Members of the Justice Society from a parallel Earth join forces with a new, but worthy pulp hero called the Whistling Skull, and his puglistic sidekick Knuckles, brought to us by writer B. Clay Moore and artist Tony Harris.
JSA Liberty Files: The Whistling Skull #1
Rarely is a sidekick larger, stronger or more imposing than the hero. This size difference, constructed and carefully executed by Tony Harris’ art, is unusual, but intricate. He coordinates panels that look different and confused, but form a strong pattern given time to view the art. Being different works well for this comic.
Despite being thoroughly confused by my first read through, I began to understand who and what was going on in this story after reading through the comic a second time. The Whistling Skull is a pulp detective called William Massey – the latest in a long line of people who wore the goulish and slightly steampunk whistling skull mask. He received support from an organisation appropriately called “The Skeleton”, and is assisted by his tall and brutish friend Nigel Singleton – the sidekick Knuckles, who wears a studded, black leather suit with orange goggles.
The first few pages of the comic are an extended action sequence: in Japan, a giant mecca robot with wrecking ball arms faces off against the Skull, and three of the JSA from this universe: “The Clock” (Hourman), and “The Owl” (Dr. Midnite), and “The Cat” (Wild Cat). The Cat has with similar supernatural powers to the Wildcat found in the Earth 2 universe: he has nine lives, essentially avoiding death from fatal injury nine times before sub-coming to the injuries. His lives are slowly restored over time.
As a JSA fan, it was appreciated to see the older versions of the Society still have a place in the DC universe. Their presence is just an appearance, however, and there is a sense that the link to the JSA is tenuous – they are their to help launch the Skull and Knuckles continuing adventures. This first issue is a strong first step, and a worth pulp and fantasy comic.