Saturday, September 26, 2015

All-Star Comics - The Return!

The Justice Society Returns from 1999 is one of my absolute favorite JSofA yarns ever. Written by a cadre of DC talent from the time led by David Goyer this story was one of those fifth week events which often popped up at the time. It served simultaneously as a tasty modern take on a vintage All-Star adventure and also a kickoff of sorts for the new JSA comic which burst onto the scene that same year hard on the heels of DC's JLA successes.

The story begins from the perspective of Hourman, a hero who has been lambasted by many writers over the decades, but who gets some adult treatment in this story. The Justice Society has been drawn into a conflict with The Stalker,a mystical threat drawn down to Earth by a cult of Nazi sympathizers who are trying to give magical succor to Hitler's cause, but who instead bring a being they can neither control nor defeat. The JSofA battle Stalker who is revealed to be a version of the vintage Steve Ditko creation for DC's lamented fantasy surge from the mid 70's.

This much more powerful being has decided to end war he must end life itself and has moved across dimensions bringing the sweet peace of oblivion to world after world. Now it's Earth's turn.

 The Society is not able to defeat him, but they do damage Stalker and to buy time he empowers the cult members who he'd previously killed and sends them across the globe to wreak havoc. The JSofA divides itself into teams and takes off to handle this new multi-prong threat.

Green Lantern and Johnny Thunder and his Thunderbolt confront a deadly frosty menace to save the talks at Yalta. Johnny proves his mettle and the heroism of regular soldiers in a large and frightening war is highlighted. The late Eduardo Barreto produces some outstanding and dynamic artwork for Ron Marz's script.

Next The Atom and Starman must got to Los Alamos where they find a deadly nuclear threat which takes the power of Starman to contain and the unyielding courage of the Atom to defeat. The Atom is the focus as we learn more about this hero who is sadly often regarded with mild disdain by his colleagues. The Atom impresses  in this story by Robinson and Goyer. Peter Snejbjerg produces some very handsome artwork.

In Dresden Mr.Terrific is showcased as he and The Flash work overtime to save the citizens of the doomed German city from the deadly firebombing which makes it famous to this day. Terrific is shown to be a man who is almost perfect in every way and remarkable even in the ways in which his perfection falls short. This is touching story by Mark Waid and the Aaron Lopresti artwork is muscular and dynamic.

As Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl travel to the South Pacific to defeat an acolyte who can harness the power of the ocean they are helped by Hop Harrigan who it turns out is related to Hawkgirl. The battle is desperate and deadly, but that doesn't stop Hop from appreciating the feminine nature of the amazing Amazon. Robinson and Goyer again write the story and the artwork by Benefiel and Propst  is dynamic but lacks the finesse of some of the other chapters.

Hourman and Dr.Midnite head to Scotland and find a deadly germ warfare research facility as they attempt to stop a villain who wants to harness that deadly power and turn it on the world. They have to come to a deeper understanding of one another as they battle the enemy and even Midnite's ally Hootie manages to become crucial in the battle. This is a neat story by Tom Peyer and the Stephen Sadowski and Michael Bair artwork is very lush and effective.

Sandman and Sandy find allies in Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey as they battle an acolyte who has grown to King Kong proportions and threatens the heart of a great American city. The relatively low-powered heroes are really pressed to find a way to battle a threat which turns the locals into raving lunatics, but by dint of courage they find a way. Geoff Johns writes a rich story which is drawn with magnificent gusto by Chris Weston, the art on this issue the tour de force of the whole event.

Hawkman and Wildcat go to North Africa and find allies Manhunter and the Tigress available to help as they battle an acolyte who has tricked the Nazis into drilling into the Earth which unknown to them will result in destroying the whole continent. The heroes have to settle their differences and learn to trust before they can stop the menace. Chuck Dixon writes an action-filled story which veteran Russ Heath brings to life in his classic sparse style.

Then the heroes reassemble to confront the Stalker one more time and identify the threat in Antarctica. The Justice Society is aided by the heroes who have joined the fray in the individual adventures and the whole team heads to the South to save the world. In the end it is one man's courage which proves pivotal though all the heroes of course end a hand.

In this story we get a nice glimpse of what is to come and this vintage story, steeped with its modern sensibilities points forward to a new team of heroes who will become a modern version of the Justice Society of America.

This is rousing story, well told and neatly developed across its disparate chapters.

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