This is the first real issue of the James Robinson/Mark Bagley run that feels darn-near perfect. Unfortunately, it’s “Justice Society of America,” not “Justice League of America.” That said, this is the second installment (really, only the second?) of “The Dark Things,” a crossover between the two titles, all five parts being written by Robinson and drawn by Bagley.
Robinson has been name-dropping cameo appearances from all over the DCU like a man possessed by a newfound copy of “Who’s Who,” or “The DC Comics Encyclopedia.” Robinson has fun with it, and it shows. Those appearances are moments that call back to the summers of my childhood laying in front of a box fan poring over thirty-five-cent or half-dollar gems like “Marvel Team-Up” and, well, “Justice League of America.” Each page turned revealed a surprise, or a new favorite, or a character that made my imagination soar. Granted, Yellow Peri doesn’t move me much, but Robinson drops in a surprise appearance that I was not expecting at the end of this issue. Well played, says I.
While I haven’t been the biggest supporter of Mark Bagley’s work on “JLA,” this issue strikes me as a high point for his work with the team. Bagley, Norm Rapmund, and Allen Passalaqua do a splendid job of making this issue seem bigger than it is. The first and last pages are nice mirror images of each other, playing up the dark and the light and the opposite within the other quite nicely. The in-betweens are fun, loud, and electric. The six pages featuring Obsidian and Doctor Fate are things of odd beauty. The characters seem to breathe and the action exudes vitality. Bagley’s really finding his groove now and, honestly, I think that groove has something more to do with the JSA than the JLA.
Allen Passalaqua’s colors are over-the-top superheroic luminance. Sometimes they get a little too bright, sometimes the page or panels are a little too garish, but Passalaqua doesn’t hide behind texture fills or applied filters. This is straight-up coloring, brave and bold.
On the note of characterization, Robinson is on the mark completely across this issue, and he even delivers a revelation about the masterful thinking of Dick Grayson that fully displays how much thought and planning Robinson has put into this issue.
In the end, this is full-out superhero magic. Or superheroes versus magic. Whatever. It’s good, and it’s a worthy heir to the Summer Comics of legend. I’m enjoying this JLA/JSA event, and can’t wait to throw the next installment on the floor and crank the box fan up to high.