I was strolling down the street the other day when I passed a dark alleyway. I heard a shuffling sound and peered in. What did I see, but Jeff Lemire trying to sleep under a greasy piece of cardboard. Further down the way, I spotted Neil Edwards sharing used cigarette butts with Jay Leisten and Keith Champagne. Strange things are certainly afoot in this January, 2015, gathering in the shadow of DC Comics.

To QUOTE Marguerite Duras: “The best way to fill time is to waste it".

There's nothing quite like a twenty four page story with about three pages of story happening. When you pick up that next issue of a story you're enjoying, maybe settle in to your favorite easy chair, kick back, open that cover, take in the beautiful art, and exclaim to the cosmos … “what the f*ck?”.

If you've been reading The Inifinitus Saga, you know the story thus far: Byth created Ultra in order to destroy and recreate the universe by bringing the little tyke to a rift in space and time that transforms him in to Infinitus. He somehow did this in the thirty-first century, almost destroying the Legion of Superheroes, who decide to go back in time to prevent Ultra from ever becoming Infinitus in the first place. And then, eventually, they agree with the JLU on not slaughtering the child in cold blood, which, of course, leads to Byth succeeding in recapturing Ultra and heading towards the aforementioned rift in space and time to transform him in to Infinitus.

That's where we left off in the last issue. And then a whopping three things happen that you probably could have predicted with preposterous accuracy. We'll spoil those three things later on, but for now, lets be vague and get on with bashing this issue to pieces.

To put it politely, it's a very good thing this book is a comic book. The only good things I have to say are for the art team. Edwards' pencils and Leisten and Champagne's inks are crisp, bold, vibrant, beautiful, and probably whatever other positive adjectives you'd like to see in comic book art. Very superheroey, if you don't mind me using such a made up word.

Since nothing much happens, Edwards is able to fill page after page with mid and close-up shots of assorted and sundry characters, usually yelling. Highlights include a great panicked J'onn frame, a beautiful determined and reckless Kara frame, and a highly amusing “zoinks!-the-end-is-nigh” Braniac 5 frame. Take your pick of your favorite; even the cacophony of Legionnaires pages are very well rendered.

The only things to pick on art-wise is one sloppy moment of Dream Girl screaming and another of Sardath apparently melting away as if Ultra just opened the Ark of the Covenant. I list these as part of “the good” because there is so much wrong with this issue that even some very minor art missteps are still good things.

Where to start? Maybe I'll start with the highly disturbing observation that this issue is obviously a hastily prepared filler issue. For those of you who don't dwell on your title pages, the three previous issues of JLU were billed as parts one, two, and three, respectively, of the five part Inifinitus Saga. This issue is suddenly part four of six. SIX parts, presumably to stretch right up until Convergence without having to include a one-shot story in March. Maybe I'm wrong and somehow a typo survived through three installments and was just corrected, but that would beg the question as to what Jeff Lemire was thinking with this installment! Because this issue doesn't add anything to the story that couldn't be accomplished with a frame or two in the prior or next issue.

And that's not even mentioning the continuity chaos it brings. Technically, the mess started towards the end of the prior issue, and readers more observant than I have probably already shaken their own tiny fists of continuity rage.

In the first three chapters of this saga, we get two waves of Legionnaires arriving on the scene. First we meet the initial four "cross time emissaries” arriving in their time bubbles. Then the Legion Lost joined the fracas, adding seven more Legionnaires even though Dawnstar doesn't get a mention on the title page with the other six.

Last month I complimented Edwards on how well the big battle scenes were rendered, with none of the characters being abstracted in to the background. This expert artwork makes it all that much more obvious that pages got shuffled between the original story work and publication. While our story has eleven Legionnaires helping out the JLU, there are two big battle spreads which together show additional characters that don't hop in the time bubble to Polaris until this issue -- practically doubling our chronological headcount for TEN bonus Legionnaires in total. 

(For those of you flipping back to check, we're looking for Ultra Boy, Dream Girl, Sun Boy, Lightning Lass, Star Boy, Blok, Cosmic Boy, Polar Boy, and two characters I couldn't positively identify.)

Which brings us back to this issue, where we won't bother comparing the title page roll call with who actually appears in the story and just focus on the proverbial icing on the sloppy comic cake. When this issue finally gets back to where we left off last month, we see a certain someone that absolutely, positively, should not be there.

Shadow Lass. Yup. You know, the hero whose injuries are so severe that just a few pages earlier we are reminded that she's recovering in stasis on Mars? In the 31st century? Presumably in no shape to hop in a time bubble, let alone fly out in to the middle of a battle.

The last thing this story needed was more characters, but we get them anyway, demonstrating why writers typically don't throw so many characters in to one story. This issue is primarily unnecessary Legion history and backstory. Eventually we get those three things that happen. And we're done.

So, aside from the fact that it's an afterthought to stretch the arc out filled with characters popping up in the wrong timelines, this chapter doesn't really have enough “story” to criticize. The whole issue was a split second in the action we left off with last month and will presumably resume with next month. It's like trying to describe a single bullet time special effect in the latest action movie as if it were its own film.

Enough about everything that doesn't happen! Lets use the musical selection to highlight that this issue did move us thirty seconds closer to the end of the universe. I'm going to go with T-Rex's “Teen Riot Structure” -- a happy little diddy about demon angel demi-gods blasting through the night and ancient lords bringing on the end of days.

We've covered the fact that this issue has no content. It's just filler between issues of the story we're trying to enjoy. We had five issues of story, but six issues to fill. What do television stations do when they have less hours of television than there are hours in the day? They sell the time to an infomercial, selling some cheap crap you don't need but might just buy if you've had a bit too much to drink.

Just for the record, The Infinitus Saga is still a great tale and I'm looking forward to the last two issues. This issue is just not part of that saga.

But hey! You've made it to the spoiler at the end of the review! It's kind of like the monster at the end of the book, but with less Grover. So if you came here to try and decide whether or not to pick up Justice League United issue 8, the answer is no, with three very specific exceptions; (1) You're a die hard completionist, quality be damned. (2) You like wasting money. Or (3) You want to cut it up for some art project that uses cool comic art and you don't have access to a color photocopier. If you fall in to category one or two and want to discover the big reveal for yourself, now's the time to stop reading.

Last chance to close that browser. Or scroll to the bottom and leave an obnoxious comment without reading the rest.

Alright, you're still here. Ready? Here it is. After wasting 13 of the 22 pages in this issue with the future history and deciding to send more Legionnaires to the 21st century, Jeff Lemire brings us three whole plot developments that you'll need to know going in to the next issue.
  1. Someone blasts Hawkman real hard. (Maybe even hard enough to snap him out of zombie friend killer mode?)
  2. Supergirl speeds away from J'onn and Mon El and chases Byth's ship (with Ultra in it) in to the rift.
  3. Infinitus emerges from the rift. (Making Sardath's face melt and Braniac 5's jaw drop.)
“Hey boy, you got any Kryptonian in you? You want some?”

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

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #8 JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #8 Reviewed by David Andrews on February 18, 2015 Rating: 5
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