Forces are gathering against the Justice League, whether it is the oncoming onslaught of Etrigan’s demons or the sinister hidden danger that comes from the Injustice League.  “Burning Bright” brings the former of the two front and center, as the Justice League readies to battle Etrigan’s demons alongside the knights of Camelot-Nine.

If you like exposition, this is an issue for you.  I’m not sure what it was about this one, but there are word bubbles everywhere.  Entire panels nearly covered with white space and lettering.  It was certainly overused and at times served no real purpose.  This is counterbalanced by the much better action scenes later in the book, where there is little to no talking.  It just looks awesome, and isn’t that what we need more often in our lives?  A glorious, beautifully colored battle between superheroes and demons.  I’d sign up for more of that.

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“So. Much. Talking.”

Maybe the humor of Giffen and DeMatteis has caught up with me, or it might be that I’ve just become better at seeing when the punch line is coming.  I did like the little jab at how misleading some covers are.  The bantering between the League members is still entertaining, if not eye-roll inducing at times – namely Superman’s entire shtick – and creates a separation between these characters from the heroes we all know.  It may sound contradictory, but several of the heroes’ new personalities has made them one-dimensional.  Superman is loud and boisterous, little more than a 1980’s movie high school jock.  Wonder Woman’s recent show of emotion of any kind has been good for her, raising her above the status of what was little more than a dominatrix.  Green Lantern and Batman haven’t been given much page time, but from what we’ve been given, their characters do have a breadth to them.  Teri is by far the most interesting as a girl genius resurrected from the dead with the powers and DNA of a speedster.

The one thing that’s too much of a leap for even a book like this to try and pull off is the resolution between Ice and Fire.  We’ve been told throughout this arc that Fire has been sent to hell and has spent one-thousand years – one whole millennium – serving Etrigan.  That is one thousand years of conditioning, brainwashing, and anger built up to shape Fire into the kind of person she is now.  She is also actively in a physical relationship of whatever kind with Etrigan, calls Ice a bitch, and swears that she will be the one to kill her.  So she tackles Ice and the two square off, a pair of immortals ready to erupt with such power that it could crack the world.  But they hug it out?  WHAT?!  An entire millennium of hatred, jealousy, emotional conflict, and war is undone by the bleeping power of friendship.  Anyone who has read my reviews knows that I have my pet peeves, but my number one undisputed king of all pet peeves is the disgustingly gluttonous overuse of the “power of friendship solves everything” trope.  I despise it, because that’s not how human beings work.  I get that this is a light-hearted series which prides itself on the absurd, but come on…what is this?  That’s like if when Jason Todd came back in Under the Red Hood and had just hugged it out with Bruce.  Ugh.

On the opposite spectrum, Howard Porter’s artwork is fantastic as always.  I will continue gushing over the strong style and directing choices throughout every issue, and you can’t stop me.  Hi-Fi’s coloring talent is also strong in this book, playing along with the fantastical theme of the series.  I have nothing but positive things to say about the duo.

Spoiler

  • Lois Lane has beaten Ariel Masters and is now targeting the League.  Looks like there is an Injustice League showdown coming soon.

Recommended If…

  • You’re a fan of Justice League International.
  • You like funny things.
  • You want to get back on the Howard Porter Artwork Train.

Overall:  While the writing and artwork is above average and has been consistently one of my favorite titles, about once an arc there’s an issue that makes me go “meh.”  Maybe the jokes are laid on a little too thick, or maybe the characters lose their charm for an instant, or maybe in even the most inventive of universes there are things that I can’t quite wrap my head around.  The strength of this series raises the bar for me, and this one just missed it.

SCORE: 6/10