JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #11
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Travel Foreman
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
“The Island of No Return” (22 pages)
Demon! Equinox! Mera! Poison Ivy! Swamp Thing! Together, they are the Justice League!! Repeat?!? This incarnation sure is oddball. What assembles such disparate individuals? The answer is within this review 😉
The first page shows this new team ready to strike against whatever menace-of-the-week. They are led by an extremely determined Equinox. She empathically states that the five of them are the World’s Greatest Heroes [um, Ivy is a villainess; Demon is a, demon; Swamp Thing is a…thing].
Adam Strange is an ethereal entity apparently trapped forever within the Zeta beam. Like any other academic, he was so wrapped up on the one speciality that he was unaware of the Zeta radiation’s capabilities. It acts as a tether for the space-time continuum. Adam has gained hyper-awareness as a result. His choice in the unusual candidates is a result of defeating the Breakers: entities that can undo all four dimensions.
Peeling back the layers of time, the remaining members from the previous run each recruit these additions. Animal Man sets his sights on Mera. He uses his morphogenetic abilities to stop her dead in her tracks. She is not pleased with the intrusion. She is more concerned with finding her companion. Animal Man says he can use his connections with the real League but indicates urgency. She reluctantly agrees but holds him to his word.
Stargirl hits the Louisiana bayou. She is seeking Alec Holland better known as the Swamp Thing! She disturbs the peaceful water to get a rise out of him [pun intended!] He emerges as a colossus. He shows annoyance at being disturbed and brushes off her plea at first. His connection to the Green has to be selective. He also agrees to tag along at her insistence. His expertise will come in handy but he sneers at the effectiveness of her League.
Poison Ivy is pushing a new kind of high at a nightclub. Herbal delight done right. The fun is short-lived since she’s busted by Batgirl. BG gets tangled up in some vines and makes a snarky remark about Ivy’s way of escaping. Alanna Strange accosts the felon. Ivy is irritated and wants out. Alanna ports with her much to BG’s frustration. Awkward!! That won’t go over well in a near future encounter.
Jason Blood is running for his life [literally!] from some ambulant cadavers. He gets a timely save from Equinox. Blood catches her off guard when he addresses her by name and identifies her tribe. He knows she isn’t making a social call. He is grateful for the rescue and gladly offers his aid.
Interlude in time to before the draftees are gathered. Alanna, Animal Man and Equinox discuss the different tactic. Equinox has trepidations about whom they fetch and feels that manipulating them into helping is wrong. Alanna chimes in and tells her that they have to fix their mistakes and bring back Adam. Even if that means having questionable characters cooperate with goody-two-shoes. Adam witnesses the interaction and is very touched by Alanna’s love, devotion, drive, and loyalty.
Alanna and Ivy materialize on board a Coast Guard ship in the middle of Lake Erie during a raging storm. Ivy is introduced to the others. She notices the common criteria. She gushes like a schoolgirl when she spots the avatar of the Green. She cannot fathom his presence. Swampy explains to her that harmony must remain within the Green. Mera shows her disdain of Ivy’s inclusion and demands to know the nature of the makeshift League. She won’t get any answers since red protoplasmic beings attack the ship. Exit: Jason Blood, enter: the Demon!
Ivy is insecure about her usefulness. Alanna assures her that they were all handpicked for their skill set. The real danger lies on the island. Mera creates a wave. Ivy acts like a cat, fearful of getting wet. Demon finds it beneath his status to walk on water. Mera asks why Alanna and Animal Man have stayed behind. Equinox awkwardly explains that no danger must befall Alanna. She corrects herself to emphasize that all innocents must be protected. The island is a gigantic rufescent pyramid. Swampy detects life within similar to Krakoa. Ivy senses the infected algæ. She is confident that Swampy will make quick work of the situation.
Equinox states that the island is a manifestation of the Breakers’ tampering with physics. Etrigan is impatient. He hurls his sword at the mass and it spews corrosive acid. Upon that impulsive action, neither Ivy nor Swampy can sense the Green. It has completely vanished. Equinox states that the threat can be contained. Ivy snaps at her. She is outraged that a heroine would separate the avatar from his life source. Swampy is sucked into the gruesome ‘beast’. The others fail at retrieving him. The island becomes personified. Speaking in the first person plural, all living things will be consumed. Adam ponders the soundness of his decision.
Wrong A: “You know a lot of people confuse me for Aquaman, by the way?” – Animal Man
Priorities: “If I left myself open to feel that widely, every chopped tree and mown lawn…would bring me constant pain.” – Swamp Thing
Molly molly toxin fee: Ivy’s victim gladly accepts her latest concoction which is better than MDMA according to him.
Understatement: “Even as a pusher you’re poison.” – Batgirl
Tweaking out: Ivy is up on her slang. She mistakes Alanna for a meth addict.
Keewahtin: Spelling error. The magic word for Equinox to use her powers. It is Cree for ‘blizzard of the North’.
