Their numbers may be diminished, but their heroism is not… Your Major Spoilers review of Justice League United #16 awaits!
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #16
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Travel Foreman
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Andy Khouri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Justice League United: The Martian Manhunter is gone. Supergirl is nowhere to be found. I have no idea where Green Arrow has ended up. But there’s still a problem to solve, and a Justice League to united an solve it! Onward, to Rann!
A HOUSE OF SECRETS
We open on the distant planet Rann, where Adam and Alanna Strange have been called in by chief scientist Sardath for an important announcement: Somehow, in their recent missions, the heroes use of Zeta Beam transmission energy to travel back and forth between Earth and Rann has released strange energy beings called “breakers” into the natural world, but on Earth! Traveling alongside their teammates (Stargirl, Animal Man and Equinox), the JLU makes their way to upstate Connecticut, where they find a city trapped under an energy dome. Slipping inside, the heroes discover that there’s a house where there shouldn’t be one (or, at least, where there wasn’t one before, not for years), and enter to find their strange host, who calls himself… Abel. He explains that his house is a House Of Secrets, and each Leaguer finds a secret as they travel through the halls, with each stranger than the previous. It’s Adam Strange who finally figures out how to defeat the breaker, sacrificing himself into a permanent Zeta Beam exile while saving the city and his teammates…
THE SECRET OF ALANNA STRANGE
The second half of the issue feels very rushed, with months passing by in the matter of a few pages, before we discover the truth about Alanna’s mysterious parentage, a secret dating back to the earliest issues of the book. As someone familiar with the pre-Flashpoint versions of Alanna Strange, it’s no surprise, but the reveal works within the microcosm of the book, as well as the final dispensation of Adam Strange. Of course, that same previous knowledge works against me with The House Of Secrets, as Cain and his strange home aren’t the same as they used to be, what with now being the manifestation of an alien something-something maguffin. Add to this the strange anatomy and dark linework of Travel Foreman, and the second half of this comic book is difficult to understand on a number of levels. Stargirl looks particularly bizarre, and even with a very strong final page splash, I’m not happy with the art in this issue. Of course, JLU feels like it’s been drifting for an issue or two now, possibly the after-effect of the book’s cancellation notice, a situation which I blame for the cramped and speedy nature of this issue’s story.
THE BOTTOM LINE: FEELS LIKE A RUSHED ENDING
In a lot of ways, this issue is a two-issue arc crammed into one book, and while I’m glad they got to do an ending that qualifies as happy, I’m a bit sad to see only a few of the JLU members make it all the way to the end of the book. In short, Justice League United #16 is a mixed blessing, giving us one last adventure for the heroes, but doing so in a way that is visually underwhelming and rushed in terms of story, ending with a slightly disappointing 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. To be honest, a 16-issue run for these characters, in this day and age, has to be taken as a win, even if the way the book ends is a disappointment. After all, we’ll always have the ‘Ultra The Multi-Alien’ arc…