JSA #66 Review

Reviewer: John Babos
Story Title: Out of Time – Part Two

Written by: Geoff Johns
Penciled by: Don Kramer
Inked by: Keith Champagne
Colored by: John Kalisz
Lettered by: Ken Lopez
Associate Editor: Stephen Wacker
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC

Another Cross-Time Caper for Geoff Johns and the DC Universe as Zero Hour is revisisted and the fate of an Hourman is revealed!

I won’t go into major analysis here on Zero Hour because I plan to put together a Near Mint Memories column on it and Hypertime sometime in the future, but if you want a very brief synopsis of both I suggest you visit this site for some plain language’n.

This story builds on JSA #65 and “resolves” the Hourmen subplot that’s been threaded through this series for sometime.

Let me see if I can sum it up. Readers were reintroduced, many issues ago, to the original Hourman (Rex Tyler), who had presumeably perished during Zero Hour. An Hourman from the future (an android) used his time manipulating powers to pluck Rex from the moment before his death and places him in a place where time seemingly doesn’t flow. The android does this to give Rex’s son Rick (the JSA’s current Hourman) one hour in total to spend with his dad before he must be delivered back in time and to the clutches of death. Rick uses that one hour sparingly. Three minutes here, seven minutes there, etc. to visit with his dad in his time limbo. In a twist even more recently, Rick (the son and “current” Hourman) is wounded in battle and uses the Hourman from the future’s (android) technology, part of his own costume now, to unwittingly switch places with his dad in the time stream. Rex Tyler (the dad) is now hearty and hale fighting alongside his old and new JSA compatriats, while his son is recuperating from his wounds in time limbo. Got it? No. Well, that’s the best I could do right now. If you have a cleaner explanation drop me a line.

So, what’s going on now?

Well, Rex’s one hour is up. Its time for him to embrace his fate… and die. However, Rick (his son), now virtually recovered, wants his dad to live and is willing to replace him in time and die in his place.

And, there is your family drama.

Dad wants to die.

Son wants dad to live.

Son wants to die in his dad’s place.

Dad won’t let son.

Mayhem ensues… in the timestream. That brings us a unique twist in the father and son drama as their android descendant must choose who will live and who will die.

Do androids dream of electric sheep? Who cares? In this arc, we learn that androids can (metaphorically) cry…. as we readers see an Hourman die.

Overall the issue is tough to access for new readers, but Johns tries to make the story all about the action and drama. There are flashbacks and flashforwards and other writer’s “tricks” employed to help readers follow the backstory, but the heart of this tale really is about family. About love. About sacrifice.

This really is a touching tale.

The art is passable. I don’t think Kramer is up to doing this book, but his art isn’t that distracting.

My only other real peeve, which is one I have with many comics on the stands, is with the credits box on page three. The writer, penciller, and inker are in large font and everyone else, the colorist, letterer, and editors are in smaller font. What happened to the team approach – a team of equals? The colorist and letterer at least deserve equal “star-billing” because they definitely add to the “look” of the book. If the colors and letters are off, you’ll notice. If they’re great, boy will you notice too.

Anyhow, this issue sets up the next few issues and another Cross-Time Caper for Geoff Johns. This one will see today’s JSA team with the JSA of olde. The story will start in two months (after next month’s Identity Crisis tie-in) with issue #68

This complements Johns’ other recent time adventures in Teen Titans #16

The Legion / Teen Titans Special #1 (with Mark Waid)…

… And the next few issues of Teen Titans starting with issue #17

Needless to say that time travel stories are tough to do. With DC and Johns having a love affair with time travel stories, readers will get their fair share of the genre. If anyone can make these yarns entertaining its Johns (if he’s the sole writer). They need to be about the characters not detailed dissertations on time paradoxes.

JSA #66 is a heart-felt time travel story that has family at its centre and the timestream as the backdrop. That’s the way to tell this kind of story. Well done.