Review: Justice League United Vol. 2: The Infinitus Saga trade paperback (DC Comics)


Way back when, Jeff Lemire’s Justice League United was an interesting concept among the League B-team set. In a long tradition of sub-Leagues, made up of second-stringers and usually more character-focused than the main title, Lemire’s United had the benefit at the outset of starring Green Arrow and Animal Man, two characters with which Lemire had wildly successful runs, plus fan-favorite characters (and/or otherwise following from the recently cancelled Justice League of America series) like Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, Hawkman, and also Supergirl.

Lemire’s first volume of the series sped along nicely, a cosmic-but-heartfelt space romp with most art by Mike McKone. And Lemire of course is a writer of some renown, with those great runs on Green Arrow and Animal Man plus the new-to-TV Sweet Tooth and so on. So one would be forgiven for expecting a lot from Justice League United Vol. 2: The Infinitus Saga, teaming Lemire’s League with no small contingent of DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes. On its own, Lemire writing Legion sounds sublime.

The result, unfortunately, is disappointing, what feels like one of those books that had more space available than plot. Amidst a rapidly expanding cast of characters — until the book is nigh but bursting — Lemire simply comes up with more and more things for them to hit; every victory leads to another disaster, the heroes hopping between various locations until the issue-end calls for another cliffhanger. There’s cute bits, to be sure — Animal Man and Timber Wolf sniffing around one another, for instance — but Green Arrow plus the Legion isn’t really what anyone wants to see. For a story like this to work, it’s got to be dynamic, and the Infinitus Saga simply isn’t.

[Review contains spoilers]

To Lemire’s credit, looking at this as a Legion book, he gets a lot of Legionnaries in here — by the end, almost 30 by my count. That includes the book’s best moment, in which Lemire brings in the “Legion Lost” of New 52 fame. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure we last left that team still stuck in the past. Lemire glosses over no small amount of material in using the Legion, including the fact that the Legion can now travel to the past at will without time bubbles, and no explanation is given for why the Legion wouldn’t have rescued Legion Lost before and only seem to take them home now out of convenience, but it was still nice to see this loose end tied and that particular grouping of characters again (Hi, Gates!).

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

Indeed Infinitus is at its best when it essentially becomes a Legion book, as in a few pages set in the future in the title story’s fourth chapter. I’m not sure about every one of Lemire’s Legion portrayals — Mon-El, a little too angry? Brainiac 5, unusually careless? That Wildfire seems to get destroyed and reconstituted with abandon — but I very much liked his confident Dream Girl as leader. Does it jibe with the Legion of the time? Who can remember?! It looks like the way it should be.

But again, as a whole the book is a lot of the characters flying around punching things, then they’re in danger, then the issue ends, then they’ve been teleported to safety, now they’ve got to punch more things, and so on. Part of United’s charm is, unusually, seeing Green Arrow and Animal Man in space and Green Arrow and Animal Man teamed up with the Legion and so on, but I think generally Green Arrow and Animal Man aren’t in space because there’s not that much for them to do there. Few if any of the characters have dedicated arcs, they’re affected or changed really not at all, and probably Blue and Green could’ve been (other) Blue and Gold without the story changing much.

Not to mention that, throughout the long span of punching and kicking, the Legion’s sole plan seems to have been to come back in time and kill the young Ultra the Multi-Alien so that he doesn’t become the destructive Infinitus in the future, a rather un-Legion-esque scheme we know will never pass. They eventually settle on taking Ultra into the future with them, a solution that seemed obvious from the outset; further, it’s never particularly clear why Ultra becomes Infintus or what their connection actually is.

Martian Manhunter has a big role as de facto team leader, and much of the book’s emotional core is J’onn trying to save Ultra, for whom he feels responsible, from the evil Thanagarian Byth. Repeatedly, J’onn cites Ultra’s trust in him for why he feels so strongly in return, though it feels light, something we’re told more than we feel (easily Lemire could have connected J’onn’s feelings for Ultra with the loss of his Martian children, but never does). I will say that J’onn’s friendship with Stargirl is charming in its silliness, a holdover from Matt Kindt’s Justice League of America, and as J’onn gets closer to Supergirl here, it’s not hard to see the inklings of their relationship in the Supergirl TV series (nor to hear David Harewood for J’onn’s voice).

Neil Edwards draws most of the book in a basic DC house style; it’s generally fine, especially given the number of characters Edwards has to draw, though the characters do tend to grimace absurdly in fight scenes. Jed Dougherty draws two Futures End tie-in chapters with a bit more grit and subtlety, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing him on the whole book. Given the lack of subject matter, someone like Mike McKone on Justice League United Vol. 1: Justice League Canada can only help elevate the book.



So Justice League United Vol. 2: The Infinitus Saga didn’t impress in this look back, though I’m beside myself about the DC Black Label Swamp Thing horror book coming from Jeff Lemire and Doug Mahnke — that’s undoubtedly more up Lemire’s alley. For context, Infinitus marked the end of Lemire’s run on United ahead of Convergence; Jeff Parker and Lemire’s Animal Man partner Travel Foreman would come on for a couple uncollected issues after that.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Dream Girl was pretty confident as Leader during that run of LSH. I think she had a few misgivings she confided in Star Boy, but over all she was a very effective Leader during the Great Darkness Saga. Probably one of the best of the post-Adventure Comics era. I think Levitz had already been writing her to be smarter than what people assumed, as she was in the lab with Brainiac 5 a lot.

    I'm hoping with Infinite Frontier and DCs new take on continuity we'll see more tales of the classic Legion. I liked the new Bendis team enough and want to see more of them, but really preferred the more "adult" Legion of the 80s to the more kids-oriented Legion iterations.

    1. There's those "Before the Darkness" books at least, and the Five Years Later Omnibus. That kind of thing? Wish they'd cut down the Five Years Later book now to smaller volumes.


To post a comment, you may need to temporarily allow "cross-site tracking" in your browser of choice.

Newer Post Home Older Post