By: Dan Jurgens (writer), Aaron Lopresti (penciller), Matt Ryan (inker), Hi-Fi (colorist)

The Story: Well, it’s not “Hands Around the World,” but it’ll have to do.

The Review: With one Justice League already in existence, and with all the world’s biggest, brawniest, most recognizable heroes counted in the roster, it really puts all other teams to shame, doesn’t it?  Justice League Dark may have proven its value where purely mystical threats are concerned, and Stormwatch when it comes to covert planetary guardianship, but JLI has been a sanctioned imitation from the start, and will have to work that much harder to break out.

It’ll have a much harder time of it if Jurgens doesn’t figure out how to write any of the characters beyond their most basic conceptions.  Rocket Red and August General spend most of the issue taking digs at each other’s nationalistic pride (“To be saved by miracle of Russian technology is glorious for you!”  “Chinese science would have been faster and more efficient.”), which comes across embarrassingly clichéd and antiquated—what is this, the late seventies?

This lack of identity applies double to the women.  While Godiva has sort of found a voice for herself (and it is the voice of a randy lady), her fellow females all have a sameness to their dialogue, making them exceptionally interchangeable.  Here’s a sample of all four women talking at once (see if you can tell who’s who!): “Is he trying to tell Batman what to do?”  “You heard right.”  “This is about to get good.”  …”He’ll need the doctor more than me.”

Even with the most fully-formed personalities of the team, Jurgens seems in creative competition with others and himself.  Batman sounds as dour and commanding as ever, but certainly has none of the spark Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns, or Grant Morrison have given him.  Jurgens gives Guy a lot of sound and fury, but none of the wit and depth Peter Tomasi lends him in Green Lantern Corps.  And while Booster, as Jurgens’ specialty, comes across the most convincing of all the team, his agonizing self-doubt certainly makes him unrecognizable.

While shocking to see the team rank on Booster, just because he chooses to back off from a fight and see to his teammate’s injuries, it’s even more shocking to see Booster simply take their abuse so personally and without a peep.  The fact he even considers stepping down at this first sight of discontent already proves he doesn’t have the chops to lead, and ultimately, it’s the intercession of Batman and August General, not his own skills, which restores trust in him.

As far as the plot goes, giant celestial robot-humanoids from outer space are nothing new, but they always make for handily threatening opponents.  Unfortunately, their presence in the issue highlights the team’s limited firepower, with almost no one having much in the way of super-strength or invulnerability.  It’ll definitely be interesting to see how they manage this crisis on their own, without aid from bigger guns elsewhere.

Lopresti does fine, appreciable work, but the clunkiness of the script defeats whatever creativity in storytelling he can bring to the issue (and he’s capable of much, if you ever saw his Garbage Man feature in Weird Worlds).  His only real flaw, one seen in Weird Worlds, is the sheer cartooniness of his art, which always brightens the tone of scenes beyond where it’s appropriate.

Conclusion: If JLI wants to separate itself from the rest of the pack, they’ll have to make bigger impacts than this.  At this point, Stormwatch seems a more viable team.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Considering the alacrity of Ice’s recovery after getting blasted, it seems like Jurgens had her injured solely as a ploy to get Guy to come back to the team.

– “The interesting thing about these tights is that they’re…you know—tight.”  Alright, this makes it official: I call slut on Godiva.  Personally, I see that kind of behavior more offensive than all the sexual openness Starfire and Catwoman can offer.