Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Justice League United, Volume 1: Justice League Canada Review (Jeff Lemire, Mike McKone)


If you thought New 52 Justice League International was the most woeful team book DC could come up with, don’t look now - it’s Justice League United! (Am I the only one who thought this was a superhero football team when they first heard the title? It’d be so much better if it was!) 

The JLPoo are: Martian Manhunter, Animal Man, Supergirl, Stargirl, Green Arrow, and Adam Strange. Completely arbitrary line-up by the way - the character selection felt just as cynical and fake as that first issue of New 52 JLA where Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller are picking out headshots and putting them on a board! (I actually like J’onn so it’s sad seeing him getting lumped into yet another dismal line-up of nobodies - first Stormwatch, then JLA, now JLU. Poor bastard!) 

Jeff Lemire provides yet another reason why he should be barred from writing superhero team books with this volume, subtitled Justice League Canada. Why Canada? Because there’s a Cree (one of the aboriginal peoples of Canada) girl called Miiyahbin who turns out to have superpowers when she says a magic word – y’know, just a fully-formed superhero who appears out of nowhere! Also some of the book is set in the Great White North. 

It’s great to see DC branching out from casting white Americans in all of their superhero roles but, much like Simon Baz, aka the Muslim Green Lantern, simply putting a person from a different racial group in a goofy costume isn’t enough - that’s too transparent a decision. You know why many people thought Kamala Khan/Ms Marvel was the first Muslim superhero when Simon Baz had appeared two years earlier? Because Simon Baz was so bland and forgettable and Kamala Khan was so vital and alive! 

Sadly, like Simon Baz, Miiyahbin Marten also suffers from a distinct lack of personality. You can’t just throw a minority into a suit, they need to have a well thought-out story, purpose and character – a level of writing that Lemire has shown during his time at DC that is beyond him. 

So what’s this all aboot, buddy? The story of Justice League United is a mangled mess. Adam Strange conducts a dig in the middle of the Canadian winter - y’know, the perfect time to go digging, when the ground is frozen solid - and finds alien artifacts that transport him and the JLU into space. There, two boring alien races, Rann and Thanagar (the latter is responsible for Hawkman so fuck them very much), have decided to create a test-tube baby with the DNA of several alien races as a symbol to unite the planets, or some gobsmackingly idiotic thing like that. The JLU get roped in because they had nothing else going on. 

This volume has arguably the most worthless sub-story of all the New 52 and it stars the two worst characters DC have: Hawkman and New 52 Lobo punch each other until one falls down. That’s a “story” apparently! Why did only one have to lose - why not both?! Couldn’t they have just killed each other and disappeared forever? 

Green Arrow and Animal Man bicker, er, “endearingly” (I think that’s what Lemire was going for)? I’ve honestly never hated either character until seeing them whine at each other in this book. Mike McKone’s art is slightly better than it was in Avengers: Endless Wartime but then the only way to go from rock bottom is up. What’s even funnier is that another terrible superhero team appears on the last page of this volume - Justice League United really was a perfect storm of the shittiest superheroes DC could offer! 

Canada deserved better than this. Justice League United is an insult to anyone with a modicum of taste or intelligence whether you’re Canadian or not (though I expect Canadian readers will be especially disappointed that this drek was done in their country’s name). Now Lemire’s at Marvel, he’s on yet another team book: Extraordinary X-Men - haven’t the X-Men suffered enough?!! The good news is that shortly after this title failed J’onn finally escaped all these losers and got his own solo series.

Justice League United, Volume 1: Justice League Canada

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