Time was, Earth-2 (that parallel Earth where the Justice Society was still fighting crime well into its emeritus years) was one of those things you only really saw during big-time Justice League stories and occasionally when they needed to fill some pages in Adventure Comics. Later on, it was Roy Thomas' personal sandbox, until Crisis happened, and then it became his albatross.
It was a funny fictional conceit when you think about it, because of how many rules that it was able to break, being the alternative to the regular DC continuity. Characters were allowed to age and die and retire, new characters took over from the old . . .it was intriguing stuff, especially when DC really ran with the "legacy hero" stuff in earnest years later.
(As an aside, with Barry Allen and Hal Jordan now walking around for reasons no more or less than writer fiat, I think we can now declare the "Legacy hero" stuff over and done with, yeah?)
Anyways, then Crisis happened. This made a lot of people terribly upset and has been widely regarded as a bad move. Most of said people started writing comics, and, once ensconced in positions of power, began to undermine the new status quo.
But they undermined it piecemeal, and as a result, DC comics, which demands that the reader absolutely, positively comprehend without fail a huge amount of continuity simply to get their heads around what the hell is going on in just one book, has devolved into a hopelessly confusing mess where the creative minds in charge can't even keep things straight on one fictional Earth, never mind 52 of them.
But surely the incredible story potential of this new status quo will justify the haphazard way we got here, right? Surely now that these fans-as-creators have forcibly turned the clock back to where they wanted it (never mind what the people who pay to read this might have wanted) the welter of great stories that will result will justify everything. Won't they?
Won't they hell.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA ANNUAL #1 perfectly distills everything wrong with DC's approach in on $4 package. We begin with the Alex Ross cover. Now that Ross' painting has adopted the "shinier the better" approach, everything is far too bright and the focus of the composition (Power Girl, so happy that she's back home she's moved to tears, which, thanks to Ross' inability to convey subtle emotion, looks twisted and freakish is pretty much lost in the the glare.) How the hell do you make a cover this shiny without a glossy finish?
The actual story begins on rather bad footing--Jerry Ordway, in a sense returning to the start of his career, makes a game effort in rendering this stuff adequately, but he's let down by Geoff Johns' script, which is full of people being mopey and generally sulky about being a superhero.
The story begin and continues as a throughline how sulky the Huntress is (for those of you who came in late--the Earth-2 Huntress is Batman and Catwoman's daughter. This will become important later) because the Joker, in an effort to recreate Two-Face, has thrown acid onto her boyfriend in an effort to make him the new Two-Face in one of those obnoxiously obvious moments DC is notorious for--namely, the Villains showing us They're Not Screwing Around Anymore. 2 pages in, and I'm already rolling my eyes.
While she's moping around, she discovers Power Girl's back, having been thrown there by . . .whatever the hell was going on in JSA proper--it's not important. Upon returning to Earth-2, Power Girl meets the Justice Society Infinity (a gestalt of Infinity Inc. and the Justice Society, who are very helpfully presented as plotese speaking functionaries without personalities or anything that would make you at all interested in learning more about them if you didn't know who they were already.) Hemming and hawing results and generally gets us nowhere interesting and PG and Huntress end up going after the Joker, who's dying and the Huntress wants to kill him because of what he did to her boyfriend and then Power Girl ends up stopping her from killing him and the Joker dies anyway and it all ends up for naught . . .
. . .because in yet another character-speaking-as-infodump moment, has a think for Dick Grayson which is rather squicky (because they're sort of related, kinda) and even that is subordinate to our Big Reveal--there's another Power Girl who's native to Earth-2 and she's back as well and she's really pissed off and she and Power Girl fight, Power Girl runs off and the JSI chases after her.
To be continued in other comics I will not bother to read, presumably.
You know, reading this, I can't imagine why Crisis seemed necessary at the time to clean up a baffling knot of continuity. I just can't see how it would be necessary at all to put all this gobbledygook on the shelf and start fresh so maybe someone without a degree in Advanced Comics would be enticed to read, and maybe even pay for them. Lord, what a mistake it was to throw all of this into the bin.
Look . . .Al Kennedy said it first and best Sunday: "This is comics about other comics." No more, no less. It's a Murray Ward Index with more pictures and seasoned with a pinch of ridiculous ideas straight out of slashfic. We just about let Watchmen get away with this, if only because it was a self-contained metatextual statement that only required you be cognizant of the typical forms of the superhero comic rather than the specifics. If we are this determined that this fanboy notion that Everything Must Fit Together And Not Forgotten (this is distinct from Everything Must Be Consistent), then superhero comics are not only dead, I'll happily dig their graves.
In short--I really did not like this comic very much and would rather I had not bought it or read it.