Justice League United #1
By Jeff Lemire, Mike McKone, and Marcelo Maiolo
This book picks up right where Justice League United #0 left off. We have Alana Strange far off planet, along with Hawkman, where they’ve been abducted for scientific experiments. Hawkman is toe-to-toe with the new “lipstick” Lobo, just as we left them. The rest of our heroes in northern Canada are battling one of the results of the alien experiments, and in doing so start to come together as a true team. That simple description sounds fine. Unfortunately, the manner in which these plot points are traversed is rather weak.
The first strike for this issue is the dialogue. The characters’ conversations are stilted and filled with unrealistic chatter. These character moments, usually a strong suit of Jeff Lemire’s, are impossible to gloss over. The comedic attempts are overwrought, forced, and most importantly not funny (with one exception in which I did chuckle). Lemire’s attempts at humor have the subtlety of a jackhammer, which creates a stark contrast in characters he’s previously written so well. Green Arrow is nothing like he is in his own title. These two Oliver Queens are nothing alike. The same goes for Animal Man. In his own title, Lemire wrote him as a confident, get the job done at any cost character. Here, he’s more a like needy next door neighbor.
Another strike is the complete no-show of new character Miiyahbin and her superhero counterpart, Equinox. Without a doubt, her brief appearance was the highlight of issue #0. Yet here we are, without even a hint of her on the page. Oh, and for whatever it’s worth, still no Supergirl in this book either. Miiyahbin, at least for me, is one of the major draws for this book. Lemire must patiently build his team, sure, but to completely ignore such a major aspect of all the pre-launch hype is a little disingenuous.
The third strike comes in the form of the gratuitous violence, which serves absolutely zero purpose. The action is handled well in Canada with the early formation of the team. The same cannot be said for the fight between Lobo and Hawkman. The idea of these two battling is no doubt an exciting one. Unfortunately, the fight features an ending that is not needed, reinforcing a major problem we see in modern comics: violence being overly done for no reason whatsoever.
Despite these major setbacks with the story, the visuals are lively and energetic. Mike McKone and Marcelo Maiolo are the only saving grace for this book. They elevate a bland story. McKone’s action drawings are exciting, and his lines are clean and detailed. Maiolo continues his use of bright red colored boxes to indicate action. Combined, they do a good job of presenting a book which feels both unique to the DC Universe, yet very familiar.
Take a step back, and the bigger plot offers a true chance to excel; however, the execution falters from the start. Clunky dialogue, interactions that are not realistic, and poorly executed fight scenes hold the strengths of this book back. The idea of this Justice League team, and this team of creators, was exciting back in the Winter while anticipating this book. So far, it has yet to deliver.