Review: JSA: Prince of Darkness trade paperback (DC Comics)

Saturday, April 09, 2005

I liked JSA: Stealing Thunder a lot, and I thought the trade paperback worked well as a stand-alone story; it had a definite set-up, rising action, climax, denouement, and even a couple of wrap-up issues after the fact. It flowed together well. JSA: Prince of Darkness, on the other hand, unfortunately lost its set-up issue to JSA: Savage Times. I can understand why the prologue issue of the set went to the previous trade paperback—DC would much rather end Savage Times with the Mordu reveal than with the Dove reveal—but for Prince of Darkness, it meant the trade paperback started right in the middle of the action. And never stopped. Sure, there were a couple nice character bits in Prince of Darkness—the interaction between the Star-Spangled Kid and Captain Marvel, for instance, and Dr. Fate with Nabu—but all in all, it seemed to move just too fast for me to get a grip on the characters.

Sand's death, as an example, bugged me quite a bit—sure, no one really believes Sand is gone for good, but at the same time, he gives his life, and in the end, the characters are cheering their victory, instead of mourning their loss. The story seemed more about the battle than the battle-ers, and for that, it wasn't as good as I expected. Stealing Thunder remains superior.

On the other hand, the extra issues in Prince of Darkness, leading in to JSA: Black Reign, were exceptional. I loved the Power Girl/Wildcat fight against the Crimson Avenger—as bloody as a good Tartentino movie—and I could not put it down until the end. The JSA/JLA team-up, too, had some good laughs, and really liked Geoff Johns placing Ma Hunkle as the new JSA historian. I also appreciated the continuity with Flash: Blitz and Flash: Ignition, seeing Jesse Quick move in to JSA headquarters (though Bart-as-Impulse confused me. I'll have to check my trade paperback timeline to see where this takes place in Teen Titans continuity).

So in the end, JSA: Prince of Darkness is certainly not a terrible JSA trade but it doesn't take the top spot, either. Now I'm starting JSA All-Stars, with high hopes, and from there to Superman/Batman: Supergirl.
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