Well, to paraphrase Kirsten Dunst, Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges brought it.
Geez, how old is that movie? I feel old. Where was I? Oh yes...
Right now, it feels a bit impossible that anyone could surpass Geoff Johns' ability to write the Justice Society. Still, the first issue under new writers Willingham and Sturges, Justice Society of America #29, sure packed a lot of punch into one issue.
I think the biggest compliment I can pay the pair is it didn't take more than a dozen pages for me to completely forget I was ever worried about how this large group of characters would be portrayed under new scribes. Sure, the voices are somewhat different (how could they not be?), but this is not a Matt Fraction/"Uncanny X-Men" situation. Willingham and Sturges are authentically adding their own flavor to the characters' pre-exisisting personalities, and as a result, I felt right at home as a reader within those first dozen pages.
I also have to applaud the writers on their decision not to spend this entire issue being over indulgent and harping on the idea of this issue marking a new beginning. Willingham and Sturges jump right out of the box with storyline without even mentioning a staus quo.
The storyline itself, however, did not seem like anything special -- and I do use the word "seem" intentionally. Step One: The JSA encounters a mystery. Step Two: The JSA is sidetracked by a group of B-list villains. Step Three: Those B-listers overwhelm the heroes in order to set up the come-from-behind victory in a few issues. We've seen this all before, right?
I'm guessing wrong.
I trust Willingham and Sturges enough that what we read here is not simply the old hat bad guys vs. good guys storyline, and I think the events of the last few pages should prove that. I'll hold off on truly judging this storyline until the arc is complete.
All in all, this first issue for the JSA's new writers made me a very relieved fan.
The rest of the week's books were not as successful.
Just hours after discussing with a friend about how James Robinson has yet to do anything I can appreciate since returning to comics, I read his Superman #690, a book which felt more like one of those 99-cent teaser comics before big events than an actual issue of a story. Contained between the covers are five vignettes, none of which truly advance anyone's story, just sort of give you the impression that there may be a story there in the future.
Let's list them, shall we?
1 - Atlas, who had already kicked Steel's rear last issue, kicked his rear again.
2 - Guardian paired Gotham's own detective Harper as Jonathan Kent's teammate.
3 - Zatara (where the hell did he come from?!?) meets Mark Merlin, who wants his help in finding Prince Ra Man.
4 - Guardian and Dr. Light flirt a little.
5 - Ganglios stops Sodam Yat from meeting Mon-El, in a move which basically just saves continuity after the two met for the first time already 1,000 years in the future in "Legion of Three Worlds."
That's all, folks! James Robinson! Come on, man!
Equally disappointing was Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #3, not for a lack of quality but a lack of value. This book is $3.99, yet only contains a Kilowog backup story, an Arisa backup story, and a "Director's Commentary" of "Blackest Night #0, which would have been interesting had ANYTHING of interest been said. No third story, and no story on a member of a non-emerald corps.
Though as I said, those two backup stories we got, both written by Peter Tomasi, were very very good. The first focuses on Kilowog's first days in the corps, showing how 'wog's drill sergeant treated him, how 'wog first stepped into a leadership role and even how 'wog met Sinestro. The story is strong, poignant, humorous (we learn where the word "poozer" comes from!) and I am now in love with Chris Samnee's simple and straight art.
Arisa's story is more of an origin and a showcase of her personality for any younger readers who don't know her or understand why she holds a special place in longtime fans' hearts. We see her boundless energy, her passion for the corps, her early training at home and her personality during her first encounter with -- who else -- Kilowog. And did I mention I am now in love with Mike Mayhew's pencils and Andy Troy's colors?
Another plus is, given the amount of death and personal connections in these stories, you can be sure they will be pertinent to that little zombie tale we're all reading.
Heck, maybe this book is worth four bucks?