JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #4

-
[ CASH IN ON CANADA
If it be true that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue. Yet to good wine they do use good bushes; and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues. What a case I am in, then, that am neither Jeff Lemire nor Mike McKone, whom on behalf of DC Comics did bring you a fine epilogue this August in the year of our lord, 2014. Curtain!!

To QUOTE R.E.M.: “He's got his work and she comes easy / They each come around when the other is gone / Me, I think I got stuck somewhere in between”.

THE STORY:
Here we are, in the final chapter of “Justice League Canada”, with Alanna Strange on Earth, Hawkman on a slab, and everyone else where we left them. Tempers flare. Briefly. Arguments are had. Briefly. And touching moments are shared. Briefly.

Will Alanna use her newfound raygun to vaporize Miiyahbin's friend Heather (who apparently has more than a passing fangirl crush on anyone resembling a superhero)? Will General Thorvis Thal of the 'Thanagarian totally-not-a-war-party' party win his custody dispute against the master negotiator, J'onn J'onzz? Will Supergirl convince Stargirl to stop being so, well, star eyed? Will Animal Man and Green Arrow finally hug it out? Will Sardath finally show some spine? Will Alanna and Adam finally reunite? Will anyone find Miiyahbin? And just where the hell did Lobo and Byth make off to? Should we worry about them?

Most importantly, of course, I'm sure you're wondering whether our courageous team, assembled on the cover of JLU #0 back in April, will finally come together all in one place and become a team, maybe even with a name. Right? You were wondering that. I'll give you that one; yes. And no. Sorta. For clarity, and for answers to all these other vital questions, you'll just have to read this issue. Sorry.

THE GOOD: 
This is really a beautiful issue. Much like issue 2, there's a whole lot of standing around talking, but unlike that issue, Mike McKone's work here doesn't feel stagnant. You feel like there's an exciting “superhero story” going on even though it's mostly dialogue. There's none of the blank stares or soulless eyes we've seen in past issues. And while he still simplifies faces when they're not in the foreground, he manages to capture the essence of the expression in ways we haven't seen in JLU before.

Marcelo Maiolo's colors have finally hit their stride, too. The bold colors pop and enhance McKone's work in a beautiful way and he's found just the right balance of hyper-stylized panels to maximize their effectiveness. Not to mention how tough it must be to color ice and snow without just leaving a black and white drawing behind.

On to the story, though, just as issue 0 wasn't in any way a “zero issue”, and was just the start of the JLC arc, this “conclusion” isn't so much a conclusion as an epilogue. Our story ended in issue 3. Here we pick up the pieces of all the loose threads and squirrel everything away where Jeff Lemire wants it to be in two months (when we come back from the future). And yet it works. It doesn't feel like a concert where everyone left before the encore. It feels like the conclusion of an introductory arc should feel. Our team is defined, the tale is complete, but there's some very big, bad things looming that need to be dealt with in the immediate (Miiyahbin) and not-so-immediate (Byth, Ultra, Lobo) future.

Will they be dealt with in our next arc? A separate title? (Byth will be making an appearance in November's Sensation Comics, but that's not New 52 continuity).  Who knows? But I'm certainly looking forward to finding out.

THE BAD:
Shazam! Taaru! Keewahtin! So many magic words. I really hope we get a solid Miiyahbin backstory. The ambiguity is coming off far too derivative and not at all like the enticing mystery I suspect it's supposed to be.

Ultra is one day (maybe two days) old, damn it. Just because the alien hybrid kid is growing at an accelerated rate doesn't mean he's five years old. For the love of god, someone please acknowledge this distinction in-panel.

And I've got a bit of a problem with none of the other Thanagarians attempting to stop – uh – the guys that they might want to stop – after one of them is overpowered. But I suppose one can insert an imaginary “cowering in the corner” panel off-page.

That's it. Mostly stupid little plot points. Okay, maybe the phrase “none-functional” was odd (maybe it's a common Rannian phrase). And there's the whole question of exactly WHERE Supergirl went after her sunbath that allowed Rann to be “on her way back to Earth”.  (Maybe we'll find out over in Supergirl once we're past “Doomed”).  But this was a very enjoyable issue. There's a whole lot left hanging that I hope is relevant to what's coming next. If it's not, then I suppose that's some bad storytelling in retrospect.

THE MUSIC:
Fine. Maybe I've been wanting to use this one since I agreed to review this title. And finally, it is time: Sham 69 – 'If The Kids Are United'.




Or, if you prefer your United Kids all digital hardcore, enjoy the Atari Teenage Riot version. (Fun fact: in his Robin solo series, Tim Drake had an ATR poster on his wall.)




THE COMPARISON:
When you get right down to it, the primary point of this issue was to get the gang together. Yeah, one might be dead and two of them appear to not be able to ever be in close proximity to one another, but those are details we can work out later. Right after we figure out where Cesar Romero was for this photo.

THE CONCLUSION:
At first I thought I didn't like this issue because it was all epilogue, but the more I sat on it the more I realized how perfect an ending it is. We got our team together (sort of), set the stage for their reason for teaming up, established some interplanetary conflicts to get involved in, set some villains up for future use, and so on. In other words, rather than wrapping up the loose ends, Jeff Lemire chucked a bunch of new threads up in the air.

Rather than dwell on what's to come in two months (after our foray in to Future's End), let's look back and see what questions from the earlier issues actually got answered, eh?

  • Adam Strange lying to Stargirl and Animal Man? Not addressed.
  • Ambiguity of time since Forever Evil? Not addressed.
  • Why people still love Buddy and Courtney? Not addressed.
  • If Keewahtin and the seven are involved in the Council of Eternity? Not addressed.
  • What the other former JLA members were up to? Addressed in JLA and JL.
  • How Ollie got to Ontario? Addressed in GA.
  • Odym?! Not addressed.
  • Ellen and Maxine? Apparently exist, but no hints on current relationship.
  • The Bridgewalker? Not addressed.
  • Lobo v Lobo? Sort of addressed. We didn't address how he got off Earth or hired by Byth, but he's still chasing the imposter and we know they meet in Lobo #1 come October.
  • How aliens of different races can communicate without a Green Lantern ring? Not addressed.
  • Was Ultra born twice? Apparently. The whole multi-dna science thing apparently happens extra-utero
  • Miiyahbin in the woods? NOT ADDRESSED. Frankly, feeling very forced.
  • Hawkman's brain injury? Not addressed. But boy, does that remind me of a loose end I'm looking forward to seeing tied up.
  • Czarnia's population and involvement in the war? Not addressed.
  • Other races involved in Project Ultra? Not addressed.
  • Sardath's mysterious beeping thing? Not addressed.
  • Thalsalla's atmosphere? Not directly addressed, but rendered moot.

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