Review: Justice League United #4 By Jeff Lemire, Mike McKone & Cam Smith

Editor’s note:

Building on our spoilers and reviews of the issues leading up to this climax, Paul Miranda reviews JLU #4!



“Justice League Canada” part 5 (of 5)

Story by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Mike McKone and Cam Smith
Colors by: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters by: Travis Lanham
Covers by: Mike McKone with Gabe Eltaeb, Karl Kerschl
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

O Jeff Lemire, our grown and native man! Thus concluded the first arc of the spin-off featuring another hodgepodge of Justice Leaguers. As a true-born Canadian, I’d like to say that I was super-psyched for this series to launch and was hoping for more “northern exposure”. However, I felt that at the end of the issue, there was much left to be desired.

Like everyone else, I can be quite contrarian. At times, books have too much action and little dialogue or vice-versa. Since Lemire has launched the series, there has been WAY TOO MUCH conversing. Each issue has been progressively wordy. I understand the need for exposition or set-up but by the end of this chapter, very little action took place to fully illustrate that these are the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes.

Maybe it’s just me but why tease an audience seven months ahead of time by stating that the book would be officially titled JL CANADA to then change it to JL UNITED? It seems a bit misleading that the first arc is titled “Canada” considering very little happened in Jeff’s country of origin. Starting out with a space-faring adventure doesn’t inspire me. Perhaps it’s to show that the reputation of the League spans many galaxies. To put it in a nutshell, I didn’t care for this element although it has reintroduced Sardath, the planet Rann, Byth, the Thanagarians, and Ultra the Multi-Alien. I found bringing in Lobo pointless. He obviously could never be a League member nor is he altruistic. Nevertheless, very little fighting ensued between him and Hawkman. He’s just a bounty hunter looking for his ‘imposter’.

The only saving grace of this issue is the now-confirmed bonding between Green Arrow and Animal Man. G.A. is sincerely sorry for A.M.’s son’s death and A.M. responds in the most gushing way possible: “I think this is where we hug it out.” G.A.’s response is right on the mark: “*sigh*”

The women of the cast are no second-stringers. I admire how Jeff strengthens Alanna by having her wear a suit similar to Adam’s, brandish a weapon, and join Heather in finding and rescuing Miiyahbin a.k.a. Equinox from some Native/alien menace. It’s interesting to note that Alanna and Adam eloped, that her maiden name is Lewis, and that she is Canadian as well, not “a superhero from down south”. Heather injects a bit more humour by saying “Alanna Strange is a better superhero name if you ask me.” Is this foreshadowing a new legacy for the sci-fi super-hero? After finding Miiyahbin and having her utter the magic word “Keewahtin”, Alanna is the real heroine here. Heather gets an honorable mention since she still tagged along despite being scared stiff.

Stargirl has become a critical darling since Geoff Johns introduced her 15 years ago and then put her in the JSA. She doesn’t do much this issue but aloof Supergirl puts her in her place by (1) inadvertently taking offense and pointing out she is an alien, (2) calling her star-strucked [pun intended], and (3) telling her to behave like someone worthy of the Justice League. Speaking of which…what was the point of bringing in Supergirl since she didn’t have a chance to show that she’s the Maid of Might? Kara tries to play it cool after the team returns to Earth by emphasizing that she wouldn’t necessarily join the neophyte team. Stargirl (like Wasp from the Avengers) is the one that gets to christen the team’s name. At least Jeff, through Animal Man, gets to poke fun at the idea that a team named Justice League Canada is preposterous.

Mike McKone’s art has been decent since debuting on this series. I found his art to be far superior when he was on the first full year of TEEN TITANS vol. 3 and AVENGERS ACADEMY. His drawings here seem block-ish. The men are not overtly muscular. In fact, they are look like carbon copies of each other. The women are not very shapely with the exception of Alanna and Miiyahbin. Marcelo Maiolo’s colours are standard since most of them come from the primary palette. I fail to see why there are only four panels done in black and white. Is it to emphasize Byth’s and Lobo’s villainy on page 15, panel 5? Plus, what’s the point in having B&W to show Throvis’ murder on page 16, panel 3? Also, having Lobo’s arm in B&W and Byth’s hand in black makes no sense to me. Lastly, there’s page 22, panel 2 when Heather and Alanna barge in with Miiyahbin fallen in battle. There is some colour in this scene. I don’t see the effectiveness of the contrast on any of these pages. Cam Smith’s inks nicely complement McKone’s sketches.

Notes of interest:

  • Alanna unearths multi-coloured suits similar to the one Adam Strange donned. Could this be a version of the ‘Strange Corps’ à la the Coloured Lanterns? Methinks this is Rannian technology.
  • The animosity between the Rannians and the Thanagarians could lead to another “Rann/Thanagar War” that launched after Infinite Crisis.
  • Neat twist to the Adam Strange/Alanna dynamic. The reason is twofold: (1) Adam is the one now stuck on Rann as a guest since he and Alanna cannot be in close proximity due to Zeta energy feedback, and (2) Alanna remains on Earth and has the makings of being a heroine in her own right and possible joining the new League. In other words, a reversal of fortune.


Adam Strange definitely wears the red and white to highlight his Canadian-ness

Despite having high hopes for this series, I will not continue to read it nor purchase it for my personal collection. I’ve never felt more anxious to see a storyline reach its end. I just don’t think Jeff Lemire is cut out for standard super-hero fare.

I give this issue half a Maple Leaf (5.5 out of 11 points).

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