Friday, January 16, 2015

Review: Justice League United #8

I have been waiting for what feels like a very long time to read a good Legion comic.

Who would have thought that I would find it in Justice League United? Because Justice League United #8 is just that, the best Legion comic I have read in the last couple of years. Writer Jeff Lemire uses this issue to showcase the heroism of the Legion, re-introducing us to a true Legion of heroes, a hodge-podge of all the different incarnations of the team. And since this feels like a primer on the Legion for newer readers, Lemire doesn't necessarily get into any nitty-gritty, instead telling us the ideals of the Legion and then showing us how they try to achieve those ideals. I was thrilled reading this as it reminded me of just what the Legion should be.

And since this is the Legion, artist Neil Edwards, with inkers Keith Champagne and Jay Leisten, gets to stretch his legs a bit with splash pages and double splash pages of the Legion troops flying into battle. I always say that big moments deserve big art. There is a lot of big art here! For a Legion fan like me, these were big moments. The cover by Andrew Robinson has an old school sci-fi movie poster feel.

But with splash pages and action shots, the plot of Ultra and Infinitus only progresses a baby step, although that movement forward brings about a major plot change. I wonder what people who don't like the Legion or don't follow the Legion think of this issue, a sort of expository piece on the Legion more than anything else.

We start out in the future, with Dream Girl ruminating on the Legion. How RJ Brande decided to form a team of young heroes from all the races of the United Planets. How the Legion became a symbol of home.

It almost sounds Pollyanna in this current cynical world where heroes are darker and grayer. The Legion was a true force of good that inspired people. And this discussion while the world seems to be burning around Dreamy is a nice juxtaposition.

And we then get a pages showing the team battling their greatest enemies, groups like the Fatal Five and Universo.

Just look at this page. This just screams the Legion to an old fan like me. Fifteen Legionnaires are flying through a fleet of enemy ships. Fifteen!! And we get a mix of costumes, from a mix of Legion histories.

Yes, the team grew and grew.

But those are memories of victories. The current situation is dire. Earth has been overrun by Infinitus wraiths. The Legion is in full rescue mode, getting the survivors on ships, and trying desperately to regroup and decide on the next steps.

Veteran readers know not to underestimate Dream Girl. She might be a big flirt but she is highly intelligent and a great leader. I love the look of strength in that top panel as she barks her orders to Cosmic Boy. The only hope is in the past ... they have to join Brainy in trying to stop the ascension of Infinitus.

So the Legionnaires gather at the Time Institute. Look at this motley crew of Legionnaires. In this scene we see Legionnaires from every version. And no explanation. This is the reality!

Is that Andromeda in the top left!!!! Laurel Gand!! And Ferro Lad? And others that even I don't recognize.

I will admit there was a time when I left the Legion. Once Zero Hour undid the 5YL Legion, I dropped the book. The Legion has been a near constant in my comic book life. But there is this gap. So someone will need to fill me in on some of these Legionnaires and Legion Lost members.

But I will smile smile smile if Laurel Gand is around.

And it seems like Dream Girl is quickly becoming Edwards' favorite Legionnaire to draw.

This is the New 52 Universe ... so I suppose I just roll with the different Legionnaire versions I am seeing.

But then we get back to those Legion ideals. It is time to head back into the past, to save the universe, even though this might be a suicide mission.

They will go together and fight together. Look at the determination on the faces here.

Long Live The Legion!

It has been too long since I have heard those words and felt they meant something in a comic.

And then, another double splash page of the team streaming to the rescue ... this time in the present. A true Legion is here to help the Justice League.

One thing I like about the Legion is that they are Legion!

This is going to sound lousy, especially given the fact that some people might say the same about Supergirl. But I think Ferro Lad should stay dead. I love his story being brief, tragic, and heroic.

But that is a beautiful splash page.

But despite this influx heroes, Byth is still able to speed towards the rift with Ultra. And oddly, Ultra seems like he wants to go. He is curious about what is on the other side.

The only person with a shot at stopping the speeding ship is Supergirl. And she once again decides to ignore orders. I think the best adjectives for Supergirl in this book is pro-active and impetuous. Nice look of determination here by Edwards.

Unfortunately, Kara can't catch up with the ship. She, along with the ship with Byth and Ultra, disappears into the rift. She's gone.

Interesting. What is on the other side? And how does it effect Kara?

