Wednesday, June 14, 2006

JSA #10 DC Comics, 2000



One of the criticisms of the Goyer & Johns comic JSA is that the reader must be well versed in the history of the DC Universe in order to fully appreciate it. Basically, only nerds really like it. This may be true - having never not been a nerd, I can't say what a normal person would make of the continuity-steeped JSA books, with their emphasis on history and tradition.

I'm a big fan, however. In JSA, Geoff Johns and David "Blade" Goyer resurrected the venerable DC superhero team the Justice Society of America in a modern context. Staffed by veteran members and descendants of former team members, the JSA is a small army of heroes dedicated to crushing evil; cats like Dr. Fate, Hawkman, Wonder Woman 1.0, Black Canary, Captain Marvel, Wildcat, and Power Girl, to name a few. They mostly fight pimped-out versions of old fashioned villains, as in this issue.

I love JSA #10.

It's not a particularly original story: Wildcat fights alone against a squad of supervillains in the JSA headquarters. But as my man Roger Ebert says: "A [comic] is not about what it is about, but about how it is about it." Writers Goyer and Johns, with art team Stephen Sadowski and Michael Bair, cheerfully deliver a simple tale about one hero beating the shit out of the bad guys who are hunting him. Sound familiar? Yes, it's the plot to every other Wolverine story.

But this time, we gets us some Wildcat! In a bath towel, no less.

Johnny Sorrow and his krew the Injustice Society break into the huge JSA headquarters when nobody is home. Nobody but Wildcat, who is chillaxin' in the bath and talking dirty on the phone to Catwoman when trouble comes knocking. Johnny Sorrow, the floating mask/empty suit guy pictured below, is here for a mysterious artifact labelled "King of Tears" in the JSA museum, so he siccs his dogs on Wildcat while he gets what he came for.



Wildcat quickly gets dressed in his work clothes and proceeds to beat the shit out of the Society one-by-one, Bruce Willis style. A guy that can look that tough while wearing what is basically a floppy-eared kitty cat costume is truly something special.



Wildcat takes out Count Vertigo and then Geomancer, who goes down hard. Not only does Geomancer get rammed through a plate glass window by a motorcycle, but he also drops several stories on to a big bee hive. Yowtch.

Wildcat's narration and dialogue in this issue is hilarious. He sounds like a cross between a Raymond Chandler character and a professional wrestler. "Doling out beaucoup helpings of achy-breaky?" That's fucking priceless.

Next he kicks Icicle on to some sort of laser table in their infirmary for the Farrah Fawcett Logan's Run cosmetic surgery treatment. I'm not sure why the JSA have a laser torture table in their headquarters - I'm sure they use it for something. Maybe slicing huge wheels of cheese?


Wildcat drops Blackbriar Thorn down an elevator shaft and beats the holy bejeesus out of The Wasp, who he also tricks into electrocuting The Tigress, below:

In the end, Johnny Sorrow gets the "King of Tears" and teleports his Injustice Society away, minus Blackbriar Thorn, who is lying splintered at the bottom of the elevator shaft. The rest of the JSA get home, shocked to find an ungodly mess and a casual Wildcat who waits for them with a beer in hand, using a piece of Blackbriar Thorn as a toothpick.

It is fucking awesome.

I'm not an apologist for comics that deliberately aim low, but sometimes I like to read straight-up superhero violence delivered to me in an un-ironic way. There's nothing wrong with comics that aim to entertain on a base level, as long as they're done well, and JSA #10 is done very well indeed. Sadowski's penciling and layouts are tight and effective, and I think I may like Michael Bair's inking more than his pencils. The story is brisk and delivers the goods with a bit of wit and a lot of tough-guy dialogue.

Plus: Wildcat! How can you not like Wildcat, the guy who taught Batman to box? The guy with the floppy ears? Belching, skirt chasing, beer drinking, towel wearing man's man? The guy who beats up an entire team of villains with a broken arm and then wonders if Catwoman is around for a quick shag?

If I read this when I was twelve it would have rocked my world.

43 comments:

Jamie Ott said...

Who's pain, Dave? Ted's? Or the villains?

