Jeff Parker and Travel Foreman’s “Justice League United” #12 contains the second part of “The Island of No Return,” which brings readers back to the “super-gross living island thing in the middle of Lake Erie” alongside Etrigan, Poison Ivy, Equinox and Mera. This installment closes the first chapter of the threat posed by the Breakers but opens up the rest of the DC Universe to the continued menace as the team endures its first apparent casualty.
The issue opens with the team fighting what seems to be a losing battle against the island of grossness until Mera figures out a different angle. Already a familiar character for Parker from his time writing her in “Aquaman,” Mera takes point for the issue, but he keeps the cast balanced and fair, proving to readers that this team was assembled with a purpose, not just haphazardly for coolness-sake. After the initial shift in the battle, the writer gives readers a quick check-in around the horn to reminding us that Parker has plans to shake up the cast, and soon at that. That check-in draws from the eight-page preview a couple months back but includes glimpses of Steel and the Doom Patrol as well as a reminder that Adam Strange is guiding the mission, albeit in a uniquely remote manner.
Jeromy Cox and Travel Foreman co-produce exquisitely detailed, insanely garish visuals for “Justice League United” #12. Rendering every single scale on Mera’s costume is a feat worthy of note, but Foreman draws the most menacing and hideous Etrigan the DC Universe has seen in quite some time. For my money, Foreman can draw Etrigan and Mera all day long, and hopefully those two will return to these pages, either separately or together.
Foreman doesn’t stop there, as Poison Ivy travels into the Green to meet with Swamp Thing, who has integrated into the “island of gross” (or Gross Isle, not to be confused with the metro-Detroit locale). This concept gives the visual side of the creative team the chance to offer up some mind-blowing visuals. Cox’s work throughout the book (but especially in this scene) is like a freshly opened box of crayons: colors as bright as can be, but without order or apparent reason to their placement, which perfectly fits the threat of this Breaker while presenting the reader with imagery that is inviting and haunting at the same time. Letterer Steve Wands joins into the visual spectacle at this point, capping the scene with the trademark orange rigidity of Swamp Thing’s speech and overlaying dialogue in boundless pinched and bloated spheres, challenging physics and inviting readers to explore the unknown.
“Justice League United” #12 is a wild romp into the unknown. Jeff Parker has made this a Justice League book, co-opting the concept of an on-demand team from the “Justice League Task Force” title of yesteryear but infusing it with a broad range of DC characters. The core of the team — Alanna Strange, Animal Man, Equinox and Stargirl — will have their moments, but the starring role, at least for this issue, belongs to guests brought in for the case. Parker, Foreman, Cox and Wands make it quite clear this case may be done, but the mission continues, as Stargirl ends the issue by extending her hand to another recruit and, through the magic of comics, to the reader as well.