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.
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.
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?