Monday, December 21, 2015

Justice League United #16 Review

Heroes and Villains

Written by: Jeff Parker
Art by: Travel Foreman and Hi-Fi
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 17, 2015

There are so many things I'd like to say to start this review, but I'm going to keep it on the positive tip.  I've enjoyed this book since this new direction that started in June with the DC You.  While I really think DC should have restarted it with a new #1 (stay positive, Jim), the idea of crazy pairings of Heroes and Villains was cool from the get go.  Unfortunately, we will never get the team-ups I was hoping for as this is the final issue.  Yep, the breakers that I thought could eventually return the DC Universe back to better times will just have to wait to be fixed.  Does this final issue give readers a satisfying end to the JLU story or is it just another thing that DC is leaving out in the nether, never to be fixed?  Let's find out...

The issue opens with a flashback that is pretty much an info dump on the breakers that have been the major focus of this series.  Hey, I like finding out important information, but in the final issue of a series?  It's all part of a "let's go back the beginning" story of Alanna Strange as she tries to figure out how to save her husband from the Zeta Beam.

We find out that there is one big rule for dealing with these breakers...never cross the beams.  No wait, it's actually never teleport from inside one.  Seems simple enough, but as this issue shows, sometimes simple things can end up becoming big problems.

The issue continues showing the first time the Justice League United team dealt with a breaker.  It's in Western Connecticut and involves the House of Secrets.  Stargirl, Equinox, Animal Man and Alanna Strange go inside the Anomaly and the House of Secrets and the fun begins.  Actually, fun may be too strong a word.  Stuff begins.

Inside the house, the team is greeted by caretaker, Abel and thus begins what is more like an episode of Tales from the Crypt than JLU.  As the team explores the House, each of them are greeted with dream-like sequences...Equinox sees a ritual that may spell her own doom, Stargirl sees an odd retelling of Deadman's origin, this time guest starring Phantom Stranger and Animal Man witnesses the secret origin of Superman.  We don't get to see what Alanna saw just yet, but she has figured out where the Breaker is.  I should say "who" the breaker is, because it is indeed Abel.

While Adam is told again about the perils of teleporting, the Team is fighting Abel in the House of Secrets.  It's not going well so Adam joins them and soon decides there is one option...teleportation.  He activates his Zeta Beam and saves the Justice League United, but screws himself big time!  He's trapped inside the Zeta Beam.  You can't say he wasn't warned.

We then kind of see as Alana searches and finally finds her husband in the Beam.  He tells Alana that form withing the Zeta Beam, he can see what team-ups of characters would best suit getting rid of each breaker.  This is nothing new at all for readers of this book and I would have liked getting a better explanation of the whole thing, but instead we get a little peek at what could have been.  Adam tells Alana that the team best suited for the House of Secrets Anomaly would have been Detective Chimp, The Riddler, Professor Zoom and Katana.  Now that's a crazy team I wish we could have seen in action!

All of this leads to the present where Alanna tells everyone what she saw in the House of Secrets and how that can be used to free Adam from the Zeta Beam.  It's a surprise that's far from shocking and by this time, anything that would end the story was a-okay with me.  It's a family reunion in more ways then one and ends with Adam and Alanna Strange together again.  What about the remaining Breakers?  Who knows, for now it's smooching time!

This was such an odd finale to a series.  It only serves to get Adam Strange out of the Zeta Beam, but not only doesn't it tie up any other loose ends, him being freed actually goes against fixing the main problem in this book.  I thought that the Breakers were going to be a key component to "fixing" the DCU down the line and if it is still in the works, it's going to have to be done without Adam Strange's inside information.  Beside the story not being resolved, it's such a shame that we will never get to see the cool team-ups this series promised.  Just look at the last page from the June preview below and dream of what could have been.

Travel Foreman returned on art for this finale and it's hit or miss for me.  I can't say I am a huge fan of his, but some of the character models are really good, while others look like they are rejects from Whoville.  I know it's close to Christmas, but that's never a good look.

Bits and Pieces

Justice League United was never a perfect book, but the idea of crazy team-ups with heroes and villains had me excited.  Unfortunately, it's ended without seeing much and this finale is the worst of the bunch.  The worst thing, though, is that the issue ended with nothing being resolved as far as the overall story goes.  I can't even recommend this issue to people who stuck with this book up until now.



  1. I have to agree: Not a whole lot of good going on this issue.

    I am a fan of Travel Foreman's work, usually, but I don't know what is happening here. Upon first glance, I thought that the JLU were going to be dealing with an X-Babies kind of situation. I've never seen Foreman do this weird cartoon-like effect with his character work before (that I can recall, anyway).

    What a waste of potential for great in-story retconning/continuity clean-up this is. Wjat a waste of a really fun premise.

    ...and, correct me if I'm wrong, but I could have sworn that Adam and Alana were NOT married (in the New52). They were, definitely, a couple but not married. Did I miss something or misremember?

    1. Eric told me he was going to bring that up on the podcast. It really did come out of nowhere that they are married. Maybe that'she one of the anomalies of the book!

  2. I'm sure if Parker was allowed to do what he wanted with this book, it would have been so much better. I can imagine Didio ordering him to batgirl it up.
    Damn shame.

    1. I don't know...the issues we got even needed a little more focus. Too many characters were thrown in too fast, especially in the last story.