"Justice League" #26 continues to offer up origins for the members of the Crime Syndicate, and this issue has Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis show us (in increasingly fast succession) Power Ring, Johnny Quick, Atomica and Deathstorm's creations. But while none of these are bad, only one of them stands out as being above average.
Readers shouldn't be too surprised that Johns and Reis do best with Power Ring, considering their time together on "Green Lantern." Here, we get another reversal of life between the DC Universe and Earth-3; Hal Jordan is chosen because of his weak will, something that won't be too surprising if you've been reading "Forever Evil." This Jordan is whiny and an awful person; Johns makes sure to establish him as bad before he comes into power, and that's important. Up until now it felt like Power Ring was being used and could in theory be a good person, but with his spying on his employers he's at best a weasel, at worst a traitor.
Power Ring has been shown to be afraid of and worried about the ring on his finger, and here we get an even stronger glimpse than ever on why this version of a Green Lantern ring is to be feared rather than welcomed. We've seen a bit of what the Ring of Volthoom has done to Power Ring's arm already, but here Johns and Reis show us the endgame in the form of Abin Sur. Reis' illustrations of the destabilized Abin Sur are strange and somewhat disturbing, and the recharging scene follows on with that even more so. You still feel a tiny bit sorry for the guy, although now it's looking more like some just desserts.
The rest of the characters get shorter shrift. Johnny Quick and Atomica's joint origin feels very standard; aside from learning what they were like before gaining their powers, there's nothing of great interest here. But that's better than Deathstorm, who gets all of one page. He's almost an afterthought here, a throw-away for people who might otherwise wonder what's going on with him. Even Grid gets more backstory here, through its narration of the other origins. If there had been room for a few more pages in a comic this month, this would have been where they were needed. Then again, with a parade of four inkers (who all do a remarkably good job of keeping the finished pages looking consistent), any more pages might have meant this issue slipping until January 2014.
All in all, "Justice League" #26 is just an average comic. The art looks nice, and the story ranges from acceptable to interesting. With so few comics released this week, it'll certainly end up standing out a bit more than it would have in a sea of new books. In the end "Justice League" #26 will work better as part of a supplemental collected edition to "Forever Evil" -- and you know that it will be marketed as such -- than as a "Justice League" story in its own right. It's just not as much fun as a single issue, alas.