Sometimes, you wonder if a book is going to be any good, or whether it’s just going to disappoint you and leave you sad like so many other books have. And sometimes, you find your expectations are more than met. Your Major Spoilers review of Justice League United Annual #1 awaits!
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED ANNUAL #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Penciler: Neil Edwards
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer:Dezi Sienty & Taylor Esposito
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in Justice League United Annual: In the wake of a massive interdimensional war (known to us as “Forever Evil”, a crossover whose name was quite apt, as it took for– Nevermind, I won’t explain that joke), several former Justice Leaguers bumped into one another and stumbled across a conspiracy to create an alien hybrid creature that will one day destroy the universe. Thankfully, the madman behind it ISN’T actually space-warping hero Adam Strange, but a Thanagarian shape-shifter named Byth. The Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Supergirl, Stargirl, Animal Man, the real Adam Strange and new young hero Equinox have joined forces to keep that from happening. After Hawkman’s murder led the team to split up, Martian Manhunter’s squad was stunned to be confronted by a man in a cape, claiming to be from the future… His name is Mon-El, and he vows that Ultra must DIE!
ULTRA THE MULTI-ALIEN!
Before we get too far into this, give me a moment to geek out: ULTRA THE MULTI-ALIEN! ULTRA THE MULTI-ALIEN! ULTRA THE MULTI-ALIEN! As one of Ultra’s nine fans, I’m quite amused to find him in these pages, especially given that I only picked up the issue to check in on the whereabouts of my long-missing Legion of Super-Heroes. It’s been more than a year since the LSH last appeared, and I have to say seeing Mon again is lovely, especially as he quickly launches into a fist-fight with the Manhunter (a very well-drawn double-page spread, too). While the home team fights off the last scion of Daxam, the away team (which, oddly, features all blonde people, something Animal Man comments on as being suspicious) confronts the brigands who stole Hawkman’s body, only to end up in a lopsided fight between a roomful of bounty hunters and Supergirl. The character work that writer Jeff Lemire puts into this issue make is a joy to read, with callbacks to pre-New 52 continuity, and a good mix of personalities. When more Legionnaires arrive in the present, The Martian Manhunter stands down long enough for Brainiac 5 to make his pitch: The LSH will work with the JLU for 24 hours, after which time, the rest of the team will arrive in the past and kill Ultra so that he doesn’t destroy the entire galaxy in their future…
IT’S THE INFINITY MAN!
Among the callbacks to the original continuity are the fact that Infinitus is classic LSH villain, The Infinity Man, who looks AMAZING under this art team’s pen. Also, Byth (who was Hawkman’s first Silver Age villain) has sent in his lackeys, an old-school JLA villain team called The Cadre. Green Arrow gets in some good moments in the issue, especially in rekindling his classic rivalry with Hawkman (who turns out to only have been MOSTLY dead), and there’s even a compelling reason given for Mon-El’s irrational actions in the first half of the issue, reminding us that he, too, is a hero. The art in this issue is top-notch stuff, even though it uses some of the less successful designs of the modern Legion (buzzcut Saturn Girl, mullet Brainy, and disco-bondage Phantom Girl), and the actual heroes of the book look phenomenal. I especially like Alanna Strange (who is stuck in a Zeta Beam loop with husband Adam, and keeps switching places with him) and the Edwards/Leisten team even make the sharp-edged diaper Supergirl costume look great. I’m all for a fresh and modern take on the heroes, but I really appreciate the nods and references to the old stories in play.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A VERY COOL READ
So, yeah… I’m a fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and their twisted continuity. But, I try to remain critical of things that are dumb (like the last Jim Shooter & Paul Levitz runs on the book), and on those merits, I have to say: I’m glad I picked this one up. There’s an ongoing story that I’m now going to have to go back and check out, as well as a nice balance of characters in play in the team. The appearance of the Legion may herald a new era for the team (and I’m happy to say that the traditional fly-by panel included Gates, Bouncing Boy, Matter-Eater Lad and Blok, as well as the members of the team who were believed lost in time previous, which could be a bit confusing) but the return doesn’t overshadow Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow and the group whose name is on the cover. In short, Justice League United Annual #1 makes for a good looking issue, with a strong story that even makes me want to read about Hawkman, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m officially a JLU reader with this one…