Sunday, 8 April 2012

Justice League International #8 review

With several JLI members out of action after a bomb attack on the UN, Batman calls in help - Batwing, Batman Inc's good man in Africa. After visiting his old friend Vixen in hospital he helps Booster Gold take on Lightweaver, one of the villains behind the atrocity, as he attacks the unit. Blows and blasts are exchanged but Lightweaver escapes, as Booster saves Batwing rather than take off in pursuit.

Elsewhere in New York, the man who planted the bomb, Roland Norcutt, murders the policemen taking him away - it turns out he's a metahuman, Breakdown, with the power to take things to pieces and reassemble them. There's no reassembling here, mind, with the hapless guards left in a distinctly skeletal state. Free and unchallenged, he's soon joined by Lightweaver, and another bad guy - or rather, girl - Intersek, a downmarket version of Stormwatch's Projectionist.

Back with Booster and Batwing, Batman shows up, information is swapped and Booster resolves to find the escaped Norcutt. Batwing's thoughts tell us he finds Booster 'brash, assertive. The kind of man I tend not to like.'  The newcomer asks Batman: 'Is he always like this?', which is needlessly snitty - Booster here is nowhere near full-on, he's acting like the leader he's become since the team was formed. It's also terribly ungrateful, given Booster's just saved his arse.

Over at Eastside Hospital, Green Lantern Guy Gardner is visiting the injured Ice, while Godiva and August General in Iron hang around in a corridor. A hospital administrator asks them to leave for fear they attract another attack on the facility, which is fair enough, but he's an ass about it. And the UN's Chairperson Bao is her usual pain in the neck. Still, the JLI members realise that Ice, Vixen and Fire do have a better chance of recovery if they're not there.

But their leave-taking comes too late, as a new threat arrives ... the creature called OMAC.

I'd say it's all kicking off, but really, 'it' never stops in this comic - the team has barely had a chance to breathe since forming in JLI #1, and by this point some members are breathing only with assistance. I've no idea whether OMAC is being lined up for membership now his comic's been cancelled (he's not exactly a team player), but Batwing is definitely joining. On the evidence of this issue, I'd rather he didn't. The way he judges Booster and finds him lacking, two minutes after arriving in New York, makes him seem the arrogant one - the JLI's leader isn't grandstanding, he's not acting up, he's simply trying to hold things together. I realise Batwing's likely in the book for two reasons: filling in for a too-busy Batman, and giving his own series a boost. And he's an 'international' character. But the attitude has to go. Hopefully Batwing will soon realise that Booster deserves respect.

The other aspect of writer Dan Jurgens' script I wasn't keen on is minor, but it raised an eyebrow - the fact Batwing knows Vixen, having met her while she was nursing patients and he was 'volunteering in that Tanashan Aids clinic'. Africa is a massive continent, and yet these two heroes happened to meet as civilians? It's a quick way of ensuring Batwing has an immediate friend in the JLI, but a massive stretch. And unnecessary - they could have just met during some superhero adventure.

Minor, as I say. Overall, this is another first-class script from Jurgens. The brief scene with Guy and Ice is lovely, Norcutt's political speech to his guards elevates him beyond filler villain and the scene with Bao is very effective. August General and Godiva have charisma, the actual team-up between Batwing and Booster provides thrills and OMAC's arrival fair pops.

And it all looks superb courtesy of penciller Aaron Lopresti and inker Matt Ryan. Lopresti really knows how to pace a page, and his heroes and villains look like legends - new baddie Breakdown has real presence, with a tremendously creepy visual. Their OMAC shows it's not just Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish who can make Brother Eye's monstrous lackey imposing. And Booster's debrief with Bats Man and Wing is quietly dramatic.
This panel intrigued me - is the admin chap a secret Super? Is it possible to walk without having one foot on the ground? Or are we simply looking at an artistic blip?

The cover's a keeper too, thanks to penciller David Finch, inker Richard Friend and colourist Jeromy Cox (whom I'd assumed to be Marvel exclusive). The interior colouring is by Hi-Fi and is just edible, while Travis Lanham's lettering is good looking, but there's a spelling error - just the one so far as I can see, but I'm mentioning it because we're seeing more and more typos in DC comics of late and editors - in this case, Darren Shan, Brian Smith and Mike Marts - should be catching 'em. Fix it for the trade, lads - if you can find it!

6 comments:

  1. I'm not crazy about the everybody-in-Africa-knows-each-other implications -- even though do-gooders could very well run in the same circles, and wind up visiting the same crisis zones. It bugs me, but I'd give it a pass. Comic storytelling can be all about shorthand, sometimes... and I'd balk a little more at the idea that David's Batwing career has been long enough to have met Vixen. He's still pretty new at this, right?

    Sooner or later, I think I'll buy this series and enjoy it for the serial entertainment it is -- just basic comics fun. But that'll likely be from back issue bins -- there's so much other stuff demanding my attention at the moment. But I like reading your reviews to keep up with it!

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    1. I wish we had back issue bins in the UK, Rob!

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    2. They're getting fewer and farther between here, too... but I can usually count on finding a dealer that's pretty well stocked with recent books for $1 at a convention. The question is: Come October's NYCC, will I remember what I was looking for?

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  2. Great review Martin.

    I think Batwing is a good fit, but I also thought it was strange to have him come off as not liking Booster. Guy already had that covered in my opinion. It will be strange to have Batman and Batwing on the team, and also sad if the former is leaving to be replaced by the latter.

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  3. I think the guy with two feet in the air is just in a hurry running a little bit.

    I didn't thought for a moment that it was another thing. It speaks quite a bit on how different people won't always read the same image the same way... I'm a bit worried as an aspiring artist...

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    1. I fear my running technique is basic.

      Good luck with the art, don't worry, someone's always going to 'misread'.

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