(w) Geoff Johns
(p) Tony S. Daniel
(i) Richard Friend and Batt
It's not often that Geoff Johns takes a breather. Usually, the man is constructing some massive arc that has major ramifications for the entire DCnU, and then some. It's not a bad quality at all. In fact, Johns' ability to make nearly anything he writes feel epic is what makes him such an amazing storyteller. For the past 13 months, Johns has worked magic with Justice League, a series that many journalists have criticized for having a lackluster opening arc and a mediocre second. Here's the thing - nothing is perfect, not even the Justice League. Fanboys - and increasingly, journalists - are becoming hardened against different interpretations of established continuity, no matter the situation. Why does it matter that Hal Jordan is a huge jerk? Why can't that be part of the variety of personalities on the team? Is it really a huge deal that only three members of the League appear in the first issue, even though it's the beginning of an origin story that spans six issues? Are we that jaded against change? Sure, Hal says annoying things from time to time, but I'd rather have him cracking bad jokes every once in a while than a set of seven perfect examples of human ingenuity and dedication who say the right thing every time.
Justice League #13 starts a three-issue arc focusing on the Cheetah, a classic Wonder Woman villain reimagined with a much better backstory. I mentioned Johns' penchant for the grandiose earlier because this issue proves how well he can write a smaller-scale narrative, as well. This isn't a planet-wide threat, or even a nation-wide one - "The Secret of the Cheetah" is a personal tale about Wonder Woman and Cheetah's past. It's also about a team willing and ready to help their fellow teammate without a moment's hesitation. Cheetah is largely considered to have been Wonder Woman's arch-enemy in the pre-'New 52' universe, so it makes sense that Diana's relationship with Cheetah cuts deeper than the team could know. Johns is applying his multi-layered narrative style to a more minimal stage, resulting in heavy interpersonal relationships and emotionally-driven plot advancement.
Tony S. Daniel is stepping in for a few issues before Ivan Reis and Joe Prado take over in a few months, and his style is a breath of fresh air. Jim Lee was doing some great issues for the first few months of the 'New 52', but the quality steadily feel through the summer and into the fall. It's nice to see more crisp detail and solid inking, and honestly, the artwork goes a long way in making Justice League #13 such a good issue.
And while DC's website claimed that Johns' "Shazam" back up was still happening, in actuality, it's a story penned by Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire about Steve Trevor and Oliver Queen. Trevor is done working for A.R.G.U.S., and decides to drink himself into a stupor when Ollie Queen shows up to deliver some bad news that looks to be of some importance in the upcoming Justice League of America starting next year.