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Thursday, February 16, 2006

JSA ranting: Chairmanship and Terrific

I love JSA lots, it's in fact my favorite comic out there right now (with JSA Classified), but I have to rant about something.

I didn't like when they gave the chairmanship position to Mr. Terrific/Michael Holt.

This isn't a slight against Mr. Terrific. I like him a lot and I think he's underused. This also isn't because Sand is my favorite character. I think that Terrific taking the chairmanship could have been an interesting storyline. But they didn't do it right.

See, I noticed something. When Sand was Chairman of the JSA, he had a lot more of a focus in JSA, this decreased sharply after he gave up the position. However, when Terrific became the Chairman, his storyline focus *didn't* actually increase. Terrific as Chairman had about the same storyline time as Sand when he *wasn't* Chairman. In fact, he had less. Sand was in primary focus during the Stealing Thunder storyline and was fairly prominent up until his "death" in issue 50. 52 had a random geologist character placing a foot in the door for the 63-64 resurrection. Then the character had some very nice scenes in the 1951-Degaton story, as well as being generally quite capable in battle. (I especially like rereading his smackdown of Mordru in 79...Fate might have ultimately had to save the day, but Sand was doing pretty damn well on his own *and* freed the others.) Sand also had a significant focus in the Secret Files and Origin issues.

Terrific got a little bit of focus in the Roulette storyline (which had as much focus on the Black Adam/Atom Smasher and Carter/Sand conlicts) and the 1951-storyline. In fact, I can't really think of any time aside from 1951 when there were captions reflecting Michael's inner monologue at all.

I like Michael, I like Michael a lot. I loved that JLA/JSA secret files issue which had him sort-of-bonding with Batman. That was a very interesting look at the character and the first time I really started connecting to him as a character...and I think it's annoying that the only real focus Michael gets is in this story and not in the 82 issues of the series itself.

And the *really* annoying thing is that before Michael got the chairmanship, being the JSA Chairman was treated like a very big deal. It might have never really been the main plot of the story, but there was a steady focus on what being chairman meant for Sand. We got to see how overwhelming it could be being essentially in charge of characters that were older and more experienced. We got to see what being the Chairman involved, like public speaking or naming a curator for the museum, other things like that.

Now maybe it wasn't treated like a big deal because Michael was better suited to it, less overwhelmed by it. That would make sense. He might be one of the less experienced members, but he's older than Sand (monster years don't count) and has more confidence/presence. But we don't really get to see that. In fact, we don't really get to see Michael *be* Chairman at all. He gets to be a good tactician and he gets to do cool stuff with the T-spheres in fights, but he did those things *before* being Chairman.

And I admit, I'm a bit of a dork, but I'd like to have seen a little bit about what the changeover-in-chairmanship meant. Terrific never volunteered for it, and was in fact replacing someone he respected, the man who initially approached and recruited him for the JSA. That had to mean something. And for all of his impressive ability, he probably wasn't as experienced with some of the administrative/diplomatic aspects of being Chairman. What about finances? Would Terrific manage the JSA finances, being Chairman, or would that still be one of Sand's duties, as initially he *had* been bankrolling them, and as far as I remember that hasn't changed. It's just something I'm curious about. Be nice to have had a throwaway line *somewhere*.

Now Terrific should be and probably is supposed to be read as a kickass chairman/leader. But I have to admit, in retrospect, I rarely get to see him as one. Even Sand had that moment in 20, when Mid-Nite uses the recorded image of Johnny Sorrow's face against him. Mid-Nite says that it was Sand's plan from the beginning. Which was a fascinating revelation to me. Asking Mid-Nite to play freakin' Russian Roulette with Johnny Sorrow's face on the off chance that his blindness would save his life (which if Canary wasn't there to give CPR, he could have died anyway). That's pretty fucking ruthless really. I can't recall a comparative instance for Michael. Which annoys me because I don't doubt the character's got it in him.

And then there's the way that Hawkman just completely took over chairmanship in Black Reign. That annoyed the hell out of me. At least when he started ignoring/overruling Sand, it was a personal attack against the kid out of anger for Kendra. He didn't even demand the position back, though it had been offered. He wasn't even going to, I think, when the team interrupted and decided to vote. In Black Reign though, he just up and declared "I'm Chairman, now." Yeah, he knew the territory and terrain better (debatably, considering his knowledge was how many centuries out of freakin' date?) but he could have acted as advisor, or even *asked* Michael to be named temporary field leader for the mission. But he didn't. His demand showed no respect for Michael, nor even for the position. It was pretty clear that Michael's input wasn't valued in this decision, even though the man's Chairman. And the other characters, except Jay and Courtney (who wanted a vote and got yelled at for it, shut up, Carter!), just went along with it. Oh well, it's not like Carter made a good showing as Chairman anyway. It was a bust all around. But he *had* shown more respect for Sand-as-chairman than Michael, and that's annoying.

