Hearts of Darkness, Eyes of Hate!
Credits: Len Strazewski (writer), Mike Parobeck (penciler), Mike Machlan (inker), Bob Pinaha (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)
Summary: A mysterious force spreads across the country, creating hostility towards the JSA in their public and private lives. Thunderbolt senses the presence of dark magic, but disappears while investigating it. After a false “exposé” of the JSA’s past airs on Green Lantern’s television station, he flies to the station to get answers. He’s ambushed by Guy Gardner, who’s easily defeated. However, Green Lantern and the JSA are soon surrounded by an angry mob. Carter Hall arrives to rescue the team, only to lead them to his master, Kulak.
I Love the ‘90s: Dr. Mid-Nite complains that television is creating irrational fear surrounding the AIDS epidemic.
Total N00B: On that note, Dr. Mid-Nite listens to a radio news report on the AIDS-related death of an unnamed actor at the age of 70. Mid-Nite says that he was a great talent and that it’s a shame that he spent so many years of his career playing a superhero’s sidekick in the movies. I have no idea who this is supposed to be referencing.
Review: There’s a fantastic opening to this issue, which has Flash’s wife Joan violently lashing out at her magically youthful husband. This is the reader’s introduction to Kulak’s scheme against the JSA, which has everyone in the world turning against the team. The opening scene implies that Kulak is exploiting feelings that already exist, such as Joan’s insecurities that she’s now too old for her husband, which is very Claremontian and a great way to explore the JSA’s relationships with their supporting cast. The rest of the comic, however, just has the public irrationally hating the JSA for no clear reason at all. This isn’t nearly as interesting, and the only use Strazewski gets out of the concept by this point is a Guy Gardner/Green Lantern fight.
I’m assuming that a fight between the original Green Lantern and the mouthy, intentionally unlikable Gardner is something GL fans had wanted to see for years. If you’re divorced from the continuity, it reads as a decent superhero fight, but there isn’t much else to it, aside from Parobeck’s larger-than-life action. (Another N00B moment…why does Guy Gardner have a yellow ring at this point?) Less impressive is the JSA vs. angry mob scene, which suffers from no real drama, and apparently deadline problems, since the crowd is often portrayed as little more than stick figures. Things liven up with the cliffhanger, though, which has the original Hawkman leading the team into a trap, Kulak impaling Thunderbolt on a stick, and a brainwashed Hawkgirl standing by the villain’s side. With only one issue left, hopefully the book can get out of the little rut it’s worked itself into and go out with a final issue that does the characters justice.