Sunday, February 15, 2015

Justice League United #9 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The heroes fight back against Infinitus and his forces. Supergirl takes on Byth, who transforms into some kind of octopus tentacle creature. The Martian Manhunter breaks the brainwashing on Hawkman. A group of heroes shows up in time to break the deadlock between Supergirl and Byth, and the Martian Manhunter telepathically turns Infinitus back into Ultra. So that should solve everything, except that Brainiac 5 built some kind of black-hole bomb to stop Infinitus, and activated it, and now that there's no Infinitus to use it on it's going to destroy everything.

Review:

For some reason I don't feel like reviewing this comic. Why don't I? It's actually pretty decent.

Stuff happens in it, for one thing; it doesn't feel like just more killing time on the way from the first issue of the arc to the sixth.

There's still a problem with characterization, but it's mostly an effect of limited space on stage. There are a lot of Justice Leaguers and Legionnaires to feature, and some of them get to express themselves a bit, but it's a very crowded comic book. So I give it a pass on that... but the villain still doesn't have any personality, and there's really no way to excuse that away.

I'm not sure about the choice of having Infinitus defeated only to have the black-hole bomb become the new threat. Let's list the pros and cons:
Pro:
- Didn't see it coming!
- Nice to have something a little different happening.
Con:
- Oh cripes not another rift.
- Stakes are lower: Infinitus threatened all of existence, but this bomb seems like a much more local and limited problem.

One thing about the way the story played out: it put the Justice League in the position of doing the key things to save the day. Freeing Hawkman, leading the reinforcements to Byth, overcoming Ultra's mind... For that matter, the black-hole bomb, our new adversary, is Brainiac 5's contribution, which fits given the Legion's role as foils or secondary antagonists in this story. Anyway, the title on the cover is Justice League Unlimited, so that's the right way of doing it.

Unacceptable editing mistake: "Get you're damn hands off me, Martian!" Anybody could write it down like that; it should not be allowed to get through.

Okay, so, the story wraps up next month, and then on to... what's it called? Convergence? More nostalgia, anyway.

Art:

One of my least favourite things about comic-book art is when artists save time by not providing backgrounds. That doesn't happen in this issue. The characters are all well-rendered, and I like the trick on the bottom of page 4 with the checkerboardy-type background; is that supposed to be reality reacting to Supergirl's punch? It's a very nice-looking issue.

Pages 8 and 9 are a problem; the backgrounds and action is so similar from page to page that the order of panels isn't really clear, which sort of takes away from Bouncing Boy's big moment.

My copy of the comic book has the Harley Quinn variant cover. Why the flip does this comic have a Harley Quinn variant cover in the first place? Dash Harley Quinn.

Membership Notes:

The SW6-era and Reboot-era Legionnaires we saw last issue aren't in evidence this time around, unless I missed them. (Well, Matter-Eater Lad in his SW6 costume is there, if you want to count that.) Maybe it was just a one-time thing. Also, Mon-El mentions something about the Legion's "Planetary Defense Squad", consisting of Wildfire, the White Witch, Bouncing Boy, Lightning Lad, and Element Lad. I don't get how and why they're a planetary defense squad, but maybe there's a way that it makes sense.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Dylan said...

Element Lad, Wildfire, White Witch, and even Lightning Lass make sense as part of a planetary defense team. They've all got long-range zappy powers or other versatility.

Either way, nice to see Chuck get a moment to be awesome.

And I don't believe for a minute that Wildfire's dead. He gets blown up almost as often as Red Tornado or the Vision.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, more often, I'm sure. We may see him again as soon as next issue, unless they're using this as an excuse for leaving him and Dawnstar in the 21st century, like there have been hints about.

I compare the Planetary Defense Team to the Espionage Squad. Here's the difference: I have some notion of what "espionage" is and what skills or powers might be helpful in pursuit of it. I'm a lot hazier on "planetary defense". Does it just mean "fighting"?

7:34 PM  
Anonymous LSH fan said...

Hi Matthew. First time poster, but I've been reading for a while. I'm happy to see the Legion back, but this writer seems not to be a fan. This story opened with Mon-El trying to kill a child. This latest issue has Phantom Girl threatening to solidify her hand in Byth's head and kill him. Legionnaires don't kill -- it's their only inviolable rule! Mon-El wouldn't kill anyone, even if that person killed Shadow Lass. And since the villains in the 31st century know that the Legion doesn't kill, PG's instinct would not be to make that threat. The villains she knows and trains for wouldn't believe that for a second. And don't get me started on Brainy's sloppiness-- one mistake maybe, insanity has happened, but not a string of sloppy mistakes. I wish that before trying to write the Legion, this guy had at least read a few issues.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Welcome.

I don't really know much about Lemire's tastes, but I do seem to recall reading somewhere that he is actually a big Legion fan. For whatever that's worth.

As for your examples... I didn't like the thing either where they thought they had to go back in time to kill the kid, but you must admit that it didn't actually come to anything. As for Phantom Girl, I don't have a problem with that part at all. For one thing, Byth obviously doesn't know a thing about her and whether or not she'd actually do it. For another, a lot of evil people judge others by their own standards, and would tend to think that superheroes would kill if they thought they could get away with it, no matter what they said. (Besides, if the Legionnaires were mentally prepared to kill Ultra, an innocent kid, if they had to, how much easier would it be to kill Byth? Not that I put a whole lot of weight on this particular argument.)

Refresh my memory... what were Brainy's mistakes in this arc? Are you counting the black-hole bomb as one of them?

8:57 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

The characterization issue is really a matter of 40 characters in the book, with 30 of them guest stars. There is only so much dialogue to go around, and the Justice Leaguers didn't fare better than the Legionnaires. For those who know the Legion characters, there were characterization echoes present -- references to relationships, power uses, familiar dialogue bits. I didn't feel like I was reading about people dressed in Legion costumes, anyway, as often happens in a crossover.

For Wildfire, of course he's not dead. You can't kill anti-energy. The person reacting to his "death" is someone who doesn't know him from Adam; if there were a Legionnaire on hand, they would have said "Oh, honey, don't worry. That's just his containment suit, he's fine, around here somewhere." (But hey, maybe it will be a plot point in #10?)

In terms of the reboot Legion, did you see that they will be appearing (as the antagonists) in Convergence: Blue Beetle?

2:24 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I did, yes. Although I'm not really sure what "antagonist" means in this case. I dunno. I'm skeptical about this whole [i]Convergence[/i] thing. Maybe it'll be all right.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

The base conceit of Convergence is Brainiac created domed city fragments of old continuities before they "died", and then each series will have two of those battling it out. (Superboy and the Legion will have the Atomic Knights, Blue Beetle will have the reboot Legion, etc.) "Antagonists" would be "those opposing the lead characters of the series". Apparently culminating in "Only one universe will win" in the end.

It smacks of Secret Wars, Contest of Champions, and whatever DC's execrable Arena series was a decade back (where they killed many of the alternate universe characters just to kill them).

3:04 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

As I say, skeptical.

3:06 PM  

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