In the latest of our comprehensive series of reviews of DC Comics' 52 relaunched titles, we take a look at Justice League International #1.
Who's it by?
Justice League International #1 is written by Dan Jurgens (Green Arrow) and drawn by Aaron Lopresti (Justice League: Generation Lost).
What's the history?
This particular version of the Justice League emerged out of the rebooted DC Universe following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. With most of the famous traditional members of the JLI unavailable for the title for various reasons, Batman and Martian Manhunter were joined by a set of lesser known characters.
Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis's original run had a sitcom-like style and proved a big success. Team members included Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Booster Gold, Fire and Ice, Rocket Red and Blue Beetle.
The team returned recently in the Justice League: Generation Lost limited series, which tied into the 'Brightest Day' storyline but also had links to the acclaimed miniseries Kingdom Come.
The JLI is back, portrayed here as coming together for the first time and thus disregarding the original run and the more recent Generation Lost.
In its original iteration, this was the only Justice League. However, the new Justice League International is a team brought together by the UN partly in response to the Justice League, which is considered "helpful" but unaccountable.
The team consists of former members Batman, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red and Guy Gardner alongside new members in Vixen, August General in Iron and Godiva.
The book opens with two members of United Nations Intelligence selling the idea of Justice League International to three of its member states. The team itself has, fortunately for us readers, already been assembled, and is straight off to their new headquarters in the Hall of Justice, while an angry crowd protests the building's takeover by the 'sellout' superheroes.
It is not long before the team are called out on their first mission in Peru, where they clash with their first enemy. Meanwhile, the Hall of Justice is left undefended and at the mercy of some particularly irate protestors.
What's the verdict?
Justice League International #1 gives us a solid base for a comic. The concept and characters are introduced quickly and clearly, avoiding any accusations of slow-pacing (Justice League) or confusion (Stormwatch). It's good to see Dan Jurgens dispense swiftly with the setup and get on to some superhero action.
While we are given a firm grounding in who the heroes are, the establishment of their personalities is somewhat more mixed. Guy Gardner and Booster Gold are clearly defined, and it is interesting to see Batman sneaking around (leaving us wondering what his faith in Booster is based on). However, it is unclear what Fire, Ice and Vixen are about from this first issue.
Worse than unclear characterisation is Jurgens's dependency on lazy cultural stereotypes. The UN delegates suffer from this, as do Rocket Red and August General in Iron, who are left to play out a tired Russian-Chinese rivalry. Rocket Red's dialogue is wincingly hammy at times. This stereotyping is at best embarrassing, and at worst insulting, and it takes up space that could have been used to develop the other characters.
Still, a few moments of banter shine through, promising the potential for this to be as fun and punchy as its predecessor. Its simplicity also makes it one of the more suitable titles for younger readers who want an action-packed superhero comic.
Aaron Lopresti's art is clean, expressive and a fine fit for the title. This is bright, shiny superhero work that is far from ground-breaking but does what it does well.
Out of the team of books released in the first two weeks of DC's relaunch, this is the most cleanly and economically set up. The characterisation is rough around the edges, but the comic has potential. If Jurgens can iron out the kinks, this could turn into an entertaining title, or it could go the other way and sink into obscurity. We are intrigued to see which way Justice League International falls.
> Buy the digital version of Justice League International #1
> Read our review of Animal Man #1
Watch The New 52 introduction video from DC Comics below: