Fair Play versus Unfair Play

JSA: Fair Play TPB
Writers: David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns
Artist: Stephen Sadowski, Peter Snejberg

May 26, 2005

By Avi Green

The next compilation of the great revival of DC’s very first super-team pits them against the crooked granddaughter of the original Mr. Terrific, Terry Sloane, from whom current Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt, takes his inspiration and career as a crimefighter, which the granddaughter resents so much, she’s determined to destroy him for taking over the role. And whom might the aforementioned villainess be? Her name is Roulette, and she runs a casino operation in which deadly contests are staged between superheroes and such whom she’s abducted, and then tossed into an arena for combat.

The JSA are getting over some of their previous battles, and now, until the next one takes place, are having some internal conflicts and problems to deal with, such as current Hawkgirl Kendra Saunders wanting to distance herself from Carter Hall, to the point of where she kisses Sand (Sandy Hawkins) in order to do so, much to the annoyance of Carter, who spots this through the window, and when Sand realizes this, he’s embarrassed. There’s also a rivalry that forms between Atom Smasher and Black Adam, with Star-Spangled Girl serving as a referee, and things get pretty heated until Captain Marvel steps in to put a stop to things. And then, as if that weren’t all bad enough, some of the JSA members are kidnapped via a teleportation device that looks almost like one of Mr. Terrific’s very own floating orbs, powered by Roulette, who then transports them all to her secret arena where she can pit them one against the other in deadly games that can kill either one of the participants – or both. So of course, Michael Holt, Dr. Mid-Nite, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Sand, Atom Smasher and Black Adam are in for quite a duel of wits against this sinister operation of Roulette’s, as they try to prevent themselves from being put to death Most-Dangerous-Game style.

One of the best things besides the exciting spectacle of how the JSAers will be able to outwit the machines they’re up against is some of the cameos in the casino by various familiar villains from around the DCU, such as Flash’s own Rogues’ Gallery, which includes Mirror Master, Rainbow Raider, Captain Cold, and even other villains such as Phobia, Calculator, etc. And, there’s also an impressive interlude issue in which Star-Spangled Girl and Jakeem J. Thunder, the young teenage superhero wannabe from Keystone City who’s taken over for the now aged Johnny Thunder in managing the Bahdnesian Hex-bolt genie Thunderbolt, and along with the friendly genie find themselves up against Solomon Grundy in the NYC subway systems, as he comes to the big town to try and cause trouble for the JSA.

The last part is a stand-alone story in which the JSA, with the help of Batman, seek to stop a villainess named New Wave, who’d once been part of the Masters of Disaster, one of the villainous gangs the Masked Manhunter fought when he’d been part of the Outsiders during the 80s. She’s slain her partner, Shakedown, with whom she’d kidnapped the infant daughter of a couple from Gotham, and is threatening to put her to death if a ransom isn’t paid. The JSA and Batman are lucky to arrive just in time at where she’s hiding out to stop her from causing harm to the infant.

The issue ends with Black Canary deciding to depart from the JSA for a time to sort out her life, this having been at the time that Green Arrow had been revived and was trying to get his own back in order again. And guess who should be coming in to fill her place, as good as she does her costume. That’s something that I’ll leave for readers to find out for themselves, as it happens to be quite a treat.

Again, this too is a good compilation, and well worth trying out.

2017 Update: This is another review I decidedly cannot stand by anymore, having come to recognize what a bad influence Johns had upon the comics industry.

Copyright 2005 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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