But this is a failure or defeat of the League and the Legion. Ultra went through the rift. And now Infinitus has manifested. Another splash page, this time to show just how massive Infinitus is.

I'm starting to wonder if it isn't Ultra who is Infinitus ... but  Byth! And maybe Supergirl, being on the other side of the rift, will play a key part in the ultimate defeat of Byth and Infinitus.

So if you are a Legion fan, this is a great issue. This felt like a Legion issue, a true Legion issue with heroic people working as a team, trying to save everyone. And the art mirrors those high ideals.

If you are not a Legion fan, this might have felt like a pause issue. Lots of splash pages without a lot of story advancement. And very little League action.

But I am in the former group and not the latter. Dreamy as leader? Andromeda? Members from all the incarnations? "Long Live The Legion"? It was all fantastic.

I will await the announcement of the Jeff Lemire penned Legion book. So let's start guessing about the artist.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

I'm a big Legion fan, and a big JLU fan, and loved it, but yes, there was very little plot progression.

I can live with that!

I've only seen one person complain about the lack of JLU, but we may make a Legion fan of them yet.

I loved Laurel too, but the member I was most happy about seeing was Kinetix - I loved her introduction in the post-Zero Hour Legion, when she was reminiscent of Silver Age teen Lana Lang, who would always be out on archaeological expeditions with her father.

Like the Byth as Infinitus theory, you may get a prize.

Thomas Hayes said...

If Jeff Lemire wants to write a Legion book, he should do it, instead of using this book as a terrible backdoor pilot for it. I was so bored by this issue. Splash, after splash after double-page spread of dozens of characters I've never heard of before and have zero connection to. I wouldn't mind if Lemire was introducing me to them and showcasing their personalities, but seeing as he didn't, I almost switched off halfway through this thing because I don't care about any of these people. Compare this to last month's Supergirl 37, which introduced 5 new characters and gave me at least some idea of what makes them all tick, without losing track of the protagonist in the process, and it's just poor by comparison. And it's a shame too to waste such good art from Edwards like this. This whole arc could have been done in three issues or even one annual, which might have been fun, but 5 regular issues and an annual spread over half a year for a story this thin and this dull?

No way am I continuing to read this, I feel cheated. I've told my LCS to drop this book off my pull list, I'll consider coming back if Lemire gets replaced as writer by someone who actually likes his main cast and doesn't phone in his scripts while putting all his energy into his Image books. I want to read about Equinox and Stargirl, but seeing as they weren't even in this issue it's no great loss.

Bartiemus said...

All this book has done is add charchter after charchter without taking the time to slow done and focus on some actual charchter devolpment.

The only JLU members that are getting any screen time are Supergirl and Martian Man Hunter. It's extremely poor form and not something I expect from Jeff Lemire.

Looks like I'm going to have to wait till after convergence to see if this book improves or not the only reason I'm reading it is because of Kara and those amazing variants each month.

Kim said...

"The only JLU members that are getting any screen time are Supergirl and Martian Man Hunter. It's extremely poor form and not something I expect from Jeff Lemire."

This is a bit how I feel too. Supergirl and J'onn J'onzz seem to be the main stars of the book.

Being a Supergirl and J'onn fan I don't really mind, but this being a team book, I'd like it if some of the other characters, especially Equinox, got some more character development. I liked this issue, being a LoSH fan, but it did feel a bit like "JLU is Supergirl and Martian Manhunter. The rest dont matter".

Quite possibly that is because of the intergalactic scope of this story arc. Kara and J'onn are the two JLU members best equipped to deal with that.

Finally, I am VERY intrigued by what happened to Kara when she rushed in at the end. We can assume she is alive but what more...?

Anj said...

I must admit that I was worried that this would seem like a waste of space and money for non-Legion fans. This was the LSH issue to shine.

Maybe we needed one more arc of just the League so the title would feel settled before a big crossover?

Anonymous said...

My thoery is infinitus is similar to marvel's onslaught. It is using all three characters supergirl, ultra and byth as a host or leaching some of its powers from. Byth did said he might need her later.

Anj said...

Great guess Anon. It would mean Kara is part of the enemy. But that would be a twis!

Bartiemus said...

Anj I would have been fine with this arc if the team had one more in between this to get settled as it is everything seems so rushed and forced.

But I do love Kara , Dream Girl and Dawnstar so I will keep reading.