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Welcome to the JLI, where a way-too-big group of likable superheroes fight a bunch of clichéd villains who only seem to be interesting when they feel like it. It’s also where barely anything happens as usual, this time thanks to a web of relationships interfering with our main plot, which after several issues I have pretty much forgotten…
A group of super-powered terrorists have already killed and hospitalized several members of the JLI, and they’re not done yet. After comforting their friends, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Godiva, August General in Iron, Batwing, O.M.A.C. and Batman get ready to fight. But how can they fight when their own weapons are turned against them?
This issue starts with some character exposition from our narrator, August General in Iron, a narration that feels out of place. The narrator should just be an omnipotent every man and not focus on one person, like the last issue did with Godiva. And like that issue, the narration abruptly stops about half-way through, making me question why it was ever there in the first place, other than to expose about things recurring readers already know. Also, recurring readers will remember the group went to Paris to fight in a completely irrelevant battle. That battle is not seen here – you’ll have to read Firestorm #9 for that out of place battle.
The multiple romantic relationships highlighted in this issue make me feel like I’m watching an episode of Degrassi. Vixen and Batwing, Tora and Guy, Booster and Godiva, and August General and O.M.A.C. (though that last one is a lot less “romantic” and a lot more “kindred souls” type of relationship). Vixen’s hospitalization is actually a good excuse for having brought Batwing into this series, but is still just that: an excuse. Just like O.M.A.C., Batwing feels like another body added in to be tossed around. But there is not a lot of “tossing around” in this issue either. While the relationships between these characters are believable and don’t just come out of nowhere, previous issues have touched on them, but they also detract from the plot of the story which has barely moved for several issues now.
After all the comforting is done, we’re brought back to our villains. After complaining about their nonthreatening non-appeal last issue, have these villains gotten any better? They’ve actually gotten worse, but in a more respectable way. Last issue, the group was nothing more than a joke with them just standing around doing nothing and a guy who had the maturity of the chillaxin secret agent from The Almighties. This issue, that guy is still annoyingly out of place, but the rest of the team prove to be surprisingly powerful. The final pages featuring the fight between the JLI and our super villains (who according to the “next issue” line are called The Burners) is one of my favorite battles this series has ever had. The way they fight is not just fist pounding like the previous fight last issue between O.M.A.C. and the JLI. Not only is this fight fought intelligently, it’s interesting and actually pertinent to the plot. And not only do The Burners fight well, they fight well enough that they actually make the cliffhanger in this issue have an almost epic feel to it. The only problem is their motivation.
I said before that The Burners actually got worse but more respectably. They are a great group fighting wise, actually bearing a threat this issue, but breakdown – pardon the unintentional play on words – when they reveal their motivation. They are your basic terrorist group, with the backwards idea that since that world is so terrible, to right it’s wrongs they plan on destroying the “ruling class.” The group is nothing more than a bunch of whackos who think politicians are evil.
Penciler Aaron Lopresti and inker Matt Ryan still have your standard body types drawn for all the characters with too many shadows on their faces and torsos and way too many rippling muscles. The colors from Hi-Fi have pulled off another spectacle, however, with another creature created by Lightweaver, which is beautifully colored with an almost rainbow-like color scheme that makes the creature awe-worthy, despite how anti-climactically his butt is kicked.
This issue brought up ideas that could have been revolutionary if they were presented in a different way. The villains, while finally threatening like they should have been last issue, should have been focused on more. While I love seeing them fight, I know I want the JLI to win because the group is obviously nothing more than a bunch of whackos. But the conversation Lightweaver has with his brother in this issue almost draws sympathy out of you, but is over almost as quickly as it starts. I’m not saying I’d EVER feel guilty for a group of terrorists, but this issue could have been a lot more interesting if the villains were fleshed out a lot more.
Unfortunately, the pacing is still atrocious, the villains range from respectably boring to irritating, and a lot of filler is put into the romantic escapades of the members of the JLI. With only two issues left, I’m sticking through this series to see the end of the JLI, and this issue has given me a little hoping via the entertaining action sequences, but offered little else. The writer needs to start focusing on what is important.