Writer: Joe Kelly
Artists: Yvel Guichet (p), Mark Propst (i)
The book opens by showing us the DCU is feeling the absence of the JLA who we learn have been missing for over a month. We then see that before he was pulled through the portal into the past Batman activated a computer program that was designed to recruit a new JLA should the situation in their absence become too dire. To this end we see various heroes across the DCU are contacted, and recruited into this new JLA. First up is the Atom who welcomes the chance to prove his worth. Next up is the Green Arrow, who views the invite with a high degree of skepticism, but the opposite is true of Hawkgirl who is delighted by her invitation into the big leagues. We then see a woman named Faith is also brought into the group, and in a highly unexpected move we see Jason Blood (aka. Etrigan the Demon) is also brought aboard. After seeing Firestorm get the call, we get another surprise member as Major Disaster (founding member of Justice League Antarctica) is contacted. With the above group gathered together at the Watchtower the group is introduced to their leader, Nightwing, and the new JLA is born.
Since the cover to this issue features the assembled team, I'm not going to try and preserve the secret of the new JLA lineup. First off it's great to see Green Arrow, Firestorm & the Atom secured a spot on the team, as while Oliver is back in this own monthly title, the other two have been languishing in comic limbo for far too long. Plus I rather enjoy the teacher/student partnership that was created between the Atom & Firestorm during the "Day of Judgment" miniseries, so I hope it's a part of this story. Hawkgirl should add a nice rookie element to the cast, and Nightwing fans should be thrilled by the role that Dick is being called upon to play in this issue. There's also a couple a dark horses in this group, as Jason Blood's tendency to transform into a evil demon would seem to make him an unlikely choice, as would the idea that Major Disaster's never shown himself to hold that great a control over his power. We also get a new character named Faith added to the group, and while I'm a bit annoyed that her presence effectively kept a more established hero off the team, I'll give Joe Kelly every opportunity to impress me with this character.
Every gathering of a team issue is faced with the task of explaining how all these disparate characters were brought together, and this issue is no different as we see Batman has a back-up plan that comes into play should the JLA be out of action/missing for more than a month. Now while Batman's recorded message assures us that each member of the new JLA was selected after careful consideration, there's no disguising the fact that most of the members of this new JLA are in the group because Joe Kelly wanted them there, as one would think the most logical replacements for the JLA would be characters whose abilities mirror the original JLA members (e.g. Jade, or Alan Scott to replace Green Lantern, Jay Garrick, or Jesse Quick to replace Wally). Still, I'd much prefer Joe Kelly made use of characters he wants to use, as except for the fact that Blue Beetle, Elongated Man & Black Canary didn't make the cut I'm delighted with this new JLA lineup. Oh and while she's not part of the recognized group that makes up the new JLA, Joe Kelly has created a fairly key role for Zatanna to play in this arc, so I'm not lamenting her being passed over.
Yvel Guichet's work is such a close match to Doug Mahnke that when this arc is collected in trade paperback format, I doubt most readers will be able to tell that two different artists provided the art on the book. Now Yvel Guichet's doesn't look to be quite as detailed when it comes to the backgrounds, but it more than makes up for this with its delivery of its big impact shots, as how can one not love that one-page shot of Hawkgirl celebrating her inclusion in the JLA, or the emergence of Firestorm. The last page shot of the new JLA rushing into action is also pretty impressive, with Firestorm's power blasts being my personal favorite element on this page. The art also does a pretty good job in the opening pages playing up the idea that the world is in dire need of the JLA's return. I also enjoyed the art's ability to introduce us to the new cast, as Green Arrow gets a nice reveal sequence, as does the final member of the team. There's also a cute little bit involving Batman telling Green Arrow to zip it in his recorded message, as I love the facial expression of Batman on the screen combined with Oliver's body language.
I'm not going to say that this issue lived up to all my expectations, as several of my favorites that I had convinced myself I saw on the silhouetted version of the cover ended up being someone else. Still it's great to see Green Arrow, the Atom & Firestorm back in the JLA, and Major Disaster, Hawkgirl & Nightwing are all welcome additions. As for Jason Blood & Faith, I must admit I know so little about the former that he's in pretty much the same boat as the latter, in that they both have to convince me that they're good characters. In the end Joe Kelly & company did a fairly good job of preserving the lineup of this new JLA, and the end product is certainly a diverse mix of personalities that should make for very interesting reading. Joe Kelly also manages to inject his regular allotment of humor into the material, as one does have to smile at Captain Marvel's final line, and I love that Batman had foreseen that Green Arrow would be shooting off his mouth when the group had assembled.
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