Monday, April 6, 2015

Justice League United #9 The Infinitus Saga Part 5

Justice League United #9 "The Infinitus Saga Part 5 of 6"
Released February 11, 2015
Written by Jeff Lemire
Pencils by Neil Edwards
Inks by Jay Leisten and Keith Champagne
Colors by Jeromy Cox
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Andrew Robinson

The issue opens with the combined forces of the Justice League United and now the full power of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 21st Century squaring off against Infinitus and his horde of light constructs in deep space. Meanwhile back on Rann, Brainiac-5 and Sardath work on a secret weapon to stop Infinitus once and for all. Brainiac-5 and Sardath have come up with a bomb that will collapse Infinitus in on himself and trap him in a perpetual big bang outside of the space-time continuum. Cut to Supergirl, who has followed Byth back to his base of operations where he has Ultra the Multi-Alien held and continues to manipulate him to unless the Infinitus wave. Supergirl’s diverse array of powers is all useless against the shape-changing Byth, who reveals that he has been plotting this move for millennia.
Ultra Boy, Sun Boy, Polar Boy, and Bouncing Boy show incredible prowess in defeating the waves of Infinitus’s light construct army. Wildfire isn’t so lucky, as his containment suit is ripped apart and his energy disassociated in space. Martian Manhunter confronts Hawkman and finally breaks the mental hold that Byth has on him. With Hawkman back to his senses and wanting revenge on Byth, he along with Martian Manhunter, Dawnstar, and Gates head off after Byth, in one last attempt to stop Infinitus and save the universe without destroying Ultra.

Supergirl, Hawkman, and Dawnstar distract Byth long enough for Gates to open up a portal back to the area of space where the rest of the Legion and JLU forces are waiting, allowing for Colossal Boy to reach through the portal and grab Byth. This allows for Martian Manhunter to get some one-on-one time with Ultra without any interference from Byth. However, Ultra is too far gone, now that he has tasted the infinite power he holds within, he has become corrupt and obsessed with recreating the universe in his own image. With no other choice, Martian Manhunter does what he must to save the universe, and disables Ultra’s mind.

The threat of Infinitus is over, and the day is saved…or so it seems. Since time was of the essence, and Infinitus had to be stopped no matter what, anticipating the rescue team’s failure, Brainiac-5 had released the bomb, and now with no Infinitus left to absorb the payload, the detonation opens a Black Hole, sucking everyone inside….TO BE CONCLUDED.

Finally this story arc gets back on track. This issue had much more going on than the past two issues combined. The story finally got back to all of the elements that made it so great and enjoyable in the opening chapters. The plot was back on track, as was the humor and great characterization that had been missing from this story arc since the second chapter. Lemire did a great job of balancing three settings and a huge cast of characters (9 members of the JLU + 29 members of the Legion). They may not have all had speaking parts, but they were all there packed into the art. Like every other chapter in the story arc, the art was fantastic. Neil Edwards’s pencils with Leisten and Champagne’s inks continue to bring to life this gigantic cast, and with more plot to work with this issue, the art handles some great storytelling.

Lemire did a pretty decent job of showcasing members of the Legion that readers may not have been familiar with like Sun Boy, Polar Boy, and Bouncing Boy, and he organically drops their names and gives them some great character beats. That said, with how big of cast this issue had, it would have still been a good idea to have the character roll call boxes at some point. The first 2 pages of the story were single page splashes, they could have been reworked to have a double page splash for the title page, giving room to stick those roll call/bio boxes in for all of the Legion members to bring readers up to speed. I think one of the major criticisms of the New 52 era Legion has been that it is a bit impenetrable for new readers (since it was a continuation of Levitz’s pre-Flashpoint Legion). I think going with name boxes and descriptions of the members’ powers should be used whenever possible to hook new readers and get them interested in the Legion of Super-Heroes.

All in all, a pretty solid issue, much, much stronger than the past 2 chapters, I’m hoping that the conclusion will be strong enough to save the entire story and overcome the meandering the story had in the middle 2 chapters. Wildfire is ripped apart pretty unceremoniously, and it is never mentioned again. It will be interesting to see if his disassociated energy has any role in the resolution of the story, or if his seeming death really got that short of shrift story wise.

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