Justice Society of America Omnibus represents several things. For comics fans and historians, it represents the rebirth of the superhero team, both their original forms and the legacies they have passed down. For DC fans, it represents the early days of dozens of talented writers and artists, including two of the biggest names in DC’s wheelhouse, Geoff Johns and David Goyer. For everyone with mortal powers, the book represents a blunt instrument that could easily be used for self defense, its 1,224 pages weighing in at eight pounds of glossy, hardcover goodness.
The omnibus begins with a great jumping-off point for a new reader. The story follows multiple two-member teams of the JSA across the globe as they combat different factions of a common enemy, reuniting at the end of the opening arc for a large showdown. JSA‘s strength as a series comes from the imagination behind its villains, as well as the drama that surrounds each hero. Some of the best moments come from a blend of the two. While it looks cool when Flash deflects falling bombs during World War II, so too is his confrontation with the U.S. military over the bombing of civilian targets. Also, when Jakeem Thunder summons his lightning djinn to a fight, it’s fun to watch, but even more so considering his cynical treatment of his would-be mentor, Mr. Terrific. Featuring two black superheroes, the last example is indicative of the progress the JSA has made from 1999 onward, compared to its lily-white, all-male origins—although the book and its characters are consistently reverent toward the JSA’s real-world and fictional legacies.
The stories that play out across two years of issues cover a lot of ground. Between interpersonal dramatics, hero-villain fights, and high-concept science fiction and fantasy, this book is like a cross between a soap opera, professional wrestling, and a Hollywood blockbuster with a budget beyond any single movie studio. The art is perfectly suited to each issue, though evaluating all 42 artists—plus letterers, colorists, and inkers—would require a thesis of equal length to the omnibus. In a general sense, the army of creators behind JSA always keeps the action clear and dynamic with colorful layouts that are easy to read. Faces are not always identical when artists change, and a few artists draw bulky figures to the point that necks are as thick as the heads they support, but overall, this is a great pleasure to read for all the right reasons. In particular, writers, Johns and Goyer, have made names for themselves as go-to scribes for relaunching franchises and developing them for film and television. Watching them cut their teeth on a series that was as good as dead create excitement where the superhero status quo would normally make readers complacent.
The JSA has included a lot of different team members, and with them come many reasons to recommend this book and the subsequent series as it continues through 2006. Some of them act to fulfill a legacy, some want to prove themselves, and some want to guide the next generation with a wise and caring hand. This massive collection may also require caring hands to prevent any damage to its spine, but the journey is well worth the trouble.
JSA Omnibus, vol. 1
by Geoff Johns, David Goyer, James Robinson, et al.
Art by Stephen Sadowski, et al.