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JSA Kingdom Come Special: Magog [Review]

Thy Kingdom Come – Magog: The Real Me

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Fernando Pasarin
Inker: Mick Gray
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Dale Eaglesham & Mark McKenna)
Publisher: DC Comics

We get a look at the new (true?) Magog in this issue–the former marine known to the JSA as Lance Corporal David Reid. Reid was recently “killed” but immediately ressurrected by the entity known as Gog, and seems to be Superman’s worst fear come true, a sign of his “history” repeating itself. The story takes a break here to follow Reid/Magog to some old comrades, allowing for flashbacks to fill us in on his past and what they meant to him. As Reid lashes out at those who captured his old friends, he becomes more like the Magog known to readers of Kingdom Come.

The story is pretty straight-forward, and nicely fleshes out the David Reid character, filling in details hinted at but not fully revealed. We get the background to his motivation, and what makes him what he is at present. This adds depth not only to him, but to the Magog we know from Kingdom Come…and gives cause to see Reid’s potential here.

Once more I’m unfamiliar with the artist, so I have no point of comparison on quality. However, in terms of this story I have no complaint. The visuals follow the story, and there’s a nice level of detail that does not disappoint. The visual style is very much that of a super-hero comic book…showing Magog as a recognizeable figure, but distinctly contrasted with Alex Ross’s rendition as seen on the cover–like comparing a live-action product with the comic adaptation.

We’re also treated to a back-up story, focusing on:

The Secret Origin of Starman

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Scott Kolins
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Lettering: John J. Hill
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain

This back-up story fills us in on the origin of this latest Starman as well as his costume. The art is a real treat…no complaint there, as I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s also cool to see well ahead time that for however it’ll play into Final Crisis, that Legion of 3 Worlds has some bearing on how we got this version of Starman. I find it interesting the “mythology” I’m beginning to really notice with Starman, the way the various people to use the Star- name are linked…something quite enjoyable.

This backup does feel almost like it was crammed in, though…rushed to explain stuff before the overall Thy Kingdom Come / Gog story(ies) finish. Almost segmented TO get the information told where there may not be room in the main JSA series or even these specials to tell it otherwise.

On the whole, this was another strong issue, giving further background of major players in the Gog saga as we head (presumably) toward its conclusion soon.

I’m not sure this is essential to the story, but if you’re diggin’ the story and are interested in more about Magog and Starman and how they play into the ongoing saga, this issue’s worth picking up despite the higher price tag (justified, I suppose, by this being a special and not just a regular issue of a series).

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Justice Society of America – Kingdom Come Special: Superman [Review]

Written and Illustrated by: Alex Ross
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Dale Eaglesham & Brian Miller)
Publisher: DC Comics

My first thought of this book: With an interior by Alex Ross, featuring this particular character…why would I have any interest in a cover by another artist when Ross provides the main cover to go with the interior?!?

We open with Superman vs. Superman, then cut to “the Kingdom Come Superman” talking with Cyclone, who encourages him to talk about his past, the world he lost. Following their conversation, Superman looks up Norman McCay, the pastor he’d briefly met shortly before his world died, and determines to meet the man. Noticing a green cloud at the Daily Planet, he rushes there first, fearing a repeat of his history…things aren’t what they appear, and he briefly encounters our Superman. Following a quiet visit with a now-retired Norman McCay, Supes meets our Lois, and she learns details to how her counterpart perished.

I recall the debut of Marvels, and later, Kingdom Come–I’ve been amazed at actually reading the first couple individual issues of Kingdom Come given what it’s become in the 13 or so years since as a graphic novel. I remember the first time I read the entire story–in the collected format, as one of my earliest graphic novels purchased. I’ve always enjoyed Ross’ art, and generally credit him as the first comics artist whose work I could recognize specifically by sight. Additionally, Kingdom Come has long been one of my favorite stories–I can even credit it with some of my earliest interest in studying the bible, for context of the passages quoted.

