Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: Justice League International #1 (2011)

I shall now begin my review series on the Great DC Reboot of 2011.  Because of lack of money and also interest I won’t be reviewing all 52 titles but rather I’ll picking the ones I had something of an interest in.  If you need a refresher of which ones those were click here and here.  As the DC reboot began with Justice League #1 it’s only fitting that I begin my coverage there...but since I don’t give a crap about anything going on in that book let’s take a look at Justice League International #1 instead.

 JLI isn’t a new concept.   Since its debut in the 60s the Justice League of America always seemed to get rebooted every few years, getting major changes in the roster and setting.  Following a blundered re-launch fans have nicknamed “Justice League Detroit” DC gave the reigns of the book to Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis who, after being told they couldn’t use most of the company’s biggest names (Ironically due to a companywide reboot following Crisis on Infinite Earths) they decided to use several lesser known characters and take the book into a more comedic route.  The title was dubbed, of course, Justice League International.  While this would severally damage several characters over the next twenty years by typecasting them as comedy characters who kept getting their character development reset to match their portrayal into that book it did create a very strong cult following for several of the team’s more prominent members to this day.  Those members included (But not necessarily limited to) Booster Gold, Blue Beetle II (Ted Kord), Fire, Ice, and Guy Gardner and his bowl cut.  They’re have been a lot of call backs and reunions featuring the majority of these characters over the years, most of them not taking itself terribly serious (Such as the Giffer/DeMatteis created Formerly Known as the Justice League miniseries).  But finally in 2005 following the awesome yet terribly infuriating death of Ted Kord in Countdown to Infinite Crisis this started to change as DC attempted to move Booster Gold away from his comedic “sellout” persona once and for all which they did successfully in 52 and Booster’s follow-up solo title where he became basically the most badass character in the DC Universe.  Following the trend in the pages of Justice League: Generation Lost Booster, Fire, Ice, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle III aka Jaime Reyes and eventually a new Rocket Red teamed up to accidentally form a new, more insanely awesome version of the JLI.  While I never got to finish that book what I did read of it was some of the best superhero comic writing I’ve ever read and cemented my status of a fan of the various characters that appeared.  This book was supposed to lead into a new ongoing series featuring this new revamped team where Batman and Booster teamed up to start the team in earnest.  That didn’t happen, presumably because it would have been too much awesome for our space time continuum to handle.

The JLI we deserve, but not the one we need right now?
The comic I'm looking at today was written by Dan Jurgens with art by Aaron Lopresti (Pencils) and Matt Ryan (Ink) and is titled “The Signal Masters Part 1”.  So if this isn’t a follow-up to Justice League: Generation Lost then what the hell is it?  And what’s the point? 

Click below for the full review…and answers! 

Thankfully Russia vetoed Plastic Man
Andre Briggs has just proposed a new United Nations controlled superhero group to the U.N. Global Security Group; a second Justice League to balance out the independent first team.  Out of all the proposed heroes brought to the table Booster Gold, Fire, Vixen, Rocket Red, Ice, Godiva, August General in Iron and member of the Green Lantern Corps. Guy Gardner are the ones selected to for the team.  Their first mission: investigating the disappearance of U.N. research team in Peru.   Once there it seems that this thrown together band of heroes may be in over their heads. 

Before I start ranting I need to explain what I meant earlier by pointing out that this is a flat-out reboot of the JLI.  All the history I wrote about above is actually irrelevant because as far as this issue is concerned none of it ever happened.  In this new DC Reboot some titles literally pick up where they left off before Flashpoint, such as most of the Batman books, while others have had their entire histories thrown out of the window.  For some books that’s not too surprising but for this one I’m perplexed.  What was the point in Justice League: Generation Lost if they weren’t going to further the adventures of the characters we liked reading from that series.  If most of their histories have been erased are they even really the same characters?  To make it even worse Blue Beetle and Captain Atom, who were awesome in that book, are missing in this new roster which makes me pretty sad (Blue Beetle is being rebooted as a brand new rookie while Captain Atom is too busy having a  really silly character redesign to be on a team). 

