Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review: Justice League United #0

I am still catching up on last week's comics as it was a Supergirl and super-title heavy week. I will never complain about that.

The last book on the review pile is Justice League United #0, by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mike McKone. I am thrilled that this book finally came out because I am sick of wondering about it. My brain was starting to hurt. I consider myself a Lemire fan, enjoyed his Animal Man and love his Green Arrow. The team make-up seems quirky enough to be a lot of fun and engaging. And the hints of the stories Lemire has given makes me think there will be a dash of cosmic and a hint of Silver Age to make this very pleasing.

All that said, his comments about the 'bull-headed loner' Supergirl who is the opposite of 'bright' has given me pause. It seems clear Supergirl is the dark foil to the sunny Stargirl and the inexperienced Equinox.

And so we get to the book itself. For an opening issue it does it's job, introducing us to the main characters and setting up a story with several decent hooks. Lemire also does a nice job revamping the origin of Adam Strange (at least what we see of it).

I have always like McKone's work. His style is clean and precise which works well here. He does get moodier and inkier at the right moments as well.

Lemire does a nice job bringing the reader into the book, dropping us into the middle of a fight in some eugenics lab outside of Thanagar. The battle scene ends with a nice cliffhanger, one of the baby aliens in this lab unleashing some devastating attack. It is a nice little technique to grab me. What is this place? How did these heroes get here? How did they team up? It makes me curious and wanting more.

Don't blink though or you'll miss Supergirl's part in this issue. She only appears in this scene, silent and battling.

We also meet the new Alanna, now a young person of color. Is she still from Rann? I hope so. Her origin is as crucial to Adam's story as his own.

Of course, we know have to answer those story questions. So we flashback 3 days to a super-hero convention in Canada where Animal Man and Stargirl are signing autographs. I wonder if this would actually happen ... conventions for heroes.

One of the people in line to meet the heroes is Adam Strange who asks for their help. He is an Anthropology professor and on a recent dig with Alanna she simple disappeared. For readers in the know, it sounds like Zeta beam technology.

The fact that Strange seems surprised by this makes me think his origin has been significantly tweaked. (I suppose he could be lying.)

I also chuckled a bit at the scene as it sounded a bit like a comic con. People are nervous. There are cosplayers. Others are angry when Adam talks to the two heroes for too long.

It also makes me think the security at these things is a little lax. Strange not only shows them an alien skull from the dig site. He also brings out a rather Kirby-ish looking device. This could have been a bomb! The device seems to self-activate in the presence of Courtney's staff, briefly teleporting them elsewhere.

It is enough to make the heroes agree they need to investigate.

I know I am the wrong demographic. But do we really need to update Adam Strange's origin?

Elsewhere in Canada we finally meet Miiyahbin (or Mii for short).

Walking into her home, she is confronted by someone begging her for help, to stop what is happening. He then transforms into a monster saying the Whitago is her. Threatened, she seems to activate her powers and blasts the thing. After a battle (where the thing morphs into a monstrous version of Equinox) it disappears leaving her home perfect.

There is very little about Whitago to research even on the internet!

But this scene is more mystery. We meet Mii and see her in action. But what are her powers exactly? What are the Whitago? Is this connected to the Strange story? I am intrigued.

And I like Equinox' costume more and more. It also has some Kirby elements to it. Feels cosmic.

Nearby, at the dig site, aliens appear out of the ground and end up attacking Courtney and Buddy.

It turns out that Courtney activated her old JLA communicator, asking for help. I forgot about that JLA. Green Arrow and J'Onn show up.

There is some nice friction between Ollie and Buddy. Each seems to enjoy teasing the other about the limits of their power sets. As someone who grew up with an ornery Ollie in the JLA, I don't mind this. It felt a little classic.

As I said before, the makeup of the team is a little quirky. Unlike the 'Big 7' all of whom are heavy hitters (you can decide yourself if Batman is a heavy hitter), this team has layers of abilities. So I liked how McKone shows how useful that is. Depite there being a cosmic weapon, someone with animal abilities, and a juggernaut telepath, it is only Ollie who notices tracks and fresh snow.

This leads to the discovery of an underground lab similar to the one we saw in the opening.

And then we get another wrinkle. They were planning on J'Onn arriving. The 'master' has something special for him. A huge flame spirit wraps J'Onn up and takes him out.

But this is clearly some big operation, preparing for specific heroes and multi-centered.

Hmmm. Lots to consider.

And it looks like some of these aliens costumes look similar in design and color to Equinox. Maybe I am reaching?

Then we learn who the master is. Byth is at the other lab, in the Thanagar sector. As an old school guy, I love that Byth is in the mix here. The shapeshifting alien has always been a classic Hawkman rogue. I wonder if he is making some genetic cocktail which will explain his power set.

But he discusses a 'birth' as well. Maybe that is the baby alien from the first scene?

But Byth! Hurrah!

The prisoners on this lab that Byth has been experimenting on are no longer needed. So Byth sends his 'main man' to eliminate them. That's right, the all-new Lobo is working for Byth and will do the wetwork.

Except one of the prisoners is Hawkman. Looks like we'll have a brawl!

I do like that Alanna, teleported there, seems to have been trying to organize a revolt. Nice!

Anyways, I always talk about what certain issues should do ... the first issue, the second to last issue of a big arc, etc. This issue did what a first issue should do. We have plenty of hooks to get me curious. I want to come back and see where this goes. And we have the players on the chess board.

Add to that the very polished art of McKone and this was a winner.

But what will Supergirl be like??

Overall grade: B+


Saranga said...

Great review. I really liked this issue and have high hopes for the series.

Martin Gray said...

I think 'whatigo' is a made-up DC wendigo substitute, similar to the way that when Marvel couldn't mention zombies because of the Comics Code they gave us 'zuvembie'. Possibly DC are avoiding wendigo because of the historic Marvel usage.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

I guess we need to see what whatigo is.

Pretty cool set-up issue though.

Anonymous said...

I think that DC is trying to distance JLU from Marvel's Alpha Flight by setting its stories in a totally different part of Canada. Alpha Flight stories were set in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, while Justice League United is set in Moosoonee, Ontario (farther east).