By: James Robinson (story), Nicola Scott & Eduardo Pansica (pencils), Trevor Scott & Sean Parsons (inks), Alex Sinclair & Tony Avina (colors)

The Story: For the size-challenged dude who dreams of a major growth spurt.

The Review: On a team book, the moment that sets the tone for the whole series has to be when the various characters finally come together.  The recent Stormwatch and the original New Avengers (Cap, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage, and Daredevil) are examples of team get-togethers that really sold the series for me.  The current Justice League, in contrast, nearly ruined my enjoyment of their entire book with their pointless, obnoxious interaction.

So now you might well wonder how the de facto Justice Society rates.  Honestly, it still seems too early to tell, even though you have four of them all in the same page at once by the end of the issue.  Flash and Hawkgirl have a charming working relationship, and Green Lantern’s ability to remain polite in a crisis sets him up for future leadership, but otherwise these folks haven’t really had a chance to size each other up yet.  As far as these people as a team go, you like what you see, but you want to wait it out a little longer before deciding if they’re worth following or not.

The same thing applies to them as individuals.  In this case, it’s hard not to like them, since by and large they’re well-meaning, personable, obviously destined for heroic things.  Each of them has a distinctive voice you can get attached to and they blend well together.  Still, as we’ve learned with The Flash, there’s a difference between this early, open-minded appreciation of the characters and outright affection.

Interestingly, Robinson does a piecemeal introduction to our heroes the same way Geoff Johns did on their Earth-Prime (or whatever) counterparts in Justice League, yet Robinson succeeds in a way Johns doesn’t.  The difference lies how Robinson makes the most of each character’s appearance, however brief, by giving them a chance to display some personality or to do something important in the story.  It might just be Kendra serving as a distraction so Jay can flash around, saving vulnerable bystanders, but it sure beats killing Parademons over and over.

To that end, Robinson uses Grundy very well.  Like the endless stream of Apokoliptian minions, Grundy can be blasted or torn apart repeatedly and still come back, but with the added benefit of remaining the focus of the story.  He’s not that motivated a villain, honestly, but neither is the Rot in Animal Man or Swamp Thing, which Robinson was obviously inspired by (Kendra orders Jay to “follow the rot”).

If Pansica had something to do with this issue, I’m afraid I can’t really tell.  Chalk that up to my not entirely distinguishing eye.  It all looks like Scott’s usually spectacular work to me, and the additional penciller doesn’t even take an iota away from the quality.  If anything, the art has even improved.  Now, I don’t know if Scott is responsible for the new Justice Society costume designs, but thus far, most of the concepts have left me cool.  The Atom, on the other hand, I like.  It’s simple and classic, without too many unusual features (e.g. shiny crash helmets and shoulder pieces), calls back to the look of Damage (a descendant of the original Al Pratt, pre-relaunch), and the gray military fatigues and war mask update it well.

Conclusion: Well, it ain’t love at first sight, but you can definitely grow to love these characters and this series.  An enjoyable blend of the familiar and the new.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – You know, I’ve always wondered about the viability of the Hawks on a major superhero team.  They just fly around and attack with archaic weaponry, right?  Must be why X-Men writers keep coming up with actual powers for Angel, huh?