Several years ago I had a friend who worked as an information technology technician for a major educational institution.  I remarked to him once that his job must be very stressful, as he had to deal constantly with very demanding, ill-tempered customers.  He said that it was not as bad as one might think, as a huge number of problems in his field could be solved with three fingers – that is, by pressing Control-Alt-Delete and rebooting whatever recalcitrant piece of equipment he was faced with.  He observed that life would be a great deal easier if more problems admitted of such an approach.

I have often had occasion to remember his wisdom.  Life, of course, does not give us the opportunity to reboot.  Comics, on the other hand, do provide that opportunity.  The new creative team of Justice League United have seized on the occasion of the recent Convergence event to apply a three-finger treatment to this struggling book.  Unfortunately, the initial boot-up is pretty balky.  Writer Jeff Parker, known for bringing a Silver Age sensibility to Batman ’66 and his run on Aquaman, takes a very different tack here.  He seems determined to move Justice League United away from the space adventures that characterized Jeff Lemire’s run and into the dimensional horror that was the business of the now-defunct Justice League Dark.  As the story opens, the ripples of the Convergence still echo through the universe, creating rips tears in reality called breakers.  Eldritch, evil entities out of Lovecraft’s nightmares await on the other side of the these holes in the world, waiting to crawl through and wreak destruction.  It is up to Justice League United to track down the breakers and close them down before the foul invaders can make succeed.

But this isn’t the same team we last saw dealing with the Legion of Super Heroes in the Infinitus Affair.  Supergirl, Green Arrow, and Martian Manhunter have all departed suddenly on their own errands.  Hawkman has remained in space.  And Adam Strange, in an accident the exact nature of which has yet to be revealed, has been merged with the grid of Zeta beams that provide teleportation conduits throughout the galaxy.  This imprisons him, but also allows him to sense the breakers, and to predict the necessary mix of heroes that will be able to contain each one as it arises.  The remaining core members of the JLU are determined to rescue Adam and guard reality, even if it means ruthlessly manipulating other heroes.  It is a dramatically dark turn for what was one of DC’s brighter publications.

In Justice League #11, a breaker is manifesting in the Great Lakes, and a malign intelligence is gathering the plant life and fusing it with the ambient pollution to create an alien and deadly incursion.  The JLU rapidly assembles a group of assistants skilled in water and plants.  From the oceans they bring Mera of Atlantis.  From Louisiana they summon Swamp Thing.  As an arcane expert they turn to Jason Blood.  And from Gotham they bring Poison Ivy.  They characterizations are questionable, particularly of Ivy, who is written as querulous and cowardly.  But Travel Foreman’s art is a bigger problem.  His forms seem simplistic and his faces crude, capable of conveying only the most basic of emotions.  It reduces the story to an awkward puppet play that conveys little depth of feeling or excitement.

Grade

C+

Conclusion

It is understandable why Parker and Foreman would choose to strike off in a new direction. Lemire's run had become mired in sprawling storylines involving too many characters and too complex plots. However, the art does not carry the story effectively, and the sudden change in characterization and tone is jarring and of questionable wisdom. Many of the themes are of possible interest, but for another kind of book. This team had great potential when it was launched nearly a year ago. Sad to say, it seems unlikely that it will survive to see that potential realized.