In the end, I have decided that rather than address the complaints of the haters (who wouldn't be satisfied with anything I have to say, anyway), I am just going to show you - in order - the five things about this book that I liked the most. I hope this may give you all some insight into the subtle beauty and craft of this tale.
1. A National Day of Mourning For Fallen Superheroes
Say what you will about Geoff Johns, but the guy does know how to world-build. He is always sneaking little details on how day-to-day life in the DC Comics universe is shaped by the existence of super heroes. And the idea of a National holiday in the USA, devoted exclusively to fallen superheroes is a good one. And in the context of this world, it makes perfect sense for such a thing to exist.
More, this whole sequence is a perfect introduction to everyone who might not be familiar with all the characters we're about to see.
2. All The Little Scenes Showing Our Heroes Mourning.
There's a lot of wonderful character moments here. Atom Smasher taking Damage to task on his apparent disrespect for the original Atom; the former's mentor and the latter's biological father. Bart Allen quickly going from selfish to sweet as he considers the Titans statue gallery, complaining of how his statue looked nothing like him and then wishing that they could get rid of all the statues in that gallery. And Clark Kent mourning his dad alongside his mother and Superboy.
Some have asked why Superman would be mourning his dad on a day for departed heroes. Simple. Pa Kent was HIS biggest hero.
3. Honor Among Thieves.
Trust Geoff Johns to sneak in a cameo of The Rogues, but this is a very effective scene regardless.
This is one of the reasons I prefer DC Comics to Marvel of late - because many of the "bad guys" in DC Comics aren't really bad guys, when you get right down to it. Most of the Rogues are inherently more honorable than many of the so-called heroes at the House of Ideas. They may be thieves, but they know who their friends are and stand by them, through thick and thin.
4. When Words Can't Say It...
Hal Jordan is a man of action. He's not shy about speaking his mind but there are a lot of things he can't find the words for. So when Barry Allen asks him just how many of their old friends have died while he was "away", Hal hesitates for a moment before creating a projection of all the dearly departed.
What might have been just a feeble excuse for a two-page splash spread under a lesser writer speaks volumes about the character of Hal Jordan without a single word or thought balloon being necessary. Hal Jordan may not be afraid of death but he isn't comfortable talking about it either.
5. Stretching Zombies!
A part of me wonders just how the Zombie Ralph can be stretching, since his powers were based on a metabolic process caused by digesting a concentrated fruit-juice formula. But then, I realize that this is justified by The Rule of Cool which states that stretching zombies - especially stretching zombies who can still put an arm around the rotting corpse of their zombie wife in a loving and protective way - are just too awesome NOT to exist.
Incidentally, am I the only one who noticed the irony in Ralph and Sue Dibny - the poster couple for pointless, plot-driven death - killing Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the poster couple for slowly and gradually developing a relationship over time in a regular series book?
Nobody cared about Ralph and Sue until Sue died. Nobody cared about Hawkman and Hawkgirl until Johns made them live together.
I think the symbolism has to be intentionally, since I can't see Geoff Johns killing off two characters he worked so hard to develop and, in Carter's case, resurrect in this manner unless it is to make a point.
Regardless of what anyone else says, I like this series so far. And I cannot wait another two days for the next few issues. I think you'll feel the same way if you give this series a shot.