JSA # 75

Reviewer: Kevin S. Mahoney
Story Title: Black Vengeance: Conclusion

Written by: Geoff Johns
Penciled by: Don Kramer, Leonard Kirk, Stephen Sadowski
Inked by: Keith Champagne, Michael Bair
Colored by: John Kalisz
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC Comics

The writing in this issue just proves Geoff Johns is the best thing that’s happened to DC Comics in years. This issue spotlights two recurring characters, Atom Smasher and Black Adam, refining their personalities without resorting to clichés of the genre. Both characters evolve before the eyes of the reader, becoming both more sympathetic and three-dimensional in the process. Combine that with a huge battle against the Spectre in a painless tie-in to the Day of Vengeance mini-series and this book is certainly meaty enough to support the traditionally larger than life milestone format of a 75th episode. In between those two main movements, careful readers will get a head start on the possible paths for the first and still upcoming arc of JSA Classsified as well as the impending mega-event Infinite Crisis. It would take a shoehorn to fit any more into the issue and yet it doesn’t feel rushed at all.

There are so-called readers out there who do not care what happens in a comic book provided the pictures are pretty. Those folks get more than their money’s worth as well. Three huge art talents, the book’s present and past pencilers, all contribute pages to the normal sized issue. This book even features two separate inkers! In a less choreographed, sloppier book, the different styles and strengths of each artist would clash together and lessen the experience. Art fans are lucky that sort of thing doesn’t happen at all here.

JSA is a stand out title; most people know this. It has become the signature title of its publishing imprint. For proof of that, look at how often Johns’ favorite writing technique (building great modern stories by re-examining the style and content of past favorites) is used in the company’s current line-up. Identity Crisis, Villains United, Manhunter, and even OMAC utilize the new and improved writing style pioneered and perfected in… JSA. Its preeminence aside, there are some whole storylines and occasionally certain single issues that totally exceed what even comic fanboys find possible. Geoff’s arc concerning the clash of politics, ethics, and point of view, Black Reign, certainly pushes comics into a new arena with verve and authority. This issue, the conclusion of the arc that was primarily concerned with the twin weights and responsibilities resulting from such a conflict, is another gem.