Writer: Joe Kelly
Artists: Yvel Guichet (p), Mark Propst & Bob Petrecca (i)
The book opens with Nightwing questioning Faith about why Batman has placed such unwavering trust in a person who no one had ever heard of before the new JLA was brought together. However his concerns take a back-seat then the team arrives at Atlantis, and investigate the skeletal remains of Superman. As Nightwing demands that the person responsible to this attention getting display show themselves, we see Nightwing has cause to regret this demand, as he's confronted by a massive creature, whose very touch absorbs one into her. As the new JLA spring into action, we see Nightwing easily slips into a leadership role, and surprisingly the group seem quite willing to let Nightwing guide their attacks. However, when the creature escapes from the unbreakable alloy that Firestorm had formed around the creature, we see Major Disaster is the first of the new JLA to be absorbed into the creature. However, before the creature can reck havoc using her new disaster generating abilities we see Jason Blood launches himself into the creature, and this act serves to free Zatanna from its embrace. We then see the JLA are on the island when Lex Luthor has it nuked, and the JLA find they are saved by a surprise ally.
The plot from the ancient past begins to interact with the more engaging cast of the present day, and as much as I'd like to say that the plot became more interesting as a result, the truth of the matter is that the boredom factor of the plot proved to be the more powerful of the two opposing forces. With the new JLA spending most of the issue trying to make sense out of Joe Kelly's labyrinth like plot this issue proves that sometimes an engaging cast of characters simply isn't enough to carry an entire issue. Oh the issue not a complete write off, as the opening scene between Nightwing & Faith is an interesting little scene, that does a great job of bringing up the questions while keeping the answers decidedly vague & uncommitted (I'm guessing Faith is far older than she looks, and her true loyalties has yet to be revealed). When the team is in battle against the villain, Joe Kelly does a pretty fair job of using the characters, though I must say that I'm not particularly fond of the idea that the Atom is stuck performing a bench-warming role that information maven, Oracle could very easily be handling, and given Nightwing's leading the team, I'm rather surprised that she isn't.
I'm a big Aquaman fan, and I really should be more excited by the arrival of the final issue that will presumably bring him back from the dead. However, while his new monthly title will definitely find its way into my collection, I do feel that Joe Kelly has overplayed this arc's ability to interest the non-Aquaman fan. I mean, I'm a fan of the character and frankly I find myself actively struggling to maintain an interest in the plot elements from the past, so I can't imagine the reader who doesn't care one way or the other about Aquaman's return finding much enjoyment here. The thing is that this crash course in Atlantean history doesn't have to be quite so difficult to follow, as Peter David's "Atlantis Chronicles" from the early 1990s proved to be a highly accessible & entertaining look at how the city of Atlantis was created, and how it's people struggled against overwhelming odds. Now Joe Kelly is a talented writer, and I'll wait for the final issue before I write this arc off completely, but given this was a golden opportunity to spark interest in Aquaman, I'm a bit disappointed by this arc's failure to capture the idea that Aquaman is deserving of the attention this arc could've given him.
First off the cover to this issue is certainly an attention grabber, as though continuity would seem to suggest that Wally & Kyle's costumes would vanish upon their deaths, and Wonder Woman would turn back into clay, but then again a cover true to continuity wouldn't convey the proper impact. As for the interior art, the art is fairly impressive in it's delivery of several big scenes, like the scene where the villain makes her initial appearance, after Nightwing calls her out. The art also does a nice job conveying the somewhat horrific nature of the villain, as we see the bodies it's absorbed into herself poking out of various parts of it's body. There's also the visual surprise as we see Lex Luthor steps in to solve the problem, as he nukes the island while the JLA are still on it. There's also the panel where we discover this attack only served to tick the villain off, and the follow-up scene where we discover who saved the lives of the new JLA. However, there are scene where the art picks odd angles to convey ideas, such as the credit page shot of Atlantis, as it's not really clearly presented that the city is hovering atop a pillar of water. Faith's powers in combat are also hard to make out, though this may be intentional.
I can't wait for Aquaman to make his return to the DCU, and hopefully the JLA. I also love the new JLA lineup, and I hope that several of them stick around after this arc has ended, with Firestorm, Major Disaster & the Atom being the three characters who I feel would be ideal fits into the JLA. The issue also has itself some interesting little moments, like the opening conversation between Nightwing & Faith, and the scene where Nightwing is demanding Jason Blood release the Demon. There's also the ruthless display by Lex Luthor, as he nearly kills the JLA in his bid to save the world, and the discovery that one member of the old JLA is still alive, or at least able to make contact with the team in the present day. However, there are moments in this issue where I must confess I'm at a bit of a loss to tell you what Joe Kelly's trying to deliver, as that final page is outright confusing, as are the scenes where Jason Blood is commenting on the villain's plan.
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