Well, there was one dud, so I'll get that out of the way first.
Justice League of America 16
Okay, I'm a patient person. I believe in giving writers every chance to entertain me. In the case of Dwayne McDuffie, I'm still waiting. Thank goodness for the short extra focusing on Roy, by Alan Burnett. Even the art was better on that, and while there were some odd moments (Cheshire was at Roy's for Christmas the previous year?! He's shopping for a gift for Hawkgirl?!), the story maintained the holiday spirit while dipping into Roy's Teen Titans past and was overall a nice feelgood story that wasn't too sugary.
That leaves the first story, the main story, and leave it I wish I could. The art by Benitez and Llamas left a lot to be desired. Everyone had Jay Leno's chin and eyes that bugged out and while Dinah wasn't posturing, she looked like a shrew. Red Tornado in the computer playing chess with John Stewart was the highlight for me. And Guy "hanging up" on John was a cute touch. This clearly was a setup to intro someone named Tangent into the DCU and had nothing to do with the JLA. In fact, there really wasn't much of a story. I'd summarize, but that runs the risk of making it sound more interesting than it was, because some of what might've been interesting seemed to have happened off-panel.
Countdown to Final Crisis 19
Jimmy Olson is in the thick of all things New Gods, Trickster and Piper remain an entertaining duo even with one of them dead, I liked Earth 51, and things on Themyscira are heating up with Holly and Harley meeting Hippolyta. So, while things were unnecessarily slow in some issues, the story is starting to come together and it's intriguing.
The stories alternate between Blue Devil and Rex the Wonder Dog and the trapped trio in the Nightshade Dimension. This isn't a great comic, but it is an entertaining one.
Birds of Prey 113
Sean McKeever's first issue benefited by Nicola Scott's lovely art. She draws wonderful facial expressions and Doug Hazlewood's inks worked well with her pencils. Like Sally, I had some misgivings re: Barbara's inability to compensate as new info came in about Tabby's scheme, and given the outcome, Superman's admonishment was earned, but I don't like seeing the Birds, especially Babs, fail like that. I see them/her as far more competent and Supes should know that no one's infallible. What would have happened, how many people would have died, if they hadn't been there? Yes, perhaps they should have sought out the big guy, but really, they've taken on a lot of real badass villains, so there was no reason for Babs to think this would turn out any differently. Plus, Gail Simone wrote some failure for the Birds, so seeing it happen again bugged me a bit. Still, I was pleased that McKeever used something from the past -- Tabby -- that worked with Huntress' background. And the characters were mostly well handled. And Misfit, an impetuous teen, learned a hard lesson. So, I have hope that this book will remain one of my favorites.
Another great Adam Hughes cover. Selina was real badass in this one. She really surprised Calculator with her attitude. Too bad she ran into the Suicide Squad, but she sure gave them a run for the money. Since I knew she was scheduled for a Salvation Run involvement, her capture was not a surprise.
The new White Queen is revealed and it looks like there won't be so much antagonism. The history of Mademoiselle Marie, the name of a string of women fighting for France, was nicely woven around the story of a modern-day hostage taking. A favor for the UN might become a real mess for Checkmate in this taut tale, complete with the requisite cliffhanger.
And one left from last week...
Simon Dark 3
I am really enjoying this. The art style is different and creepy while still being very realistic. And Simon is an intriguing character, simple and noble, childlike and wounded, yet trying to do the right thing. And he's made at least one enemy. I really want to learn how he became the way he is. Niles and Hampton are doing a great job with this.