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Still giving a great presentation, writer Dan Jurgens and artist Aaron Lopresti continue to make the members of the JLI as enjoyable as they were in the last issue. While still lacking memorable action scenes, the characters are still interesting with only slight, stereotypical problems. The story is shaping up to be an interesting, but not epic sci-fi adventure and the artwork and colors are somewhat unique from the usual New 52 title.
Under Booster’s orders, the team has split up, two members distracting each of the giant robots that have popped up all over the world. But something more terrifying is brewing underground as the teams are attacked by rock creatures, and above as an alien spacecraft emerges with ties to the robots.
Breaking off into teams of two was an unexpectedly smart move for this issue. In the second issue, it was interesting to see how the team worked together with everyone present, but by the end some members barely had any dialogue, a problem completely fixed in this issue. Every member has a good deal of dialogue, including the two members previously almost non-existent in the last two issues: Vixen and Fire.
Ironically, Vixen and Fire are working together and their chemistry is great. The two are fast friends, and it will be interesting to see how their relationship further develops. But that is also the major problem with this series as a whole so far – the relationships, while enjoyable to watch, are developing way too quickly and it is hard to see at this point how they will grow. Fire and Vixen are friends, August General in Iron and Rocket Red despise each other and Guy Gardner despises everyone. Writer Dan Jurgens needs to put his writing skills to work to avoid backing himself into a corner only a few issues into the series.
Another minor complaint with the characters is the slightly stereotypical problems arising with one member in particular: Rocket Red. Having Rocket Red speak with a heavy Russian accent that sometimes forces the reader to read what he is saying several times because it is hard to understand what he is saying. He also has the hots for Fire (and yes, that was a completely unintentional corny pun, I swear!). While his crush is funny and adds to the humorous feel of the comic, the rest of his character feels very uninspired. This stereotypical portrayal is even more apparent when comparing Rocket’s portrayal to August General. While his name is lacking, his character is very formidable and he has a strong sense of honor, but his heritage is never brought up through dialogue in this issue. With Rocket Red, readers immediately know his descent from the headache they get while reading his dialogue. But it does not seem like something Jurgens was consciously trying to do and is only a minor issue. There are no other complaints with the characters. Their interactions with each other are still very enjoyable. Booster Gold even has his humor back.
The story leaves something to be desired. An epic feel from the gravity of the situation is nowhere to be found. It is a good sci-fi story and a great introduction to the characters and their shortcomings, but the events do not feel heavy because the characters seem less afraid than they should be. At this point there is also too much mystery. The origins of the robots, known as Signalmen, have made no progress at being uncovered at all and more intrigue is added with the mysterious alien space craft hovering above earth and its occupant. The characters do not even know that the robots are called Signalmen! This overload of mystery makes the issue move at a snail’s pace.
The action is also a problem. Many series in the New 52 seem to be having problems balancing how powerful characters are. In this issue, the JLI are taken down fairly quickly, doing an even worse job than last issue. It seems like they should be doing a better job. The action scenes are also nothing special. This issue offers more action than the last, but it may have been better if it had not.
One thing that did remain strong throughout the comic was the artwork from Aaron Lopresti. While there were no jaw-dropping one-page panels, the characters are all drawn well and their drastically different environments are a nice touch and lead to another great element in this issue: the colors. The colors are done by HI-FI and mimic the great backgrounds and include a beautiful glowing earth, a bright blue arctic sea, and a dull and seemingly lifeless cave.
The series is still far from being a top-tier title with it’s story, action and pacing problems. But the characters are enjoyable enough by themselves to make the reader want to keep reading and the art is excellent. DC fans will enjoy it, particularly those interested in teams and more dialogue driven stories rather than solo-act series full of action.