Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Justice League United #0 - A Review

I'd abandoned all the Justice League titles several months ago when it became clear during Trinity War that I would be expected to read them all if I were to make heads or tails of just one.  Throw in the fact that the entire line became part of the much-lamented Forever Evil mini-series and I felt little need to keep going.  Given the mess that story-line has made of the New 52 universe, it would take a lot to get me to wade back into that swamp again. "A lot", in this case, equaling one of my favorite writers working with some of my favorite characters to create Justice League United.

After an opening flash-forward showcasing the titular team in action, we cut to three days earlier.  The story truly begins with anthropologist Adam Strange approaching Stargirl and Animal Man (during a personal appearance at a comic convention) with evidence that aliens are abducting people - including his research assistant Alanna.  The two are eager to help but prove out-classed and out-gunned when armed aliens show up with homicide on their mind.  Thankfully, Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter respond to Stargirl's request for back-up.  Two interludes round out the issue - one giving us our first glimpse of new heroine Equinox and another revealing the fate of the alien's captives and how Hawkman is among them.

Jeff Lemire's grasp of the characters and gift for drama dresses up an otherwise drab premise for a superhero team's formation.  We've seen this scenario before - a big crisis forces a group of otherwise unrelated heroes together, uniting them when they realize how badly said alliance is needed - but Lemire makes it seem new by playing the characters off one another masterfully.  Green Arrow and Animal Man keep the proceedings from getting too dark and this new take on Adam Strange is a gripping one.  What little we see of Equinox seems promising as well.    

The artwork is more problematic.  Mike McKone is not a bad artist but he does a poor job of hiding his shortcuts.  There are a few obviously recycled panels and the thick inking on some of the character outlines leaves them looking like they should be in a coloring book rather than a comic book.  Even the usually stellar colorist Marcelo Maiolo seems to be off his game, with the Caucasian members of the cast being as white as the snow they are walking through.  Despite this, Justice League United looks to be an enjoyable series worth picking up.

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