REVIEW: ‘Justice League United’ #4

(DC Comics, 2014)

Written by Jeff Lemire
Pencils by Mike McKone
Inks by Cam Smith
Color Artwork by Marcelo Maiolo

Transported by the Zeta Beam to the plant Rann, the JLU teamed up with Supergirl to confront the menace of the shape-shifting alien Byth and the hybrid child developed by the Ultra Project. As Supergirl battled with Byth, the Martian Manhunter and Stargirl managed to reach Ultra and communicate with the child telepathically. With the energy feedback causing the Zeta Beam to overload, Hawkman makes the ultimate sacrifice. Now, as the fledgling Justice League Canada’s first mission reaches an explosive climax, the time has come for the young Miiybin to confront her innermost fears and become Canada’s new superhero.

Justice League United #4 is an excellent showcase for the characters of the JLU, writer Jeff Lemire really fleshes out the team during this issue, giving us even greater insight into what really makes them tick as they begin to come to terms with Hawkman’s death and set about formulating the priorities of  their new team.

The Justice League Canada storyline concludes in style this issue as the Thanagarian’s arrive on the planet Rann to collect Hawkman’s body. The actions of the shape shifter Byth and his abuse of Sadath’s experiments, has not only seen the creation of the hybrid child Ultra, it has also cost Hawkman his life, and left the Polaris War Treaty in tatters. Fortunately the Martian Manhunter is on hand to deal with this diplomatically tense situation, in a way that not only maintain the fragile peace, but also secure the welfare of the Ultra child as well.

I really like how Lemire brings the members of the JLU closer together as a team over the course of this issue. With the intergalactic backdrop of events playing out all around them, there are some brilliant character moments to enjoy. The banter Green Arrow and Animal Man usually share becomes poignantly tinged as they discuss Hawkman’s death, Martian Manhunter admits has some serious doubts about his leadership of the team to Adam Strange, and Supergirl is has a few choice, if somewhat harsh, words of advice for Stargirl.

Meanwhile, Alanna has been teleported back to Earth, where she finds herself in the Zeta Bunker hidden near and archaeological dig in Moosonee, Ontario Canada. After finding a flight suit similar to the one Adam Strange took, Alanna discovers Miiyahbin’s friend Heather, hiding in the shadows, and together they set off to help free Miiyahbin from the ice cave. Miiyahbin must face her own demons before she can be transformed into Canada’s new hero, but with Alanna’s and Heather’s help, Miiyahbin is soon free to embrace her destiny.

Mike McKone’s art for Justice League United #4 is excellent, packed with detail, every scene flows perfectly into the next, which together with inker Cam Smith, and Colorist Marcelo Maiolo, continues to establish this titles very distinct look and style. Previous issues have focused more on juggling numerous action scenes, Justice League United #4 moves away from that and really allows McKone’s art to shine as the each character gets their time in the spotlight.

Considering the way Jeff Lemire threw us in at the deep end when the series began in Justice League United #0, the conclusion to this first story arc is handled really well and looking back at these issue, it all makes a strange kind of sense now, and despite a few narrative gaps, I’ve found this Justice League Canada storyline very enjoyable. I really like the mix of character and the banter between them, and look forward to seeing how the team develops.

Of course, Byth and Lobo are still out there somewhere, so I have a feeling that their path will cross the JLU’s again one day. Then we have the Ultra child returning to Earth with the JLU, and the Nth Metal in Hawkman’s body could also hold great significance for possible storylines. The way the Zeta Beam affects Alanna and Adam Strange is sure to complicate their relationship. I also hope we get to lean more about Miiyahbin soon as well; her character was a little short changed this issue, but I suspect that her role will become more defined soon.

Justice League United #4 sees the team returned to Earth, choosing their name and acquiring a new headquarters. There is a real sense that this Justice League has been assembled out of very different circumstances to its predecessors, now they have the opportunity to forge something new, something better, and become an example of selfless heroism to the world.

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PaulBowler-ProfilePic1

Paul Bowler is a self-Confessed Sci-Fi Geek, Doctor Who fan, and Zombie Disposal Expert. He likes movies, comic books, and all things PS3. He likes to write about his interests, would love to write a novel one day, and also enjoys chatting to the many people he has gotten to know on Twitter. When he’s not busy being an Impossible Astronaut, he likes to take a break from his adventures in time and space to enjoy some of his favourite tv shows and movies, preferably with a nice cuppa tea & a sandwich! You can follow him on Twitter @paul_bowler, or find him at his website, Sci-Fi Jubilee.

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