Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: Justice League United #2

Justice League United #2 came out last week and acted the way a third chapter of an arc should. There was a lot of exposition. And there was a major step forward in plot bringing us closer to the finale.Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mike McKone continue to put together an exciting and entertaining opening story bringing the members of this League together to fight an intergalactic threat.

Lemire also is starting to build up some of the relationships that will define the team. We see (as we have seen) the teasing one-upping between Animal Man and Green Arrow. We have seen Courtney hugging an uncomfortable J'Onn. And finally we have Supergirl in the mix and we see how she differs from Stargirl. Unlike the general prickly feeling Johns has given all the relationships in the main Justice League book, Lemire has already made this team more likable and more realistic in how they interact.

McKone continues to bring his very smooth style to the proceedings. In particular, I like the way McKone makes aliens seem alien, from both physiology and fashion. And we get to see a beautiful shot of his Supergirl.

Last issue, we had the bulk of the League fighting the ever changing Unimaginable in Canada only to be somehow teleported off to Rann.

I love this interaction which actually is a whole page of similar panels, Courtney trying to interrupt the bickering between Buddy and Ollie. I think it is amusing how they belittle each other ... but without an edge of hatred or angst. I don't think they are friends yet. I do think they mean these words. But it feels more like banter than the distrust and anger we occasionally saw between the big 6 in Justice League.

And after insulting each other, it is completely ironic that Green Arrow calls himself one of the grown-ups. He is completely childish here!

Unfortunately (or fortunately for Earth), the Unimaginable has also made the trip.

I really like that second panel with Buddy channeling some Rannian winged monkey to fight this thing. And the coloring works well here to. For some reason the orange background with the red ape works for the action more than a simply starry background.

As the team struggles, a helping hand streaks in!

At last Supergirl joins in!

She 'heard' the battle from half a galaxy away and came over to help. I suppose that is a good thing. It means Lemire writes a Supergirl whose first inclination is to help people even if she is far away. Now why she was out there anyways. It seems like a little too much serendipity.

I don't know how to take the 'my name is Kara'. Is she being friendly, telling Courtney her real name? Or is she shying away from the Supergirl moniker? The semi-irritated expression makes me think the latter.

We heard about how Stargirl is the epitome of the 'young, bright, optimistic' DC Universe. And we heard how Supergirl is the 'angry bull-headed loner'. Here is their first interaction.

The bubbly Courtney recaps the last issue in one balloon. She even throws in the 'cute' Animal Man comment. But Supergirl can't wait for the lengthy retelling. She tells Courney to breathe and then just wants to spring into action.

Not a bad contrast. Although I think Courtney seems a bit too naive.

Before Kara can smash the thing, the creature is imprisoned in a force bubble. And the League is also put into a separate bubble.

The Rannians have arrived to take control of the situation. They are responsible for this creature. Isolating it in the field robs it of its energy source so it quickly devolves back to the little baby we saw before.

Meanwhile, the League won't stay imprisoned. Even though the Rannians and their leader Sardath want to just find out the League's intentions, J'Onn won't stand for it. He walks through the field and threatens them.

This seems a little dark for J'Onn but I will admit I haven't read much of his New 52 persona. Maybe this is par for the course?

And is this Sardath going to be Alanna's father in the New 52?

Meanwhile, in Byth's lab headquarters, Lobo has been tasked with killing all the prisoners who were being experimented on. With Ultra the Multi-Alien born, there is no need for genetic material.

Before the Czarian can get to the wetworks, Hawkman re-arrives, his hand regenerating. It's round 2.

The explanation is the Nth metal is healing Katar. But is the hand itself made of Nth metal? Does his Nth metal armor heal him? Boy, a touch of explanation here would have gone a long way.

We head back to Rann where we get an extremely dense, quite wordy section of exposition where Sardath explains to the League about the lab they stumbled across and Byth. There are very big, stuffed word balloons the rest of the way.

As in the past incarnations of the DCU, Rann is in the middle of a very chaotic area of space. War has torn the place apart. Thanagar fighting Czarnia fighting Tamaran fighting Psions fighting Dominators fighting Daemonites.

Rann tried to keep the peace, remain neutral, and become a place of refuge for the displaced. With a peace treaty signed, Sardath came up with an idea. Why not create a being from all the genes of the peaceful races, a symbol of peace and unity, a 'child of all worlds'.

And so they gathered samples from everywhere, even races not involved in the peace treaty, even people not willingly giving samples.

