Saturday, August 06, 2005

JSA #76: Starring OMAC, and featuring the JSA

Unusually, within days of DC announcing that JSA #76 would be a 'Day of Vengeance' crossover, it shows up with an 'OMAC Project' crossover logo on the cover. Some have said that the crossover elements here weren't that intrusive. I disagree.

The OMAC tie-in comes in the form of a fight scene between a blue OMAC robot-thing and a handful of JSA members. Fortunately I have a general idea of what the OMAC guy is, but within the pages of this issue, it's just a blue thing that shows up, fights, and disappears. Imagine the scene with another villain. Due to the nature of the fight, let's say Amazo. Atom Smasher's being led out of the courtroom when, suddenly and out of nowhere, Amazo attacks! There are several pages of the JSA members fighting Amazo, then Al stops him, and Amazo flies away.

Seen through that lens, it's a pretty darn pointless fight. And from beginning to end, that fight in this issue lasts nine pages. There's a page of OMAC scanning the guys, seven pages of actual fighting (including two splash pages), and a wrap-up page where OMAC escapes. That's 40% of the issue devoted to an unnecessary fight that exists solely for crossover purposes.

By comparison, only seven and a half pages are devoted to the circumstances surrounding Al's trial (including the setup, trial, the scene between Stargirl and Hunkel, walking out of the courtroom, and the three pages at the end).

Plus, there's another page with Hourman that apparently is effectively a DoV crossover, though I didn't realize that until I read an online review. Hopefully that page will make a little more sense after another issue or two. At least it has a little to do with an actual JSA plot (the missing Jakeem). And there's a page that looks to be little more than a missing scene from "Villains United," and which again, offers up some foreshadowing ("I have an interesting rumor circulating") that really better have some payoff in this title, and not somewhere else. Plus another three and a half pages that are fallout from "Countdown."

All that adds up to 14 1/2 pages of crossover material out of 22 pages. So two-thirds of the issue ended up being crossover material. Granted, the Hourman page and the "Countdown" fallout were at least tied personal in nature, tied to the book's internal stories, and didn't feel shoehorned in. (However, it doesn't excuse Johns' portrayal of Fire. Compared to Giffen's take on Fire's grief in ICBINTJL a few months back, this was pitiful.) I really would've preferred if those 11 pages (or at least the 9 involving the fight) had been devoted to something a little more important to this title.

Like, say, for instance, what was promised in the solicitation: "In the aftermath of the devastating "Black Vengeance" story, the JSA must regroup and reassess their purpose — but Hawkman harbors a secret that will change the JSA's role in the DCU forever! Plus, Mr. Terrific begins his hunt for Roulette!" So instead of getting payoff for a plot that Johns started building way back in #28, we get 9 pages of the JSA fighting a blue robot from another series? Has DC considered the fans who buy JSA because they want to read JSA stories, not to read about the JSA reacting to stuff happening in other series?

If two-thirds of an issue isn't considered intrusive, I'm really dreading when the crossovers actually become intrusive.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

JSA Jaded

Despite the hype, and despite my general fondness for a lot of DC's crossovers during the last decade (even Zero Hour), I'm just not into "Infinite Crisis." I didn't buy Identity Crisis, the only tie-in minis I even tried were OMAC (for which I tried the first issue at 75 cents, but didn't feel like reading further) and Villains United (which I continue buying, even though I'm not digging it nearly as much as others seem to), and I'm feeling virtually no anticipation for the big event itself.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that I'm not terribly thrilled about having the DC books I *do* buy being turned into tie-in books. I don't buy many of the DCU superhero books these days, but JSA is among the ones I do. So the 3-part "Day of Vengeance" crossover that just wrapped up aggravated me.

Now comes this news from Newsarama: JSA #76 and 77 are also going to be official "Day of Vengeance" tie-ins. This is in addition to the previously-announced Keith Champagne arc in #78-80, which will also be a "Day of Vengeance" tie-in.

That makes for eight consecutive issues that are tie-ins to a six-issue mini-series. (Even if we assume the unlikely prospect that only the first of Keith's issues is a tie-in, that's still six issues.) Why is DC, or at least Geoff Johns, insistent on co-opting this title for tie-in purposes for a full 2/3 of a year, and for two months longer than the title it's being tied into?

I'd drop the book tomorrow if it wasn't for the equally aggravating fact that Johns (and presumably Champagne) are still advancing certain ongoing subplots in these issues. So if I skip them, it's at my own peril. I get to continue plopping down $2.50 a month, even though I'm only getting the equivalent of half a true JSA issue. It certainly looks like by the end of eight months, I'll have more or less spent $10 on JSA stories and $10 on DoV material I didn't want.

When it was just three issues, I just chose to suffer through it. But the notion of another five months of "Day of Vengeance" crossover-fever might well drive me off a title I've been buying for five years. Perhaps I should just vote with my wallet, and buy a lot of the issues off eBay after it's all over.