Alright DC, this is the book I’m going to be the hardest on you about.
As a fan of the Justice League International from the earliest days of its conception and an avid Booster Gold/ Blue Beetle fan it was a daunting task for me to give up what I considered to be one of the greatest accomplishments in comic book history. For once, superheroes like Batman and Martian Manhunter acted like normal humans and took part in the occasional joke once in a while. Topped off with absurdities and stories about everyday life in the Justice League, the JLI was the comic book for anyone to read who wanted a light-hearted fun story about characters they grew to love.
In DC’s new 52 relaunch Booster Gold, no longer sporting his own solo book, is asked to join and lead the first ever U.N. sanctioned team of superheroes. Familiars to JLI fans like Fire, Ice, Guy Gardner, Rocket Red, and Batman himself make for a pleasant homage to the glory days while adding in fresh newcomers like August General In Iron, Godiva, and Vixen is still a welcomed change. On the very first page, Dan Jurgens delivers an array of characters both JLI regulars and new to strike my fan chord hard and loud without overdoing it. At some point in the new DC history, the members of the JLI had banded together for whatever reason and acted as a group without U.N. sanctioning. Now a new character, Andre Briggs, is putting them together for what could be good or evil intentions. Either way, Batman intends to find out first hand.
Immediately this feels like the JLI and for new readers it is a team book that assembles quickly and in a good way. There’s a synergy here in Jurgens’ plotting and Lopresti’s pencils that guides this book very easily through a fun and action filled story that could have easily fallen victim to a prolonged set-up. But I think that’s Jurgens’ strength and his lengthy experience in the industry has developed his writing into what I would consider some of the most compelling and interesting stories since the mid 80’s. After all, we’re talking about the writer who wrote and drew the Death of Superman–He’s not just some ordinary writer. And with his excellent pacing comes an organic flow of characterization. Not too much, not too little; Jurgens’ gives each character a moment that either broadly or in subtlety defines them enough to carry the readers’ interest. Particularly a scene between Batman and Guy Gardner over the nature of the team forming and the U.N.’s true intentions carried a lot of weight while also reestablishing the idea that Batman, of all people, supports Booster Gold as a hero and leader of the team. This was crafted and maintained in Booster’s previous title and is refreshing to see that it was kept in the new continuity for it’s importance.
My love of Booster aside, the budding star of this book is carried over from Generation Lost and will most certainly entertain if he is kept similar. I’m talking about Rocket Red of course and his rapport with August General In Iron is sure to be a treat for readers who enjoy witty humor. The character Godiva, recently revamped in Flashpoint, gets her shots in with both humor and sex appeal abound. It’s also worth mentioning how great it is to read a book with as many female characters as there are males without making the book gender-biased in any way. On the ground level we get a glimpse of the public opinion and how the real world would react to such a team forming. The emphasis on reality based superheroes is carried well enough that I don’t feel that it changes much of the superheroics.
Lopresti has grown a lot since finishing Generation Lost and his familiarity with these characters has helped. New designs and costumes stand out the way they should without being too loud. Even his handling of Guy Gardner who maintained his old look has a modern feel to it. His style is very clean and classic in terms of comic book rendering. This lends to a more animated feel for the characters which is also aided by his knack for dynamism in character posing and the bright, wonderful colors handled by HiFi. This book is very alive and each character leaps off the page with a very cinematic feel to it. For fans of the Justice League Unlimited cartoon I believe a semblance is maintained here that will likely surprise.
At the end of this issue I felt relieved that the JLI I knew and loved was still in some way maintained and to be received by the public in a very similar fashion. As always, I’m impressed by books that can carry a lighter tone and still fulfill their superhero satisfaction to all readers. The final page ending with an epic adventure and battle to come, Justice League International is off to a great start and I can’t wait for the next issue!
Here’s a 5 page preview so you can see what I mean!