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Friday, September 28, 2007

My JSA Classified Disconnect (Now with added tangent!)

Okay, I have to get this off my chest. I am THIS close to dropping JSA Classified.

It's not that I don't like the stories. I actually do, but for god sake, Mr. Terrific does not need another solo adventure. He's the White King of Checkmate AND a high profile member of the JSA. He gets seen a lot in group scenes and crossovers. And that's good, he's a good character. He deserves a lot of attention.

But you know? There are a lot of team members who DON'T get a lot of attention. Who AREN'T in two books. Is it too much to ask that maybe we focus on them?

I mean, okay, I haven't sat down and mapped out who starred in what JSA classified, so maybe statistically I'll be proven wrong. But hmm, let me think about who I remember most as stars of JSA Classified comics:

Mr. Terrific, who has two comics already.

Dr. Mid-Nite, who IS criminally under-used, but he seems to have had quite a few Classified stories fairly close together. Also, he has a unique role as team medic which means that while he may not have a lot of panel time over all, there are distinct points where he's bound to come in.

Alan, Jay, or Wildcat: Hey, you can't have too much of these guys and I agree. I do however think they're featured fairly prominently in the main series itself.

Powergirl or Stargirl: Same as Alan, Jay or Wildcat really. I love them, but they're pretty much assumed a state of prominence.

I know we've had Classifieds about Jakeem Thunder, (who hasn't yet rejoined the team) or the Injustice Society, but the rest really seems same-old, same-old.

It's a shame, because JSA Classified could do so much more.

Why are they always mostly solo stuff? Why can't we have more ensemble type stories?

Why not WWII flashback adventures? There are tons of old school fans out there, folks who eat up the Golden Age or even All-Star Comics/Squadron, who'd probably enjoy seeing the old hats in action again. JSA Returns was some of Johns's best work and I'm sure there are other folk who'd have fun writing the past with sly hints and references to the future.

Why not Rick and Jessie's wedding? I mean, sure the couple gets annoying, but you know the wedding of the son of Rex and Wendi Tyler to the daughter of Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle had to have been an event. Who was best man? Who caught the bouquet? Did Ma Hunkel cry?

What about when Sand broke out as the sandmonster? Or Todd started to become sane? What about Infinity Inc flashbacks?

Why not more passing the torch scenes or vignettes? Why not play with the legacy aspect by showcasing "then" and "now"?

How about day in the life sorts of stories? Super-powered folks dealing with mundane crises. How about Maxine and Courtney hanging out, or shopping, or whatever it is teen girls do when coming across someone being bullied? Obviously they can't expose their powers and it wouldn't really be fair to blast them with the what to do?

How about something family related? Ted and Tom get enough attention in the main book, but how about Alan and Todd? The latter being an ex-supervillain, now being happy, sane and involved with someone, the dead twin sister...that's lots of stuff to talk about. Rick and Rex? Damage and Atom Smasher?

And you know, a lot of the perfectly justifiable "where the hell is Obsidian?" complaints might be slightly appeased if he got an issue. Could bring in Ian Karkull, the Shade, or go somewhere completely different.


You know, it occurs to me, while I don't think the lack of Obsidian is an intentional aversion to homosexual characters, I do think it's strange that more of a big deal wasn't made about the JSA having its first, as far as I know, gay member.

Of course, they'd have to USE him to warrant the attention, but still. Considering all the buzz around Batwoman, I'm surprised they haven't tried to use that.

I mean, in this case, it really IS a big deal. JSA is THE legendary superteam. They're the first and the most respectable. Being in the JSA gives you a lot of clout. (Which is why Sandy was the best teenaged hero in the past and Stargirl is the best now...other teen heroes have to make do with teenage teams, they're in the JSA!)

We're not talking about the Teen Titans, the Outsiders, or any of those teams. We're talking about the JSA! The team that's been around in some form or another since the REAL 1940s. It's a big deal that the old staid coots of the DCU are fighting alongside feminists, girls, non-white people, non-straight's powerful symbolism about how the past and the present don't have to be at war with each other, how the values of the past don't have to get lost in the shuffle of progress but are made richer by greater equality, diversity and opportunity.

It should be a big deal that Obsidian's now a member of the team. It ought to be. It's something to be celebrated. It's at least as worthy of attention as some new chick in a bat costume!

But everyone's been quiet. Probably because he's not really a member of the team. He's wall-paper. I personally think that whole cryptic Sand-Obsidian interchange at the end of the first storyarc's supposed to be some kind of foreshadowing for a future arc, but god knows when THAT'll be.

At least a JSA Classified story would be SOMETHING. Even if it means Mr. Terrific will only be in TWO great comics that month. Let's give it a shot!


  • At September 28, 2007 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, I view the classified as side stories that you pick up if you're interested or not. It's not like they last more then 2 or 3 anyways.

    Since I don't really care for Mr.Terrific , I've been able to take a pass lately.

    I think Obsidian might show up in the December one judging on solicits.

