Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Black Vengeance Part 1
Written by: Geoff Johns
Penciled by: Don Kramer
Inked by: Keith Champagne
Colored by: John Kalisz
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC Comics
Several months back, during a storyline called Black Reign, Black Adam and Co. (including Atom Smasher) plowed into Kahndaq and took the nation by force. It was Black Adam’s old stomping ground (way back in the time of pyramids and pharaohs) and he was sick to death of seeing its people used and abused by a tyrannical government. The JSA, of course, saw it differently and intervened in an attempt to cease the superhero occupation. After a bloody superpower-on-superpower stalemate (and the death of a few combatants) the two sides parted ways, agreeing to let Black Adam have his druthers, for now.
This is the storyline where the decisions made then come home to roost, sort of speak.
There’s a lot here, so I’ll go fast on plot synopsis. Atom Smasher wants back in on the JSA, but several members are understandably hesitant. Crimson Avenger shows up and runs afoul of a very out of control Spectre and a very female Eclipso (see Day of Vengeance if that doesn’t make sense). Black Adam visits Atom Smasher and reveals things have gone downhill in Kahndaq but doesn’t say why (you can guess though). The JSA makes their decision but finds Atom Smasher gone. Hawkman and ShazÃ¢â‚¬â€erÃ¢â‚¬â€Captain Marvel show up. All that, plus appearances by Damage, the Ray, Shazam (the Wizard), Mordru, and the Blue Beetle’s scarab.
Whew…and you thought all comics were “decompressed” these days.
Thankfully, none of it feels rushed. There is a very organic flow to all the action from scene to scene. We touch base with everyone that is necessary, but it never feels like items are being checked off of a list.
Atom Smasher’s desire to make good and seemingly always present guilt (this time because of what he did in Kahndaq and now also because of what has happened since he left) is compelling and real. You definitely pull for the guy, but there is a part of you that, much like the JSA, doubts he’s earned his place back at the table.
It is always excellent to see Johns’s version of Crimson Avenger show up, too. Her scene against Spectre and Eclipso is quite spooky and a great indication to how easily Eclipso is playing the host-less Spectre.
I’ve always got to take time out to praise Kramer who has gotten better and better every issue. There’s no specific moment here to illustrate that, I just have to acknowledge that he continues to grow and impress.