This follows up last issue’s momentous kiss between Superman and Wonder Woman, which was a source of much controversy in the comic book community. We are also introduced to Barbara Minerva, a.k.a. Cheetah, for the first time in the New 52 DC Universe and get a welcome glimpse at the interpersonal relationships (or lack thereof, in some cases) between main characters and supporting characters.
The story begins with a brief prologue showing what transpired after Superman and Wonder Woman’s romantic interlude. To say it was “awkward” would not be an inaccurate assessment. We see that even Superman is left hanging, from time to time. The story then wastes no time in cutting to Wonder Woman, Superman, Cyborg, and Flash in the middle of a fight with Cheetah a few days later. It seems Wonder Woman and Cheetah have a bit of a history and were, at one time, kindred spirits and even good friends. As Wonder Woman begs Cheetah to let her help revert her back to her more human side, Cheetah proves to be a formidable threat to them. Even Superman, who is vulnerable to her powers, which we find out later are of a mystical origin. Vulnerability to magic is one of Superman’s few weaknesses, as you might recall. Cheetah leaves the group, with a few parting words for Diana about how humanity is hopeless and she doesn’t, in fact, need or want Diana’s help. She’s perfectly fine with her bestial condition.
The scene cuts to Batman and Aquaman visiting Justice League liaison and one-time romantic partner to Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, in the hospital, requesting information about Cheetah. As you might recall, Trevor was seriously injured, after being tortured by the supervillain, Graves, a few issues back. The scene switches back and forth between the hospital and Justice League HQ, as Trevor and Diana relay what they both know about Cheetah. They both go into how Diana and Barbara were once friends and how Barbara came to be the way she is today. Her story is fairly faithful to the pre-New 52 Barbara Minerva’s origin, which involves accidentally cutting herself with a mystical dagger Diana had found while Barbara was working for A.R.G.U.S., overseeing The Black Room. Barbara became possessed by the Goddess of the Hunt, transforming into a half-human/half-cheetah creature. We learn Diana blames herself for what happened to Barbara and why she is so intent on helping her.
As alluded to earlier, we finally get a much-needed look into certain characters’ feelings and personal lives. Namely, Victor Stone. Since becoming the half-human/half-machine hero, Cyborg, Vic’s life hasn’t been easy. All but shunned and ignored by his father, Cyborg as immersed himself in his work. The reader can’t help but feel for Vic, but also admire him for his courage and heroism. His scene with The Flash outside the main Justice League meeting room, as Superman and Wonder Woman have a private conversation inside, is both funny and endearing. With Green Lantern Hal Jordan quitting the team a few issues back and the constant bickering between Batman and Aquaman over who should be leading the team, the future of the League is uncertain. In Vic’s mind, the League is all he has left. The Flash, offering a helping hand of friendship, begs to differ. It’s a nice scene and brings much depth to Cyborg, which I appreciated. The main story ends with quite a doozy of a cliffhanger, as something unexpected happens to a certain member of the team in the middle of a fight with Cheetah. Will Wonder Woman be able to save her friends? We’ll find out next issue.
Writer Geoff Johns and guest artist Tony Daniel make just as great a team as when Jim Lee was onboard. I appreciated Johns taking some time away from the action to focus on quiet character moments, as well as creating suspense and intrigue. Tony Daniel does as great a job as ever. I’ve been a fan since his pre-New 52 Batman work and he does not disappoint here. It will be a real treat seeing him draw this book, before the equally-talented Ivan Reis takes over a few issues from now.
The backup story, written by Johns and Jeff Lemire and expertly drawn by Brad Walker, is basically a setup for the upcoming Justice League of America series, which will be a separate, more covert team from the main Justice League. In this story, Trevor is paid a visit to by Amanda Waller, who has some distressing news for him. Later, Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow, approaches Steve in a bar, as he is drowning his sorrows. It seems Ollie wants Steve’s help after being attacked by a villain known as Multiplex. After showing a flashback of the fight, we see that Ollie discovered a device with a mysterious insignia on it and we learn why he’s taken it to Steve to get his opinion on what it means. It seems they both know what – or who – it is. At first, I wasn’t too keen on another Justice League series without the main team, but what I’m hearing and reading about what Johns has planned and who the members will be, I’m more than sold. With Johns writing and David Finch handling the art, this book is going to kick all kinds of ass. This was a nice setup that got me even more excited for it.
I was really bummed after hearing Jim Lee was leaving and I was totally prepared to see a slight drop in quality with this title, but I’m pleased to say that isn’t the case with this issue. Great job, in all respects. It’s becoming ridiculously routine, but I have to give another high rating. It remains one of the best superhero titles currently being published. 10/10