It's hard to tell how impactful this issue will be when the direction of the series is still unknown. This, combined with the several moments that appear pointless and the little characterization and conformity among the characters, make the issue a disappointment despite the fact that this could be the starting point leading to the deaths of several members of the JLI.
After an explosion during the UN's unveiling of it's team, Justice League International is devastated by the loss of one of it's members, two allies and lies in wait to see if several of their members in critical condition will survive – or at least walk. While dealing with the aftermath, Booster tries to save the innocent, quell his team's status and avoid getting killed by Lightweaver.
There is a problem immediately at the opening of the issue. There is a bit of a jump from the explosion last issue to sparky-looking light minions fueling the fires around the JLI stage. Unfortunately, it's easy to miss them because they are ignored and only seen on panel once, but are clearly in the background wreaking havoc while the JLI are calmly talking. This comic plot hole is never solved because they never fight these light creatures (until Booster's run-in with a light-constructed samurai).
The plot has a lot of tension going on for the team, but it's hard to feel any as a reader. I can't tell if the situation is really that serious, or if everyone will just live happily ever after. The only member of the team that died had an important scene in the previous issue that hinted at a hidden agenda, so it's hard to believe they're dead – and if they are it completely undermines what the previous issue was trying to do. It's also hard to feel tension when, as I said before, the team is taking the time-out to talk rather than fight demons or save civilians.
Even if there is some tension, it's often misplaced. The two allies of the JLI who died have been in the series from the beginning, and I never found merit to mention them in my reviews because they made absolutely no impression on me. Now that they're both dead, it seems like writer Dan Jurgens was just throwing out the idea of civilian allies because he couldn't find anything to do with them – the equivalent of a cheap cop-out.
One of the killed allies has a father who mourns her. At first, we're not told it's her father and he gives a line that seems out of place. He tells Guy (who is freaking out over Tora's critical condition) that all loved ones mean the same thing to everyone. It's a twist to see him as Emerson's father, but it makes his line seem pointless other than the fact that it is used as a forced establishment of his characters existence. It also seems like Jurgens is trying to give the character an insurmountable amount of sympathy with just one failure of a line. The only undeniably awesome part in the storyline is the guest character who shows up on the final page who had me screaming for the next issue.
A new villain also makes his first appearance here. "Lightweaver's" name, while at first iffy to me, perfectly explains his powers in a clever (if painfully obvious) way. He also has little dialogue, but it quickly becomes apparent he loves destruction and has a bad tendency towards clichéd quips (his opening line to Booster Gold is "...I'm gonna light you up.")His powers are great, but can easily be seen as a carbon copy of Luminus's powers from Superman. He is also receiving orders from a mystery person, so the threat behind the attack is still a well-kept secret that needs an amazing reveal to make up for the storyline. And the characters.
Last issue, the characters were not a big issue: both August General and Godiva were evolving, there was a dynamic relationship between Batman and Booster... but now, in the midst of disaster, all of the characters start feeling the same. It's also hard to remember names. If ever there was a time for JLI's previous trademark name boxes, it was here since teammates are constantly calling each other by their real names that it can leave even the fairly educated casual reader confused.
Skeets is even quickly introduced (he's Booster's helping robot). He is there for two seconds and is explained well to Booster's teammates in the same amount of time, but it is sad to see him introduced so late into the series when new readers could have enjoyed some of his and Booster's interactions together much sooner. Even his small amount of dialogue leads to Booster talking about his "Facespace" page, which, while a corny and overused form of joke, was a relief amidst all the carnage.
But none of the dialogue was funny, which was rightly so considering the "high stakes" of this issue. There is a lot of narration coming from Booster, but it makes little impression on a reader. It is not terrible, but has no strong emotion behind it – but it definitely fits as Booster's voice.
Aaron Lopresti's pencils and Matt Ryan's inks are strong but never masterful. The emotions are clearly etched on the character faces and their designs and wounds are well-done. Even a page of artwork featuring a member's death is drawn well, but falls into the clichéd pitfall of having the final panel of the character dipped in red coloring. But the pencils aren't the problem.
The colors from the Hi-Fi company are what hurt the tone of this comic. It is a serious moment in the team's history, but the bright color scheme keeps the tension out of the reader's mind. This is clearly a problem Jurgens could have fixed since part of the comic does use a darker color scheme during the scenes with fire in the background, which made all the characters appear darker. This was a great tone to start with, but was abandoned halfway through. It's understandable for the narrative why they do this, but it does not stop it from hurting the tone. There are also some noticeable quirks or outright mistakes with the coloring, like one image of Booster, who is almost completely covered in black.
This issue is attempting to be the culminating point in JLI's history, with hints of imminent deaths, established deaths and critical conditions. But never does the tension reach the crescendo it's trying for. There are too little emotions going on with the characters all behaving the same, the pointless plot points and the bright color scheme. The issue is a failure, but does have me hanging on thanks to that surprise end character and the hope that some of the things at stake are legitimately high.
An all-around nerdette, I’m a comic book connoisseur, horror aficionado, video game addict, anime enthusiast and an aspiring novelist/comic book writer. I am the head of the comic book department and the editor-in-chief of Entertainment Fuse. I also write and edit articles for Comic Frontline. I am also an intern at Action Lab Entertainment, a comic book publisher at which I edit comic book scripts, help work on images in solicitations and help with other comic book related project. My own personal website is comicmaven.com.