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  1. #1
    Justice Society Chairman Cat's Avatar
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    Default An Under-Rated, Under-Appreciated Gem From Approx. 10 Years Ago - JSA ALL-STARS

    This run gets a lot of hate, always has, for a character whose only in it for maybe 4 issues, apart from a few cameos. That seems a bit excessive to mark off all 18 issues plus annual and a related 100 page special (may be 80, don't have mine in front of me as I speak) due to 3-4 issues with a problematic character.

    Now, the problem of course, is that said problematic character, MaGagog, is heavily front loaded, a regular in the beginning, before he's booted from the team circa issue 3 or 4. He is, and thus acts like, a Cable rip-off, a trope that had well worn itself old by the time this book came out, and dragged down other JSAers too. It was just not a book for them. Yet Matthew Sturgess deftly handled the rest of his class, truly unifying them organically, and not just against Magog. It was a different approach, and he should be lauded for it. But, those first 3 issues are easily the worst. Magog sucks, and having him as co-lead of the team is just unbelievable. Were all the sensible veterans out for coffee that day? (sadly the real story isn't much better)

    Freddie H Williams II's artworks seems so ugly, so brutish, but after a while, one starts to appreciate its consistency and what that offers. You notice the figurework, the small facial work, the man's more talented than his bad inking would have you believe. Then comes the point where you don't even notice his bad inking. You do notice however, an issue where his art is gone, and it stands out like a sore thumb. You actually want it back!!

    The stories are classic JSA stuff, with the young cast at their best with age-appropriate stoylines of doubt, crushes, and how to move on with life. Sturgess swiftly drives the needle here, giving each story to expand and contract on its own. The cast is a great mix of characters: some we know, some we don't, some who are split from their wife causing separation rumours, all kinds of stuff. And PeeGee is at her best the whole time, no mistakes there.

    We 2 new characters, largely, plus a sentient AI names Roxy, always entertaining. King Chimera is largely just there in the background, a bit of a mystery, until Cyclone's story propels him to the front. Shame we never really got too far with him after AS' cancellation. The other is, IMO, an unexplored goldmine, as I loved the design and general character work. That character is Anna Fortune, magic wielder of some sort who once helped Kent Nelson(or vice versa.) The JSA are expecting a Spectre level beast, they essentially get someone on day one of the job. Hijinks ensue.

    So if you're a JSA fan, pining for the old days, but haven't read this, you could do a lot worse than throwing down the few bucks it'll probably cost to get a complete run of this. There are 2 trade paperbacks collecting the first 13 issues. Unfortunately volume 3 was cancelled due to low sales, so it's either physical single issues, or Comixology, for issues 14-18, and that annual and perhaps 80 Page Giant I feel you could make a good case for, but the stories don't do much for anyone, so up to you.

    Enjoy the JSA All-Stars Today!

  2. #2
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    I reallly liked JSA All-stars altough I never was fond of the artist. And as you said Magog only lasted for three or four issues before he was kicked out.

    I specially loved Cyclone's story in the run. It was a pretty fun story.

  3. #3
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    I wonder, would this book have lasted longer had the New 52 not happened? It and the main JSA book were both cancelled just a few months apart because of that.
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  4. #4
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    Yeah, the artwork let it down IMO. The series had itself a sense of humor, not something you get everywhere. For example, there was a scene where PG complains that SHE'S the one who always has to fight the giant spider. Of course an in-joke about the infamous Kevin Smith reveal about Burton's plans for a Superman movie, (based on IIRC Jon Peter's demands). And I did like the scene early on where PG and Magog are trying to teach their young team how to fight. Of course it develops into them demonstrating, which develops into a "real" fight.

    It was a hit and miss thing for me. Some stories weren't all that good, others were better, and a lot was just...there. It was IMO a decent to good effort that could have been much better with different art, and perhaps a more even writer. He had some very good bits surrounded by stories that weren't bad, but also weren't up to par for a truly great series.

    The King character was annoying IMO, there to be a love interest for Cyclone and not much else. I've never had much use for Wildkitty, so his scenes dragged it down. Anna Fortune was fun, but largely unrealized. There was never enough done with her in the time the series had to flesh her out enough for me to like her. And...a problem for the writer....his character all sounded the same. Fortune was spunky and had Whedonesque dialogue at times, so did Roxy the AI, Hourman Jr., Damage, Al, and even PG at times. Magog even sounded like Cable at times, so there was a difference, (he wasn't spunky). Honestly, I thought Roxy was overdone at times.

    Overall, it was fun enough, but could have been better. Worth a read today I suppose, if you haven't already, especially given it's probably as close to the JSA as you're going to get these days; reading old stuff. It was a fun run, not likely to ever have produced a truly great, classic story, but fun enough. At today's prices for floppies, if it was a new series, I'm not sure I'd continue to buy it.
    Last edited by achilles; 04-30-2021 at 05:56 AM.

  5. #5
    Justice Society Chairman Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnrevenge View Post
    I reallly liked JSA All-stars altough I never was fond of the artist. And as you said Magog only lasted for three or four issues before he was kicked out.

    I specially loved Cyclone's story in the run. It was a pretty fun story.
    Yeah, I absolutely hated Freddie's artwork. He'd done a few series' I'd been very interested in, and his presence was close to a deal breaker every time. But on this recent JSA All-Stars reread something happened (I finally snapped? Lol) and I started to appreciate the finer aspects to his art, and his workhorse capabilities. He puts quite a bit of detail in to what he does, even if the result isn't always pretty. Looking at his work, it's really his inking that's the main culprit, if he worked with another inker I believe he'd be much closer to bearable. His inks are murderous.

    But I was able to appreciate it for what it was, and for the story part it contributed. It told its part well enough. Dynamic enough, could tell who was who, no real blocking issues. Clean in that respect. I was able to work with his art to make the story more en joyable, and it was a nice way ot reading through the series again.

    I liked the depiction of Rex and Rick, Courtney, Al, Maxine, Kara. Anna had potential. Such a shame it was cut short due to bad sales. Bad sales, I suspect, from starting with Magog as co-lead and in-your-face in the most obnoxious way. Bad move there, DC.

  6. #6
    Invincible Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    I wonder, would this book have lasted longer had the New 52 not happened? It and the main JSA book were both cancelled just a few months apart because of that.
    Since JSA All-Stars ended with issue #18 (cover-dated July 2011) and Justice Society of America's last issue was #54 (cover-dated October 2011), do we know for sure that Flashpoint / the New 52 was the specific reason for the end of JSA All-Stars?
    You would think that if JSA All-Stars sales were strong enough that it would have gotten two-or-three more issues in its run before ending the title.

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member Nomads1's Avatar
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    Can't say I enjoyed much this phase of the JSA's adventures. IMHO, the splitting of the team was a huge mistake. The mix of veterans, legacy heroes and rookies was, IMHO, what made the JSA unique and interesting. Splitting the team with most of the vets in one team and the inexperienced rookies in the other sort of made them indistinguishable from other DC teams such as the JLA or the Titans, something that might have worked better in a separate world such as Earth 2 and the JSA and Infinity Inc, but not so much in a joint world. The members created to fill in the ranks were. IMHO, not the most interesting.
    I followed both series, because I love team books, but have to say it was one of my least favorite JSA eras. Glad you liked it, though.

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