Item #1 on the 'wow I hate this' list: Not changing Johnny Quick's stupid conehead costume. It was stupid in the Silver Age, so it was changed for the Anti-Matter version, but not here. Hell, if you'll notice, even Owlman's costume has more in common with Silver Age Owlman than the leagues-better Anti-Matter/Crisis on Two Earths ensemble.
Anyway, the issue starts with Lex Luthor again, and his narration here isn't that bad. He buys that Superman is dead or at least unable to do anything about the Syndicate taking over, and is looking for something in the bowels of his corporate HQ. Also he meets a security guard named Otis (oh ha ha very cute Johns).
Meanwhile, the Teen Titans, whom I kind of actually like, plot to do something about the Syndicate after the Nightwing identity bombshell they dropped on the world. I sort of wonder what the point of that even was, since they seem to be keeping Nightwing prisoner, though. Then there's a little montage of the destruction across... well, cities in the United States.
Back at Happy Harbor, RI., the Syndicate is having a spat because bad guys are bad and don't get along because of their badness. Johnny Quick and Atomica are the Awful Character Finds of 2013; I can't remember the last time any two characters annoyed me this much. They jabber on, with Quick getting an "are you kidding me?" ten word balloons in the double-page spread, and speed off to go cause some mayhem against Ultraman's wishes.
Also some character stuff with Deathstorm and Power Ring, where Johns tries to make them interesting by making us ask questions about them.
It looks like Deathstorm is Prof. Martin Stein, aka the science professor Ronnie Raymond was bonded with as the original pre-Nu52 Firestorm. I don't see how that's analogous to the New 52's Ronnie/Jason Rusch Firestorm, though. And Power Ring's ring seems to be parasitic in some way. Look, I get that it's the evil 'verse, not necessarily the mirror 'verse -- Silver Age Power Ring got his ring from an ancient monk, for instance -- but if you're going to portray Owlman's history as nearly identical to Batman's, up to and including the death of his sidekick Talon at the hands of the good Joker (as seen in Secret Society #1), why make everything else so different?
And I say again, Johns must think it's so damn clever for Power Ring to be a wimpy coward, afraid of his own shadow and not even liking his ring at all. Because fear is what Green Lanterns resist (according to stuff only introduced into the GL mythos by Johns himself)!
Anyway, Grid spouts off his motivation apropos of nothing, before giving Ultraman a location to tend to -- Khandaq. Oh, GEE, I wonder who he'll meet there. There's an extended spat between him and Owlman over their prisoner Nightwing that bored me to death.
Things I know about Superwoman: She is a woman simultaneously in relationships with two different men, and that she is pregnant. And that her pregnancy is making her sentimental. There is nothing else to know about her right now. She has less characterization than Atomica, than Power Ring, than Grid, than Deathstorm -- by far she's the member of the Syndicate Johns is the least interested in. She's less a character than an element in the Ultraman-Owlman feud, whose part could easily be filled by a sex doll. I don't and didn't read Justice League -- tell me Johns handled the much-maligned Superman-WW romance better than this.
There are cops assembled outside the Watchtower ruins, but they're met by Johnny Quick and Atomica.
That's it, go home, everybody. That's my pick for stupidest comics moment of the year. This is 100% exactly like that Let's be Friends Again strip. If that ridiculous 'blocking the sun' plot weren't evidence enough, there it is -- Geoff Johns has the mind of a child. This is the coolest thing you could ever imagine at age 11, which is where Johns' mind has been frozen for years. I say this understanding that he has written good comics with cool dialogue many times in the past, but he has done little in recent years to suggest any other explanation for most of his material.
Also, sort of wondering why the Syndicate has to be killers. I mean, it's not like the regular Justice Lea... you know what, nevermind.
The Teen Titans show up to fight them off, while Luthor finds his Superman clone B-Zero. He's forced to release it before it's really "done", causing it to be, you know, Bizarro, and tests his loyalty by ordering him to kill Otis.
Think about the mechanics of that, even. Supposing that Atomica can fly (or at least float like Ray Palmer could), could she really do it fast enough to pop into your mouth as you're talking, while saying a complete sentence and a half? Although WG's mouth was open so wide it was more like she was eating an invisible burger.
I admit that what happens next is both relatively creative and interesting -- Johnny Quick can tell Kid Flash is from the future (was that established at some point? It is now, I guess), and messes with the time stream so as to send him back. The ensuing vortex pulls the rest of the team into it.
Not only does John actually think that line is cool, he thinks it's cool enough to use two issues in a row, from the same character, changed only slightly. You know, I get that Luthor might oppose the Syndicate, but think about it this way - if the JL went to Earth-3, would the Good Luthor hate them? Hell, let's go a step further -- if the JL went to Earth-3, would they act like the fascist Justice Lords from the JL cartoon?
That's the thing about this, these guys aren't even a little equivalent to the Justice League. They ruled the world and are trying to take over another; the Justice League is a bunch of guys who punch bad dudes. I feel like only the original Crime Syndicate got this right -- the opposite of heroes isn't dictators, it's villains. A mirror universe cop is a crook, not a corrupt politician
Whatever, I'm getting off-topic. At STAR Labs, a battered Batman and Catwoman show up with a near-death Cyborg, saying the rest of the League is dead. Does that include the JLD, JLA, and/or even the JLI? No, not Godiva and OMAC!
Bruce, you do know that Cyborg hated his father for years the last time he saved his life, right? I don't know how happy he'll be to wake up with less flesh than ever.
So if I were to recap this issue (or at least encapsulate it further), I guess I'd say Bizarro, Titans in the Future, Batman's Alive. 1. No duh Bizarro was gonna show up sooner or later. 2. Okay, sort of interested, but it's not gonna be followed up on in this book. 3. Are you stupid? Of course he's alive. This issue could have been a post-it note reading 'the Titans are in the future now' and it we'd have learned just as much and been more entertained. DC suspended their regular comics for villain stuff for a whole month to build up to... nothing.