It’s Justice League International, but with less BWA-HA-HA! and more, um… hey, remember Justice League International? Well, they’re back… in pog form!
The world is in peril. People do not trust their governments or law enforcement agencies and the people’s governments are both without a means or capability to handle most crises that arise. How can said governments win over the dwindling support of their citizens? One should ask themselves who the people do trust and admire. Of course! The Justice League! So, what should the civilized world do to win their citizens over? Create their own Justice League, sanctioned and controlled by the United Nations. This is the setup to the new Justice League International series in the new DC Universe. But the better question to ask: Does this new series work?
Writer Dan Jurgens made a few good choices with this comic. While I loved the choices made for the team, it was the inclusion of August General in Iron that both surprised and excited me. Being a fairly new character to the DC Universe, he could have easily been discarded with the new relaunch. I do not know if they are going to still have him be a member (or former member) of The Great Ten — which was introduced in 52 as a Chinese Justice League of sorts — or give him a new background/origin, but having him in the new post-Flashpoint DC Universe is a welcome addition. Jurgens also brings back the Hall of Justice to the DC Universe as the headquarters of the Justice League International. Fans of the Super Friends animated series will get a momentary kick out of seeing it. They just need to be sure not to get too attached to it…
Jurgens also does a fairly good job of involving politics and bureaucracy without burdening the reader. There are many a comic that fail to do so miserably. And he very well balanced the politics and minor serious tones with humor. The JLI books were never serious in tone, always trying to be the mirror reflection of the normal Justice League title. Jurgens keeps that spirit alive in his iteration, most notably in the interactions between Rocket Red and August General in Iron.
However, while there are many aspects of this issue that I liked, it had quite a few apparent flaws. Most noticeably is that the book seems to have come out at the wrong time. Less not right in the post-Flashpoint Universe and more should have come out in 1987. Both the dialogue and Aaron Lopresti’s art are from a different era of comics altogether. Jurgens almost seems to be calling back to the days of Claremont, having the characters names said throughout the comic on numerous occasions. This is not a good method to use with a comic that is supposed to be designed to capture new readers. Another problem is Godiva. Other than flirt with Booster Gold, there really was no point to her character whatsoever. It is later addressed by Batman that she is not contributing to the group dynamic, which hopefully means that she will do something in the next issue, but, as it stands, her character was there for show or to even out the number of men and women on the team (if you don’t include Batman).
All in all, this is neither a bad nor good first issue. But, in a relaunch consisting of 52 #1 issues, the team needs to do something to keep readers hanging on. If my week isn’t too heavy, I will pick up issue #2. I do want to see the upcoming adventures from the JLI. I just hope something is done to bring me back to issues #3, #4, #5 and so forth.
Nick Boisson grew up on television, Woody Allen, video games, Hardy Boys mysteries and DC comic books, with the occasional Spider-Man issue thrown in for good measure. He currently roams the rainy streets of Miami, Florida, looking for a nice tie, a woman that gets him, and the windbreaker he lost when he was eight. He sometimes writes things down on Twitter as @nitroslick.
Jason Sacks: <
Hmm, well, I hate to say it, but I’m at a bit of a loss figuring out what to say about Justice League International #1. It’s a thoroughly professionally done comic by a set of thoroughly professional creators. The writing is clear, the characters have unique voices and the supporting characters seem to be well thought out. There are physical threats to the heroes and existential threats to the heroes and it’s all told in a thoroughly professional manner.
In other words, Dan Jurgens does his usual thoroughly professional job on this comic. So does the art team of Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan.
In other words, this is a nice little mid-range super-hero comic. It’s fine. Umm, can I stop the review now?
Jason Sacks has been obsessed with comics for longer than he’d like to remember. He considers himself a student of comics history and loves delving into obscure corners of this crazy artform. Jason has been writing for this site for about seven years and has also been published in a number of fan publications, including the late, lamented Amazing Heroes and The Flash Companion. He lives in north Seattle with his wife and three kids.
Under public scrutiny, the United Nations decide they want a Justice League that they can control. So they form Justice League International led by who they hope to be the perfect tool, Booster Gold. The presence of Godiva is the strangest and most surprising thing about Justice League International. Another E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon creation, Godiva debuted in Super-Friends #7. Ice-Maiden (Ice) premiered in issue nine, and The Green Fury (Fire) first ignited in issue 25. Godiva is the British Medusa, and Dan Jurgens should really rent Doctor Who in order to find out what a real Brit sounds like. Godiva’s Britishisms are isolated to a not excruciatingly horrible “mate” and an acutely painful “Sod off.”
Justice League International occurs some time in the future with respect to the new Justice League. So, everybody knows of Batman and have already formed their own opinions. Most find him intimidating, but not the dominating egomaniac from the old universe. This is much better. By this time, Batman’s also no longer wanted by the law, as he is in Justice League. However, he’s still not trustworthy in the eyes of the U.N. because he’s too honest and therefore untamable.
Whereas the old Justice League International was based upon character dynamics, this opening issue is more plot-oriented. A U.N. research team gets waylaid by seismic activity, which mysteriously appears elsewhere simultaneously. The League are sent to investigate, and that’s when Batman makes his presence known. He’s piloting the ship. When the team land, they discover at first Lava Men, whoops, this isn’t Marvel. Um….they discover, No. Sorry. Those are Lava Men. Fortunately, they’re the precursors to something bigger, perhaps an old Justice League of America and Justice League International foe.
Most of the character interaction in Justice League International is pretty mellow, on the whole, with most teammates slipping off into roles as opposed to persona. Godiva, I suppose because her namesake allegedly went on horseback naked, is the sexy, flirting one. Vixen doesn’t actually register this issue. Neither does Fire or Ice. Batman butts heads with Gardner, but it’s not as funny as “One-punch!” To be fair, Guy Gardner’s less of sphincter in the new DCU than the original. He has been mitigated to a little hot-headed. Sort of like Johnny Storm circa the 1970s.
Justice League International is a little better than a bog-standard Justice League book. Superior to Justice League Detroit and Robinson’s League. Lesser to JLA and the original JLI. Jurgens owes a debt to the streamlining of continuity, but the costumes haven’t been redesigned to any vast extent–just Batman’s uniform. Godiva’s new outfit is boring, and the Booster Gold recut is far sharper looking than his old goofball yellow pants uniform, light years from his robot gear.
Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan and colorist Hi-Fi are Justice League International‘s most valuable players. This is the best a Justice League book has looked since — crap, that’s long. Lopresti crafts a lively visual narrative that’s rich and textured with strong backgrounds and newly created extras adding uniqueness and ethnicity to the proceedings. His turn at the heroes is a welcome one. Lopresti began as a babe artist, and his women are easy on the eyes but more importantly healthy and sinewy. He was also a copier of Adam Hughes, and while his influences can be seen in th
e panels, Lopresti has really come into his own as an artist, distinguishing himself from Hughes.
It may be too early to judge Justice League International, but there have been more exciting debuts from the new DCU. Still, I’m intrigued enough to continue reading, and the art’s more than enough to warrant interest.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better.