Review | Justice League International #1

Does anyone besides me remember the "Planet DC" annuals of a decade or so ago? That's a serious question. I'd pretty much forgotten this series, which introduced a great number of quickly forgotten new "international" heroes to the DC Universe (El Muerto? The Janissary? Argentinean hero team Super Malon? Anybody?), until I read Dan Jurgens's new Justice League International #1.

Planet DC wasn't the first effort of its kind, of course. The D-lister Global Guardians came about in the early 1980s, via the Super Friends cartoon; some of them even found prominent places in the post-Crisis DCU, and the concept was mined again in recent years by continuity-obsessed creators such as Grant Morrison. Alas, Jurgens's new take establishes itself in the first few pages as yet another attempt at a ham-fisted "internationally sanctioned" team book, with clichéd, anonymous members of the United Nations commenting to a generic Max Lord–type on the diplomatic ups and downs of potential member heroes from various countries. Booster Gold is appointed team leader of a lineup that bears some resemblance to the post-Crisis Giffen-DeMatteis relaunch: Fire, Ice, Guy Gardner, Batman (sort of, but more on that in a minute), Vixen, Rocket Red, August General in Iron and Godiva (a member of the Global Guardians who's essentially Marvel's Medusa but blonde and with a British accent).

Aaron Lopresti's art is great in character closeups; he's terrific with facial expressions, which are vital for the soapy aspects of a team book. But Jurgens's writing is just terrible, in both dialogue and plotting. Batman, who's not a U.N.-sanctioned member, tags along on the team's first mission without the U.N.'s knowledge because "a few of us happen to think it's a good idea to have a connection between our teams." Yeah, I've always pictured Batman as the ambassadorial type. The team bickers interminably, with the only distinction among their voices Rocket Red's Russian-inflected broken English. A B-plot involving civilians revolting against the JLI taking over the Hall of Justice (which, speaking of, what is this building's standing significance to the public in this new universe and why the hell is that never addressed in this issue?) constitutes some of the laziest storytelling I may have ever seen in comics. I want to care about the characters I'm invested in here who won't appear elsewhere, like Booster, Fire and Ice. But this first issue gives me nothing to go on.

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