  • At September 28, 2007 10:03 AM, Blogger Anthony Strand said…

    Yeah, I've been disappointed by the lack of variety in JSA Classified too. For the most part, I enjoy it, but it would be nice to see other characters get the spotlight.

    Someone (I think it was here in the comments) brought up the idea of Roy Thomas doing an arc, which I think would be great. Let him go crazy with a Golden Age tale starring Mr. Terrific, Hourman, Johnny Thunder and The Atom.

  • At September 28, 2007 10:08 AM, Blogger Elayne said…

    Let me get this straight. JSA writers decide to spotlight a strong, interesting black male character, possibly in the hopes of turning him from a B-grade character into an A-level one, and y'all are complaining about the LACK of diversity?

  • At September 28, 2007 10:13 AM, Blogger Rob S. said…

    I see your point, Elayne, but I think most of what Kalinara's complaining about is a lack of variety, rather than diversity.

    That said, I'm happy to see Mr. Terrific's rise to prominence, even if I normally don't pick up Classified.

  • At September 28, 2007 10:47 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Thank you Elayne for that strawman-esque over-simplification and diversion of my actual complaint.

    Mr. Terrific is a wonderful character and I've said so. I'm thrilled he has such a prominent role in two comics. I think he deserves the chance to front a solo comic as well.

    However, "JSA Classified" is not that comic. And I have every right to complain about the neglect of other characters.

    And considering we have the first gay member of one of the DCU core superteams, it might be worth something to highlight that.

  • At September 28, 2007 10:56 AM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    Now, this may brand me an "Classified Apologist," but my understanding of the "Classifieds" are that a lot of them (not all) are older stories that were kept in a shelf somewhere as possible fill-ins, and now their time has moved on so they won't work as fill-ins anymore, so they are just burning through the inventory.

    So, at least how I understand it, your not getting a lot of Cyclone and Liberty Belle and Obsidian because these issues might have been written three or four years ago, and only getting published now.

    If you are going to write a fill-in that may not be used for a few years, you probably want to make it a "core" member -- the old white guys, Mr. T, Power Girl and Stargirl are safe choices.

  • At September 28, 2007 11:06 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Ragtime: You're probably right about the why. I just think it's a damned shame that they can't hold off on a few of them a little longer to try something different.

    It's not like most of the characters are going anywhere. (Besides, even dead/gone characters have fans that might enjoy a flashback issue. :-))

  • At September 28, 2007 11:29 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    The lack of Obsidian AND Sandy has been pretty marked. Not to mention Ma Hunkel, whom I adore.

    I like the Mr. Terrific story, and I'm quite fond of him as a character, but I have to say that the art was horrendous.

    And I'd love to see some interaction between Alan and Todd.

  • At September 28, 2007 11:38 AM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    Actually, I stopped buying JSA Classified after the LAST Alan Scott/ Vandal Savage arc in the middle of last year, so I'm not actually disagreeing about the variety problem.

    It's not like most of the characters are going anywhere. (Besides, even dead/gone characters have fans that might enjoy a flashback issue. :-))

    JSA Classified #33 solicitation:

    But in order to save the life of a child, Alan will to sacrifice his own happiness - as well as his daughter!

    I'm not making any predictions, but I'm a little concerned about the safety of Jade.

  • At September 28, 2007 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Why not WWII flashback adventures? There are tons of old school fans out there, folks who eat up the Golden Age or even All-Star Comics/Squadron, who'd probably enjoy seeing the old hats in action again. "

    Here, here! What a waste to make the JSA Classified title more or less set in the present....especially with their rich history and nearly inexhaustible line-up of characters.

    As for who gets the spotlight, I think DC tries to keep at least one eye on sales potential, which could explain why second and third stringers won't be getting much JSA Classified love.

  • At September 28, 2007 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm not making any predictions, but I'm a little concerned about the safety of Jade.

    Maybe I'm mixing up characters, but isn't she already dead?

  • At September 28, 2007 2:44 PM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    Yes, she is. But I think Alan only has/had one daughter, so if he is thinking about sacrificing her, then December's JSA Classified has to be set before Jade died back in Infinite Crisis.

    I completely agree that more variety would be a good thing. My only point was that if they're still having to burn off stories that had to have been written two years ago (before Jade died), then I can understand why they aren't jumping stories about Liberty Belle and Cyclone to the front of the line.

  • At September 28, 2007 2:50 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    It could be set recent. Didn't Levitz establish Jade as being sort-of...well, if not alive, then at least ghost-like and somehow connected to Alan?

    So it's possible the sacrifice has something to do with THAT...

  • At September 28, 2007 3:50 PM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    Yeah. I guess if your ranking your currently dead characters from "most dead" (Stephanie Brown) to "least dead" (Ralph Dibney), Jade falls somewhere in the middle, maybe more dead than pre-One Year Later Aquaman, but less dead than Barry Allen.

  • At August 31, 2011 10:23 PM, Anonymous Jayson said…

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