Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: Justice League United #6

Justice League United #6 came out this week, continuing the Infinitus saga and re-re-reintroducing the Legion of Super-Heroes to the New 52 universe. So far, writer Jeff Lemire has been able to walk a fine line of classic and contemporary. He has mixed in Silver Age charm, established classic characters, and even Bronze Age bruisers with the modern sensibilities of comic story-telling. He has juggled the cast of characters, moving characterization forward without stalling plots. And most of all, he has kept a sense of whimsy in the book, adding in humor and banter.

This was a classic middle chapter of a 'saga', mostly action with brawls between the good guys and the bad guys happening on 2 fronts. The action sequences are well executed and choreographed. But for me, it was the character moments that still stood out amid the fisticuffs.

Neil Edwards is on art here (with inkers Jay Leisten and Drew Geraci). His style is smooth and clean, which meshes well with the book's tone. I love Edward's Legion and his Supergirl is strong and impressive.

The crux of this arc is Ultra, the Multi-Alien. The Legion believes he is destined to become the galaxy-eating entity called Infinitus. Their solution to this future threat is to come to the present and kill Ultra.

One of the aspects of this League that I like is that there is good mix of veterans and newcomers to the hero-ing business. Animal Man, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, and Green Arrow are all established. Supergirl and Stargirl are neophytes. And Equinox and Alana Strange are pure rookies. Even in this scene, we see that while the League and Legion battle the Cadre above ground, Equinox has been sent into the base with Ultra as much for her protection as his.

This small scene though spoke loud to me. Here both Ultra and Equinox talk about their fears and concerns. And Ultra reaches out to her.

I can't help but think that this acceptance of him by J'Onn and now Mii is going to somehow impact the future.

Half the League is a galaxy away though, trying to find Hawkman and Byth. It is here on the moon of Ryngor that one of the fights breaks out.

Now Lemire has commented that Supergirl is head-strong and maybe overly confident of her abilities. Here Byth wonders if it is all a front. Could this bullish, sorta angry exterior by Kara be a mask for a frightened little girl who feels all alone?

While I don't think she is cowering in her mind, that sort of tough outside masking a vulnerable inside makes sense for this Supergirl. And is better than her being a disaffected loner.

Of course, Byth might just be playing mind games.

And then he literally gets a little handsy with Kara who appropriately calls Byth 'utterly vile'.

I don't feel the need to cover the battles in depth but this did sort of stick out to me.

With Stargirl apparently injured by some of Byth's acolytes, Animal Man goes all 'Sabertooth', sprouting mutton chops, forearm hair, and claws. And he seems to mow them down, ripping through them in a bloody swath.

I don't know if I want a Buddy who so casually goes berserker. It doesn't seem to fit his easy-going nature.

Now he has seen his own son die. Maybe he is overly protective when in father mode. But this seemed a little too blood-thirsty for me.

During the ongoing skirmishes, Black Mass (who seems to be teleporter in this new incarnation) whisks Equinox and Ultra to the Ryngor moon. He then sends Supergirl back to Earth. Suddenly, the battlegrounds are dramatically changed.

Again, Byth needs Ultra on this spot so that Infinitus can manifest himself within Ultra.

I will admit, adding in Zeta beams and teleporters during ongoing battles keeps things fresh. Supergirl was the muscle on this moon. Just like that, she is gone.

Not that Equinox is no slouch. Even on this moon, her elemental powers are strong enough to blow the villains away with a gust of wind.

I have decided that Equinox's costume is going to change colors with the seasons. Blue during winter. Green during Spring. Red in summer. Orange in fall.

We'll see if I am right.

I will admit that Lemire knows how to reel me in with good cliff hangers.

On the moon, Ultra seems somehow befuddled or mesmerized by the space rift that Byth is opening up for Infinitus. And while looking up at the sky, Ultra fires a beam that seems to open up this bleed. And suddenly energy demons/angels come pouring out.

Immediately these beings attack the league, and with seemingly overwhelming numbers.

Now how the heck did that happen? Intriguing? Yep!

I hope we do get some sort of explanation about this.

And that flood of energy makes it difficult for Sardath to teleport the Earth-bound heroes to this new front. (The Cadre have been defeated on Earth by now.)

But Brainiac isn't phased. There is a Legion 'away' team en route. And we see that they have arrived to join the fight against Byth. It is the Legion Lost gang! There is Wildfire! And Dawnstar! And the rest of that crew.

It looks like Lemire is reuniting the team! (Is there any question that we won't be getting a new Legion book within the next year or so?) And what could be a better cliffhanger than this.

As I said above, Lemire and Edwards do a great job with this middle chapter, turning up the action to 10 while moving the plot and the characterization forward as well. Outside of the slight misstep with Buddy, I thought this whole thing clicked ... from Supergirl's fierceness, to Byth's comments about Kara, to Equinox's insecurity ... and her ability to overcome it and be a hero.

I hope Hawkman's brainwashing ends soon (a Saturn Girl mind scrub?) and the two distinct fronts end up uniting into one location. And while the action was great, I hope we see less brawling and more plot next issue. But for now, for this place in the plot, this issue clicked.

Overall grade: B+


Stephen Montalvo said...

The latest on the gaming front if you haven't seen it. Not that interested in MOBAs but her powers seem to be a riff on heat-vision. In DCUonline they say that the 'super' powers are all versions of the 'Ice' power-set so it's an interesting concept I guess.
I love the outfit! Blue dress with red leggings. Why don't we ever get anything like that?
I like the idea of Zen-Supergirl as well. Meditating on Rao, working out all her problems, maybe having weird Dr. Strange adventures. That picture of her floating there is going to be my new wall-paper.

Bartiemus said...

I felt there's to much going on this issue adding another team to the mix is a bad move.

If Courtney was with me and got attacked I'd go in to hulk mode to. Buddy totally not cool using her real name in the field her identity is still a secret as far as I know.

A solid issue the book just needs to slow down and focus on the core JLU it's the small character moments that can help make a book great.

Martin Gray said...

But it's not another team, it's the lost part of the Legion, reuniting with the rest.

I wonder if Buddy's off moment was due to him unconsciously connecting with some alien lifeform in the heat of the moment. Either way, I agree, it doesn't suit Animal Man.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see the return and reunion of the Legion Lost team, but I agree this is a very busy book shuffling a lot of characters. As a Legion fan, I wish the focus was more on the Legion and less on JLU, but alas, this is a Justice League United with the Legion as guest stars.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

I agree that this issue felt busy in the fights with the switching rosters and locales. It felt like a Legion book!

I do think the character moments are solid.

And the theory of Buddy being triggered by alien animals is a good one Mart. Hope it us used!