In Review: Justice League United #7

The story is good, but the illustrations are killing my joy.

The covers: A trio of choices for this issue. The Main cover is by Andrew Robinson and shows the Infinity Man in a blue circle in the center of the illustration with several Legionnaires flying out of it. It should be much more dynamic than it is, but that’s because the coloring is so dead. Brighter colors would have made this outstanding, but it looks like it’s being shown through a filter. Even the blacks are greys. Very disappointing. The Rod Reis Variant cover is a little better. It got Animal Man and Green Arrow taking a breather surrounded by several aliens they’ve taken out. Animal Man is reading Archery for Dummies, and Oliver has got a big smile on his face as he’s toting a drink. It’s cute, but the content is more suited for a trading card than a variant cover. Nice, but not a cover. The final cover is the one I was so glad to get: the Darwyn Cooke cover. It’s drawn in the style of the 1990s Batman and Superman cartoons. Green Arrow is about to release an arrow, while behind him are the Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, Adam Strange, Supergirl, Equinox, and Animal Man, all racing to the same location. I love this and I wish Cooke had drawn this issue. Overall grades: Main C-, Variant C, and Cooke Variant A

The story: This third installment in The Infinitus Saga by Jeff Lemire opens in a big way. On the moon of Ryngor in the Polaris system, the Justice League is being attacked by a swarming horde created by Ultra via Byth, who is holding is head wailing, “No beginning and no end! A new universe is coming. And you Ultra…you will be its god.” Just as the JLers are about to be overwhelmed, the Legion of Super Heroes appears to help. They quickly dispatch the villains, who beat a quick retreat. However, even they begin to be swarmed by the mindless creations of Byth that remained while their master left. Thankfully, there’s a way out, though not one they were expecting. There’s a lot of big action in this issue because this has two big casts: The League and the Legion. There’s a lot of explaining to be made, since the League doesn’t know of the Legion’s existence in the future, and Lemire does a fine job in getting that information across without bogging down the story of rescuing Ultra. Juggling twenty characters couldn’t have been easy, but Lemire makes it look like it is. As much as I am a Legion fan, my favorite part of the story occurred on Pages 8 – 10. I’ve always loved this type of moment in novels and comics, and I was pleased to see Lemire put it into this chapter. In addition to the action, there are some fun moments: The bottom of Page 3, panel three on Page 8, the bottom of 13, the third panel on 17, and the second and third panels on 20. Being such a Legion fan, I was incredibly giddy to see the third panel on 15–Goosebumps! What should happen if those are left behind…? The action is fast, the characters are fun, and the stakes are high. This is a great read. Overall grade: A 

The art: I’m not a fan of the visuals by penciller Neil Edwards and inkers Jay Leisten with Keith Champagne. They are able to create work that tells the story adequately, but they are not fine enough to create the details that the visuals need. For example, the third panel on the opening page requires an army attacking two heroes, who dispatch the foot soldiers with an energy weapon and explosive missiles. That is conveyed, without question, but the explosion, the smoke, and the army look like they’re from a generic comic. It just doesn’t look good. I do like the roll call layout of Page 2, but the center image has Green Arrow in a bizarre angle with unnecessary random crosshatching done to fill in space. It would have been better empty, save the characters. Tellus looks horrendous in every instance. He looks nothing like he did in the Legion Lost series, let alone in his classic Legion appearances. Timber Wolf is drawn in an odd, twisted angle at the top of Page 3. And look at Animal Man’s pose in the same panel–he’s stagnant. Is it all a mess? No. The bottom three panels of Page 3 are fine, but they’re less than half the space of the page. J’onn J’onzz is drawn with his mouth open and teeth showing in all but two panels. He looks like he’s a mouth breather in this book, or he’s sniffing something. Mon-El’s ring disappears on a double-page splash, as do the force fields around the characters wearing rings. The art is just too simple for this densely populated story. Perhaps if more time had been given for the visuals it could have looked better. This is not how I want to see the Legion. Overall grade: C-

The colors: The coloring by Jeromy Cox salvages a lot of the artwork by brightening explosions to such a degree that the all before it, including average art, is faded to the reader. The opening portal created by Ultra and the projections by Tyroc are really well done. I liked how color was used to show the change of setting on Pages 6 and 7. This is an excellent way to clarity what’s happening for the reader. The final act in space has a lot of colors, as all the characters are involved and it looked sharp. Cox more than earned his pay on this book. Overall grade: A  

The letters: There’s quite a bit of dialogue to keep Travis Lanham busy. Additionally, he has to create scene settings, roll call, title and opening credits, Ultra speak, and sounds. I really liked the sounds on this book. I want my team books to have lots of big, bold sounds and Lanham made me very happy. Overall grade: A

The final line: If the visuals were better, this could have been a classic. I’m buying this only because of the Legion of Super Heroes. The story is good, but the illustrations are killing my joy. Overall grade: B-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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