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The Justice Society of America is a sort of invite superhero group that has been running in the DC comic book world for a number of years. This graphic novel comprises the series of comic issues entitled Stealing Thunder, 5 issues in all, and features a selection of old and new heroes as they must confront a new and deadlier enemy: the Ultra-Humanite.
The biggest appeal for me in reading this was the unknown, the fact that I hadn't even heard of half of the heroes on show here. The JSA has a ghood selection of heroes, from Captain Marvel to Dr Fate, and the Atom Smasher. This collection is sort of a multi-collaboration between new and old, and when the newer ones are in danger, the older ones usually come along and sort things out. However, this series features a newer danger in that the majority of DC's heroes are under the influence and control of the Ultra-Humanite, rendering them as villains.
The story is a rather believable one when you consider the number of different tales and extreme occurrences that the world of Superheroes has thrown at us over the years. This ends up meaning that, no matter the plot, it's believable in the context it's given to us, and from then on, it's the artwork that takes on the responsibility.
The illustrations are very good indeed, and the 170 pages or so of the publication are full of vibrant colour and changing frame designs. The characters are well drawn, and the movement element is well portrayed, especially during any fighting scenes. It also allows room for relevant dialogue, which I found necessary, as I wasn't familiar with the majority of the characters. A good many of them were introduced as the story went along, and to this extent, it was done more by characters calling each other by name and then giving you a couple of frames to establish who is who.
Overall, it's a clever presentation and no doubt one that regular JSA fans will enjoy. I thought it good enough to keep me entertained and I certainly didn't want to put it down. There's nothing particularly glossy about it, but I think this is DC's style. Whereas Marvel seems to be very much a glossy and bright style, no matter the content, DC takes a dark vision on things, ensuring the visuals are serious and often sinister, even when brighter colours are called for. While I usually like this, I found that it was a bit of a drag at points in this. I could have done with a bit more colour, and certainly something a bit more upbeat in places. It was very dark and quite violent, and just needed that little something to excite. I understand the idea was to show that all the heroes were in danger of being wiped out for good, but a little element of brightness oin the visuals could at least provide a bit more hope and make you want to read on a bit more.
That having been said, it was still a really enjoyable read, and one I would happily recommend. It's not DC's greatest work, and the villain wasn't really examined enough to get a good grasp of what his power entails completely, but despite this cop out, it's well worth the read, and it establishes some key characters with you should you wish to do any future reading with the JSA series. It's available from Titan books for around the £12 mark as a retail price, although I'm sure you can grab it for cheaper elsewhere if you have a look. Recommended, but could have been better.