JSA #47 Review

Reviewer: John Babos
Story Title: Princes of Darkness, Part 2: “Eclipse”

Written by: David Goyer and Geoff Johns
Pencilled by: Leonard Kirk
Inked by: Keith Champagne
Colored by: John Kalisz
Lettered by: Ken Lopez
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC Comics

Here’s what you need to know before reading JSA #47:

Dr. Fate’s arch enemy, the Dark Lord Mordu, has joined forces with the shadow-controlling hero-turned-villian Obsidian, and a “recharged” Eclipso, to collectively usher in a new Dark Age as the Princes of Darkness.

Mordu has almost single-handedly defeated the JSA. He’s taken over the body of Dr. Fate and trapped the “real” Dr. Fate in his own mystical amulet. He has also regressed Sand into a mindless Sand Golem, ripped the mystical starheart from Sentinel’s chest, broken Mr. Terrific’s leg, and severed Jakeem Thunder’s vocal cords.

Although his body count is not as impressive, Obsidian has also contributed to the JSA’s disabled list. He’s devoured Captain Marvel and the Star-Spangled Kid, and transported them to the Shadowlands.

That brings us to issue JSA #47.

Eclipso has been reawakened and has battled the JSA’s “b-team” to a standstill. His body count isn’t nearly as impressive as the other “Princes”. All he has been able to do is damage the JSA’s furniture, lay a serious hurting on their non-super-powered caretaker / mascot, and finally retreat to safety.

Joining with Obsidian and Mordu, the “Princes” channel the mystical elements of Obsidian’s shadowforce, Sentinel’s starheart, Dr. Fate’s “Lord of Order” magic, and Mordu’s “Lord of Chaos” magic through Eclipso’s black diamond, in order to bring their dream of a darkened Earth to “light” (tongue firmly in cheek). For those comic history buffs out there, Eclipso’s black diamond is the only remaining fragment of the legendary Heart of Darkness.

JSA #47 is a fantastic issue. David Goyer and Geoff Johns continue to mine DC’s archive riverbed and bring back, or reinvent, some classic heroes and villains. Whilst they’ve found a balance between using the “classics” and creating new characters and concepts, their respect for the work of the creators that have come before them is not only commendable, but it has also proven to be popular and profitable — JSA is a strong seller for DC. Continuity should no longer be considered a four-letter word.

This issue also continues to solidify Geoff John’s place in comics greatness — he produces the best “last page” in comics today. I can’t wait till the next issue. If you want another example of his “last page” greatness, check out Flash #197 — on sale this week too – it’s part 1 of the Blitz arc, that reintroduces classic Flash villain the Reverse-Flash, Professor Zoom, as the title “speeds” to issue #200 (tongue firmly in cheek, again).

Back to JSA #47. My fellow Canadian countryman, Leonard Kirk, continues to dazzle with his pencils. His art style has evolved over his JSA run. This is his best work to date. Just breathtaking.

Keith Champagne’s inks really compliment Kirk’s pencils and help make each page more dynamic, as do the bright, gorgeous colors of John Kalisz. The interior art team is as solid as it gets.

I’m not too impressed with the cover art. It’s just a group of JSAers posing. Nothing special. Nothing that would leap off the comic book shelf to the casual comic book reader and say “buy me”. Previous covers have been better. Maybe cover artist Michael Bair, a usually solid all around artist, had a bad day. My dislike of the cover, however, is not enough to curb by deep appreciation of JSA #47.

Overall, JSA #47 is worth a read. Its solid storytelling on the writing and art ends. It exemplifies what a team book should be. This “Princes of Darkness” arc has a very epic feel to it. I can’t wait until the next issue!

Thank-you to the JSA Creative team.

On a more personal note, I’d like to send a big thank-you out to Goyer, Johns, and editor Peter Tomasi for bringing back Dove, Dawn Granger, from the dead and correcting a long-standing editorial wrong by DC. I know, we’re already three issues removed from Dove’s reintroduction, but I still want to express my deepest thanks, and convey my support and appreciation for Dove’s continued presence in JSA.

For those that aren’t aware of the injustice done to the female Dove character, I’ll try to briefly fill you in on what happened, as I remember it. Please feel free to e-mail me with any comments, corrections, etc.

As I recall, as part of DC’s 1991 summer crossover called Armageddon 2001, the DC Universe (DCU) heroes banded together to battle a villain called Monarch, who was from the “future” in 2030. The crossover was a multi-part mystery-of-sorts, as Monarch was an unidentified DCU hero who became a villain in the “future” year of 2001. Waverider, a hero from 2030, travelled back to 1991 to find out the identity of Monarch’s previous hero persona and prevent him from becoming the future tyrant ruler of Earth.

Due to poor writing and sloppy editorial direction, DC readers quickly determined that the hero Captain Atom was to become Monarch. In response to this unexpected revelation, DC quickly rewrote and redrew a few scenes in the last chapter of the crossover. The new artwork was clearly different from the rest of the book and looked out of place, as did the “tweaked” plot. As the Armageddon 2001 crossover was concluding, DC was also bringing their Hawk and Dove ongoing series to a close. DC subsequently decided to transform the hero Hawk into the villain Monarch. The catalyst for the transformation would be the murder of his partner Dove by his future self. Convoluted? You bet.

So, to summarize, in 1991, in a hurried and thoughtless manner, DC killed Dove and transformed Hawk into the villain Monarch (and later into the villain Extant, but that’s a whole other story — Johns, and I believe Goyer too, did take a crack at the Extant character earlier in their JSA run).

Again, a big thank-you to the JSA creative team, particularly the writers and editor, for bringing Dove back. Hopefully some plans are in the works to vindicate Hawk too.