Finally, League government liaison Steve Trevor pops up in Green Arrow's equipment van to tell him to give up, there's no way he'll get on the team. And what's more, he knows that the hero is actually billionaire Oliver Queen, and that he has a dodgy past. Ollie says that's the point - he wants to make up for his misdemeanors, and bring a social conscience to a group he sees as comprising gods among men. As it happens, Trevor has another offer for him ...
... meanwhile, the JL-ers are recalling what happened the one time they considered another superhero for membership, and it wasn't pretty - they wound up in battle with mega-powered Martian Manhunter J'onn J'onzz.
And across the galaxy, the Stormwatch member's ears must have been burning, as he makes a doom-laden pronouncement about the League.
Current DC text pages are all about world-building and this issue fits right in with that notion: it connects Steve Trevor to the Wildstorm Universe by referencing something in his past, gives us our first DC New 52 look at old League foe Amazo and features a battle with the Talons currently bedeviling Batman. It adds texture to the League's world with a problem connected to Cyborg's Boom Tube teleport tech, forces us to ask what the Red Room is and apparently drops Aquaman into Green Arrow's origin.
With so much going on, I loved this issue. There's a real feeling that the League are at the centre of the DCU, constantly getting together to fight the foes no single superhero can withstand.
It's not a perfect story. The League still exudes an air of ass-wipery, but at least writer Geoff Johns acknowledges that they're not what they might be ('Let's try to act professional around the agents, okay?'). Wonder Woman's sword-happy nature has gotten old, Batman is weirdly protective of the League's image given that he sanctions two other versions of the team and the politicians are one-note annoying.
But overall, it's a great read and the revelation of the League's run-in with J'onn J'onzz is the perfect capper to an issue that's been pretty light-hearted ...
The bulk of the instalment is drawn by Carlos D'anda, and elegantly so. I like his sharp style, his clarity in storytelling. Based on his work with Ollie here, D'anda should be booked for the Green Arrow title as soon as there's an opening - it's like he's been waiting all his life to draw the Emerald Archer. One thing D'anda can't do is make the bulked-up Cyborg look good. I suspect no one can.
Gabe Eltaeb and Alex Sinclair provide the vibrant colours, while Pat Brosseau handles the lettering - the latter injects extra energy into the splash page with a dose of vanishing perspective on the credits. Sinclair also handles the cover colours, and don't I just love the yellow and green logo - unusual and attractive. The illustration by Jim Lee and Scott Williams is pretty good, too.
And there's more. The Shazam back-up continues with errant orphan Billy Batson meeting his new 'brothers and sisters', one of whom, spunky Mary, is guaranteed to turn out to be his twin. As suspected, these are the kids from last year's Flashpoint event, who combined to form the heroic Captain Thunder. Heaven knows how they'll fit in here, but they're an interesting callback to Golden Age kid gangs. Mind, there's a tiger in Billy's photo of his parents so perhaps writer Geoff Johns will have the New 52 Mr Tawny eat them.
I hope not, as this re-imagined Captain Marvel story, being so obviously not Proper Captain Marvel, may as well go nuts in the opposite direction as it bids to entertain. Johns is obviously having fun, and Gary Frank's fully illustrated work has never looked better to me. It's complemented by the considered colours of Brad Anderson and delightfully neat letters of Nick J Napolitano.
For the second month running, Justice League feels like the flagship DC Universe book it's meant to be. If things keep improving I'll soon be forgetting the moribund opening arc. Who knows, we could yet have a classic series on our hands.