Review: Blackest Night: JSA #1

Hey everyone.  Expect another BEST OF list in the next few days.  Until then, we here at Read/RANT will be taking things a little slow for the holiday season.  Hope you all enjoy the next week or two, and we’ll be back with the same excellent reviews in 2010!

The same creative team that brought you Blackest Night: Superman is back for another tie-in mini-series, this time focusing on the Justice Society of America.  Following directly after the Superman mini, Blackest Night: JSA follows the team after the death of Damage in the main Blackest Night book.  While the core group tries to hold off the superzombies that are wreaking havoc on the city, Mr. Terrific and a few others remain hidden inside the JSA compound, examining the bodies of zombie Superman and zombie Lois Lane.

The story here is a little tighter than it was in Blackest Night: Superman and the script is a little more believable, but the action is weaker and the suspense that made the first half of the Superman mini so engaging is all but gone.  Barrows is notably stronger here than he was on Blackest Night: Superman as the action is more straightforward and the atmosphere pretty much amounts to “it’s dark out”.  Robinson and Barrows work together here to put out an enjoyable mediocre action tie-in.  Fans of Blackest Night will probably find much to enjoy.  No one else will care.

Grade: B-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Blackest Night: Superman #3

Review: JSA All-Stars #1

With the surprise success of the relaunched Justice Society of America, it was perhaps only inevitable that we’d be in for a spin-off.  Headed by Matt Sturges, longtime collaborator of the main book’s Bill Willingham, and Freddie Williams II, JSA All-Stars puts itself in largely the same place about a hundred previous books (almost uniformly terrible) did: a semi-militant team of young heroes with a more proactive mindset.  Sturges brings nothing new to the concept, nor to the great JSA mythos with their ‘Ivy League military school for young superheroes’, instead offering a fairly muddled story that is clearly jumping off from somewhere else with little worthwhile explanation.

JSA All-Stars offers little reason to stick around.  The last page reveal of the issue’s true enemy isn’t particularly engrossing, and while I’m sure that each of these characters HAVE personalities – indeed, I’ve seen evidence of this in other books – here they largely seem to be powersets engaging in a series of beat ’em ups.  There are a few brief moments of potential, but the overall book is a cluster of buff folks fighting straightforward enemies for straightforward reasons, with mundane, static art from Williams II failing to even make the overlong action segments exciting.  Bad characterization and so-so art combine to make this spin-off worse than your average beat ’em up.

Grade: D+

– Cal Cleary