JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #9

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[ SCARED INTO A SALE
Hey there kids! It's February, 2015, and you know what that means! That means it's time for Jeff Lemire to tell us the story he wanted to tell us last month! Complemented with pretty pictures by Neil Edwards brought to pimpin' bold intergalactic life by Jay Leisten and Keith Champagne. Yes, boys and girls. It's the artist formerly known as The Infinitius Saga Part 4 of 5. Thanks to DC Comics, now known as The Infinitus Saga Part 5 of 6! Boom.

To QUOTE the T-Rex from Meet The Robinsons: “I'm just not sure how well this plan was thought through”.


THE STORY:
Yup.  Here we are on the far side of what I shall mercifully call “the extra issue”, which I will not dwell on any further.  For lack of a better rallying cry, away we go!  (Hey, it's better than “Justice League, attack!”, isn't it?)

Supergirl versus the psychic intergalactic shapeshifting zealot.  Martian Manhunter versus the brainwashed Thanagarians and genetically manipulated messiahs.  And Animal Man and Green Arrow picking on one another.  Just as things should be.

Oh, right.  There's still that gaggle of Legionnaires from the future -- our creators aren't bothering to label their heads on the title page any more, so I won't bother to keep a head count either -- trying to help our heroes.  Specifically, trying to help in much the same way a litter of hyperactive beagle puppies tries to help with large scale carpentry projects.  Maybe with a little less drooling on the redwood.

So here we are, back to the story as, presumably, originally intended, where we get really close to a big party celebrating a job well done. But, of course, someone had to go and throw a monkey-wrench in the plan.  There's a parable somewhere about too many chefs spoiling the broth, right?  Imagine if one of those chefs has a twelfth level intellect and is pretty certain he's the only one cooking.

Excluding, of course, his archaic sous chef, Droopy McCool.

THE GOOD:
In my opinion, one of the signs of a really great story is one that carries tension along with it, where you care about the characters and the outcome, but manages to deliver highly satisfying moments along the way without diminishing the desire to read onward.  Many stories fizzle out after the big climax, but you read onwards through what is essentially an aftermath.  Sometimes you need to trudge through murky beginnings to get yourself hooked, possibly missing out on an otherwise engaging story because the author took too long to make things engaging. 

But the Infinitus Saga has managed -- despite the preposterous number of characters and big, clumsy extra issue jammed in there -- to maintain my interest in the core story and its end result.  And at the end of this penultimate chapter, when the primary threat is likely doused, I'm still really looking forward to the next issue.

It's tough to get much character development done when you're juggling a ridiculous flock of extra characters, but in this installment, Lemire manages to focus on a small handful of our core team.  You know; the ones that call themselves Justice League United and actually belong in this series!  We get a close look at how Kara and J'onn handle Byth, highlighting the difference between the sixteen year old Kryptonian still trying to find her way and the god-knows-how-old Martian who has already parted ways with both Stormwatch and the Justice League.

Plus, Animal Man calls out a Legionnaire for his stupid code name, which is always a win in my book.

The art team's work is excellent, as it has been since they took over this series.  We've got the superhero fight scenes we deserve, plus plenty of beautiful emotions to underscore the deciding points of Lemire's tale.  Mon-El's face when he “has an idea” is quite possibly the comedic highlight of the issue.

The dramatic highlight, however, was the simultaneous decision making and apology issuing of Brainiac 5 and J'onn J'onnzz.  The flipping back and forth was very cinematic, and moving, and, well, I mentioned there were too many cooks, right?

THE BAD:
This is a really good issue.  They must have moved most of the crap in to the aforementioned extra issue (I wasn't supposed to mention that again, was I?).  So the bad points are going to be particularly nit-picky.  Because we need to bitch about something, right?

A Legionnaire, who may or may not be Tyroc, proclaims, “We can't possibly hope to stop all these wraiths, Duplicate Girl!”. Does he not hear the problem coming out of his mouth?  Do I maybe misunderstand the superpowers of Duplicate Girl?  And why is there only one of her?

Brainiac-5 is also fraying at the seams, which is kind of awesome to see (who doesn't love seeing the cocky character taken down a peg?)  However, when he laments how he miscalculated terribly about how hopping back in time accelerated Inifitus' birth rather than prevent it, one can't help but think back to that earlier issue where the original plan was to kill the kid and someone argued against it.  I would have loved to have seen some righteous blame throwing.  Maybe we'll get that next month.

Even if Hawkman doesn't know the difference between “you're” and “your,” it should sound the same when he's saying it, right?  How does one even say “get you're damn hands off me”?!

THE MUSIC:
In the interest of keeping this musical analogy relatively spoiler-free, let's just say that someone in this team has got some of those great powers that Voltaire might say gives one a great responsibility.  And, well, we're going to stop right there and just compare this issue to Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime.




THE COMPARISON:
There's a lot of heavy stuff going on with this issue, with a few characters going their own trying to save the day, each with their own strengths and limitations.  But ultimately, it's the tactical approach of working together; getting certain members to leverage their own best strengths to take down Byth as a team that allows the heavy hitters to succeed.  So let's use this comparison to pay tribute to Mon-El, who had the idea that saved the girl, and in turn, saved the world.  (Champagne on ice.)

Just like Fezzik, he finally did something right.  I'm sure he won't let it go to his head.

THE CONCLUSION:
OK. So let's see what we've got here. Picks up where the two issues prior should have left off?  Check.  Too many characters?  Check.  Character development?  Check.  Character contrast?  Check.  Comedy?  Check.  Tragedy?  Check.  Body count?  Oh, right!  Legionnaire down!  Legionnaire down!  (Only thirty more to go...)

All joking aside, though, in case I've been vague about it, rest assured that this issue contains some pretty serious stuff going down.  Our heroes (so many heroes) are trying to save the universe, after all.  That's no small feat.  There are serious moral decisions to make.  There are ultimate steps that must be taken, but only if all other attempts have been exhausted.  But with so many prongs of attack and defense, how are our heroes to know if they can afford to wait any longer?

Well, the fate of the universe is at hand.  Let this not be understated.

So, with the fate of the aforementioned universe at hand, do you know what saddened me most about this tale?  Adam Strange is still presumably passed out drunk in Canada.  He missed the whole thing.  Poor guy.  He's never going to believe the names of these future folks.

Oh, and for those of you keeping track, I totally called the mind control thing.

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