First of all, I feel a bit odd as an American is reviewing a book that was originally called Justice League Canada for a Canadian website. Nonetheless, Justice League United #0 is a weird, little book filled with laughs, obscure characters, and a bit of science fiction tinged mystery. It features some underused and potentially interesting DC Universe characters, like Martian Manhunter and Animal Man, as well as a new teen Cree hero from rural Ontario. Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mike McKone really commit to the rural Canadian setting even if “Justice League Canada” currently has one member who is actually Canadian. McKone and colorist Marcelo Maiolo depict the snow drifts and trees near Moose Bay, Ontario with care and detail contrasting the dreary Canadian winter with the colorful and mysterious alien visitors. Several pages are dedicated to fleshing out these aliens, and their motives aren’t really touched on, except they are collecting various species. But the last few pages have a couple reveals that ramp up the threat level. However, the best part of Justice League United is the interactions and banter between its “members”.
In Justice League United #0, Jeff Lemire takes inspiration from Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire’s run on Justice League International and peppers his characters’ dialogue with plenty of quips. Animal Man gets the funniest lines and makes a lot of self-deprecating jokes about the weird nature of his superpowers. Green Arrow brings some dry sarcasm to the team while Martian Manhunter is the straight man and team leader. He is the most complex character in the comic, a laconic mixture of nobleness and strangeness. McKone’s art captures his quiet strength as well as his distance from the other team members. But the comic isn’t all comedy. Lemire reinvents Adam Strange as a Canadian anthropologist, who has discovered alien technology on a dig that led to the mysterious disappearance of his fiance Alanna. Even though the opening of the comic shows Strange in a spacesuit leaping into action, he plays the everyman role in Justice League United and helps keep the story grounded. Stargirl is the heart and moral center of the team and is the first to realize how much Alanna means to Strange ,and why he was desperate for superhuman help. Lemire’s writing has a great sense of humor, and even in this early issue, he crafts unique voices for the different heroes in Justice League United with more characters, like the Cree teen hero Equinox and the savage Hawkman. Equinox gets a few pages in this issue, and she has great power, but it is beginning to take a toll on her personally and her relationships.
Mike McKone’s art for Justice League United #0 is clear and easy to follow. His fight scenes are expertly choreographed, and colorist Marcelo Maiolo adds little touches to them, like coloring a panel background when Green Arrow shows up. As I mentioned earlier, he does a great job contrasting the mundane and epic. Since when do aliens randomly show up in the middle of rural Canada? The art goes well with Lemire’s banter heavy dialogue because even the superheroes are a little weirded out by what they find in the middle of the woods. The outer space scenes can be a little confusing to follow, but Maiolo adds multiple splashes of color to highlight the strangeness of the aliens’ activities. But for the most part, Justice League United #0 is an attractive book, and McKone and Maiolo really shine during the more “twisted” scenes, like Equinox’s transformation into her superhuman persona.
Justice League United #0 isn’t a perfect book, and the extraterrestrial antagonists don’t get much characterization beyond showing them doing unethical things and getting punched by the Justice League. Hopefully, the upcoming issues will flesh these characters out, and the last pages of the issue add some more compelling players to the comic. However, Justice League United #0 is a fun read with a nice mix of humor and superhero action in a very unique setting. If Forever Evil and its tie-ins were a little bleak and you’re a fan of B and C-list characters teaming up and having wacky hijinks, Justice League United #0 is a good comic for you.