Thursday, 8 March 2012

Justice League International #7 review

The first word I ever learnt from comics was 'ironic'. Reading handed-down Silver Age Superman family books you could barely get through an issue without a 'How ironic (choke)'. That nutty phrase stuck with me to the extent that it almost became the name of this blog (on Earth 2, it is the name of this blog).

So .... how ironic (choke) that after defeating a being able to destroy entire planets, the JLI is brought down by an earthbound  bomb. Members live, members die, all due to the actions of someone who doesn't want the new team to carry on. Detonated as the JLI were lauded by the UN last issue, the bomb hits heroes and civilians alike, meaning the JLI members able to fight on this month spend their time rescuing victims. The squabbles of previous issues are benched as Leaguers rally to save as many people as possible.

This means that the new villain behind the explosion, Lightweaver, is able to stay off JLI leader Booster Gold's radar until he chooses to make himself known. His sinister solid light creations, on the other hand, attack the heroes throughout the issue.

Also on the attack is UN Security Chief Chairwoman Bao, who steps forward, mid-battle, to tell the JLI - who have just saved the planet from doom - that the UN is withdrawing its backing because they attract trouble. Being adults with bigger things to worry about, like keeping this thoroughly stupid woman alive, they ignore her idiotic demand to cease and desist superheroing, on threat of a lawsuit.

Like they should care when one member is in a hospital bed, two are on operating tables and a third is on a slab. Who's who? I'll let you discover that for yourself.

Well done to writer Dan Jurgens for an issue that's come out of nowhere and slapped me around the chops. A lack of spoilers meant the deaths in this issue - it's not just a JLI member who pays a price for idealism - genuinely surprised and saddened me. And such reactions mean I'll keep following this book rather than its solicitations. Watch and learn,  marketing men.

Jurgens' script is solidly serious without being depressing. Booster narrates and while his personality is intact, there's no flightiness here; a colleague has been lost, and friends hurt, on his watch. He's going to go after the people behind the atrocity, just as soon as he's sure as many innocents as possible have been saved. And it's not just Booster who benefits from Jurgens' deft touch, all the heroes aquit themselves well, and all have their own voice. The only person in the book I don't believe in is Chairwoman Bao - she's too big an idiot even for a comic book politician.
Drawing the script, penciller Aaron Lopresti and inker Matt Ryan provide solid, good-looking superheroics, all coloured with pizzazz by Hi-Fi (click on image to enlarge). I especially like their subtle body language. My only quibble is that while the energy creatures created by Lightweaver are referred to as a threat on the first few pages, they're barely visible. At the very least there should be an establishing shot - if you manage to spot them before page five (and they are there) you win a prize. Probably.

The art team regains a few points for a cracking depiction of a surprise guest on the final page. It'll be interesting to see how this guy fits in.

On the cover, David Finch, Rich Friend and Peter Steigerwald give us their take on a classic comic book scenario. Works for me.

I sort-of said it last time and I'll say it again. This Justice League book is so far ahead of the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee 'flagship' League title in terms of story, plot, script and artwork that it's just silly. DC should be promoting  it a lot more.

10 comments:

  1. Loved this JLI issue and the series in general - think it had a great emotional impact, purely because there was no spoilers (No "This issue, someone dies!"). Will be interesting to see what happens going forward and who, if any of the injury list will come back on the active roster. And with the guest star at the end, and the promise of more in the future solicits, it looks like more will be added to the team. Can't wait!

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    1. I reckon everyone not actually comics-dead will be back soon. Perhaps Ice will make herself an icy splint and become the Human Ice Lolly.

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  2. Dangit, why won't you say this book is bad so I feel good about dropping it!!!!

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  3. Good review Martin.

    I have to say that I'm not quite sure how I feel about this issue. It's nice to have a sudden, unseen event that results in very surprise deaths in a comic, because, well, if comics were "real life" that kind of thing would happen (it's dangerous). On the other hand the deaths seem so "senseless" in the sense that we've barely gotten to know these characters, though for the past five issues we've been invited to start trying. Why introduce characters, start to develop them, and then kill them in the middle?

    I also had an issue with the failure to clearly show the energy beings and the one-dimensional UN chief. And were'nt they up to something with the JLI member who buys it (he just got his mind take over a few issues ago, right?)? I guess that was all for nothing (though Jurgens might work it all out and make me eat crow here).

    But I liked the back and forth between Batman, Booster and Guy, which captured their distinct personalities and reactions to the events in ways that, well, capture their distinct personalities as established through comics for decades. It's still one of the best straight-up comic book superhero stories going.

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    1. You may well be onto something as regards the incicdent a few issues ago. It could be his very own back door to a revival.

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  4. >>>"One of the reasons I like a secret identity is that it allows for more soap opera...I don't want to see Diana constantly fighting to preserve the status quo with little evidence she actually has a status quo worth defending."<<<

    Well, she doesn’t really fight for the status quo, she fights for the goal of a better world away from the status quo!! It is the status quo that is the very problems of this world! As far as living among that which she defends, she already has been living the values she defends. Remember, she is not Superman or Batman, she does not fight for the status quo. She’s here to CHANGE it!!!

    ---BrettJett

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    1. Interesting point, BrettJett! But aren't you on the wrong post?

      I can't recall where this quote comes from, but I think I was talking about her personal situation, rather than the world.

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  5. This issue surprised me as well--it definitely came out of the blue. This was one run that fell short on my radar during the September time frame, but after a handful of issue I am definitely impressed.

    Good catch on the light constructs by the way! I completely missed them. I had to go back and see for myself after reading your review!

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  6. Glad you're enjoying the book. I wonder if DC will make the light thingies more prominent in the collection ...

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