Sunday, September 7, 2014

Justice League United #3 & #4 - A Review

Through no fault of my comic shop, I somehow neglected to pick up the last two issues of Justice League United until this past week.  And I find myself wondering how I could ever have forgotten this book, even with my busy schedule.  Granting that it has been slow in finding its footing and in bringing its cast together, these two issues finally see our new Justice League united, including Jeff Lemire's creation Equinox and Alanna Strange - no longer a passive romantic figure but now a hero in her own right.

As always, the best parts of these issues are Jeff Lemire's grasp of these characters and his development of their personalities and the relationships between them.  The key sequence of Issue 4 sees these characters - working together but not yet a team - paired off and made to play off one another.  Green Arrow reaches out to Animal Man only to try and shrug off his olive branch with a joke.  Supergirl proves as cool and and jagged as Kryptonian crystal when Stargirl tries - and fails - to make a similar gesture of friendship only to stick her foot in her mouth.  And for the first time in a long while, we see the paternal side of J'onn J'onzz as he takes it upon himself to take charge of the newborn Ultra The Multi-Alien (long story) as well as the responsibility for failing to save an ally's life.

The book's weak point continues to be its artwork. Mike McKone is a competent penciler but the rotating team of inkers on this series do his work a disservice - particularly when multiple inkers are employed on a single issue and all hope of a consistent look is ruined.  I've noted before that McKone also seems guilty of recycling his panels but these two issues bring us a new problem - that of the artwork not matching up with the script. Consider this panel in which J'onn asks for Green Arrow to accompany him, Stargirl and Supergirl only for Ollie not to be included in the away team. For the rest of the issue, Ollie is seen standing in the background with the other half of the team, not saying anything or doing anything.  I blame the editor more for not noticing this problem before the book was printed but it is still a vexing point that takes the reader out of the story.

Despite this, the scripts are good enough that I can forgive the missteps in the art.  And it is gratifying to see so many characters that I enjoy in their New 52 incarnations being given a chance to shine.  So I shall be sticking with this book for a while longer.

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