Given all that, this issue honestly impressed me. I didn’t think anything would measure up to the original Kingdom Come, but while placed squarely in current JSA continuity, this also fleshes out Kingdom Come itself, providing a follow-up without being an exact sequel–leaving the original intact, but adding details that serve to enhance that story should one recall it.

The story here is quite good and totally believable to me of this Superman. We get to explore with him what it is to meet “alternate-world-counterparts” who look exactly like those we know, and yet are not the people we know…the heart of the individual that is noticeable regardless of the infinite variables of their lives. Offhand, this issue’s story is exactly the sort of thing I’ve wanted to see since this mega-arc began late last year.

This is Alex Ross’s art–I’d recognize it regardless of hype, promotion, or issue credits. The quality is there, the consistency is there, the tone is there…the detailed familiarity visually…is there. Visually, this is one of the best-looking comics I’ve seen…if you’re a fan of Ross’ work you shouldn’t be disappointed; if you’re not a fan…well, this probably is not for you.

There’s also some back-matter: sketches, commentary, layouts–all that give insight into what went into the creation of this issue; it’s all pretty interesting even though I’m not usually a fan of this sorta stuff…it certainly helps round the issue out, giving me little room to really complain about the cover price.

My sheer enjoyment of this issue comes from the story, and the art, AND the nostalgia. Offhand, this is definitely one of my favorite issues of the year, and very much worth having picked up.

Story: 9/10
Art: 9.5/10
Whole: 9.5/10

Justice Society of America #20 [Review]

Earthbound

Story: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Dale Eaglesham (Earth-2 Sequence: Jerry Ordway)
Inker: Nathan Massengill (Earth-2 Sequence: Bob Wiacek)
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Dale Eaglesham & Mark McKenna)
Published by: DC Comics

Without a “previously…” page, I don’t recall EXACTLY how the previous issue ended…but this seems to pick up on a cliffhanger of the Justice Society of Earth-2 busting in on the New Earth JSA seeking the “rogue” Power Girl imposter. Accusations (and punches) fly, and ultimately several New Earth JSA members are dragged (along with Power Girl) back to this Earth-2, where elements of the Multiverse are re-revealed and discussed…while painful memories are dredged up as people who have died on New Earth are still alive on Earth-2. The two Power Girls have it out, before the nature of Earth-2 is revealed, and both find information to make their lives a little bit easier.

The art here is just fantastic. Perhaps because it just really fits the story–even down to having a different art team on the Earth-2 sequence (an art team that I vaguely recall has some significance to the characters). I have zero complaint with the art, and really quite enjoyed it. The cover by Alex Ross is quite cool as well…if slightly on the inappropriate side given the viewer’s angle.

The story continues to overall story that’s been going on the entire time (since #10 or so) that I’ve been reading this title, and I’m enjoying that. There’s real progression here that resolves old threads, opens some new ones, and just really holds my interest. I’m interested in the character interactions–in what happens to Power Girl and how her interaction with Earth-2 will affect her. I’m interested in Starman and his character’s evolution. I’m interested in the team dynamics–the old and young and the cross-generational stuff. I’m especially interested in the unfolding story of Gog–and even though this issue seems to be an “aside” from the ongoing Gog/Magog saga–it takes us aside to explore ongoing story elements and I don’t feel that this issue is at all out of place–it’s a great spot for such an aside after so many issues following Gog.

All in all, simply another very strong issue of a solid series. This truly seems to me to be if not the flagship, then certainly a flagship title of the DCU. Fan of the Justice Society, or of Johns, or Ross, or Earth-2, or Power-Girl…I see no real reason to skip this issue. New readers may not get a whole lot out of this given the ongoing arc–but at the same time, there’s a roster at the issue’s opening that will get new readers brought up to speed on the WHO (if not the why/what or ‘previously’) necessary for the issue at hand.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8.5/10

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