Guest post by: Tom Tomorrow
I was optimistic about the JLI relaunch for a number of reasons. I’ve always enjoyed the Giffen/DeMatteis “Bwa-ha-ha”-era League of misfits, and this version of the team largely carries over from Justice League: Generation Lost, which I liked a lot. There’s also Dan Jurgens’ return as writer, which I note mainly because he wrote the first Justice League comics I ever read, way back in 1992. Jurgens might not be Grant Morrison, but he’s always turned in solid superhero stories, especially with Booster Gold. On top of all that, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the core Justice League premiere, and hoped that this would be different.
It was. In fact, Justice League International #1 is almost the anti-Justice League #1, for all the good and bad that entails. The good is that this brings the whole team together (as the cover art might suggest) and introduces clear conflicts and threats right from the very beginning — no decompression in sight. Jurgens quickly establishes characters’ roles within the team, tensions between them, and conflicts with authority and the public that are sure to be ongoing. The art is clean and crisp, with the sort of clear action and expressive faces that Aaron Lopresti always brings to the table.
What Lopresti has to work with is less stellar. I’m all for decompression, but there are some pages that feel cramped, as the story moves at perhaps too brisk a pace. There’s also the problem of unnecessary costume redesigns, most obviously on the first page, where Lopresti’s clear, classic renderings of the new Captain Atom and Booster Gold costumes make them look utterly ridiculous. Booster’s original costume was well-balanced; now he can join Superman in the “too much blue” club — except that Booster is mostly teal. It doesn’t help that the awkward piping on his collarbone looks inexplicably like a “W.”
The decompression also means there’s not much subtlety or nuance to the character development. The Russian UN delegate ticks every box on the ‘80s movie Soviet stereotype card, the crowd of rioters outside the Hall of Justice improbably shout plot points, and the nationalistic rivalry between Rocket Red and August General in Iron makes them both look like petulant children. It’s not all bad; Booster Gold and Guy Gardner are both exactly what you’d expect, and Batman gets some good moments as well, but most of the rest of the cast is left as broadly-defined stereotypes or blank slates. Jurgens does a good job developing relationships and tensions between the Leaguers, but skimps on their individual personalities and motivations.
The plot is pretty straightforward — people go missing, heroes investigate, battle scene — and that much makes for a good, classically action-oriented comic. The Hall of Justice subplot is confusing, leading me to wonder if it’s a holdover from the pre-Flashpoint era, or if the brief treatment just left out too much detail. Either way, it’s hard to get worked up about losing a building that only appeared in full on-panel once it was already on fire.
Overall, I think the book suffers from trying to do too much. Not only is it meant to bring the JLI together and introduce the members to new audiences, but it also kicks off several short- and long-term conflicts, explores some of the New 52 DCU’s politics, and tries to recapture some of the humor and character drama that people remember so fondly from the Giffen/DeMatteis era. It all adds up to a decent, old-school superhero book, which sounds like an insult in this “bold new era,” but I’m glad that there’s still a place for such material in the New 52. And as long as future issues provide a little more room to breathe and add a couple more dimensions onto the characters, I’ll continue reading. Just incase there isn’t, I’m putting it ON PROBATION.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more