Thursday, July 17, 2014

Society Dame: Justice Society of America #4

Justice Society of America #3 is written by Len Strazewski with pencils by Tom Artis, inks by Frank McLaughlin  Burchett, and a cover, once again, by Tom Lyle.  The series is edited by Brian Augustyn along with Mike Gold, who edited Black Canary's miniseries, her ongoing series, and her first arc in Action Comics Weekly.  The issue is cover dated June 1991 and hit the shelves in April.

"Vengeance from the Stars Chapter 4: Evil of the Ancients" begins with archaeologist Carter Hall being led into a cave by William Wildeagle, a Native American expert in ancient tribal art found in the southwestern United States.  The power generating the lights in the cave flickers on and off as this part of the story takes place at roughly the same time as the previous two issues.

In the cave, William shows Carter some tribal wall art that dates back thousands of years and depicts animals and images created in the same style as cave paintings found throughout the world.  The two scientists speculate on what could have caused different races and cultures separated by oceans and eras to focus on the same types of mythological concepts.  Carter suggests the possibility of shared "racial memory"...

So Carter's theory suggests that giant monsters from the heavens may have terrorized prehistoric man to the point of inherited fears and superstitions being passed on throughout the ages.  He recognizes it's a crazy, not scientific idea, but William doesn't dismiss it at all.

Then the earth shakes and Carter thinks an earthquake has rocked the area but William knows that an atomic bomb has been set off nearby.  The two archaeologists don't have time to escape the blast, but thankfully, an enormous and slightly familiar figure sucks up the energy from the atomic explosion, saving their lives.

Carter realizes that the being looks like the constellation Andromeda and that its presence on earth seems to confirm his theory about the ancients.  William is less concerned with the theories than with survival.  Andromeda is heading toward a nuclear warhead depot and they need to get out of their immediately.  They drive away in William's jeep; Carter gets out at the museum while William goes to get the army for help.

In the museum, Carter puts on the Nth metal wings and mask of his heroic alter ego, Hawkman.  He also grabs an ancient spear and shield.

By the time Hawkman catches up to Andromeda, she is at the warhead depot and beating the crap out of the army and their tanks.  He tries to distract the monster, and she shoots him with lasers from her eyes.  The lasers are rebuffed by the wooden shield and he figures that while the constellation seems to absorb energy, it has a weakness to wood, just like Green Lantern.

Hawkman advises the army to build wooden battering rams to fight it while he spears Andromeda in the hand.  She lashes out savagely and knocks him around, but he regroups and grabs the chain that is linked to her arm.  He wraps her up and binds her, but Andromeda changes shape into a pegasus and bats him into the cliff face.

Andromeda/Pegasus reaches into the depot and pulls out three nuclear warheads.  The winged horse takes off into the sky with Hawkman in pursuit, but before he can get close enough to retrieve or disarm the warheads, she blasts him with her powerful beams.  The energy destabilizes his Nth metal and Hawkman begins to plummet to his death.

Thinking he's about to die, Hawkman sends out a silent declaration of love to his wife, but The Flash catches him in the nick of time.  They stumble relatively unharmed and then get up to watch the constellation monster fly away.  Now able to compare notes on their individual bouts with these monsters, Hawkman and The Flash team up.  Now we see how four solo heroes are starting to come together as one unit.

Even though I like Hawkman better than The Flash, Green Lantern, and yes, even Black Canary, this was easily the weakest of the four issues so far.  For one thing, we have seen and heard this same story four times in a row.  Carter Hall doesn't add much beyond speculation that these monsters may have visited Earth before in the ancient past, but I'm not sure how that's relevant.  Even with the immortal Vandal Savage as our primary antagonist, it sounds like he wasn't the one responsible for unleashing these monsters back in the day so I don't need that kind of backstory.

Also, the action sequences in this story aren't that spectacular and I blame a lot of that on the artist.  I don't know Tom Artis from any other book, but it looks like he recycles a lot of the same poses and shots for Hawkman within this book from page to page.  He never lets the character spread his wings; the panels are always too small and confined for Hawkman.

Anyway, this may be the low point, but now the characters are coming together so next issue ought to turn things around.

Come back Monday for the next chapter of Justice Society of America...


  1. Some good news about Black Canary,,,
    she's back in animation in the new round of DC Animated shorts; she has the requisite black leather and fishnets, and get this...she has a BIKE!
    DC Comics All Access has an interview with the animations creator and more hi-res footage.

  2. I saw the clip of that animated short. Canary looks cool, and yes, she does have a cool bike! I'll probably post a link to that on Sunday.