By Jeff Lemire, Mike McKone, Dexter Vines, and Marcelo Maiolo
Full disclosure: Justice League United has been a bit of a disappointment for me. With that out of the way, Justice League United #2 is the strongest issue thus far. A majority of the team is on Rann, where they were transported to at the end of issue #1. The dialog finally begins to feel more natural in this issue. In past issues it seemed forced and the “comedy” wasn’t funny. Here, the interactions between Green Arrow and Animal Man feel more natural. We also learn a great deal about overall plot of this opening arc. Byth’s reasoning for the kidnappings and science experiments is shared with us by Sardath, a native of Rann. There is a bit of clichéd motivations here, but it works better in this story than it would in many others. Toward the end, the reader is finally caught up with the splash page that appeared at the beginning of the #0 issue. The team is together (mostly) and ready to function as the Justice League.
One drawback, similar to last issue, is the lack of Lemire and McKone’s new character, Miiyahbin. Her story gets two pages here, which brings us to four pages in three issues. In those pages, we still have yet to learn much about her at all. Perhaps this is a personal opinion, but maybe her story would have served better as a backup for the first few issues. Or maybe Equinox’s tale could have been told together in or two larger chunks. The way the story has been presented thus far is detracting from the bigger story of the team in a way. This is part of the struggle in telling a team story, when we must learn about the formation of the team.
Mike McKone’s art continues to be a strong suit for this book. His lines are kinetic. His action is alive. Yet he still nails most of the character moments with an astute level of detail for facial expressions. This is especially evident with Sardath. He runs a bit of an emotional gamut in this issue, and McKone excels in these moments. That being said, there was one image that was quite distracting. When we are introduced to Supergirl (finally), the angle at which we see her makes her look like she’s 9 feet tall. Also, her head is disproportionate to her body, looking way too big.
Marcel Maiolo, as usual, lifts the art up another notch with his excellent colors. As mentioned in the review for Green Lantern Corps #32, Maiolo does a great job of creating unique alien worlds. Rann feels distinctive when compared to other planets visited in the DC Universe. Maiolo presents this planet with an atmosphere of a wide array of greens, from deep sea greens to bright lime greens. Maiolo also does a great job of showing us the deserted wilderness of Northern Canada and the old-school sci-fi lab Blyth works from on Thalsalla. Blyth’s lab would not look out of place in a comic from the 60s. The contrast Maiolo uses to differentiate between worlds is outstanding. Furthermore, Maiolo continues his use of bright backgrounds to make action pop on the page, his “WTF panels” as he calls them. I couldn’t think of a more apt description. His color work is always a treat, and is arguably untouchable in the modern comics’ landscape.
Overall, this story is starting to build to a crescendo. Team books are always a slippery slope in the opening arc. The team has to be built. It’s a tough arc to pull together without some flaws. That being said, the final issue of Justice League of America would have been better served being the #0 issue for this series. In that issue, we see the motivations of several of the characters who are now on this team, especially Green Arrow. On the surface, he seems out of place on this team; however, knowing his desires detailed in the final JLA issue, it all makes sense. As the first arc begins to draw to a close, it will be interesting to see what the creative team has in store for the future.