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Review Date: 08/22/2008

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Justice Society of America #17
Story by: Geoff Johns, Alex Ross
Art by: Fernando Pasarin, Prentis Rollins, John Stanisci
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Rob Leigh
Cover by: Alex Ross
Publisher: DC Comics

  As a life-long D.C. fanatic, I've always shied-away from the D.C. efforts at larger-group, ensemble titles and story arcs.  Marvel built a solid part of their quality reputation on X-Men and Avenger titles, and they just seemed to do a more original, creative job of story-telling and plot than Justice League, which was the main D.C. equivalent to those titles back then.  My brother David considers Justice Society of America one of his favorite titles these days, so I thought I'd dive into the group ensemble comic world and give it a swim.
     Justice Society of America #17 is subtitled "One World, Under Gog" and is the second issue in a multi-story arc.  The story is by the premier writing team of Geoff Johns and Alex Ross (with an Alex Ross cover), pencilled by Fernando Pasarin and inked by Prentis Rollins and John Stanisci.
     The story plot centers upon the arrival on Earth of a giant supposed deity named Gog, who has God-like powers of healing people and the environment, and appears peaceful.  However, a parallel-Earth Superman has warned the Justice Society that Gog will choose a herald named Magog, who will ultimately lead all superheros toward violence and disaster.
     You would expect only high quality storytelling from the likes of Johns and Ross, and they don't disappoint with this comic.  They mix a nice pace of plotting, some action and the impelling intrigue and mystery as the Justice Society and the world slowly learn the god-like extent of Gog's powers, question his true intent and deal with his direct effect on Society member's lives and abilities.
     Two particular elements of this comic issue and the basic Justice Society line made a strong impression upon me.  The first was the good fit that the writers made among three groups of D.C. heroes that interact in this Justice Society storyline: golden age heroes, silver age heroes and new, upcoming heroes that I for one never crossed paths with before reading this comic. Mixing established popular characters from very different eras, along with new characters can often feel forced in a story, but the writers make it all feel very right and natural, here.
     Secondly, I really liked the way Johns and Ross weaved together this issue's sub-plots, and I was very impressed with one particular sub-plot in which two of the heroes, Doctor Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific, have a discussion questoning the meaning of faith in light of the arrival on Earth of the seemingly deified Gog.  It's an extremely literate element in this comic that on a smaller scale reminded me somewhat of the literate quality of Alan Moore's classic graphic novel Watchmen.
     All in all, a thumbs-up for this issue and title.  D.C.'s definitely doing a good job at the moment of providing an entertaining and high quality large group ensemble superhero comic line, so check out this issue if you want lots of group superhero entertainment.  I enjoyed the story enough to go back out and buy myself a copy of Justice Society of America Annual #1, which continues one sub-plot from issue #17 regarding Gog supposedly sending Power Girl back to her homeworld.

New Contest Announcement!

     On the heels of our Wonder Woman/Wonder Girl contest, here's your next challenge!  Your assignment (if you choose to accept it) is to e-mail me at Gordon_A@msn.com and tell me which superhero character, from either the D.C. or Marvel universes, do you consider the least worthwhile or valuable from a comic industry perspective-basically, not worth the ink and paper expended on him or her.
     A basic groundrule, here:  your contest entry cannot be a minor or mostly one-shot character.  Go out on a limb, here, people, and give me an established superhero character, someone that your friends, colleagues and the comic book industry basically like or even adore, but who really gets under your skin.
     Two personal examples for me:  Although he's a successful, decades-long character from Marvel, I can't see any worth in The Hulk-me Hulk, me have no brain, me smash, etc., etc.  It gets old and boring for me really fast, folks.  Likewise with D.C.'s Booster Gold.  I never saw this guy before I read 52, (although I might have seen him in the second series run of Mr. Miracle in the early 1990's), and I just don't see any value in having this self-promoting, selfish egomaniac in any storyline (unless some writer chooses to take his character in a better direction in the future).
     So there!  Throw the gauntlet down, tick-off your friends and comic fanatics alike, again, e-mail me your best shot at Gordon_A@msn.com! I'll announce the best entry in an upcoming column, with the winner getting a graphic novel as a prize from the good folks at That's Entertainment.

 
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