Like Batman Adventures, Justice League Unlimited is loosely based on the cartoon show of the same name. It has mostly the same characters, but branches out into new storylines. I looked at issues 5-8, each one individually library bound by Capstone.

In Monitor Duty, Blue Beetle is bored out of his mind with nothing to do. He tries calling up a few of the other heroes, but they’re all very busy. Just when he’s wishing something would happen it does. The Watchtower is attacked by a strange supervillain, sporting super-strength and…are those tusks? Yeah, I have no idea who this guy is either. It will take brains, not brawn, to defeat this monster and Blue Beetle wishes he could go back to being bored!

In issue 6, In the Dimming Light, Green Arrow and Green Lantern team up with one of the first Green Lanterns, Zibar. Green Lantern is in awe of his hero, but Green Arrow doesn’t trust this old guy not to get them killed! Everyone will have to compromise a little and learn some hard truths about themselves before they defeat the powerful alien creatures who have attacked them.

Darkseid’s Inferno drops Supergirl, with a fresh helping of teenage angst, into the middle of an epic battle. This comic is almost pure action from beginning to end, with lots of cameo appearances by different heroes and villains and a quick lesson for Supergirl on appreciating the family she has.

Who is the Question? doesn’t answer the titular question, but it does ask another—who is sabotaging the Watchtower? Question’s loner status and suspicious attitude may be just what’s needed to find the traitor. Or is it time he learned to trust and make some friends?

Each of these comics includes additional materials: brief biographies of the authors and artists, a glossary, a pictorial glossary of different words and powers specific to the JLU universe (telepathy, super-strength, and power ring for example). There’s also a section of “Visual Questions and Prompts” that shows various panels and asks comprehension questions, designed to get kids thinking about the visual clues in the art. Capstone’s library bindings are pricey, especially for only one comic per title, but they stand up well and with the popularity of superhero comics for the elementary age group are worth the extra cost.

There are enough familiar characters, especially for those who have watched the show, to draw readers in and enough minor characters to encourage kids to do a little research to find out who’s who. The stories are interesting and action-packed, even if they do lean a little heavily on “now we’ve all learned a lesson” at the end. Although the artists vary in several issues, there is a strong continuity of style. It meshes well with the streamlined and iconic visuals of the original cartoons while adding interesting details and quite a few touches of humor. Some of the backgrounds are a little distorted and the art of one cover in particular looks as though all the characters are wearing corsets (even the guys—Superman’s waist really shouldn’t have the same circumference as his calf muscles), but it’s reasonably good superhero art and does the job.

Kids who are ready to read chapters and intermediate readers will gobble up these comics with their mixture of familiar characters, exciting action, and a healthy sprinkling of mystery and humor.

Justice League Unlimited, issue 5: Monitor Duty
by Adam Beechen
Art by Walden Wong
ISBN: 9781434260413
Justice League Unlimited, issue 6: In the Dimming Light
by Adam Beechen
Art by Carlo Barberi
ISBN: 9781434260420
Justice League Unlimited, issue 7: Darkseid’s Inferno
by Adam Beechen
Art by Ethen Beavers
ISBN: 9781434260437
Justice League Unlimited, issue 8: Who is the Question?
by Adam Beechen
Art by Carlo Barberi
ISBN: 9781434260444

Stone Arch, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: 7-11

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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