Anyway, aside from missing key members, it’s good to see the guys together again.  I really like Booster Gold especially, as if you couldn’t tell, so I was jazzed he made it into the New DCU.  At first the book implied he had been downgraded to his classic “I’m Out for Fame and Fortune” persona (Because screw character development) but thankfully he seems to come off more like a serious minded hero who is out to help people, which is good.   I really don’t want to hear Booster talking about how he needs to get to his next commercial shoot or how he’s sponsored by toothpaste.  While on the subject of characters I was pleasantly surprised by Batman.  Normally I find him to be a distraction on any team book I read with him on it, and usually a shockingly large asshole to his teammates, but here he’s actually a pretty cool addition to the team.  He hasn’t taken over the book and has even differed to Booster as team leader.  Hell, he even defends the 25th Century visitor and insists that he believes in him as a hero!  Wow!

You mean Batman isn't a heartless dick in this continuity?
There's hope for the DCnU yet!
Godiva, who I never heard and had to research for this article, is also a stand out as she probably has the most personality of the group.  She’s also the biggest mystery both the team and to us because she’s a relatively low profile character.  She seems to be a flirt and not a terribly nice lady.  Though he doesn’t do much it is nice to see Gavril Ivanovich (Red Rocket) retain some of the traits I enjoyed from him in the Generation Lost maxiseries.   I’m hoping that continues throughout the series as we get to known him more (…again). 

The art works well for the series tone; the slightly cartoony look and bright colors is a welcomed contrast to a lot of the other books now floating around in the DC aisle.  The costume designs are okay for the most part, though I think that Booster’s new look, while only a little different than his most recent uniform, hits a few wrong notes and what little they changed makes it significantly less interesting.  Also the new, sleeker design for the Red Rocket armor is a huge disappointment.  It completely lacks the charm of the bulkier design from the characters past.   It’s pretty lame.  Also where is Guy’s bowl cut?  Okay, that last one was a nitpick, but I’m sure there are tons of Guy Garner fans who are super pissed about this?   I am really grateful for the diversity featured in this book.  An international representation as well as some minority characters and a lot of women on hand; sounds good to me. 

Pictured: The All-New JLI
Not Pictured: Guy Gardner's Bowl Cut
The plot was a mixed bag.  On the one hand it works well enough as an opener and manages to introduce all the characters an bringing them together as a group in no time flat.  It also it makes it pretty simple for someone who isn’t already knowledgeable about the team to jump right in.  But things feel very rushed and there’s not really a whole lot of time to get to know any member of the group very well at all.  It’s hard to get behind these guys when they’re barely more than token superheroes.  A lot of the dialogue seemed a bit forced in a lot of places.  I was especially annoyed at the beginning of the book where Andre Briggs clearly states the main point of the team was that there would be no secret identities or masks…then identity suggest Batman and Green Arrow for the team, immediately forgetting what he just said a minute earlier.  Also I’m pretty damn sure DC Comic took a pot shot at all the fans who have been expressing concern about the new DCU online (Which obviously includes me) when a crowd protests the JLI and one of the characters says, and I quote, “Ignore them. They’re nothing but a bunch of basement dwellers who spend all day whining on the ‘net.” Christ, dude. Well I guess DC, obviously masters of subtlety and class, sure called my number there.  Its dead-on satire like that surely makes me glad to have spent so much money buying their comics and spending so much time basically advertising their product.  Thanks, DC.
Godiva manages to be a flirt while also dressing conservatively
I award Godiva 10,000 points!!!
This is an "okay" first issue where there's good but it's balanced out by the bad.   While I don’t really mind that it fails to recapture the comedic tone that the original JLI possessed, and really anyone who thought that it would even try is probably a little silly, but it does bug me that this book is light-years behind it’s predecessor in Generation Lost.  Still it’s not a bad comic to pick up, especially if you’re a fan of the characters, but there’s not really a lot here to make me interested in picking up more issues.   I will of course, because this may be the only way I can get my Booster Gold fix, but things really need to pick up for this series to feel likes it’s worth the cash I’m throwing at it.  It might get better but for now this comic is the definition of average.

I give Justice League International #1 3 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


Pros

-Nice to see familiar characters

-The art works well

-The diversity present is pretty good

-Good team book set-up

Cons

-The plot wasn’t all that great

-Characters haven’t quite been fleshed out (Though that may be fixed in future issues)

-If you’re a fan of JLI or Generation Lost this issue was not made for you


In case you think I'm being closed minded with all of the new DC books I assure you tat at least one I've read so far I absolutely loved.  Stay tuned.

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