Justice League United #0
By Jeff Lemire, Mike McKone & Marcelo Maiolo
This book has quite a lot on its plate. It’s a zero issue, which by default, is a slippery slope. It’s tasked with introducing Adam and Alana Strange to the New 52, which always has the potential to anger some fans who cling to their pre-New 52 role. Furthermore, Lemire is pushing a brand new character to the forefront, which is never an easy accomplishment. Only adding to the challenge is that this story occurs in a weird place in DC continuity. It’s post-Forever Evil, which leaves us without the whole story. This is a small hurdle, but it’s a hurdle nonetheless. It leaves the reader a little confused, especially when the fallout is directly mentioned.
The biggest distraction in this book is the portrayal of Green Arrow/Oliver Queen. To begin, he’s drawn in his early New 52 style, the over-armored costume and goggles, which is vastly inferior to his simplistic design seen on the pages of Green Arrow. Furthermore, he’s presented as a cocky, gun-sure bro. Again, this is in complete contrast (and vastly inferior) to how he’s presented in his own book. Ollie cracks one-liners that are such a forced attempt at humor that they’re not even remotely funny. They’re just mean.
With that major gripe out of the way, there are some strong connections building in this book. The interactions between Stargirl and Animal Man are quite good. The relationship built up between Stargirl and Martian Manhunter in Justice League of America is also on display here, albeit in just a brief scene. That is Lemire’s strength. He can create character moments with quick exchanges and limited dialogue, further demonstrated with the introduction of Miiyahbin, the Canadian First Nations character that’s been greatly anticipated for months.
We’re given a brief glimpse of Lemire’s new creation Miiyahbin, and her superhero counterpart Equinox. Let’s get it out of the way because a lot of people are going to say it. Her costume/design seems awfully “X-menish.” I’m okay with that. I love the design. Clean, simple, it’s the exact opposite of Green Arrow’s costume in this book. In the two pages we see her, I’m hooked. I instantly wanted to know more about her. I can’t wait to see her interact with the rest of the team.
Despite some hang-ups with the characterization and plot, the art works quite well. The visuals are vibrant. Mike McKone and Marcelo Maiola elevate this book. McKone’s visual language, in both action and reaction shots, is exciting and inventive. His lines are slick, clean, and extremely detailed. His art is dynamic and helps move the story forward rather than just sitting there. Maiolo uses stark colored boxes to indicate action blows, which hopefully we see a little more of in the future (and is reminiscent of his work in Green Arrow). Maiolo also imbeds hues of green throughout the book. He does a great job of taking the stark landscape of northern Canada, and making it colorful and inviting.
In theory, this should be a very compelling book, and it very well may be in time. This new (old?) characterization of Green Arrow/Oliver Queen is too jarring to gloss over. A strength moving forward is the major difference between this Justice League and THE Justice League. We’re given a team of B characters, and they’re tasked with cosmic battles. Animal Man, Lemire’s darling since the start of the New 52, is the heart and soul of this team. Adam Strange’s debut is another strong point. His academic background is charming and sets up the actual humorous moments in this book. It’s also worth mentioning that Hawkman’s introduction was well done and creates quite a few questions. Equinox’s brief introduction is enough to set the hook, but we’ll have to see if future issues can fully reel readers in.