Each weekday, Tim will take a look at what we know about each of the upcoming 52 new comics from the September DC relaunch, one series at a time. Today: JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL!
The Concept and Characters: The second of the two new Justice League titles from DC in September, this Dan-Jurgens-written and Aaron-Lopresti-drawn superhero team works for the United Nations and features a line-up similar to the JLI comic of the 1980s, but without the trademark “Bwa-Ha-Ha” humor.
Jurgens has positioned this book as an epic Justice League saga, with an international flavor, and promises some moments of humor (mostly involving his Reagan-era creation, Booster Gold), but plenty of drama and moments of tragedy as well.
The team line-up includes Batman, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Vixen, Fire, and Ice — all long-time Justice League members before the relaunch — along with sometime member Rocket Red (from Russia) and new member August General in Iron (from China). Unlike the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee Justice League series, which will tell the revised origin of the team in the fall, this series begins in the present day of the DC Universe and looks to tell stories of worldwide peril and good guys fighting bad guys all over the globe.
There’s really not much to say about the concept for this series — it’s straightforward superheroics with Batman and a group of C-level heroes. I don’t expect that it will take any narrative risks, but it will surely be a completely competent and lightly enjoyable reading experience.
The Creative Team: Dan Jurgens, veteran writer and artist, has worked in the industry for nearly 30 years, almost all of it with DC Comics. Most recently, he’s been writing and drawing the revived version of his Booster Gold character, a hero who began his career in 1985 as a materialistic celebrity superhero from the future, and was reconfigured in the 52 series, and the follow-up solo comic, as a secret protector of the timestream.
Jurgens is also notable for his long run on the Superman titles, where he helped to shepherd the “Death of Superman” storyline that received national headlines at a time when superhero comics were largely ignored by the mainstream media.
He’s a perfectly fine writer, but unless he kills off a major DC icon again, he’s not going to do anything that’s much worth paying close attention to. At best, his writing is the narrative equivalent of comfort food.
Aaron Lopresti isn’t a flashy artist, but he’s a solid storyteller, and his approach will blend seamlessly with Jurgens’s scripts. He’s been working in the industry for over 20 years himself, though he’s honed his style over the past decade to become something more than just workmanlike. If you want clear, classic superheroics, Lopresti and Jurgens are going to give it to you. (They’ll give it to you whether you want it or not, actually, because that’s how they tell stories.)
Recommendation: Skip it. I’m sure Justice League International will be perfectly nice. It will have moments of tension between the characters, Booster Gold will hit on the female members of the team inappropriately, August General in Iron will be quietly dignified and maybe a bit grouchy, Guy Gardner will be boorish. Explosions will occur. Monsters and crazy power-mad villains will appear. And it will be the kind of comics that won’t offend anyone but also won’t make anyone race to the comic shop each week. In a September when you have 51 other new DC comics to choose from, this isn’t one to avoid, but it’s not one worth seeking out, either.
Tim Callahan writes about comics for Tor.com, Comic Book Resources, Back Issue magazine, and his own Geniusboy Firemelon blog.