The origin of the latest Justice League rattles along nicely, with answers gained as to what alien tech is doing hidden in the wilds of Canada, and the nature of Ultra the Multi-Alien. Plus, we finally catch up with the cold open of issue #0. Green Arrow, Stargirl, J'onn J'onnz and Animal Man meet Sardath, chief scientist of the planet Rann, as they try to contain the rampaging being that's teleported from Earth with them.
Sardath explains that extraterrestrial shapeshifter Byth has stolen an experiment which would see a child born from the DNA of all known alien species. Meant to be a symbol of universal peace, in the wrong hands the morally dodgy experiment could mean its end ...
Over in Byth's spaceship, Hawkman and Lobo are fighting again, but the good news is that the Thanagarian's arm, lopped off last time by the Czarnian, has grown back - Nth Metal, don'tcha know. This was the least engaging part of the book, being a boring bout in which the gleefully generous blood spatter is out of whack with the rest of JLU's all-ages tone.
Better was the opening scene with Miiyahbin - superheroine Equinox to be - and her pal Heather snooping around the underground alien bunker. Lemire's knack for dialogue gives us a nice snapshot of how the everyday madness of superheroes seems to ordinary folk in the DCU.
Most interesting is the arrival of Supergirl - present in #0's flashforward but unseen since. She makes an impression on Stargirl that's as much to do with her brusqueness as her big entrance. Happily, Kara quickly shows potential as a Leaguer, her Red Lanterns experience standing her in good stead. We don't learn anything about the Red Daughter storyline currently running through the Supergirl and Red Lanterns books, though it's apparently done with by JLU's 'now'. I don't blame writer Jeff Lemire - who wants to ruin someone else's storyline? It's enough for me to get on-panel proof that Kara is reclaiming her super-identity.
The banter between family guy Animal Man and natural leader Green Arrow continues to be first rate, while J'onn J'onn's majesty and professionalism remain a breath of fresh air in a DCU that is, as a piece, all too angry. Stargirl's everyteen nature is enjoyable, too. Alanna is so calm for a kidnapped-by-aliens Earth girl that I won't be at all surprised if she turns out to be Sardath's daughter, hidden off-Rann to protect her from the intergalactic wars raging at home. Sardath's narrative is a welcome reminder that DC's celestial cast isn't just the boring Daemonites, there are many established races out there.
The art by penciller Mike McKone and Ultra the Multi-Inker, aka Dexter Vines, Cam Smith and McKone himself, is delightfully clean superhero goodness. Even the ugliness of the Hawkman/Lobo fight is well-rendered on the action-filled pages.
The only design I don't like is Sardath, who's gone from Silver Age patrician to Porky Pig in a strangling hat. Marcelo Maiolo provides eye-popping colours and Travis Lanham effective lettering. Throw in a clever cover - a focus on the Hawkman/Lobo spat with background shots of the rest of the cast - by McKone and colourist Gabe Eltaeb and you have a pleasing visual package.
This series is shaping up nicely. All it needs is a consistent tone and it'll be at the forefront of DC's superhero output alongside Action Comics and Aquaman.