THIS WEEK: The first story arc of The New Golden Age’s Justice Society of America series reaches its conclusion.

Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.

Justice Society of America #5

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Mikel Janín and Jerry Ordway
Colorists: Jordie Bellaire and John Kalisz
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover Artist: Mikel Janín

DC’s “New Golden Age” has gotten off to a somewhat uneven start. The initiative spun out of Flashpoint Beyond, and has largely dealt with timeline shenanigans in its two main titles, the six-issue Stargirl: The Lost Children and the ongoing Justice Society of America. The former series wrapped back in May, and this week Justice Society of America reaches the end of its first arc, a time-hopping tale featuring classic villain Per Degaton and the introduction/return of The Huntress Helena Wayne to the team.

For most of the past 24 years, if the Justice Society has been around, Geoff Johns has been the person guiding their adventures. His last time out on the title – their last ongoing before being wiped from continuity by The New 52 relaunch – saw the team with a clear mission statement: the old guard helping usher in the new. This time around, with the team having returned from the aforementioned continuity erasure, it’s still unclear five issues in what their purpose is.

In fact, the full team has barely been together since the series launched, with Justice League Dark getting more spotlight than the present-day JSA. After the “death” of the Justice League during Dark Crisis, the JSA had a triumphant heroic moment in that event, arriving en masse to help fight Pariah’s Dark Army. That’s arguably the most significant thing that’s happened with the team since their 2019 return, though this week’s issue tries to one-up it, finally bringing the full team together as part of a gathering of JSA teams from the past, present, and future.

The biggest issue with Justice Society of America so far, though, has been with its ostensible main character. Aside from “she’s the daughter of Batman and Catwoman,” we know virtually nothing about Huntress Helena Wayne. Johns relies heavily on the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths history of the Earth-2 Huntress as a basis for this version of the character, but has done little to give her a distinguishable personality of her own. Readers who aren’t familiar with the Earth-2 Huntress, a character who hasn’t been around in nearly 40 years, don’t have that foreknowledge to fall back on, and are left with basically an empty character. Frankly the same could be said for the whole of the JSA in this series – if you don’t already have an affinity for the team, there’s not much here to help you develop one.

The story and character problems throughout the series have made it a challenge to get into, but there’s no denying that the visuals here are stellar. Mikel Janín and Jordie Bellaire are a fantastic pairing, Bellaire’s colors bringing Janín’s linework (which in the wrong hands can often appear overly-posed and static) to life beautifully. The pair’s work has fit the tone of this series perfectly from the beginning, and has been a big reason to keep coming back to the book. The pair are joined by Jerry Ordway and John Kalisz, who have provided sporadic pages throughout the run and turn in one page on this issue. It probably wasn’t necessary to have them draw one page that comes in the middle of the issue’s climactic fight sequence, but it’s still fun to see Ordway draw these characters.

The new issue’s cliffhanger is cause for some hope for the series, though. The excellent Stargirl: The Lost Children miniseries wrapped in May, with a promise of continuation in JSA, and that appears to be what’s coming with the book’s next issue. The cliffhanger also teases more of a connection between “The New Golden Age” and the ongoing Dawn of DC initiative, which may prove beneficial for Justice Society of America, which has thus far been largely disconnected from what’s going on in the rest of the DC Universe. The JSA are central to the DCU’s theme of legacy, so integrating them more fully back in with all those characters they helped inspire can only help this series turn itself around.

Justice Society of America should be one of DC’s biggest hitter titles. It’s a shame the series has gotten off to such an overall weak start. Hopefully with that out of the way, though, Johns, Janín, Bellaire, and co. can get to the good stuff soon, whether it’s developing out characters like Helena Wayne or simply given the JSA more of a defined purpose going forward. 

Final Verdict: BROWSE.


