"Divide & Conquer"
Writer: Adam Beechen
Artists: Carlo Barbieri(p), Walden Wong(i), Heroic Age(c)
Justice League Unlimited debuts with a decent issue featuring Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, the Flash, Hawkgirl, Captain Atom and Zatanna. Well-plotted, the story offers conflict between the League and two mystery villains.
The artwork is noticeably impressive. Carlo Barbieri conveys the strong and subtle emotions of the team. A particularly notable scene perhaps informed by the events in Starcrossed depicts the camaraderie between Wonder Woman, Superman and Hawkgirl. The penciler also creates distinguishable body language for the cast. He portrays Batman as Dynamic and Zatanna's movements are very theatrical, which suits her character. The JLA Satellite setting benefits from a starry backdrop and a masterful depiction of Batman standing ominously before the moon.
Mr. Beechen hooks the reader immediately. The opening splash page almost could be a Julius Schwartz cover. The dialogue from the Man of Steel can't help but make the reader curious, and characterization of the League epitomizes the heroes.
The theme of the book does cause a few problems. There is number one an overall strangeness associated with the shift in the roll call. For the life of me I can't fathom why Captain Atom needed to be in this issue, and the way the story is written, all the heroes seem to know him. This puzzles me since the League could have only met him recently. On the other hand, I never liked Captain Atom apart from his role in Justice League Europe. So I'm perfectly willing to admit to an unfavorable bias.
The animated Zatanna, introduced in Batman The Animated Series, possessed no magical powers. She only used stage magic, and while I know that she was later written with her backward-cast spells in a Superman Adventures annual, a newcomer may find her newfound magic-based powers confusing. No matter who happens to be reading book, they should come to a conclusion that counters the writer's opinion on her. Zatanna is one of the most powerful super-heroes in the DCU. Why the writer does not believe this the case escapes me. The Flash is also a powerful character, yet the writer tends to ignore him amid the powerhouses.
Despite these minor quibbles, Justice League Unlimited continues the tradition of good, solid super-hero stories done in the animated style of Bruce Timm.
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