SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for "Justice League: Rebirth" #1, on sale now, and current issues of "Justice League of America."
Bryan Hitch doesn't let having one unfinished, larger-than-life story stop him from telling another, albeit a single-issue one, in "Justice League: Rebirth" #1. Although readers are still awaiting the outcome of the Kryptonian deity Rao's enthrallment of Earth's populace, as told in Hitch's still in-progress arc in "Justice League of America," the narrative that opens this issue makes passing reference to Rao's threat and acknowledges that it's been overcome. That narrative turns out to be from the pre-Flashpoint Superman, rather than the Man of Steel who battled the supposed creator of his home world along with the rest of the League.
Hitch opens this one-shot with a fearful New York crowd attempting to flee a city-sized insect-like alien known as The Reaper, but much of the unfortunate populace finds itself in the throes of the massive creature as The Justice League arrives to confront it. The League is minus a couple of members, though, namely Hal Jordan, and of course the recently-deceased Superman of this world.
Hitch then turns the tale's attention to the aforementioned pre-Flashpoint Superman. Clark Kent is marveling at this world's strength in turning away seemingly unstoppable threats even as his wife, Lois Lane, tries to convince him to reach out to The Justice League.
Of course, the last time Hitch got his hands on Superman, he left the character for dead by all outward appearances, as seen in the pre-"Rebirth" cliffhanger ending of "Justice League of America" #8 (although Supes apparently got better only to die again in the pages of "Superman" #52). That mystery goes unanswered here, as it will presumably be addressed in the upcoming resolicited issues of "Justice League of America." Instead, Hitch moves on to concentrate on the League's battle with the enormous creature, and their lack of success in containing or stopping it.
Summoned by the League and on the way to help are not one, but two Green Lanterns, namely Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz (previously known as Power Ring). Meanwhile, the rest of the Justice League penetrates the insides of the alien and learn that its ultimate purpose is nothing short of harvesting all of humanity.
At this point, a brief flashback informs readers that the League's remaining members (Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg), still grieving over the loss of their Superman, have their sights on the new Man of Steel that has revealed himself on this world. The scene nicely encapsulates each member's reaction to losing their Superman, specifically shining a spotlight on Wonder Woman's grief over losing her boyfriend, and Batman's not yet trusting the new-to-them Clark Kent.
These disparate moments all culminate in the arrival of not only Simon and Jessica, but also Superman himself, whose combined efforts with the rest of the Justice League succeed in hurting the creature enough to make it retreat and release the people it had controlled. The Reaper makes it known that its kind will return to pass judgment on humanity, and this newly and officially-formed incarnation of the team warns the creature that it will have to face them again if they return.
"Justice League: Rebirth" #1 is the only issue drawn by Hitch in the new "Rebirth" era, as he resumes finishing his "Justice League of America" arc. Hitch returns solely as writer in two weeks for "Justice League" #1, with Sandu Florea and Tony S. Daniel taking over the art chores for part one of "The Extinction Machine."