Thursday, July 31, 2014

Society Dame: Justice Society of America #8


Justice Society of America #8 is written by Len Strazewski with pencils by Grant Miehm, inks by Rich Buckler, and a cover by Tom Lyle featuring Black Canary and Solomon Grundy.  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 August 1991 and hit the shelves in June.

"Vengeance from the Stars Chapter 8: Battle of the Stars" opens with the heroes Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkman, and Black Canary beset by Vandal Savage dressed as the Egyptian Prince Cheops and a trio of constellation monsters composed of energy.  Except the monsters aren't in their normal mythic form; they look like characters out of television.  And Vandal Savage isn't happy about their new appearance.  Perhaps he doesn't wield as much control over these beings as he made it seem.

Vandal Savage uses the Cosmic Rod he took from Ted Knight to command the energy monster that looks straight out of I Love Lucy to attack Green Lantern.  While Black Canary helps Alan Scott get back to his feet, The Flash speeds around the energy monsters, drawing their attention away from his friends.

The racist caricature of a Native American constellation monster starts a rain dance type of thing before attacking Flash.  Hawkman and his friend, William Wildeagle, scoff at the offensive depiction of one of William's people, and neither of them have the situational awareness to recognize Savage's hired goons creeping up on them with guns.

Eventually, the Joe DiMaggio/Babe Ruth monster nails Green Lantern with his bat, and the "I Love Lucy" monster gets a good shot on The Flash.  It takes the wind and some of his own awareness out of him.

Hawkman barely manages to get an attack on the Indian monster, but it has little effect.  As Savage's goons capture Will Wildeagle, the Justice Society members are surrounded by the constellations which change shape again, this time back to their animal forms.

Before his beasts can finish off the heroes, Savage is confronted by Ted Knight who rises from his wheelchair brandishing a newly created Cosmic Rod of his own.

While Ted fights Savage, Wildeagle disarms his captors and turns the table on the hired goons.

With a lot more practice and expertise with the Cosmic Rod, Starman is able to destroy Vandal Savage's weapon and then the tools he stole from the Gotham Museum, effectively stripping the immortal tyrant from any control over the constellations.

Then Starman turns his attention to the energy beasts and uses the power of his Cosmic Rod to batter at the three otherworldly beasts.

Starman and Green Lantern contain the monsters, the Flash destabilizes the pyramidal structure that Savage erected, and Hawkman flies into the observatory to redirect the telescope.  All of this draws the constellation monsters into the same energy portal that shoots them back up to the stars where they belong.

But what can Black Canary do in this situation?  Defense.

In desperation, Vandal Savage grabs Starman's Cosmic Rod.  Solomon Grundy grabs Vandal Savage. The result is they both end up cast into the heavens with the star monsters, and the heroes rejoice.

Ted Knight confesses that he, too, feared change and ran away from his duty with the Justice Society of America.  He doesn't want to completely forget his normal life at the observatory, but he requests to be reinstated as a member of the JSA if the others consent.  They wholeheartedly do, and the issue ends with them watching television.

That's all for this miniseries, but Len Strazewski and artist Mike Parobeck returned for a second Justice Society series a year later.  Black Canary didn't appear in that series; I think it took place chronologically after she left Earth 2 to join the Justice League of America.

Overall thoughts on this story: It was mostly good.  The different artists were a bit of a hindrance on my enjoyment.  Parobeck was stellar and Miehm was pretty good, so it was fortunate that they drew five of the eight chapters.  More than art inconsistencies, though, I think the big problem with this story is the villains are boring.  I have never cared about Vandal Savage, but this story in particular didn't make him charismatic or even very scary.  And the energy monsters attacking the heroes were both emotionless and flat, as well as repetitive.

What worked was that I like the characters in this book.  Obviously, I love Black Canary, and Hawkman is one of my favorites, although I don't like him in the yellow luchador mask he wears in this series.  I also love Starman and his connection to Dinah, and Green Lantern and Flash both have some nice interactions with her.  This wasn't a great series, but it was fun when the heroes got to play off each other.

The End


  1. I have seen these issues in dollar boxes or 'entire series for $5' and haven't bitten. After reading these reviews, I don't think I will ever buy them.

    Well, maybe the Parobeck issue.

  2. The whole series for five dollars *might* be worth it, but it isn't any spectacular. I've heard that the series following this which was all Parobeck was a lot more fun.