Justice League United Annual #1 review

Having rescued hybrid child Ultra the Multi-Alien from the shape-changer Byth, the members of Justice League United might expect a breather. But no, J'onn Jonzz, Equinox and Alanna Strange are confronted by a stranger claiming to be from 1000 years hence, Mon-El of the Legion of Super-Heroes. And he has one mission - to save the future by killing Ultra.

A fight ensues, and soon Mon-El is joined by other members of the 31st-century's greatest super-team. Brainiac and Saturn Girl calm things down and the Legion's resident super-genius explains that back home a creature named Infinitus is murdering worlds and his energy signature points to his beginnings in 2014, as Ultra. He doesn't want to immediately destroy the child, but if the two teams can't figure out a solution, in 24 hours the entire Legion will have no choice but to kill the child - and sheer numbers mean the JLU won't be able to stop them.

Across the galaxy, the rest of the JLU - Green Arrow, Animal Man, Supergirl and Stargirl - are in a space brothel, following a signal apparently from deceased colleague Hawkman. Rather than assess the situation, Supergirl simply attacks the punters and while she gets some useful information, away team leader Green Arrow is annoyed that Kara ignored his orders.

And so on. Other things happen. Plenty of things, enough to fill this super-sized annual. Including the revival of an old Justice League villain group. Writer Jeff Lemire's plotting is exemplary as he brushes off my early disappointment that the LSH story isn't the issue's entire focus by speedily linking in the space side of proceedings. 

And regardless of that, the dynamics between Animal Man and the rest of the away team soon won me over - there's huge chemistry between the quartet, with plenty of humour and a little bit of tension. I wasn't thrilled that Kara began bullying random brothel users, but it's not hugely out of character - the good thing is that Ollie calls her on it, reminds her she's meant to be on a team. She needs to be less Red Lanterns. more League, and unless the upcoming space school story in her own title rips her out of here, I don't doubt she'll get there.

On a similar note, as a lifelong Legion fan I was dismayed to see Mon-El so determined to kill Ultra without talking things over first. But Lemire explains his hot-headedness via Brainiac's 'future flashback' and well, this is comics - Mon-El's arrival allows for a dramatic opening and a fun fight scene. The Infinitus recap also sees Lemire introduce the Legion to new readers, explaining why the concept of the team is so cool - the size allows for diversity of character and power sets.


And as a Legion lifer I'm delighted to see the team back after their New 52 titles were cancelled. In a nice touch, Lemire expands on the traditional Legion Espionage Squad idea by spelling out further sub-teams - a battle squad, a rescue team and a command unit. Makes sense. I'm not going to worry about the continuity, the mix of characters and where this 'fits' - look kids, it's the Legion! Let's just hope this ongoing guest appearance leads to a new series, and soon.

The almost plothole - what's the hurry to kill Ultra, surely time travellers have a millennium to sort things out before Infinitus rises? - is plugged with a bit of thought on the part of the reader. Brainiac and co set out for the 21st century a few minutes after Mon-El and arrive a few minutes after Mon-El, ergo there's a relativity factor with the Time Bubbles; however long they spend in the past, that's how long they'll have been gone when they return. So yes, they do indeed have 24 hours to save the future.


This is the start of a several-issue arc continuing in the regular title, and on the basis of Lemire's script, I can't see anyone reading this issue not continuing the experience. The pencils of Neil Edwards and inks of Jay Leisten, who are 
moving onto the regular series, make it a certainty - the artists are a fantastic pairing, filling the pages with big, clean, dynamic comic art. The characters are utterly heroic or totally dastardly as required, moving through space with weight and speed. The compositions are first class, meaning the storytelling is precise and stylish. And the colours of Jeromy Cox are the icing on the visual cake. 

There's only one moment of 'Good Lord, that's horrible' but that's not the fault of Edwards and Leisten - they didn't design Supergirl's current costume. Who knows, maybe Edwards is foregrounding Kara's ridiculous arse detail to make its awfulness impossible to defend, and expedite its exit? Nah, he'd never be that mischievous ...


  1. That was an interesting book, it was nice to see the Legion again. But is it standard practice for Superhero teams to direct the first person on the scene to be overtly aggressive in order to establish the required plot line of the protagonists fighting before they work together? That seemed rather forced, a case of false drama.

    And as for Supergirl I thought the trip through the world of Red Lanterns was meant to repair the character, yet this appears to be much the same angry thoughtless bully we've seen before. And there is no way that fan service buttocks panel wasn't an artistic choice, a simple re-positioning of the cape would suffice.

    This book has a lot of potential it isn't realizing, I hope things can improve as I'm losing interest in what I'd hoped was going to be a nice diversion from the usual fare.

    1. Well, the opening fight is very much standard practice/a terrible cliche, but Mon-El was a maverick here, he wasn't directed by the rest of the team.

      Where has the book lost you? I enjoy it loads.

    2. I suspect it may be that I'm expecting something from the book the creative team hadn't planned on providing. That being a reason for why the book exists.

      I don't yet understand why they're a team. I can't parse any motivations. The heroes themselves seem more like "types" (the cynic, the strong silent leader, the snarker, the hothead, the odd couple buddy pair, and so forth) than realized individuals, more caricatures than characters. Why is Martian Manhunter putting a team together? Why is Supergirl so irritatingly obnoxious? Why are any of these people involved?

      The book hasn't lost me, but considering the characters Lemire has to work with I'm disappointed it hasn't grabbed me yet. There are lots of characters I enjoy, but they're running in circles with yakkity-sax playing in the background like a Benny Hill skit. I see them, but I don't know why I should want to continue with them.

    3. Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. So far, they're a team by circumstance - an emrgency brought them together, in classic comic book tradition, and amid the ongoing madness they've decided to stick together and see if they can do some good. I'm happy with that vague a raison d'etre ... they're superheroes, they have to do something! A more defined mission statement, such as the recent JLA's, didn't fo them any good.

      Still, I hope the book starts giving you more of what you want soon.

  2. whell good news if u think it in the space school arc in supergirl she will be wearing a costume similar to superman's current costume whether it is permanent or temporary i can't say

    1. Indeedy, I was commenting on that earlier this week over at Anj's place.

  3. It was great to see the Legion again, and treated with respect for the concept and all its great characters. I'd like to see a little dissent in the LSH ranks about the notion of killing Ultraa, though -- regardless of the stakes.

    But the biggest surprise was the return of the Cadre. I always expected the LSH would be back, sooner or later. The Cadre? Not in my wildest dreams.

    1. Yeah Rob, I agree about the need to show more baby-killing dissent. Presumably they had the argument before they set off, but it shouldn't be a closed issue - this is the Legion.


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