Weighing in at a hefty twenty-two pages of story, “Justice League United” #9 presents the penultimate chapter in the “Infinitus Saga,” written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Neil Edwards. The creative team is rounded out by Jay Leisten and Keith Champagne on inks, Jeromy on Cox on colors and Travis Lanham on letters.
Lemire packs this comic full of heroic platitudes, which results in a throwback adventure to a more cooperative era. “Justice League United” #9 teams the Legion of Superheroes up with the Justice League United team and pitches them into the Polaris system as they combine to battle against Infinitus, who is powered by Ultra, the Multi-Alien, who — in turn — is under Byth’s sway. You know, the type of convoluted storyline that makes complete sense in the pages of a comic book. Lemire spins through the cast as best he can and manages to balance the League with the Legion but hits the highlights along the way, giving certain characters opportunities to shine. The writer blends the minds of Martian Manhunter and Hawkman and then has Hawkman save the day, despite the bold monologue of the villain prior to a mace across his jaw.
The issue opens with the teams charging Infinitus while trying to comprehend the scope of their fight and the fates of their allies. Thirty-eight noggins frame the explosive splash page of Ultra Boy leading the Legion into battle, a visual throwback to the Justice League and Justice Society crossovers of yesteryear. Thirty-eight is kind of a lot to jam into six-and-a-half by ten inches, especially when they’re reduced smaller to frame the main action, so needless to say they’re not labeled. That exercise alone would take even the most productive artist a while to complete, but Edwards manages to infuse a few of those faces with personality along the way. Edwards’ work throughout the comic is straightforward and detail-laden. In some spots, the work is disturbingly detailed, a factor that is magnified by the heroic color choices Cox provides for the story; in other spots, however, the work is strong but unspectacular, showcasing Edwards’ knowledge and technique but not really etching the characters into readers’ hearts and minds.
Cox doesn’t stray from a warm, vivid palette, which best serves the story and showcases the strong lines Edwards puts on the page. Edwards draws plenty of large panels to showcase characters and highlight action, but some of those larger panels force sacrifices in other areas. The meld between Hawkman and Manhunter is nice but safe, with solidly colored geometric shapes framing a piece that wanted to be more organic and ethereal.
There’s a lot going on in “Justice League United” #9, starting with the sprawling cast of characters, so much so that the lettering labels shift midway through the story — a story filled with dialogue, sound effects and captions. Lanham does a nice job trying to keep the art clean but, with forty characters stomping through these pages, sometimes the art gets a little bit clipped, though the lettering is at least sharp throughout.
“The Infinitus Saga” seems to have been going on for quite some time now. Thankfully, this penultimate chapter puts some of the pieces where they belong, but it also gives that final chapter a lot to wrap up.