That issue rocked so hard. Even Batman has never thought to use a Harley Davidson to take a villain down.

Screw DiDio and his hatred of Golden Agers!

Jamie

Sleestak said...

"Save as draft"

Verity Kindle said...

What's with the "jjj"? Is it a secret code?

Tim O'Neil said...

Dude, suddenly I hear the sound of wrathful screaming from somewhere in Southern California...

David said...

I do think "he's an unarmed man in an egyptian cotton bath towel" should go down as an all-time great line.

Not many villians can tell exactly what type of towel the hero's wearing, you know... perhaps there's a bit part left in the sequel to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for him...

SanctumSanctorumComix said...

All I have to say is:

JJJ
jj
ddd

dJdJ??

J.D.!!!!!

~P~
P-TOR

MC Hugh said...

jjj

It's a revolution in comics blogging.

Dorian said...

Yes, excellent, spread the word of Wildcat...

Anonymous said...

Another superb comic review. I enjoyed it even though it wasn't as funny as most of your reviews. But I will make a request - review Civil War #2! I'd really enjoy knowing what a humorous guy like you thought of the issue and the big surprise at the end.

arizonateach said...

Why that shot of Ted in a towel isn't the wallpaper on Postmodernbarney I'll never know.

BerwynIrish said...

I've been wanting to get a consensus on the best JSA trades to pick up, and this seems like a good opportunity to ask. What do Dave's readers (and perhaps The Man himself) - an intelligent and exceptionally good-looking bunch - recommend? I tried Virtue And Vice but it didn't do anything for me. The reviewed story sounds like it's worth tracking down as a single issue. Is the trade containing it worth my money?

Anonymous said...

A couple years ago I picked up the first 3 JSA trades and was bored to tears and thought Wildcat was the lamest character I'd ever seen, until I got to issue 10. Loved that issue and softened my opinion on Wildcat. I still sold off the trades because they just weren't my cup of tea, but 10 is a fantastic issue and if I ever see it in a dollar bin I'll snag it.

Siskoid said...

This is weird. Someone mentioned just two threads ago something about the universe being a tapestry... It just so happens that Dave mentions Michael Bair here, the same artist I very much trashed on my own rinky-dink version of the long box for his "work" on Alpha Flight #89.

That the reviews came out on the same day is strange. That JSA doesn't look like utter crap is stranger. Glad to see Bair got better (or simply became an inker as opposed to a penciller). I thought for sure he was doomed to obscurity.

Bully said...

That Wildcat is one hoopy frood.

Siskoid said...

P.S. Wilcat rocks. Has always rocked. Will always rock.

Siskoid said...

P.P.S. He rocks even when I mispell his name. He does not miss a beat.

Mikey said...

Yo! Diggin' on the jj post. Gotta love that RSS.

When are you posting the Marvel versus DC scoop? That looks like being - and i know I'm jinxing it here - the Best Post Ever!!!!

Mikey said...

..and thinking about it, Batman's way too wily for Cap. they should give him Daredevil or Punisher, make a game of it.

And who the freak is J'onn J'onzz taking on? I could see him + Thor duking it out for a few rounds.

Siskoid said...

The Martian Manhunter would have lost his fight because it was all based on popularity (well assuming he would have been in one of the big 5 fights). Can you tell I'm still miffed about the Wolverine/Lobo fight?

He should have gone up against the whole, conspicuously absent, Fantastic Four. Beat them all up, then get scrapped by the Torch. (Or better yet, mindfuck him from afar.)

Macavity said...

BerwynIrish read early stuff, they lost me once Black Adam and PowerGirl and everyone was around.


I do love these comics, though, especially the Darkness Falls bit with Alan's line, "As you will it? Son, I wrote the book on willpower!" good times! good cat!

Mikey said...

Ahh, I've got a lot of time for the Martian Manhunter, because like me he's an outsider, he's afraid of fire, and he can fly. Economy in my case.

I'll tell you whut though:Wolverine could totally lick Green lantern by the simple expedient of wearing his old yellow jammies.

Siskoid said...

Given that Aquaman has kicked GL's ass, yes, I think Wolverine could wipe the floor with him.

