Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Justice League International #12 review

I was worried about this one. It's the last issue of Justice League International, and the cover hints that Rocket Red isn't the only one being buried.

Inside, we're in epilogue territory. The super-powered terrorists the JLI fought over the last few issues are defeated, but some members are injured and one is dead. The able-bodied gather in a Russian cemetery to say a private goodbye to Gavril Ivanovich aka Rocket Red, and are attacked by Malik, brother of fallen villain Lightweaver. Can the downhearted League members rally to defeat this surprise attack?

Of course they can! This is the little team that could - derided by the so-called big guns of the original Justice League, under-promoted by DC Comics, they apply power and compassion to win the day. The other big difference between the JLI and JL is that they actually like one another, meaning the teamwork comes easily. Surely DC aren't really putting them out to grass so soon?

With UN backing and funds withdrawn, leader Booster Gold doesn't see how they can continue to function. But while Batwing plans to go back to Africa, and Batman reckons Gotham and the JL is enough for one hero, the latter does have faith, and resources. He's already having JLI headquarters rebuilt in Washington, and has put ongoing funding in place. OMAC, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, August General in Iron and Godiva want to stay on. Vixen and Ice - in hospital but at the ceremony via GL-vision - are game. And Fire will likely be up for it once the small matter of her being in a coma is overcome.

The League stands. Yay!

They even have an annual coming in a month's time.

Oh. An annual written by Geoff Johns. Writer of the 'flagship' Justice League book. A fan of maiming and death. That doesn't bode well.

Let's hope I'm just being a pessimist. I can bear the JLI book being canned, so long as the team is still out there, fighting the good fight. Heck, I could even stand the JLI being broken up, so long as the individual members are OK. Maybe one or two will join the Justice League, which is due a shake-up in its 12th issue. 

But the heroes of the JLI certainly deserve more than death or comics limbo. Writer Dan Jurgens, artists Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan, and the other creatives who worked on this run have given us a team worth caring about, one I wish to see grow. Even in this last issue, the creatives refuse to phone it in - the character interaction sparkles, with team bonds only strengthening, and several great lines of dialogue. The artwork is a feast for the eyes, from the splendid opening spread through to the inspirational final panel (if Lopresti isn't snapped up by a Batman title soon, I'll be amazed ... his Caped Crusader is first rate, whether looming in a tree or leaping across a graveyard). There are excellent colours, too, from Hi-Fi Designs, who manage to light scenes realistically without sacrificing drama. And Travis Lanham's letters are easy on the eye.
As for that cover by David Finch, Richard Friend and Sonia Oback, it evokes an elegiac mood beautifully.

So it's goodbye to the JLI monthly, one of the small number of New 52 titles that has kept quality and my interest up. The book deserves tributes rather than gravestones.

12 comments:

  1. I haven't been following this series (due entirely to budgetary reasons), but I am a huge fan of the Batwing monthly series. Is there any indication here that Batwing will play a prominent role in the JLI annual, and if so do you think it will be worth picking it up as a fan of David?

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    1. Given that he quits here' I reckon you can skip it. Glad you're enjoying Batwing, the gore put me off.

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  2. I don't know about anyone else, but I would love for DC to take this opportunity to flesh out Booster Gold a little more in the New 52. Having been stripped of his time cop status, the dramatic element of losing his best friend, and, seemingly, his history of showboating and selling out, even with Dan Jurgens writing, I haven't seen a whole lot in the new Booster to make up for those losses.

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  3. I'd be surprised if DC didn't have immediate plans for Booster, he seems popular with the chiefs. And heck, we've not seen Skeets yet.

    And what happened to the idea that he's now Canadian? Was that just a gag to make him seem a more obvious fit for a JLI team?

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  4. I'm sad to see it go, my pull list continues to dwindle! Based largely on your reviews I'm thinking of replacing it with either Earth 2 or the Powergirl/Huntress.

    Does this leave Jurgens writing anything for DC?

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    1. I'm delighted to say he's taking over Firestorm!

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  5. Whole heartedly agree, Martin - really enjoyed the series' run but am a little concerned that DC are going to gut the team (possible literally) with the annual by Johns.

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    1. Fingers crossed DC is toying with us, Gary!

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  6. Canceling JLI is just another mistake under DC's belt. It was by far one of the better serials to come out of DC's new 52, yet it doomed from the get go. I am still baffled as to the reasons for its cancelation; there are several books, which sell far less than JLI. Liefeld would know about that...

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    1. And now we know what's replacing JLI, Anthony - a new Justice League of America book by Johns and David Finch. If the JLI gets shafted, I'll be ill-disposed towards it.

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  7. Reading this issue felt like saying goodbye. JLI stood out amongst the new 52, because it was actually written as a series for new readers, with new characters. It introduced us to them as new heroes and we got a chance to learn about them from the bottom up, and that is what worked about it.
    Yes, they had appeared before, but not like batman or any of the other better-known characters where it got in the way. And I really liked this team, it was one of the few books that got me rooting for the heroes and wanting to see them grow and bond to become something great.
    Yes it was slightly silly, but you know what? I don't mind silly, it was a call back to when comic books could be fun, while not becoming childish or immature, and still gut you when someone got hurt or died. The romance felt forced, but the friendships didnt and I admit the moment where the decided to keep on going was one of the more heartwarming moments and they managed to have it feel honest rather than forced. Also, I was afraid that the "final fight" would just turn it into an action issue, but that was also handled very well.

    If this was to be the end, it would have been a good end, in spite the flaws it had, and I hope we get them back more than once a year, and with a better writer than geoff johns who cant even write established characters very well. Batman flames the JLI in his JLA run, which just had me pissed, clearly he has no clue how some of his characters work! Wonder woman and Aquaman are also totally out of synch with their own series!

    I am worried, but I guess I will just have to hope, and if nothing else, be happy for the 12 issues we got.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Thuran. I'd be amazed if in a few years' time we don't see a full JLI reunion, it's the way of things, isn't it? I just wish, like you, that this team didn't get a long run - sales seem to have been OK, so it's likely a case of them being bumped for the new JLA book. Again though, I take heart from the fact that the team members are mostly going on to other things, and a couple of them have imminent storylines (did you read the JLI Annual?).

    (Oops, my second sentence is mangled - I think you get what I mean!)

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