I've been looking forward to the return of Roger Stern and John Byrne to a big-time story quite a bit, and I've been chomping at the bit to read their JLA Classified story in its collected trade. I was curious, could this hold up to the old books by these guys? I think it does... this trade tells the story of Titus, a foe who vexed the league in their early days and has now returned even more powerful. The story swaps back and forth between the classic watchtower team (J'onn, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Wally West, John Stewart, and the Atom... no Aquaman!) and the classic league lineup (Supes, Bats, WW, Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, J'onn, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Aquaman). Titus originally was a hairy almost New Gods looking demigod looking to prove himself by destroying the league. Now that he's back, it seems as if revenge is his motivator now. As the story unfolds, we end up with both the "present" and the flashback story climaxing at the same moment, which is a nice effect. I had worried that J'onn J'onzz wasn't going to be used that much, but he actually does quite a bit in the story. In fact, everyone gets their due, Atom gets some nice shrinking manuevers and Aquaman goes toe to toe (briefly) with the hugely powerful Titus. The story is a simple one as the heroes just dogpile on the villain, but the characterization throughout is well done. Green Arrow is pretty fun to read as he can't wait to pull his weight and blast some missiles into the fray. It is simple but pretty entertaining too. Nothing that will change your world, but I enjoyed the book.
John Byrne's art is always neat. He has an interesting take on Wonder Woman, making her a bit on the buff side for me, but she's definitely a powerhouse. Byrne's Superman is classic (which only makes sense). His Batman is great too. I've always loved his work, and it was great seeing him draw the icons of the DCU again. This is definitely worth picking up for folks who want a simple comic featuring lots of smashing. I like that kind of thing, so this book was fine by me.