New 52 Review: Justice League International #1

Booster Gold is not the doofus he once was.  Even Batman's got his back now, which means Guy Gardner doesn't.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Justice League International #1

Being a fan of obscure characters and international intrigue, I was hoping Justice League International #1 would be right up my alley.  After all, it's sporting people like August General in Iron of China's superteam the Great Ten, which some of us feared would vanish in the reboot.  It's gotta be pretty cool, right?

The jury's still out, but there's potential here.

One thing that's likely to stick in a lot of people's craws is that this is the origin of the Justice League International.  That means it's possible that the prior iterations folks fondly remember may not have happened, since JLI #1 seems to be set in the modern day, since the main Justice League already established and solid and Jamie Reyes is the current Blue Beetle, who is vetoed for membership.  Guy Gardner says he's worked with Booster Gold "a couple of times."  There's no indication that there's anything going on between Guy and Ice, who were longtime lovers, although they do seem to know each other.  So has the much-beloved Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis Justice League International been erased from continuity?  Was there no 'Booster and Beetle' with Ted Kord?  Was there no 'one punch?'  Have the Super Buddies vanished?  If so, why the hell did Identity Crisis still happen?   Why is Sue Dibny still raped and dead?

Alas, those are surly fanboy questions that will have to be answered sometime.  For now, we'll focus on the JLI #1 as we have it.  Dan Jurgens does give us some fun, with Gardner flipping out at the idea that Booster has been named to lead this new United Nations-sanctioned superteam, making it apparent that Booster still has a history of buffoonery, at least.  He's also developing an amusing rivalry between China's August General and Russia's Rocket Red, and pitching Godiva as someone reluctant to get her hands – or her hair, for that matter – dirty.  Any JLI book is going to have to be built on the strength of fun character interactions, and the stage is certainly set for that, and Aaron Lopresti is handling the art duties well, which will continue to be a challenge with all the characters he's juggling.

There is some frustrating stuff here, though.  For a #1 issue that we're not supposed to have to have read anything before to understand, it feels like we're missing a good chunk of plot.  Sure, maybe it's a mystery that will be revealed later, but the fact that the Hall of Justice is an abandoned public building that, when acquired by the U.N., inspires some ferocious protesting from citizens is something that should really be explained.  Is the Hall of Justice a former Justlce League headquarters, or is it some kind of municipal building?  What the hell is actually going on?  Why are these people this horked off about zoning issues?

It's interesting that the U.N., who has traditionally been depicted as a noble institution, here seems to be The Man, as the angry protestors view anyone working with them to be sell-outs.  Are these people just radical bigot losers, as U.N. Security Chief Andre Briggs dubs them when Booster expresses concerns about them, or are they in the right?  Briggs certainly seems like he's got another agenda, which is why Batman shoves his way onto the team – he's gonna sniff that out, even if he seems to think the JLI concept is a good idea.  Batman also seems to think Booster is up to snuff for this job, which would seem to indicate the recent character development the future hero has gone through in his recent solo series to achieve a level of maturity would still be intact… but how much of that stuff depended on his history with Ted Kord and the previous JLI which seems to NOT exist and… argh!

Yeah, this one's gonna be tough to deal with.  The premise is cool, the art works well, the characters are fun and should bounce well off each other while fighting giant monsters and robots, but for a book this dense, there should've been plenty of room for clarity.

And if the Super Buddies never existed… this book is just going to make fans sad.