JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #1

-
[ WHOSE LOOKING AT MY ASS?
In May of 2014, DC Comics released issue number one of Justice League United, where Jeff Lemire and Mike McKone presented the second part of their story that they started in the prior issue of that self-same title. And it was good. And sequential. And such...

To QUOTE The Doctor (as portrayed by Sylvester McCoy and written by Ben Aaronovitch): “Powerful! Crush the lesser races! Conquer the galaxy! Unimaginable power! Unlimited rice pudding! Et cetera! Et cetera!”

THE STORY:
Remember last issue? You know, the one that came before this first one? Well, yeah, we're still in space. And space is a good place to learn important life lessons. Like the costs of talking smack, the location of Khund genitalia, and the value of watching hockey as a kid.

And then, much like last issue, we're back in Canada again, where the already record low temperature has dropped another 2.2°C since last month. Of course, there are still more lessons to be learned here as well! We'll cover the art of belittling your team mates, the sorry state of the education system in California, a Martian's take on the value of teamwork, and the power of a team name.

These are all important lessons, dear friend. And I hope you've learned a little something valuable in this issue. If not, read it again.

THE GOOD:
For a comic that's primarily a pair of fist fights, there's a pretty fair amount of story happening too. Our heroes are learning to work together, even though one of them is still unaccounted for, one is operating solo in a separate location, and one only pops up for two frames of “watching from the shadows”.

We've also got the big reveal we were expecting at the end, as well as a mid-issue event that I certainly wasn't expecting.

One of the coolest parts of this issue was that it came out on the same day as Future's End #2, which primarily deals with Green Arrow's funeral in a “possible future” five years from now. While JLU #1 continues the bickering between Ollie and Buddy when they first meet, Future's End's bright spot is Buddy delivering Ollie's elegy, reflecting back on when they first met, and all the things that have happened since.

I believe this is the first issue of any title where we see echoes of Future's End, but also get a clear delineation that the “Now” continuity is already separate from the history of the “5 Years From Now”.

Or so it appears. Maybe I've just been reading too many treatises on the multiple continuities of The Terminator canon. Ha!

Over in art-land Mike McKone continues to impress, and frankly I think this issue is a huge improvement over the first. The art is more consistent and crisp. And despite wanting to criticize the increased use of abstract and drastically coloured frames as being redundant of Bernard Chang's work on Green Lantern Corps -- plus Andrea Sorrentino's work on Green Arrow -- it turns out that all three titles are coloured by Marcelo Maiolo -- so I'd wager these panels are his doing. 

Therefore, although redundant of his other work, these bold panels do jump out frequently to give a more dynamic and varied read. (I'd just like to see more variation in the technique though).

I must also tip my hat to Jeff and Mike for populating the universe with both new beings and those we've seen before in other space titles. Yes, I initially jumped to the incorrect conclusion that the presence of the Khund meant we were going to tie in directly to the current Green Lantern arc, however, it seems that not all Khund's in the galaxy are working with the Durlans. Some are, for example, playing prison guard on Thalsalla. And take a look at those guys over Alanna's shoulder in the first frame on page 10 -- one looks an awful lot like the same race as our friend Medphyll -- the Green Lantern of sector 2814 that never was. 

Now presumably all of our captives are from sector 2814? Consistency.

THE BAD:
The one downside to Maiolo's use of abstracted panels is that the first use of them in this issue is to indicate telepathic links and memories, yet  later, he uses them for simple emphasis moments -- as in GLC and GA. It would be cool to use these early issues to create a distinct art style that says “we're in someone's head” for the series, and keep that look separate from looks used for straight-up artistic 'exclamation points'. Obviously, it's not an issue that would prevent you from enjoying the series -- I just think he missed out on a great opportunity here.

My other big issue with this issue is from a marketing perspective. If DC hadn't made a big deal of their first Cree superhero debuting in this book, Equinox, it would be kind of cool -- we would see these sneak peeks but not know who she is. But instead we get all this hype even if she's not part of the story yet. Which isn't a big deal, unless, say, you're a young kid who identifies with this new character you've heard so much about, and picked up maybe your first ever comic book to check her out.

Would you really bother buying issue #2?

THE MUSIC:
For the theme to this adventure I'm going with Professor Elemental's “Fighting Trousers”.  Hawkman really should have put on his fighting trousers before antagonizing Lobo, plus we've got the trans-Canadian fight with the fail-safe. Also, I'd say the ridiculous goofy tone of the song works well with Oliver and Buddy's juvenile jabs. And of course we've got the Flash Gordon helmet reference.




THE COMPARISON:
We're still building here. Pick a fight. Enter the Khund. Find a jetpack. Chase a shape-shifting elemental thing across Canada. Lose a fight. Cause some property damage. Awkward hug. And then BAM -- our team's on another planet and Lord Never does his big Bond villain reveal.

This just keeps getting bigger and bigger, kind of like a snowball rolling down a hill.

THE CONCLUSION:
Well, I didn't get a whole lot of my questions from last issue answered, but we do know that Buddy's still married. Presumably to Ellen. Maybe -- maybe not. But then we get his inexplicable concern of Stargirl being “just a kid” -- anyone who's read Animal Man should know that Buddy's no stranger to young children (say, his 5 year old daughter, Maxine), yet here we see him concerned about the well being of a teenage veteran of the war with the Crime Syndicate.

Back off, Buddy.

And then there's the question of language. If the aliens on Thalsalla are speaking Interlac, how can they understand one another, without a Green Lantern ring present? Do all the other races of 2814 speak English?

Was the young child we met in this issue the same one we saw “three days from now” in issue zero? If so, what was “the hatching” we saw?

What the heck was Miiyabin doing out in the woods?

Does Hawkman have a brain injury? Has his left eye always been bigger than his right? Or is that just an art anomaly?

Overall, I chalk this up as another win. We're still building, but it's a hell of a build and I'm counting the days to issue 2. And this is just the “transition” story arc. I'm really curious to see where we go with this series after issue 4, how it leads in to World's End -- assuming it sells well enough to come out the other end of World's End -- whether we will see it evolve in to the team we caught glimpses of at Ollie's funeral or just go off in a completely different direction. But that's speculation for another time. Say, 2015.

*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.