The honorary members of the Justice League continue their strange and bizarre mission that was fittingly assigned to them by Alanna Strange. Trying to take the fight directly to the source, they realized they were getting a little more than they bargained for as their threat quickly turned the tables on them. With their backs against the wall, the remaining few do their best to keep hope and themselves alive in The Island of No Return Pt. 2.
Swamp Thing was seemingly their most important field operative for this mission. Upon their arrival, the island recognized this and moved swiftly to remove him from the equation. Described as a “super gross living island thing in the middle of Lake Eerie”, it truly is a monstrosity. The island, one of many of these things known as Breakers, are anomalies that reside between the lines of reality and the non-existent. The island resembles a gross slab of flesh with an abundant amount of crevices and orifices. Most of the scenes on the island remind me of a messed up episode of The Magic School Bus. To protect itself, the island sent out antibodies to rid itself of its parasites. I couldn’t help enjoying this portion of the story, being reminded of TV episodes where the characters were shrunk inside of a body (I most recently seen this archetype in a hilarious Season 1 episode of Rick & Morty). The adaptive island had the remaining members of the team surrounded without any hope in sight. However, with some fast action and clever thinking, Equinox, Etrigan, Poison Ivy, and Mera were able to hold off the antibiotic calvary.
The main story is split by a scene showing John Henry Irons aka “Steel”, and Alanna Strange having a conversation. These panels are very brief, as their discussion about the Zeta Beam melds into another set of panels showing Star Girl detailing the disappearance of Adam Strange through the Zeta Beam. The scene ties back to earlier events, but will surely become a big plot device later on in the title. Star Girl tells the story of events in an attempt to recruit Robotman of the Doom Patrol. I like that they time to show the recruitment process, and small moments like this help in the excitement department about upcoming issues.
Something that this title does very well is mesh outlandish, over the top elements with your typical superhero elements, which can be over the top as well. It’s the concept of having this rotating team and the threats that they face the makes the story elements blend perfectly. There’s an air of mystery and intrigue that surrounds those who are involved and you really get a sense of the potential danger that not only they face, but the entire world also. What this does for the reader is give them a reason that this team is necessary, and not just some excuse to do a mash up between characters (although this is a perfect excuse for random mash ups).
Other than a fantastic, fun, and freaky story, the book itself is visually appealing. Travel Foreman panels are splendid and really cover ground throughout the book. His panels overlap, many actions spilling over into neighboring panels. The layouts are terrific. Jeromy Cox and the letterer Steve Wands take the pages to the top with bright hues and well placed typography and lettering. Foreman’s surrealistic style works well with Jeff Parker’s audacious scripts. There was one minor thing that threw me off, and it was in the beginning panels. When the story starts, we see the four remaining characters on the island. Then for a few panels, Equinox is nowhere to be seen. She’s absent for most of the fight, but returns once they reach safety. It was after going back and reading again without having a TV blaring or any other distractions that I saw that she was still present. My inability to multitask led to me missing Equinox in action, but she still was absent for a lot of the fighting and fleeing.
- You want to see a blister infested island that adapts to survive
- You want to know the whereabouts of Adam Strange
- You’ve been following or plan on following Justice League United
- You enjoy disgusting islands that eat people
Jeff Parker has taken various characters and placed them into a lineup and a story that makes sense and is ridiculous all at once. The balancing act of having of having a great story and showing key interactions between the protagonists is handled exquisitely and very essential in a title like this. The conversations flow smoothly, and the action is weird, fun, aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. The pages in this title are some of the best on the shelves thanks to Travel Foreman. The rotating roster keeps the book fresh and gives the creative team room to play with, but the characters don’t feel expendable. The way that the story is crafted, the reader really gets a sense of how important this team is to the safety of the world. These are dangerous missions that only an elite, unique team can handle. Each of the “players” on the board are chosen carefully to carry out the tasks assigned to them. Star Girl continuing to recruit members is a pretty cool thing to see, and with Batgirl appearing in the next issue, things should be interesting. The hidden gem in the story is the Zeta Beam/Adam Strange thread. I’m really anxious to see how that plays out. With various threads weaving through the title, we’re sure to be in store for some nice treats when they finally pay off. Keep the madness along with the mysterious element, and the issues will continue to shine. If you were initially reading JLU and dropped it, now is the time to start picking it back up. In the words of Etrigan, “…You return too late, you miss all the fun”.
SCORE: 9 / 10