I don't want to get anyone's hopes up, in the regard of what you'll see if you pick it up: This is standard "Long Arc Setup," with the master villain making moves behind the scenes while the heroes are off handling lesser supervillains so you can see what they're up to.
What made this book sooooooooooooooooooooo much effing better than what we've seen of late (and because we all know I like lists. Deal with it!):
5. Johns actually showed character interaction that mattered, the biggest for me being how he had Batman actually invite Superman to go kick some ass, while Clark was having pretty much an absolutely shitty day at work. He actually had Clark SMILE. He had them interact with respect, like teammates who respect each other, while Cyborg was also competent and useful.
4. He also showed amusing interaction between Flash and Green Lantern, and for the old-timers, that's at least throwing them a bone. Barry Allen and Hal Jordan were really good friends. They teamed up all the time. I refuse to believe that having friends where you work is a bad thing -- these people have to trust each other with their lives. They have to get along, and it's good to see that Johns might have a clue that showing those bonds is essential to this book.
3. He showed enough of the new villain to make you wonder what his deal was on a number of levels -- the guy clearly is intelligent, understands what he's up against in taking on the League. But why does he want them dead? What took him from where he was -- hell, how did he wind up in that wheelchair to begin with -- to where he was at the end, which was something clearly to be reckoned with? Since the story is titled "The Villain's Journey," Johns had to hit a few marks, and I felt he did that -- I'm curious about how the guy got to this point.
2. Poor Steve Trevor. I've always like the concept, and it's not over yet, but if all he was going to be was what he has been portrayed as being for the first eight issues, better that fate than being written so horribly.
1. Most importantly: Nobody was an asshole in this issue who shouldn't have been. That's what I've been saying for months, years, decades. I understand not everyone wants their superheroes to be evil. But for God's sake. Look what the master villain did this issue. It's CLEAR that there are a-holes all over the place in the world, fictional or otherwise. Is it too much to ask that the heroes not remind you of them? Is that too much to ask? I don't think so. I think you can portray these heroes exactly as they were portrayed in this issue and not lose a single ounce of "real world credibility."
Clayface and the Arkham guys and the Key and this new villain...they're the bad guys. They're the a-holes. It's OK if Hal Jordan's not a douche. It's OK that Batman's not a douche. We can figure it out: It's not the Silver Age. But it's OK that Hal Jordan's not hitting on abused wives, too.
*Sniff, sniff* "Damn it, Diana...If I'd known they would trade us in for a JT Krul-written Captain Atom and "The Savage Hawkman," I'd have let Superboy-Prime destroy all reality.""Superman flies and is really strong...what the fuck else do you need to know?!"
-- Hitler, expressing his displeasure about DC rebooting and complaints about continuity