Or – “And We’re OFF!”


Last week, we looked at Justice League #1, the foundations of the all-new DCU.  Now, we get a look at the contemporary League, a group with just as much Batman and Green Lantern but a lot more questions about who ELSE is in the lineup…  Here’s a hint:  I think we were pretty much all  wrong.

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciler: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Colors: Hi-Fi
Editor: Rex Ogle
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Justice League International:  There have been many portents of impending doom (at least if you believe the intarwebs) about the DC relaunch, but none have inspired as many bizarre conspiracy theories and half-baked questions as the identity of the woman in the lower left-hand corner of the original version of this cover.  Some said she was Donna Troy, others Gypsy, and at least one wag opined that it was clearly Jean Grey.  As for me, I’m not one of those who believes that changes to the cover from the original preview solicits is any type of omen, but I am quite amused to find her completely redrawn as Godiva, late of the Global Guardians.  Still, it’s good to see that at least some of the old-school DC continuity has survived the Flashpointery partly intact, especially that written by the late E. Nelson Bridwell.  So, how do things shake down?

The Classic “Pick Your Team” Sequence…

The first page of this issue is another interesting touch, as we see that characters such as The Creeper, B’Wana Beast, Metamorpho and Plastic Man are still extant in the new DCU, and we’re immediately introduced to Andre Briggs, the head of U.N. intelligence, a man who wants to reassemble the Justice League in a new configuration, on that will be easier to control.  With the aid of U.N. representatives of Russia, China and Great Britain, we see each member put up for consideration, and the preliminary team (Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Vixen, Fire, Ice, Godiva, August General-In-Iron, and Rocket Red) put together.  Another amusing moment comes when all three representatives veto the choice of Batman for the team, arguing that they wanted a new League to be more controllable.  I can’t help but be reminded of the previous time they formed Justice League International (during the antediluvian anuum 1987, although it was ironically just called ‘Justice League’ for the first 6 issues) and found some parallels between Maxwell Lord’s actions there and Andre Briggs’ actions and statements here, although the main difference seems to be that Max wasn’t nearly as overt in his managerial malice.

…And Then It Goes Pear-Shaped.

Another difference comes in the tone of the piece, as things seem to be more clearly spelled out and the writing style perhaps aimed at a lower reader group than I’m used to.  Whether this is an intentional attempt by DC to appeal to a different demographic or just Dan Jurgens’ style is unclear, but everyone’s dialogue is simplistic and the characters broadly drawn enough that there is no question about which hero is speaking at any given time.  Rocket Red has a stereotypical “Is good, da?” speech pattern, while Godiva says “sod off” and “mate,” while August General-In-Iron has the ‘Data-doesn’t-use-contractions’ elocution that makes him the serious one.  Aaron Lopresti is a name I’ve seen bouncing about comics for some time (I believe he did Sludge for Malibu Comics back in the day) but his work here is quite good, and if I had any complaints, they would be about the costume redesigns in play.  Booster’s uniform, in particular, has been reworked into a very imbalanced gold-to-blue ratio, and his headpiece has gained a ton of weird line work that I don’t understand.  Vixen and Ice have nigh-identical segmented sleeveless jumpsuits, and only Bats and the August General are un-fiddled-with.

The Verdict: Where’s Oberon?

Overall, my optimism is less cautious than it had been (especially given the prospect of Jurgens handling the writing duties) and the art is quite attractive throughout the issue.  I’m a bit disturbed by the fact that half a dozen characters that we know from the old continuity appear mostly unchanged within these pages, making me think that the relaunch is going to be less comprehensive than I might have expected, but overall nothing in this book leaps out as awful.  Batman arriving not to undermine, but to be SUPPORTIVE of the new team is an unexpected twist, and Booster (at least superficially returned to his “media whore” characterization here) as the leader is a nice twist that lends credibility to the notions of of change.  In short, Justice League International #1 is nearly as much fun this time as it was 25 years ago, with the only missing pieces being a clear understanding of the threat and some of the deeper nuances of characterization, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Do you think that the simpler style of writing is an intentional choice, or am I reading too much into it?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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23 Comments

  1. Norberg01
    September 7, 2011 at 11:47 pm — Reply

    This is the comic I’ve been looking forward to the most in the New 52.

