TITLE: JSA: The Golden Age – The Deluxe Edition
YEAR: April 2017 (Reprinting “The Golden Age” Issues 1-4 from 1993-1994)
COMPANY: DC Comics
Written by James Robinson
Art by Paul Smith
Color by Richard Ory
Lettered by John Costanza
Collection Cover by Paul Smith with Jose Larrubia
Writer James Robinson is well-known for his work on “Starman” and “Earth 2” (for DC Comics “The New 52”), but my first introduction to the written work of James Robin was for “Firearm” for Malibu Comics Ultraverse line, one of the best written, most under-appreciated comic book series out there.
In 1993, he wrote the four-issue Elseworlds comic book mini-series “The Golden Age” and with artist Paul Smith, would showcase the Justice Society of America and how life has been for them after World War II and entering the 1950’s facing the threat of McCarthyism.
And while America’s soldiers fought the war against the Nazi’s, America’s heroes, the Justice Society and the All Star Squadron kept the homefront safe.
And after the war, one superhero became known as the great champion, the All Star Squadron’s Tex Thompson, Mr. America aka “The Americommando” and his newfound popularity, being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor leads him to a life of politics and he becomes a Senator.
Meanwhile, Johnny Chambers (formerly Johnny Quick) has become a filmmaker and separated from his wife Libby (Liberty Belle) who is now with crime writer Jonathan Law (The Tarantula), Jay Thompson aka The Flash owns a research company, Carter Hall (Hakwman) focused on his Egyptian ties, Terry Sloane (Mr. Terrific) owns an airline company, Alan Scott (Green Lantern) is a media mogul and is being investigated by the House Committee on Un-American activities due to his writers having socialist ties, Rick Tyler (The Hourman) is still trying to perfect “The Miracle Pill” and Ted Knight (Starman) is in bad shape with nightmares that are taking its toll on his mind and Daniel Dunbar (Dan the Dyna-Mite) is having to deal with failing college due and is reeling from the war years and losing his mentor, T.N.T.
Meanwhile, Thompson reintroduces his government-backed group of Mystery Men to vanquish the Russian threat, he creates a group featuring The Atom, Robotman and Dan the Dyna-Mite.
But when Joan Dale (Miss America) who has a relationship with Tex Thompson often hears him talking about things when he sleeps and causes great concern, she does some snooping…but what will she discover about the man she loves?
This series has been released as a trade paperback in the past but now receives the Deluxe Edition hardcover treatment with the title “JSA: The Golden Age” courtesy of DC Comics.
In this day and age, I think it’s a given when you see child actors or talents that you once enjoyed on television and film or even athletes that you rooted for, there are some who achieve great success and there are those who crash and burn.
With “JSA: The Golden Age”, writer James Robinson manages to create a smart storyline that shows superhero characters getting older, moving on with their lives as they get older. And some who have managed to create a new life after becoming a superhero.
But these are complicated times. A few years after the war, McCarthyism starts to turn people who were friends against each other and some superheroes have gone on to have troublesome lives as some are unable to have a good life after their superhero activities have ended and priorities have shifted.
One of the tings that I enjoyed about this series is that Robinson, who loved Golden Age comic books growing up, put a lot of effort in bringing out characters from the past, no matter how obscure they were but also knowing their histories and having things played out for readers back in the ’90s and the storyline works effectively even now in the present albeit DC’s everchanging retcon storylines.
From how key characters of the Justice Society of America are utilized, utilizing Tex Thompson ala Mister America and even his old assistant Fatman in an interesting exchange between the two men. Using Joan Dale, Miss America and her concerns over Tex. Seeing villains such as Injustice Society’s Tigress (Paula Brooks) being granted amnesty to join Tex’s new Mystery Men group to fight communism and seeing her with Lance Gallant ala Captain Triumph and his ghost brother Michael, a character who was rarely seen in DC Comics but as mentioned, there was a lot of research done with the golden age of superhero characters that DC Comics acquired back then and were being fully utilized for this Elseworlds storyline.
Granted, if you aren’t into Golden Age comic books, possibly this series wouldn’t matter too much but if you grew up reading Justice Society of America, All Star Squadron, etc. Seeing how these characters manage to succeed or managed to screw up their lives badly is no doubt interesting, but to see how things culminate into a chaotic ending that I would never have expected to see happen, was rather intriguing, exciting, violent, tragic and action-packed.
This series packed a wallop and while some may find it too smart or too wordy, this is what I enjoyed about Robinson’s work, similar to Roy Thomas’ classic work and that is attention to storyline and character utilization. And Paul Smith’s wonderful artwork complimented this series with efficacy.
If you love DC Comics Golden Age especially as readers of Justice Society of America and All Star Squadron, you will no doubt enjoy “JSA: The Golden Age – The Deluxe Edition”.