Double Darkness

December 5, 2004

JSA: Darkness Falls TPB
Writers: David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns
Artists: Stephen Sadowski

By Avi Green

With this second compilation of the JSAís series of today, we get more than one story involving a dark menace that has to be fought against as bravely as possible, and also, the debut of the new Dr. Mid-Nite, Pieter Cross. Thatís double the darkness (for the better, not for the worse), and the bonus is Mid-Nite, of course.

The new gathering of the JSA continues onwards, with a grand gala opening of their new headquarters in New York City being held, and Star-Spangled Girl the one to cut the ribbon for the opening celebration. But no sooner have they taken the time to celebrate, than who should crash the party but Black Adam, the Captain Marvel archnemesis whoís been a thorn in his side more than enough times, and is now attacking the JSA downtown as well. Fortunately, heís defeated by Hourman, who finds a way to paralyze his powers through time travel. But thatís just the beginning of what goes on here. As seen in the last TPB, Todd ďObsidianĒ Rice, Alan Scottís son, whom he bore with the late villainess, the Thorn, has apparently gone off the deep end, and his twin sister, Jennie-Lynn ďJadeĒ Hayden, whoís had something of a telepathic bond with him, is the first to sense that heís lost his mind. And as the JSA soon find out when they trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he lives in the same area as the abusive adoptive father he grew up with, heís gone off the deep end, enveloping the cityís citizens and even some of the JSA themselves, in a form of shadowy effect, putting them under his control. This is due in part to the influence of Ian Karkull, an evil scientist whom the Justice Society first knew in its early days, whoíd been turned into a shadow-like being himself, whoíd teamed up with Todd to take over the country, though as it turns out, Karkull hadnít really had any influence over him, and he then slays Karkull to death.

Black Canary manages to escape from Obsidian and Karkullís clutches, and is saved from an army of shadow-infected citizens of Minneapolis by the new Dr. Mid-Nite, Pieter Cross, a native of Norway, who now takes up the role vacated by the original one, and who helps to save some citizens and the rest of the team from Obsidianís dark influences. And in the end, who is it who saves the day but Alan Scott, who recites the marvelous GL oath he spoke whenever he recharged his own power ring back in the Golden Age. But alas, all is not well for Obsidian, who, along with his adoptive father, who tries to stop him, ends up disappearing into some strange realm or otherworldly dimension. Thus, Alan goes back to New York City feeling perhaps even more defeat than he has victory, since now, as it appears, his son is lost.

And thatís not all. Following an issue in which Wildcat has to deal with the newly organized Injustice Gang, which consists of Johnny Sorrow, the son of the original Icicle, the daughter of the original Tigress and the Sportsmaster, and even a onetime enemy of Alanís called Blackbriar Thorn, the JSA must now face off against two dangers: one, the terrorist gang of Kobra, which has slain Atom Smasherís mother when setting off a bomb in an airplane she was on, and two, the hero turned villain named Extant, that being Hank Hall (no relation to Hawkman and Hawkgirl), the former Hawk of the Hawk and Dove duo, who developed the power to manipulate time itself, and went berserk during Zero Hour and slew several members of the JSA, including the original Hourman, Rex Tyler. This is where the new Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt, comes into play, and helps to save Sand from the Kobra leaderís clutches by using his cool orb-like gadgets to move and conceal him from the enemy. And Atom Smasher, well, he is mad as hell, and when the Kobra leader attempts to flee, Al Rothstein grows to such big size, and almost crushes the terroristís bones when capturing him. Itís certainly a very understandable feeling, and I liked it when Black Canary told the villain that he had no idea how much it pleased her to shackle him when putting him on the plane on which they left the island, which was set to explode.

But then, theyíve got to face off against Extant, and are joined by Metron, a being who may be from the time of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and also, believe it or not, the original Star-Spangled Kid, Sylvester Pemberton, who, thanks to one of Extantís manipulations of the timestream, has caused him to reappear as a kind of anomaly. And being an entity with time shifting abilities, as Extantís got here, this is no easy feat to pull off. Luckily, Dr. Fate manages to create some decoy duplicates of the JSA members, which fool Extant while they enter the amulet dimension of Kent and Inza Nelson again, where they take the time to reorganize and figure out how to defeat their time-tugging foe. Hector Hall finds out an answer when entering the black shrouded prison in which Mordru was sent, to ask him. And that key to Extantís defeat, is the female Dove who replaced Hankís brother in the role of his crimefighting partner, back when he was Hawk.

With that, they are able to defeat Extant, in an exciting scene taking place in several different timelines, and, when he escapes, in an attempt to try and continue his menacing elsewhere in time, Atom Smasher and Metron work out a plan to switch him in the exploding airplane with Alís mother, which leaves him to get blown up, and Alís mother is saved.

Itís a very exciting story involving two adversaries with their own dealing of darkness, and the writers, when presenting Pemberton out of time, even make some clever nods to the pre-Crisis era, when he tells about how heíd been on his way to a meeting of Infinity Inc with Power Girl and Huntress, and then found there being a different team that didnít include them. As anyone familiar with Bronze Age history knows, PG and Huntress first began as Earth-2 female counterparts of Superman and Batman, and today are written differently.

And Alís saving his mother is something you donít normally expect to see, when you think about how most superheroes feel itís not good to interfere with history and time. That proved to be quite an interesting surprise.

The artwork, again, is brilliant, and Black Canary is splendidly drawn, and quite effective in her part here.

So enjoy this double dose of darkness, which is quite entertaining indeed, I must say.

Update: not only do I no longer stand by this review, I feel embarrassed I ever lauded the darkness it emphasizes.

Copyright 2004 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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