Reds have all the fun: “So whoever’s choosing has a redhead fetish, fine.” – Ivy’s astute observation of the ‘volunteers’. I forgot that Jason Blood is a ginger!!
Free verse: Etrigan isn’t rhyming 🙁 Why?
Water, water everywhere: “Why do landborne have such a problem with this…Have you ever noticed this is an ocean planet? Though I’ll admit freshwater feels weird.” – Mera
Bio 101: Eukaryote. Look it up on www.dictionary.com
Jeff Parker is no stranger to writing team books. He has this uncanny ability to put the most contrapositive characters into a close-knit conglomerate. There are obvious indicators of meta-fiction here when Mera scoffs at Ivy’s presence or when Ivy herself feels underrated compared to the provider of her powers. Alanna and Equinox each have to cement certainty among the group. I myself would be shaking my head at this selection. Don’t get me wrong. I love the eclectic offbeat formation. Mr. Parker’s writes such witty dialogue!! The females are all laidback (except for Mera) and they each deliver a zinger although Mera is more deadpan. The women are brimming with confidence coupled with casualness. The males are much more serious (discounting Etrigan). Adam is the embodiment [no pun intended] of angst, Animal Man is all business, Swampy is intense, Jason is quiet and contemplative whereas his alter ego is uncontrollable. The floating blobs seem inconsequential to these super-humans until they all amass as a pyramid. What’s with that, anyway? GREEN LANTERN: LOST ARMY also had a similar scarlet structure. Is this the return of the Illuminati? I digress. That is my only minor criticism regarding the plot. Jeff uses Adam as the focal point of the series even if his teammates cannot see nor hear him. Adam pulls a Reed Richards – impersonal and monomaniacal. Cold hard science can never take into account the human condition.
True confession time!! I read the launching arc but dropped it like a rock. I wasn’t too engrossed with the former writer’s approach. I had high hopes but felt they weren’t met. I was not going to even bother with this reinterpretation but the DIVERGENCE sneak peek intrigued me. Some pundits have compared this to Marvel’s non-team the Defenders. Perhaps. I will counter that with JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE from twenty-two years ago (anyone remember that?) There are times only select individuals can perform tasks that no other can. Mr. Parker has kept the XX ratio slightly higher than XY and I’m all for it!! I’ve mentioned many a time that I’m a feminist. I see patterns: the Freakish Four represent the elements – Mera is real obvious, as is Etrigan, Ivy and Swampy both know their roots [natch!] and I suppose Equinox would be air. I was a bit disappointed that Buddy and Alec didn’t really reconnect since they are avatars of two different colours. Did the Breakers deliberately summon a menace from the Red to purposely rid themselves of Swamp Thing?? Mera is so rigid and detached given her royal status. She wasn’t this unfriendly with the real JL. Ivy is the most human of all ranging from cocky to awestruck to high maintenance to doubtful to defensive. Jason Blood is a man of few words whereas his other half must flaunt and saunter. Swamp Thing has the entire world to protect. He has no time to chit-chat let alone make new friends. He makes himself a team player but it is to better the environment.
Travel Foreman has a ball with varying panels instead of always sticking with square formations. He takes us on a fantastic voyage which suits the nature of this story. The swirls in Adam’s narration on page 2 are indicative of his fluctuating status. The ocean is in constant motion when Animal Man converses with Mera. I especially like the ultra-thin panels on pages 5 and 8. To my recollection, this is an entirely new technique for my experienced eyes. His depiction of Adam Strange draws parallels to a lighter version of Dr. Manhattan. The characters are quite slender aside from the bulky two.
Jeromy Cox presents a psychedelic kaleidoscopic. The pages are polychromatic. He adds texture to Adam’s blue ribbon and creates a groovy green strip for the underwater sequence. Mr. Cox uses a sweet technique on pages 14 and 15 as the exterior panels become awash in blood until they are completely soaked on page 16. Red is the colour of death in this instance. The pyramid is a menacing monolith. No good emanates from it, pulsating like a misshapen heart. He makes Adam’s wraith three-dimensional by solidifying the translucence on the very last panel of the last page. I just noticed: if Swampy is the emerald Avatar, why are his speech bubbles red??
Steve Wands takes us on a bit of a rollercoaster. He keeps it traditional for Adam’s speech, creates loud whispers from the chasing corpses, goes medieval for Etrigan, and exudes squirming from the devilish devourer.
Look at Adam’s sharpened stream of consciousness, albeit out of order:
As previously mentioned, I was ready to let this book pass me by. I have reconsidered!! I want to see the diverse line-ups and hope this sticks for a good chunk of time. DC You, DC Me, DC Everybody!!
Since the Justice League(s) has an ever-rotating roster and perhaps close to 100 members that have graced the pages of comics, I rate this a high 85.
Tags: DC Comics, DC You, jeff parker, Justice League United, Travel Foreman