The new Justice League Unlimited undertakes its second mission, gathering a fresh team to shut down an anomaly in France. Alanna Strange, Equinox, Animal Man and Stargirl recruit Batgirl, Steel, Robotman and Vandal Savage to enter a zone where time is in chaos, and wars past and future are being fought simultaneously. The motley crew is the idea of the JLU's cosmic coordinator, Adam Strange, whose connection to the Zeta Beam - in which he's currently trapped - gives him invaluable insights.
The interaction between the players is a hoot, with fun discussion around the guest metal men, Robotman doing his patented bullet-shield bit and immortal villain Vandal Savage adding spice to the mix. Batgirl seems to be there for her brains and instinct, while Steel's tech savviness is invaluable. Throw in blazing battle stars Sgt Rock and Enemy Ace and you have a splendid story which makes this series' sudden change of direction from traditional JL unit to Defenders-style non-team more than palatable.
Jeff Parker captures the individual voices of the roster, even giving us Enemy Ace narrating his sequence in the style of his long-gone series. The overarching story of incursions into Earth by extradimensional, chaos-bringing 'breakers' is a bit vague, but as an ongoing maguffin, it's fine. Heck, anything that gets Sgt Rock and Batgirl in the same book is fine by me.
And, of course, Robotman, the standout star, lighting up the pages with his chrome charisma while waiting for DC to greenlight the glorious return of the Doom Patrol.
Paul Pelletier should be a comics superstar. He's been around for years, providing fantastic superhero pencils on the likes of Aquaman, Fantastic Four and She-Hulk, yet I rarely hear the praise he deserves. Perhaps it's his sheer adaptability - showcased in an issue which begins in the Second World War and winds up in modern-day France via a spooky space limbo - that sees him overlooked. Whatever the case, his storytelling chops are an asset to any book, and should he ever wish to show off a trademark Pelletier-style, I'm there.
Rob Hunter's strong inks adapt according to the story's needs, starting off straightforwardly solid, moving to ethereal and taking on a Joe Kubert tinge as Hans Von Hammer flies onto the page in his biplane.
The issue is equally well-served by Steve Wands, who immediately makes his mark with nicely conceived, well-executed title lettering, and colourist Jeromy Cox, whose moody hues inform the action - check out his sepia tones for the Frank Rock flashback. A Tony Harris cover illustration - signalling the imminent arrival of Frankenstein's creature - tops off another issue of this joyously bonkers book, one I recommend hugely.