JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice

May 22, 2008

Just how many times has the Rock of Eternity lost its 7 deadly sins/been hijacked/crashed into earth in the last decade alone? At some point, I find myself asking this question rather than staying focussed on a plot that isn’t easy to follow in the first place. The landscapes shift radically quickly: you move from the moon to Tanzania to Manhattan to Manhattan looking like Tanzania to Dr Fate’s Escheresque tower to Catholic limbo (yes, that one) — it goes on.

I do miss freshness — not the same as a catalogue of action — here. And I had wanted to like this story as much as all those reviewers whose words populate the back cover did. After all, it has the JLA and the JSA together. It has Lex Luthor, Doc Bedlam, Johnny Sorrow, and Despero (who? never mind this one). It has scenes that keep me awake at night, like Batman kneeling before Luthor and Powergirl Frenching Superman.

But, if there’s ever a case of too much of a good thing, this volume is it. With so much packed into a relatively thin story, David Goyer and Geoff Johns have decided that characterisation should at best be incidental. So you begin and end in pain, watching Superman and the Sentinel behold earth from a spaceman’s point of view for, what else, “perspective”. Not only the image but the dialogue and the idea are corny. In my head, something keeps telling me that I have experienced this before: was it Star Trek 5, when Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy tried to get Mr Spock to sing with them “Row, row, row your boat”?

But everyone gets at least his or her 3 frames worth of fame here, and so, if you don’t mind such cheap thrill, this is good to go. By the way, I even notice that Zatanna, despite her central role in the story, isn’t on the covers but Atom Smasher, who is negligible, is — why?

Gweek gives this book 5 used ball-point pens. And maybe 1 more if it’s a dull rainy day.

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