Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Justice League International, Vol.1: “Signal Masters” (DC Comics)

JusticeLeagueInternational-Vol-01The first collected book of issues from the New 52 series

Writer: Dan Jurgens | Artist: Aaron Lopresti & Marco Castiello | Inks: Matt Ryan & Vincenzo Acunzo | Colours: Hi-Fi

The UN brings together Batman, Booster Gold, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, August General in Iron, Fire, Ice, Vixen and Rocket Red – a new group of global heroes, called: Justice League International.

With the growing presence of super beings around the world, the JLI are charged with promoting unity and trust. Their first mission is to discover the mystery behind the giant alien Signalmen who are appearing all over the globe. But can they reach that goal without killing each other first…?

This series, I think, is a little bit more on the extravagant sci-fi side of the comics spectrum than I usually like from my super-hero comics. It’s big and it’s insane, and it’s all about Saving The World from Impossible Odds. Together! As a new and naturally dysfunctional disparate team of heroes! So yeah. It’s a little trope-heavy. But, that’s not to say it’s not fun or devoid of good moments.

[Warning. This was the fourth review I wrote in one evening, in quick succession. So I’m a little more sarcastic than usual…]

After that stunningly bland endorsement, why should you care about anything else I write? Well, I do think this series is worth a look, and especially so if you’re a fan of DC’s more extravagant titles. The fact that it’s filled with Save the World tropes could be seen as a nod towards some classic comic/science-fiction story-structures. That’s catnip for some people. It’s just not, for me, what I want from a comic. I’m sure I’ve said it elsewhere on the blog, but I prefer the more human-side of super-heroes; the greyer areas of their existence and operations. (Hence my love of Batman and the Dark and Edge New 52 series.)


Monogrammed Tables: Without one, you ain’t a Real Team. Fact.

This story proceeds much as one would expect – the team is pulled together. They don’t get on, and things almost fall apart. They go on their first mission, which isn’t as successful as their bosses would like. (They’re a team brought into being by the UN security… well, not the Security Council, as the people in charge seem to only number three, which is way too small for the SC. A shadowy group of UN leaders, anyway…) Then they’re introduced to the real bad-guy, who’s behind all the devastating events on Earth.


Totally pwned by Batman…

The group is nicely diverse, as it should be – there are representatives from China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Zambia, Norway, a future America (that would be team-leader Booster Gold), a Green Lantern (eventually), and Batman (sort of unofficially). There are some fun dynamics throughout the ‘orientation period’, when they go on their first mission together and are still working out the kinks and various hierarchies.


Killing Mini-Minions… A comic imperative…

One of the characters, the British representative Godiva seems to bring the power of... hair to the table. At one point even the bad-guy comments on this. I really don’t know what to make of her role in this series, or why she was included except to provide some distraction for Booster and a couple of opportunities for references to male genitalia and her accidentally coming into contact with them.


This, apparently, is what attractive women do around men with super-powers…

There’s a bit in the epilogue (at the start of what would have been issue #6), when Booster and Batman go after the two guys who blew up the Hall of Justice at the start of the book (a thread that is completely dropped until this point, seeing as the team are busy Saving the World and Pulling Together).


Batman dispenses wisdom… Like a (sage) boss

This type of story was much more interesting for me, seeing them discuss the future of the team, but also doing detective-style super-hero stuff. As was Godiva’s chat with August General in Iron – the Chinese representative who has a very cool, amusing dynamic with the Russian hero, Rocket Red.

The artwork can be pretty striking:


Overall, the writing is decent, but also a little simplistic, heavy on the telling rather than showing. It’s a briskly paced story, certainly, and I was never bored. It’s just that I’ve read better New 52 titles. The final page, however, was certainly a cliff-hanger that’s sure to make everyone sit up and take notice. And also impatient for Volume 2…


Original Cover Artwork #1-6

Justice League International, Volume 2 – “Breakdown” – will be published in January 2013, and collects issues #7-12.

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