    The art is pretty nice and I really enjoyed the U.N. Conference Call as an introduction to characters and possible motivations for those pulling the strings. Then things started going off the rails pretty quickly for me.

    Like Matthew, one of the first things that struck me was the dialogue. I was left with the feeling that this book was being written for reading comprehension level much lower than I’m use to in comics. Which I can forgive if it gets me into the story and moves the plot along.

    However, it took a looooong time for the story to move forward. I’m a fan of a good talking head comic. But there were a lot of talking heads in this book. Guy Gardner started questioning Booster’s leadership abilities on page 9 and these leadership issues were still being questioned by other characters 6 pages later and the darned jet still hadn’t taken off from the Hall of Justice yet.

    The first panel of true, outright “super-hero” action didn’t actually happen until page 18.

    Of 21 pages.

    Of issue number 1.

    I guess I just wanted a little more bang for my $2.99 in an issue that was suppose to suck me in and make me long for the next issue. I really enjoyed “Justice League #1” last week and was hoping this was going to be a great follow up. Maybe that’s my problem? Even though the events of JL #1 happened about 5 years ago, it’s only been a week since I read that book and they didn’t even get the whole team together. Maybe it’s just too soon for me to read a book about the “New” League when the first League hasn’t even finished forming in their own title.

    I apparently have a case of copious typing, so I’m going to go read “Animal Man” #1 now. I’m hearing through the grapevine that it’s fantastic.

  2. Armaan
    September 8, 2011 at 12:12 am — Reply

    I’m just waiting to see more Plastic Man. They approved him for the team, I’m so waiting for him to show up!

    • September 8, 2011 at 1:16 am — Reply

      The Russian contingent clearly vetoed him in my copy… More differences between print and digital versions?

    • Damascus
      September 14, 2011 at 2:19 am — Reply

      Yeah, I love me some Plastic Man, but I thought they said he was too “Whacko” for the team.

  3. September 8, 2011 at 5:53 am — Reply

    As far as the “simpler” style, I can’t say I found it something to appeal to a “lower reader group.” I felt it was just trying to capture some of the tone of the Giffen era, without going overboard in the characterizations. I genuinely enjoyed the interaction between Bats and Guy–that really seemed to reference a shared history genuinely different from what we know.

  4. TaZ
    September 8, 2011 at 6:15 am — Reply

    This is one issue I have not been able to get yet. By “reformed” do they mean that the Justice League that’s being “flashbacked” in the JL series is NOT together at the “current” point in this continuity and the JLI is a replacement for that team?

    • September 9, 2011 at 5:28 am — Reply

      JLI operates as a UN-controlled team, JL still operates, but are independent.

  5. Jimmy
    September 8, 2011 at 7:38 am — Reply

    The only thing that bugged me with this issue is that this clearly is the first time that a Justice League International has been formed, which means the Giffen/DeMatteis era JL is out of continuity, which means that Blue Beetle and Booster Gold didn’t have their Bwa-ha-ha days, which means that Booster may not have all that time to mature. HOWEVER, this also means that Max Lord may yet show up as a good guy again, and Ted Kord may not be dead! So… overall the issue itself was good (I didn’t have a problem with the writing being too simplistic on first reading, it may bug me on rereads, we’ll see). I really like Aaron Lopresti’s art; he seemed a few times to be trying to capture Maguire’s knack for facial expressions and not QUITE getting there (he’d have two or three characters with funny looks on their faces, but Kevin would have EVERY character looking goofy), but it was good stuff.

  6. K. Kortekaas
    September 8, 2011 at 7:44 am — Reply

    I loved this issue, I loved the Batman / Guy interaction in regards to Booster, and the snipping between the August General / Rocket Red.

  7. eric
    September 8, 2011 at 9:30 am — Reply

    So when is Max Lord going to show up or was he ever part of the old continuity? Just too many questions that should have been resolved instead of taking a cop out and say oh this changed. DC needs to get it together but without my money.

