Time travel stories tend to involve paradox.  The very nature of journeying through the fourth dimension raises the possibility of … well, impossibility.  Or, if impossibility doesn’t occur, at least absurdity often does.  The entire plot progression of Justice League United #8 constitutes a paradox of the absurd kind.  Maybe the best way to put it is that nothing much happens accept the probable end of the universe.

The story begins as the various factions continue to battle over Ultra, the artificial hybrid child who will grow up to be, in a thousand years, the cosmic destroyer Infinitus.  The confused nature of the struggle grows even more chaotic as Legion of Superhero reinforcements arrive from the future to fight Justice League United and the other groups.  In the end, the mad scientist Byth maneuvers Ultra into a nearby singularity and Infinitus emerges.

And that’s pretty much it.  There is very little in the way of character development, plot elaboration, or even world-building.  More characters arrive, the fight goes on, and the ultimate challenge pops up.  It is like a mini-segment of a video game or five minutes of a blockbuster movie extracted from context and rendered in comic book form.  It’s hard to say that nothing much happens when a being like Infinitus makes his entrance, but that’s exactly how it feels.

It doesn’t help that Infinitus is an obvious homage to Marvel’s Galactus, down to his statuesque posture and impassive expression.  Impressive as he is, it’s hard not to look at him in recognition and shrug.

In fairness, that is the only aspect of the art that elicits a shrug.  Neil Edwards’ layouts have spectacular splash pages at their heart, surrounded by cascading panels, often of irregular shape, that draw the eye along firmly.  He also continues frequent use of insets to highlight specific action within the grand spectacle. His lines are thin and delicate with emphasis on rounded curves, lending the characters and effects fluidity and grace.  His only weakness lies in facial expression.  Often Edwards’ characters wear exaggerated frowns or expressions of shock so wide they suggest mortal trauma. Justice League United mixes the genre of superheroics with that of space opera, and both are by their nature melodramatic.  Still, a slight decrescendo in terms of emotional expression might serve the story by eliminating a lot of visual interference and allowing the narrative to come through more clearly.

Jay Leisten and Keith Champagne use their inks to suggest the deep forever of space against which Jeromy Cox’s brilliant colors flare.  The contrast makes the figures seem radiant in the dark.




It's the end of the world, yet again, and it's hard to get worked up about it. The pictures are pretty, though, and maybe eventually the characters and story will be such that we will actually care.