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

The Story: This is how the world ends—as a flashing, neon disco light before obliteration.

The Review: This issue picks up where we left off last time, with Booster Gold and Batman fending off a legion of golems as they attempt to prevent an alien mechanism threatening to destroy the planet.  Their struggle proves futile, as they get overwhelmed by drastically superior numbers and unthinking persistence from their foes.  As they succumb to the pressure, Booster cries, “This can’t be happening!  If we go down, who’s left to save the earth?”

He may not realize it, but his line has a lot of significance attached.  For one thing, the question is almost preposterously rhetorical.  I don’t know about you, but my first thought after reading it was, How about the actual Justice League? Let’s face it: with the original League well in existence, made up of the most recognizable, beloved, and powerful heroes in DC canon, JLI is never going to be more than a paltry alternative, and a very redundant one at that.

Booster’s utterance of “This can’t be happening!” also exemplifies the largely generic and often melodramatic quality of dialogue Jurgens has brought to this series.  Very little of it comes with actual personality attached, making most of the lines interchangeable among the hefty cast.  Also irritating is their propensity for stating the obvious, a habit even Batman can’t get out of: “Some kind of animated dirt and rock creatures.”

Often, you get the sense Jurgens pens the script almost mechanically, with no true spark of imagination behind it.  Just last issue, while fighting the same “animated dirt and rock creatures,” Booster mentioned, “One of these guys latched on to a place you really don’t want anyone to latch onto, know what I’m sayin’?”  He redelivers essentially the same joke in the opening pages here: “…they keep grabbing me in the worst places.”

Jurgens demonstrates quite clearly that his humor leans mostly toward the penile.  I rolled my eyes at Godiva’s incessant come-ons for the past few issues, but she takes it to an even more shameless level here.  With the team trapped by golem goop, she uses her hair to probe through Batman’s gooky bonds to get the laser cutter out of his belt.  “Got it!” she exclaims.  “That is not my belt,” he informs her, unamused.  Considering she just groped Batman in the middle of a crisis, it’s safe to say her sexual freedom has gotten a bit out of control.

The story would be better served if Jurgens focused on giving the team more to do instead of forcing them to just sit around and listen to their enemy reveal all his dastardly plans, which is just about the least engaging tactic in comics writing.  Also, it’d be nice to see the team actually show their competence for once.  Getting beat around for practically four issues straight (Guy got KO’ed last time, awakes here, and confronts Peraxxus, only to get knocked down again in two pages) doesn’t exactly encourage you to place much “faith” in the team, as Emerson insists.

At least Lopresti delivers some highly qualified art, made all the richer by Ryan’s inks and Hi-Fi’s hi-fi colors.  That said, Lopresti doesn’t bring much edginess to his work; it all looks comfortably smooth and polished, strangely good-natured, as weird as that sounds.  Honestly, it’s the kind of art that would work fantastically with one of the Young Justice titles (Static Shock and Teen Titans come immediately to mind).

Conclusion: At this make-or-break stage, Jurgens still hasn’t proven the JLI beyond its concept.  The characters are relentlessly one-dimensional, the plot thoroughly cut-and-dry, and the writing mostly shallow and bland.  Score another one for the Dropped pile.

Grade: C

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – And the award for Least Emotive Reaction to the End of the World goes to Andre Briggs: “Oh.”

– Man, Tora just can’t catch a break.  She was the first man down when they confronted the Signal Men, and she’s the first man down again when they attack Peraxxus.  Some luck.