "Brightest Day," and this issue: a giant-sized anniversary issue of "Justice Society of America." Of the four, this one delivered the most on the promise behind the price on the cover.

Marc Guggenheim has spent a great deal of the past few issues getting the JSA dirty, dragging them through a story that had readers questioning what it was they were reading and how that related to the JSA. With this issue, Guggenheim is given the chance to show the scope of his story ideas as he kneads together the past of the Justice Society, the future of the team, and the breadth of its inspiration upon the heroic community. Guggenheim breaks the story down into four segments, each drawn by a different artist, and each investigating a different facet of the JSA's influence and legacy.

The Perez segment is quite fun, as the JSA is shown as inspiration for the members of the eventual Justice League of America. That ten-page tale also includes some nods and winks to Firestorm and Stargirl and closes with a roster that would be magnificent to read about. I hope Guggenheim (or anyone else) seriously considers giving that swath of characters a chance to run together for an adventure or two.

Freddie Williams II drops in to draw up the plans and plotting of Per Degaton, setting up another confrontation with the one villain most associated with the Justice Society. This is a quick story, but it lays down a necessary foundation for the rest of this issue.

Howard Chaykin delivers yet another interpretation of the Justice Society's encounter with the Un-American Activities Committee. Chaykin's work, as always, is filled with detail and design. There are patterns and fills employed as only Chaykin can do, and the end result is a meticulously rendered tale of yesteryear that feeds the story of today significantly.

The issue ends with a seeming payoff from the initial three segments, but quickly dispenses the seeming conclusion in favor of mystery, intrigue, and a bit of a cliffhanger. Per Degaton calls out one of the members of the Justice Society of America and sows the seeds of doubt in that character's mind - doubt for the hero and doubt for the Justice Society and the future of the world itself.

Guggenheim calls out his doubters and challengers with this issue, putting himself in the shoes of Jay Garrick and the critics across from Jay, as Jay explains the JSA's purpose in the DC Universe. From there, Jay Garrick is sworn in as the mayor of Monument Point, and this title moves into a whole new era.

This issue mightily displays the potential that the Monument Point concept and enlarged roster offer. The story builds the roster, celebrates the history, and describes the legacy of the Justice Society of America. I just wish we could have gotten a roster portrait to round out this oversized celebration.

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