Bedtime, Comic Fans


It’s hard to come away from reading Justice League United #1 with even the slightest urge to write about it. Various, low-level superheroes are shunted off to Canada so DC can presumably capture all that Alpha Flight money Marvel isn’t capitalizing on (currently). Some of them fight an alien monster which changes its molecular properties (water, rock, wood, etc.); space barbarian Hawkman fights intergalactic, bad boy mercenary Lobo; some other extraterrestrials have a plot involving abducting humans and various species for something called “the birth.” On the surface, this pseudo-in media res beginning (in actuality, the series began with a #0 issue, for archaic collector/marketing reasons) should inspire intrigue, at the least. Problem is, the production of this comic betrays the corporate mandate of its existence: the otherwise reliable Mike McKone draws combatants hurtling listlessly at one another in between closeups devoted to monologues and quips. Hawkman and Lobo trade macho barbs, but only vaguely gesture at throttling each other, hearts not even remotely in the fight (Lobo seems to be caressing Hawkman’s throat at times rather than grabbing at it). Even the loss of a limb needs red-hued punchup from colorist Marcelo Maiolo in order to register. The rest of the comic gives way to shrugged off origin stories (adventurer Adam Strange getting his jetpack costume by stumbling across it during a fight) and slapstick bits (Strange flying uncontrollably into the horizon) punctuated by Jeff Lemire’s heroes speaking in sitcom punchlines (perhaps there was meant to be canned laughter when I turned to this page?). This inconsistency of tone, and the flattened, uninvolved manner in which it is drawn, suggests the comic was conceived as a safety blanket. Violence and adventure as mush, briefly considered by its consumers before lolling off to sleep.


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