    • ~wyntermute~
      September 8, 2011 at 10:57 pm — Reply

      You seriously expected _EVERY_ question to be answered in the first issue of an ongoing periodical publication? I’m not being sarcastic either… What do you want from something that’s a START of a series in a ‘supposedly new’ universe? You kinda DO have to ignore the past (whether we agree with this method is not the point) in order for the “New Stuff” to work. (Pre-Crisis/Post-Crisis anybody?) The problem is that they’re going in 12 different directions with the timeline at once, as far as I can see. Not “Oh, everything changed. Just wait until we explain it.”, because comic books have operated on that sort of suspension of disbelief for, um, their entire existence thus far? Aliens are attacking Earth? Why? “Oh, cuz, um, they are..um.. Jealous.. of our planet.” Oh! Okay! Kree good, Skrull bad!

  8. September 9, 2011 at 5:36 am — Reply

    I really enjoyed JLI #1, so my complaint isn’t with this book, it’s about the direction of Booster Gold.

    I truly got invested in the character since the 52 series 3-4 years ago, and I liked the time-jumping, Greatest Hero You’ve Never Heard Of, Booster Gold. Now, it looks like they’ve gone right back to him being a money-whore again. Which is fine, I guess, but they didn’t really finish his story, which really sucks. Oh well, whaddya do?

    • Jimmy
      September 9, 2011 at 9:47 am — Reply

      Since Dan Jurgens is writing JLI, you can bet good money he’s going to be developing Booster again, or that Booster actually remembers the old DCU (if you remember, the end of Booster’s ongoing was him going to the end of time to pick up a new costume)

    • September 9, 2011 at 11:19 am — Reply

      Now, it looks like they’ve gone right back to him being a money-whore again. Which is fine, I guess, but they didn’t really finish his story, which really sucks. Oh well, whaddya do?

      I think that there may be more going on than meets the eye, but I’m an optimist…

  9. September 9, 2011 at 10:43 am — Reply

    Something that has had a chance to cogitate in my mind (mmmm…cogitation) is how this parallels with Justice League #1–with some of the similarities in set ups.

    The scene in JLI where Briggs is talking to the UN delegation calls back to the scenes where Max Lord is watching the TV screens in his office, planning his management of the Justice League. Briggs also calls back to Max in how he goes behind the UN’s backs to bring in members not approved (like Batman) and contacting the team prior to their approval. I’d say there are enough tie-backs to the old JLI that it’d have to be deliberate.

    • Damascus
      September 14, 2011 at 2:23 am — Reply

      I’d also like to know where all these pitch black rooms with floating paper thin tv screens are being kept. It’s like the 3rd time I’ve seen that in the DCnU so far.

  10. ikdks
    September 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm — Reply

    Once again I find myself wondering where this fits in DCnU time. People know who Batman is enough to know he’s a pain in the ass to work with, so it must be after everything else written so far.

    One of you guys should use your insider status, get DC on the horn, and find out a definitive time line for these number 1’s.

    • September 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm — Reply

      Once again I find myself wondering where this fits in DCnU time.

      The other stuff seems to be “before,” and this is “nowish.” :)

  11. litanyofthieves
    September 9, 2011 at 9:17 pm — Reply

    You’re being quite generous with the stars IMO, sir. Of all the New 52 issues I picked up this one was the one I liked the least, especially from a writing standpoint. “Lower reader group” is entirely accurate; the writing felt like a bad saturday morning cartoon from 1993. (*Cough captainplanet cough*)

    • September 10, 2011 at 7:28 am — Reply

      You’re being quite generous with the stars IMO, sir.

      I have a whole bag of ’em. :)

  12. brenton8090
    September 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm — Reply

    I liked this one. It’s definitely on my “continue to read” list. Especially if Booster has anything to do with the mysterious Hooded entity which looks like the Hourman android. Would love to see that story played out connecting Booster to old continuity. I could certainly use a peek at Rip Hunter’s blackboard right about now.

  13. Damascus
    September 14, 2011 at 2:25 am — Reply

    How soon before we get some Killer Penguins?

  14. ElusiveJoe
    September 16, 2011 at 7:34 pm — Reply

    I picked this book up on a whim, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m new to all these characters and I’m excited to see where this is going. The art is nice, lots of clean lines and bright colours and its written to fit that aesthetic. and I like that the writer takes his time setting the plot in motion before he introduces the team. It’s good comics fun, without that try-hard feeling that you sometimes get from books that are desperate to prove how awesome they are to new readers.
    This is what I want in a team book.

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