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JSA: The Golden Age (DC Comics, 1993; #1-4)

You can’t go home again.  That’s the basic idea behind James Robinson’s JSA: The Golden Age.  After World War II, soldiers have returned, and the caped crusaders who kept America safe at home have gone back to their civilian lives.  All anyone seems to want is a return to normalcy—the nostalgic, idealized America from before the war.  So when a nobody mystery man  (who none of the other heroes held in much regard)  comes back from the war a hero, the JSA is too busy piecing together their lives to realize he’s up to something.

This desire to go back to something that never was—as different people than they were before the war—paves the way for new threats to hide in the shadows.  The problem with nostalgia is that it requires turning a blind eye to modern evils and injustices.  You can’t cling to the past while tackling modern challenges.  By pitting Golden Age heroes against more modern challenges and forcing them to accept the necessity of change, Robinson makes them become something new.  While this book may be from 1993, we’re still dealing with this exact same issue culturally today—so that change, that reinvention, feels just as relevant despite the 24 years since The Golden Age’s publication and 50 years between it and its World War II setting.

While Robinson’s script and dialogue establish the 1940s and ‘50s period, Paul Smith’s linework and Richard Ory’s colors sell the book’s old-school feel.  Figures nod to the art of Golden Age comics, but with a more contemporary focus on physicality and expression.  It's a good-looking book.

If you’re a fan of Golden Age characters or like the idea of a superhero comic in an historical setting that deals with the tension between fighting crime and settling into civilian life, definitely check out JSA: The Golden Age.  James Robinson has a talent for making older characters feel fresh and complex, and he succeeds on both of those fronts here.

Collected in

  • JSA: The Golden Age (#1-4)


Writer: James Robinson | Artist: Paul Smith | Colorist: Richard Ory | Letterer: John Costanza

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