Mikey said...

Aquaman?

Given that he is, by popular acclaim, the lamest element of the JLA pantheon that's really wrong.

GL is (theoretically) infinitely powerful. He got whupped by a guy who's power is inflating his own pyjamas to use as a bouyancy aid? Jeez.

Siskoid said...

Click my name and follow the link. You will learn that Aquaman rocks. Or at least that he beat GL once.

And Lobo, and Namor, and oh yeah, that time he destroyed the Justice Leagie singlehandedly.

J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

Dave, did you change the post? Because yesterday, there was a different one in this one's place!

Bruce in NC said...

The last few years of JSA have been fantastic - a great mix of classic characters and new characters based on Golden Age heroes (the new Mr. Terrific, Stargirl, Jakeen Thunder, etc.) You can tell Goyer & Johns respect and appreciate the history of these characters.

If Marvel was doing this book, Green Lantern and Stargirl would be having a Lolita-like affair and Flash would be revealed as a secret al-Qaida terrorist. And maybe we could get Ultimate Ma Hunkel while we're at it.

Word verifiation: bnxzj - the sound made by the "living bee hive" display in JSA headquarters.

Devon said...

Anything featuring The Big Cat is aces in my book!

Praech, brother, PREACH!

ohgrl said...

I'm not a big DC fan, but I must say this comic is frickin' airwolf.

Although...Geomancer looks like the Pantless Wonder in that earlier panel with Icicle.

Anonymous said...

No makes fun of the Champ's hat!

Gordon said...

Wildcat...cooler than Chuck Norris will ever be. More Airwolf than Airwolf. If he had an insiginia, it would say, "Bring the pain."

Word verification: oyhneehy, the sound someone makes when they receive a Wildcat knuckle sandwich, extra hurtin'.

Solario said...

I'm not a JSA fan, but #10 was definently my favorite of the bunch.

And hands off Catwoman, Ted! That's Slam Bradley's woman! (Or damn well should be.)

Erin Lyger said...

"One of the criticisms of the Goyer & Johns comic JSA is that the reader must be well versed in the history of the DC Universe in order to fully appreciate it. Basically, only nerds really like it. This may be true - having never not been a nerd, I can't say what a normal person would make of the continuity-steeped JSA books, with their emphasis on history and tradition."

I recently got into JSA. Right about the time that their second monthly book got started. I've always been a Marvel sort of girl, so the only members of the JSA I could actually identify were the Flash and Green Lantern. Despite this, I have had no trouble at all enjoying both comics every month. If you're into comics, you get used to figuring out characters you don't know rather quickly.

Zaratustra said...

Oh. My. GOD.

WILDCAT IS THE FATHER OF SELINA'S DAUGHTER.

Nick Nameless said...

That cover looks an awful lot like Wildcat just lost a match in Street Fighter II - I feel like it should be accompanied by that tinny voice saying "9...8...7..."

AnthonyF said...

JSA is the Airwolfiest series ever published. If anyone disagrees with me, I'll send Atom-Smasher to crush them under his giant foot.

Of course, I say that as a guy who considers making a Jay Garrick helmet every day.

A while back, someone asked for recommendations on trades. The one containing #10 (Darkness Falls) is indeed terrific. My favorite is probably the 5th volume, Stealing Thunder. Really, though, you can't go wrong with any of them.

Dan Coyle said...

You know, why no one at DC hasn't done a Johns/Sadowski Wildcat ongoing, I'll never know. Of all the JSAers, he totally lends himself to a regular series. Just Ted being Ted, walkin' around kicking ass and taking names. I know I'd buy it.

Plaid Stallions said...

I couldn't agree more that JSA is hard to follow even for someone who reads comics. I bought the first graphic novel and had to ask my friend who the new Dr Fate was.

I never went back sadly, I just felt like i was missing out on a "you had to be there" type of moment.

J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

Look what I found, Dave:

xmen 9 urghn wha? ha ha yaaa wha map gambit hot
8 Jun 2006 by David Campbell
xmen 9 urghn wha? ha ha yaaa wha map gambit hot.

simo said...

sour

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