Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist and Cover: Stephen Byrne
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Last time: In the aftermath of Prometheus’s (failed) public humiliation of the JLA, the Ray left the group off in a huff to recommit himself to his old life, and his old city.
What’s Happening? With Reed Strong: Finding a wannabe burglar wrapped in a steel vault door, the Ray phones in his partner Xenos to mull over what rather harsh vigilante has taken up patrolling the city in his absence. His curiosity is shortly kept as he shoots off into the fly to take another look around, and is met with the righteous might of Aztek. A software engineer named Nayeli Constant found a war helmet crashing through her lab window one year ago, bestowing her with the might of Aztek, to continue the fight that its previous owner lost to the god Tezcatlipoca.
Aztek stakes her claim in that the Ray left the city to suffer in darkness while he ran off to the JLA. As the two manage to stand each other enough to go remedy a hostage situation, they start to see the powers each of them have to offer. Back at the JLA’s base, Caitlyn Snow is met with a familiar dream in her sleep and upon her waking moments is met with an answer to her greatest wish. Rushing out to the JLA’s meeting room, she reveals that Killer Frost is no more; her blue skin and icy demeanor is gone and she’s completely cured.
Reed Strong’s Strong Read: Aztek was one of Grant Morrison’s many, many, many underutilized toys that he left for other writers to play with, and pairing the mantle with a new civilian helps paint a very fun clash of ideologies and personalities as she and the Ray patrol Vanity together. Caitlyn Snow meets with the mysterious wish-granting dreams that have been plaguing the book for a few arcs now, and her cured condition will probably only lead to more troubles.
Orlando’s world expands itself in every issue, but beyond the world building the book continues to have one main advantage; these characters still really live and breathe, having a significant life outside of their costumes, and really in their own skins.