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JSA: Mixed Signals
Geoff Johns, and others
DC Comics / Titan paperback £8.99

review by J.C. Hartley

The Justice Society of America was formed in 1940 to lick Hitler. They were created by writer Gardner Fox who, with Bill Finger, was responsible for everything about Batman that Bob Kane took the credit for, along with DC editor Sheldon Mayer.

Although the JSA were the world's first superhero team, they were relegated to the parallel world of Earth Two in 1960, with the creation of the silver age team the Justice League of America. The JLA featured adaptations and updates of various heroes on the JSA roster, so when the rationalisation event known as the Crisis On Infinite Earths maxi-series dispensed with Earth Two, the JSA were presented as being the predecessors of the modern JLA characters, which of course they were. Although this solution appears to be self-evident only someone unfamiliar with the convoluted continuity logic of comic books would say as much. Given their history and status, the JSA heroes were then able to address the things that comic books consistently fail to acknowledge, age and the passing of time. A new series of JSA was launched in 1999, and a another new series is due in December 2006; with sales looking good it seems that fans appreciate titles dealing with seniority, and maybe JSA reflects the sense of wonder and escapism that first captured the imaginations of readers back in the dark days of the Second World War.

Mixed Signals is a mixed bag; drawn from single issues #76 to #81 the continuity of events opening the book, and harbingers of events to come, makes for a slightly confusing read, until things settle down into a straightforward narrative about a third of the way in. Anyone who grew up reading imported comics in the 1970s will take confusion in their stride, as having to patch together a storyline from a single issue, and never knowing how things finally worked out, was pretty much par for the course in those days.

The main storyline concerns the escape of Mordru from the Rock of Eternity, the reappearance of Nabu as Dr Fate, and the rescue of Jakeem Thunder from the devastated Fifth Dimension. The final strand in the book is a nice little story about Stargirl, a kind of meta-human soap opera. There's an emphasis on magic in this title, which reflects the mystical amulets, and bottled genies, which vied for attention with glowing meteorites in the lives of the earliest heroes. It's nice to see super types who are maybe carrying a little too much weight or have a hair loss problem, but I cannot believe a character like WildCat, 'one of the world's foremost hand to hand combatants', would run around in a helmet that looks like a nursery-school infant's pussy-cat novelty balaclava, but maybe he does it because he can.
JSA: Mixed Signals

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