I do like this page, Sardath recounting the gathering while we see different environments.

This is the best Supergirl moment of the book.

She isn't going to let Sardath gloss over the fact that he was taking from beings without consent. While it might not have been kidnapping, or harmful, it still sounds like a violation. Good for Kara for stepping up.

Turns out Byth took over the operation for nefarious reasons. He escaped ARGUS and decided to use the experiment to make a weapon. Hmmm ... was Byth mentioned as an inmate of the Circus in Sterling Gates' Vibe?

Knowing Byth has probably made a terrible weapon, Sardath decided to bring these heroes to Rann with the Unimaginable to try to convince them to help.

It is a nice moment. J'Onn says the group is helping not for Rann because it is what is right. They are the Justice League. They fight for what's right.

I would love just a little bit more of this scene. Does Ollie really want to go? Does Supergirl just join in? Or does everybody just give the little nod and jump in?

Anyways, glad Supergirl stuck around. An earlier Kara might say it didn't involve her and simply fly off.

Instead we head straight to the action, bringing us full circle to the opening scene of JLU #0.

With a skirmish in the lab ongoing, Adam finds Alanna.

But Ultra awakens!

I am really enjoying this book. The story line is of a grand scope and involves the more cosmic pieces of the DCU. But more importantly, the interaction of the characters is great. This isn't simply an action story. This is a team book with personalities and characterization. I am enjoying that stuff as much as the punching and blasting.

And this issue kept the wheel turning. We know the whats and whys of Byth's plot. We have the team intact. And we have a cliffhanger, prepping for a nice action piece and heading to the finale.

So far, this title is a nice mix of Silver Age plots, great characterization, and superb art. While this is a denser issue than the past, we needed that exposition to fill in the details. No complaints.

Overall grade: B+


Stephen M said...
Sorry for posting in the wrong place again. More video game news. This one is a MOBA that Turbine (of Boston!) has coming out.Personally I have no interest in MOBAs at all, but this one is from Turbine who make the very popular Lord of the Rings Online which I do like.Interesting that she's the New 52 version.

Jay said...

I think the plan will definitely be for Kara and Courtney to become really close. And to be honest that might make the whole thing worth it, because I really like how they're written together. I can deal with Supergirl being the "rougher" of the two.

Bartiemus said...

In this team I can easily see Kara and Courtney being the "adults" of the team taking charge when they need to.

It's great Kara will be finally able to make some friends with people her own age so on bored with this book.

Anonymous said...

This is the DCU, there must be a thousand fights going on every night all over the Milky Way Galaxy from the Marvel Family against Mister Atom & IBAC to the Doom Patrol in another throw-down with Chemo...why'd Kara seemingly mad random whim to pick this fight?
Kara and Courtney had a fraught relationship on the JLU Animated Series as well...but they worked things out...but then again that was Bruce Timm's version of Supergirl in play.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Will touch on the video game Kara today.

Bart: Kara/Courtney as the 'adults', keeping the team on task, sounds like it might be on the money.

Jay: I do hope that they become friends, embracing each others' differences. I do not want them to be frenemies.

And John, I know it is odd that she just happened to hear the fight but I got just accept some stuff. If Lemire embraces a 'Timm' take on Supergirl I would be thrilled!

Martin Gray said...

Great review of a great comic. I also wondered about Kara's opening comment to Stargirl (bit forgot to say so!).

I've no problems about Kara hearing this fight and popping across. Why NOT this fight? If I had a problem with this sort of thing I might as well pack in superhero comics altogether.

Anj said...

I agree Mart. I am glad she flew to the fight.

Anonymous said...

In regards to Hawkman's Nth Metal, I'm afraid Lemire was relying on a prior knowledge on the reader's part of the Nth Metal powers Hawkman now has. The Nth Metal has given him a Wolverine esque healing factor and been bonded entirely to his body. It's not a good explanation for those who haven't read Hawkman's series though.

And Pre New 52 Martian Manhunter's pseudo motto in John Ostrander's run was "I come in peace. I am capable of war." Even Pre New 52 MM resorted to some violent means at times. Honestly, Lemire's wrting of J'onn in these 3 issues alone has been the best it's been in the New 52 so far. So I'm just glad he's not acting how he used to be.

Excellent review though Anj, a lot of your points really emphasise what Lemire is doing right here:

'Twitter Friend' Louis Seymour ;)

Anj said...

Thanks for the explanation Louis! Very much appreciate it!