By: Geoff Johns (writer), Jim Lee (penciller), Scott Williams (inker), Alex Sinclair & Gabe Eltaeb (colorist)

The Story: Vic, would this be a bad time for me to suggest you star as the new Bionic Man?

The Review: I admit, I had mixed feelings when I heard Cyborg was going to join the Justice League.  As a Teen Titans fan, I always liked the character, and thought Johns’ portrayal of him as the heart of the team very cool.  And when Brad Meltzer put up Cyborg as a potential member of the newly reformed Justice League of America (back in 2006), I didn’t think it was a bad idea.  I just felt that as a hero, Victor is competent, but not high-tier material.

Then it occurred to me that on a team that has Green Arrow on its roster, perhaps it doesn’t make sense to be picky about who gets to join.  Anyway, in this issue, Cyborg gets some major upgrades in his power set, as his father imbues him with a cornucopia of highly advanced, barely understood tech devised by the great geniuses of the DCU, including Anthony Ivo, Dr. Magnus, and, interestingly enough, Ryan Choi (the short-lived Atom replacement).

It would be impossible to figure out how all these technologies come together to make Cyborg a living, functioning whole, and Johns doesn’t even try, but clearly, it all makes for a formidable powerhouse.  Running on auto-pilot, Victor immediately dispatches two of the Parademons who break into the lab by obliterating them with a “white noise cannon.”  The combined trauma of his injuries and cybernetic revival makes him freak out, of course, and he takes it out on his dad in an over-the-top, screaming fury: “You did this to me!

But what doesn’t sound over-the-top in this early formation of the League?  All the characters sound rather flat and one-dimensional, though some more than others.  Wonder Woman can’t seem to deviate from the same line no matter what she says (“What a day for a fight!”), as if Johns doesn’t know exactly how to write her, which may be a major problem in time.  And it’s hard to tell if Hal gets the most lines because that’s just his nature, or because Johns knows how to write him best, but whatever the reason, his constant, bratty chatter gets pretty grating after a while: “I can do anything with this ring. So, really, what can you do that we can’t?”

That remark gets directed toward Aquaman, who’s forced to prove his chops to the team in this issue.  While he does manage to earn some respect from his new teammates, in a weird way, he also reveals the limitations of his own powers.  It’s not like he can always summon great white sharks to take down Parademons for him, and his trident tricks won’t always cut it.  But again—this is a team that includes Batman and Green Arrow, so let’s not be too prejudiced about this.

Johns continues to drive the story at an elderly pace, and this time, the interaction among the heroes isn’t lively enough to cover up the lack of forward movement.  You’d think with the godlike villain at hand here, we’d have a more epic conflict (like Grant Morrison’s flawed but undeniably grandiose plot in Final Crisis), but it all boils down to your garden-variety planetary invasion, even with a pretty dramatic ending.

This issue offers good evidence of why I consider Lee a pleasing artist, but not a very thoughtful one.  He makes several dramatic missteps here that undermine the integrity of the script, like Victor’s Tarzan-like leap as he flees from his dad (an inappropriate bit of slapstick for what should be an emotional moment), or having Batman off-panel when Lantern says, “Are you laughing…at a time like this?”  At least Lee designs a truly imposing Darkseid, one who makes the entire League look like kids compared to his impressive stature.

Conclusion: Slickly drawn and mildly entertaining, but hardly the material DC’s premier team of heroes deserves.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – It’ll be interesting to see where Johns plans to take Steve Trevor in this story, and how he’ll fit into the modern Wonder Woman mythos, especially since we haven’t had a single glimpse or mention of him in her solo title.