This issue, the middle of a trilogy, is a collection of scattered half-thoughts, one interrupting the next to keep any and all of them from becoming complete. The first All-Stars I saw were Tomcat and Citizen Steel, so I hoped to get a story that featured two of the characters I’d like to read about in the pages of “All-Stars.” Unfortunately, Steel is prone to navel-gazing here while Tomcat attempts to pull his metallic pal from the doldrums. Ho and hum.
The “deeper” characters come across as whiny, while the confident characters come across as harsh and cocky. Power Girl’s characteristic brashness here appears to be uncharacteristic callousness. The bickering between King Chimera and Atom-Smasher is enough to make me completely apathetic to both characters, so it’s a good thing that Atom-Smasher appears to serve the sole purpose of cannon fodder in this book. While Sturges does manage to provide a moment or two to every character in the book (save for Anna Fortune and Judomaster, but they appear on panel) it seems as though, even though this is a second book designed (at least in part) as an outlet for the excessive roster of the JSA, that there are still too many characters in this book. The villains come in as a challenge of the month, with a connection of some degree to the team, but they do have much room for growth, and neither does the team.
I do enjoy Freddie Williams II’s art, filled with energy and expression, but Williams’ art is stronger in larger portions where the details have room to fill. While other artists might skimp on panels here and there, the smaller panels are packed with the same amount of detail Williams puts into the larger panels. More often than not, it works, and helps measure out the story, adding depth of character and environment, but sometimes it is simply too much information to ingest.
“JSA All-Stars” still feels like the farm team to a major league club, but that major league club hasn’t been much to aspire towards of late. The end result is that this book is something that was once defined, but has lost sight of that definition. Without a goal, this book sits idle, and in a dimension between dimensions like the one Power Girl declares to be limbo at the start of this issue. If this team ever gets going against a real menace and re-establishes solid footing, this is going to be a fun book. For now, it simply is.