  • Justice Society of America isn’t the only DC book to feature a dramatic attack hug this week. Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent #6 concludes the crossover between the Young Man of Steel and the Injustice universe. The ending of the story from Tom TaylorClayton Henry, and Jordie Bellaire sees Jon confront his alternate universe father in a way that feels completely organic and true to the character, and that drives home why Jon is every bit as worthy of the title Superman as his father. 
  • The Sandman Universe Presents Thessaly #1 adds a chapter to the Nightmare Country – The Glass House storyline with a focus on the titular witch. Series writer James Tynion IV is joined by artist Maria Llovet for the issue, which tells a compelling one-off story and brings in more elements from the larger Sandman Universe to the ongoing proceedings. 
  • Meanwhile, DC’s Knight Terrors event is entering its back stretch, and the heroes and villains of the DCU are starting to wake up to what’s happening. This week’s Knight Terrors: Batman #2 from Joshua Williamson, Guillem March, and Tomeu Morey continues the story of a Dark Knight trapped in his own mind while Deadman runs around in his body over in the main event series. This has been one of the more entertaining tie-in series to the event, and its conclusion doesn’t disappoint, with more horrific imagery on display and some fun allusions to other dream-based stories. A backup story by Williamson and Trevor Hairsine also lets us in on what Arsenal and Black Canary were up to when Insomnia hit, and digs into what’s going through Roy Harper’s head over in the Green Arrow ongoing.

Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!


  1. Maybe if the JSA comic came out on a regular basis, that would help it as well. The lateness of this title is ridiculous.

  2. I’ve enjoyed the JSA book and enjoyed the Stargirl mini. I think something your review needs to keep in mind is the mess the New52/other editorial issues caused for those characters. The entire concept of the JSA essentially disappeared in 2011 with the New52 reboot. They were wiped out for a good 4 years before Geoff Johns teased their return with his Rebirth one-shot. And then their formal return in Doomsday Clock was further delayed because it took so long for that series to start/finish. And THEN it took, what, another two years before Johns launched the current series and the Stargirl mini? From a storytelling standpoint, Johns seems to basically be trying to pick up where he left off. Pretend that 2011 through 2022 in DC time NEVER HAPPENED and he is just writing what amount to his 3rd JSA relaunch and his 2nd Stargirl series. And can you blame him? Sure, it may not be new reader friendly. But is trying to explain away the New52 and Doomsday Clock and however many years of “missing time” in “DCU time” any easier? It was just a really ridiculous situation. And while I could blame Johns in some part – could he have gotten Doomsday Clock out faster and relaunched the JSA faster- I really think the blame lies with DC editorial. It has been an unfocused mess for a few years. Scott Snyder was an architect until he wasn’t. Same with Brian Bendis. Now Joshua Williamson appears to have taken on that role. And Johns? He still sells books, so DC gives him his little “special projects” corner to work in. And he’s chosen to seemingly continue this looooooong-form storyline that kicked off pre-New52 with Flashpoint and continues to slowly unravel the mess of the New52 reboot.
    Again, I’ve enjoyed Johns’ return to the Golden Age characters. I’m glad he’s back on them and they’re back. And as a longtime DC fan I have no problem getting into these characters. In fact I LOVE Johns’ use of DCU history and lore, something that has been sorely lacking for the last decade or so.
    But the backstory of how we got to this point I think can’t be ignored when reviewing the books. It’s been a complicated path here, and, under those circumstances, I”m not sure there was some perfect, new-reader friendly way to bring back the JSA other than to have one of its best modern writers launch a new book and hope old readers show up and any new readers can figure it out as they go.

  3. I’d also note that really Johns’ formula hasn’t changed. From the start of JSA back in the late 1990s to the post-Infinite Crisis relaunch of the book, he likes to use or create new legacy versions of the original characters. That’s his winning approach. Your complaint about not knowiing much about Huntress might be valid, but I’d argue we didn’t know much about all the other new characters Johns brought to the team’s prior titles, either. We got to know some of them better over time. So I’d urge patience.

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