Justice Society of America #44
By Hervé St-Louis
October 31, 2010 - 08:24
Publisher(s): DC Comics
Writer(s): Marc Guggenheim
Penciller(s): Scott Kolins
Inker(s): Scott Kolins
Colourist(s): Mike Atiyeh
Letterer(s): Rob Leigh
Cover Artist(s): Shane Davis, Sandra Hope, Barbara Ciardo
Jay Garrick, the first Flash is named mayor of Monument Point but a met human terrorist held nearby escapes prison and starts destroying the city. When the Justice Society fails to stop the villain and gets properly defeated, it’s time for another tactic to stop the villain, but at what cost?
This issue was a mess and not enjoyable. I’ll start with the artwork. I like Scott Kolins’ work usually. He was a great addition to the Flash series. His work is strong and vibrant. Here, it becomes poor and annoying with the painted colouring used. When Kolins’ work is inked by a great inker, it shines. Here it slows down. It’s a common problem with painted comic books. The action is slower and not as kinetic. Kolins was the artist on the Flash. He knows how to draw action scenes that move. Here, they feel pasted on the page and not part of a whole. Looking at a page, there’s no unity of design, something that is really necessary in painted comic book as the various panels can create a visual chaos that doesn’t propel the story forward.
Now for the worst part of this comic book, the story. It was poor and useless. The last few issues have been about Green lantern and how powerful he really is. He doesn’t need to age. His body is made of energy. You can’t really snap his neck. I understand that Guggenheim wanted him out of the way to tell his story, but it made no sense. A question. Why was his head already shaved in the hospital and why would the staff leave his shirt on his bed? I almost felt like I was seeing his old sidekick Doiby Dickles instead.
There’s more bad. We know the villain is supposed to be some kind of Islamist villain. But he was referred to as a terrorist because of that. I’ve taken classes on terrorism (I’m finishing my masters’ thesis in strategic studies focusing on cyber warfare – just saying). Technically, aren’t every villain be a terrorist? Some people would say yes. But then, just because the guy is an Islamist, does that make him a terrorist? From my research, I would argue no. There’s two answers to this question and Guggenheim’s usage of the term fits neither scenario. To be a terrorist, the villain would have to be politically motivated to affect terror. There was no such characterization in his portrayal. He was just destroying stuff without a prior agenda at influencing public debate. Otherwise, if just destroying stuff makes you a terrorist, than every villain is also a terrorist. Sorry for turning academic here, but Guggenheim doesn’t seem to understand what terrorism is.
Now another problem with the story was the revelation that Mr. Terrific is becoming dumb. I never like the quote he once spouted that he was but the third smartest man alive. I like it even less when he’s supposed to become an idiot in coming months. I’ll say it for what it is. Here’s a strong character. A black character that has his flaws but who really is strong with the potential for more. Is there a need to take him down a peg? Sure, I figure he won’t turn into an idiot, but when his intelligence is restored, will it ever be to the same level it is now? I doubt it. That’s all I say about this issue. It’s a systemic pattern in many comic books and similar to how many female characters are written. They are depowered, humiliated, rendered nuts and so on whenever they have too much potential to take off. But if they remain sexy and innocuous, they are mostly left alone. If there is a pattern for women in refrigerators, as it’s been called, there is also one about black characters sent back to the plantation. Since we’re opening that door, there’s also discrimination against Asians in comics. They are either super martial arts zen types with no emotions or they are small angry and scheming Fu Manchus that can be wacked off at any point because of their sheer numbers. I continue to maintain two years after the fact that Marvel Comic’s invasion and the treatment of the Skrulls was a veiled attempt at mocking China and Asians in general in a subconscious way. Had Guggenheim attacked the physical fitness of Mr. Terrific, that would have been a different story. But here, he mucks around with the one attribute that is not usually associated with blacks – intelligence. Is the writer trying to make the character conform to other black stereotypes? Mr. Terrific will continue to be a great athlete but an idiot? I apologize for the rant, but this is how systemic devaluations of characters start in comic books. They start with subtle plot point that no one notices, until the end result is a wrecked character that will never shine as much as when he was originally created. I sense this in the cards for Mr. Terrific and that bothers me. So I’m calling it now before the guys at DC Comics proceed to destroy a character that serves as a role model for many kids. Kids don’t need a Forrest Gump role model.
Finally, the mayorship of Jay Garrick makes no sense at all, unless it’s to pit him against city council when he tries to help rebuild the city in future issues. I’ve never heard of Monument Point before so I can’t even understand what the writer was trying to pull. This story cannot get any worse.
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