THE NEW GOLDEN AGE #1/ Written by GEOFF JOHNS/ Art by DIEGO OLOREGUI, JP MAYER, SCOTT HANNA, JERRY ORDWAY, STEVE LIEBER, TODD NAUCK, SCOTT KOLINS, VIKTOR BOGDANOVIC, BRANDON PETERSON & GARY FRANK/ Colors by NICK FILARDI, JOHN KALISZ, MATT HERMS, JORDAN BOYD & BRAD ANDERSON/ Letters by ROB LEIGH/ Published by DC COMICS
There is some irony that the Justice Society of America has faired better in media outside of the comics that birthed them in recent years. There was no JSA title as the Stargirl TV series was introducing DC Comics’ first superhero team to a new generation or when Black Adam brought the team into the DCEU. Indeed, apart from a few cameos in various event books, most of the JSA have been AWOL.And as for an explanation as to how they fit into the new timeline of Earth-Zero… forget about it!
The New Golden Age #1 isn’t quite the home run JSA fans might have hoped for, but it is a solid start to bringing the team back into the fold. Surprisingly, given that this is a Geoff Johns book, this issue is fairly friendly to new readers who don’t have a Master’s Degree in DC Comics history. I say this as a reader who generally enjoys Johns’ deep cuts into continuity, but freely admits that sometimes his work can confuse the ever-loving heck out of casual readers, like in Doomsday Clock. This time, however, Johns makes the confusing and contradictory history of the JSA a part of the story, by introducing the idea that some villain is messing with the timeline by kidnapping certain key figures and killing off the heirs to the JSA’s legacy across time. It’s a novel idea and one that is well-executed.
Unfortunately, this does play into Johns’ tendency to introduce new characters only to kill them off quickly to show how serious things are. This happens enough in this issue to give his detractors fresh ammunition. (There’s even a dark gag about how many Robins Batman has lost in this reality.) Despite this, Johns is one of the best idea men in the comics business and his concepts for the “lost heroes” introduced in this issue alongside obscure Golden Age heroes like the original Aquaman seem like real character concepts unknown outside of E. Nelson Birdwell’s archives.
An all-star squadron of artists bring these characters to life, with some picture perfect Who’s Who mock up pages. The individual stories are handled by different art teams – all good – with frequent Johns collaborators Gary Frank and Scott Kolins standing out. The colors are also uniformly fantastic.
The New Golden Age is just the shot in the arm the JSA needs. Hopefully this will be the start of something big for DC Comics’ first superhero team and a revival of one of comics’ most underrated franchises. The upcoming JSA and Stargirl series will tell that tale. For now, at least, the future and the past are looking good.