Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Jesus Merino
It’s the future and the Nazi mentality has taken over the world with
as its headquarters. The former Mr. Terrific is under going a series of questioning by an American servant of the German founded political system. With the remaining superheroes of the world drained of their powers by some mystic dark engine and put under lock and key, the third Reich can now relish in the fact that the entire planet’s inhabitants pledge allegiance to one flag and one leader. The superheroes are completely helpless…or are they? America
If you were to ask me which story arc I’ve enjoyed reading the most in my years of comic collecting, I would respond “Fatherland…definitely Fatherland!” The combined talents of Bill Willingham and Jesus Merino have created an arc that rivals Kingdom Come by Geoff Johns. There’s nothing particularly original or innovative about this arc, but it does take us through a trip down memory lane to the times when comics were all about the American spirit and fighting against the oppressive Nazi Regime.
Last month, Willingham introduced some new villains as well as revived some already established ones, all of which pay tribute to Nazi Germany. The Shadow of War is one of the more interesting and terrifying of the mix due to her mysterious and perplexing demeanor. Her powers seem to be limitless and incomprehensible, which makes her the perfect villain to fight against the Justice Society. It was a nice surprise as she unveiled the secret weapon which would render the JSA powerless. I am a little confused, however, as to why the dark engine did not affect the Shadow of War. The rest of the Third Reich held back which I’m sure was the plan from the start so the Super-Nazi’s would not be unharmed, but what makes the Shadow of War so unique that she can carry this engine and still retain her powers? In addition, why is the egg form of Obsidian so important to the running of this dark engine? This is most interesting and intriguing part of the story and I’m very excited to see what Willingham has up his sleeve.
Speaking of creepy characters, I think Kid Karnevil is the gold medal winning super villain in the creepiness category. The rest of the Third Reich is obviously evil, but they portray a certain level of normalcy as strange as that may sound. Kid Karnevil has officially boosted himself to an equal insanity level as the Joker.
As stated above, Jesus Merino contributes a lot to the Silver Age feel of the JSA this month. I can’t be sure if it’s purposeful or just his style, but the wooden, yet colorful look to this entire issue is perfect for this story arc. It maintains the contemporary style that comic books have today but does call upon the inspiration of the silver age. The darker tone at the end of this issue vs. the much brighter feel in the earlier parts was a very nice touch, showing the difference between the past and the future, the classic era and the darkness that will come.
Merino has this incredible ability to portray an incredible sense of motion, as if it didn’t take any effort at all. Jay Garrick, for example, as he struggled to free himself from Shadow of War’s mystical grip was quite impressive. Unlike most artists, who use an overabundance of speed lines to give the feeling of fast paced action, Merino uses his natural talent to create powerfully moving objects without going to far with the details. It’s a perfect display of immense action and suspense that doesn’t revert to the bad habits we find in most comics these days.
This issue will by no means make my top ten list for 2010, but this issue certainly will be in the top spot for the month. It’s a lot of fun and brings back the classic comic book story back to the stores for the contemporary reader to enjoy.
Rating: 9 out of 10 stars
Next Issue Coming April 28, 2010
The Nazis have succeeded and taken over
America, which is leading to the scheduled executions of the major heroes and villains in the ! But Mr. Terrific may have figured out a way to topple the Fourth Reich using their own Darkness Engine against them... U.S.