What I'm really hoping is that in OYL, Terrific (and Sand, and Mid-Nite) actually gets a damn storyline. Something that lets him feel something and do something that's more than just using his T-spheres in the nick of time.

You know what was awesome, that one issue with Batman, which started with Terrific, Sand and Mid-Nite investigating a crime scene. Pieter doing the medical examining, Sand the detective/forensics work, Terrific on point doing the directing. That was pretty damn cool. I'd like a bit more of that once in a while.

I just think it's a damn shame to give an interesting and underutilized character an important position (in the process taking attention away from *another* interesting and underutilized character) and *downgrading* the position instead of giving this character a chance to shine.

Did all that crap with Hector and Lyta, the Tyler family, and Black Adam and Atom-Smasher need to take as many issues as it did? Couldn't the other characters have gotten a little time?

Oh well, I'm hoping maybe Michael, Sand and/or Mid-Nite end up in Checkmate. That'd be cool. Then they can get more attention there. Maybe if Michael's in Checkmate he'll give the chairmanship back to Sand, who'll actually get to do something in the position (and re-establish the parallel with Sorrow leading the Injustice Society). That'd work for me. Michael would suit Checkmate a lot and actually get to do things that aren't just making the T-spheres into steps to catch himself and climb back into the window he'd fallen out of...(I admit that was cool).

Or you know, they could keep him as Chairman and just make the position mean something again. That'd work too.

And give Sand and Pieter more panel time that isn't medical-examining Power Girl in her underwear, thanks! :-)

6 Comments:

  • At February 16, 2006 4:08 AM, Anonymous carla said…

    You know.... there's a JSA cover out there with a sillouetted Batman and other figures, one of whom could just be Mr. Terrific.

    http://www.comicartcommunity.com/gallery/details.php?image_id=17144&mode=search

    Batman and Terrific on the same team could be really interesting for the both of them. =)

     
  • At February 16, 2006 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You mean the one on the far right? Could be anybody.

    I'd have guessed the glowing green one to be Jade if she weren't refrigerator-fodder. But then, death in the DCU is never forever.

     
  • At February 16, 2006 12:59 PM, Blogger Mallet said…

    You know as an Hourman fan I'm glad it took that long for the Tyler family.

     
  • At February 16, 2006 1:26 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    carla: That could be pretty cool. I don't know what to think about the image yet, but it should be nifty regardless.

    anon: *sigh* I admit I dislike the term "refrigerator fodder". Jade's circumstances are different than Alex's, and she was NOT by Ron Marz.

    Who knows, maybe some of those silhouettes are meant to be ghosts.

    mallet: I don't dislike the hourman family. Rex and Rick have their charm and I really liked the Android. My problem was that it dominated the subplots of pretty much every issue for a very long time, at the same time that Hector and Lyta's thing was running AND Black Adam and Atom-Smasher and Kahndaq stuff was going on.

    If there were one overarching plot at a time centering around one-or-two characters, that would have been fine. But with all at once, none of the other characters really got to do *anything* in the process. And that made me resent those stories.

    If maybe they'd spread them out a little. Shortened the Hector/Lyta stuff since they're dead now anyway, and allowed for more subplots with the other characters I probably would have enjoyed both of the other stories.

    Oh well. Now that the Hourmen are resolved, maybe there will be time for the others.

     
  • At February 17, 2006 8:59 PM, Anonymous catrina said…

    That cover definitely looks like it stars dead people--unless Sand decided to take up the old costume, the far left is totally Wesley Dodds, and the short guy is probably the Atom (as in the punchy one, not the shrinky one, because there are like 12 seperate guys with Atom in their name)--I believe he got a different costume with a fin on it at some point? Still don't know about the right, maybe McNider? That Bats looks like Earth-2/Golden Age Batman; you can tell by the nose and eyes. So maybe it's another Earth-2/old days/Infinity Inc flashback? *shrug* Zombies?

     
  • At February 18, 2006 1:12 AM, Blogger Jon said…

    Yeah, that appears to be Wes Dodds, Jade, E-2 Bats, Atom in his finhead outfit and Terry Sloane. Couldn't be Chuck McNider on the right: his lenses are gigantic. I say Sloane because of the shape of his cowl and his collar, which more or less match the shadow there. I'd say this is an Earth-2 story. Or a ghost story. Or an Earth-2 ghost story.

     

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