Justice League International #2
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan, and Hi-Fi
Last month our team was hastily assembled and rushed off to a conflict pretty much off the bat, and this month they pay for it. That’s right, to anyone who questioned how effective a team assembled as quickly as the JLI was would be is going to get some payoff this issue. It’s the team versus a five hundred foot tall robot, but really, the issue is another display of this hastily put together team at work. There’s some characterization, and displays of what some members are capable of, but it never stops feeling like a chapter in a longer volume. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it will leave those who came in expecting this issue to fully define every character wanting more.
The premise of the issue is that the JLI is recovering from the last issue and dealing this massive robot. They have to regroup, work together, and figure out what is going on exactly, and this is hardly the unit to do so fluidly. You have members who don’t get along, others who aren’t confident in their own abilities, and one who can’t their mind off of sex. It creates an interesting dynamic to carry the book from start to finish, especially when you see the team getting taken apart by an enemy that never actually attacks them. Booster winds up making the kind of decision that a leader sometimes has to make, and while it doesn’t serve to make many people happy, it’s the right call. It creates friction, people questioning his leadership, but you never lose sight of this being Booster’s team. Even if part of why is how they behave as a group…as a group of individual personalities that have yet to forge a team dynamic.
The characterization is pretty straight forward with each character, though only a few are given multiple layers to their personality in this issue. Booster and Batman are far and away the most defined members of the roster, and the focus each receives is pretty much why that happens. Dan Jurgens spends a lot of time using their personalities to move the story along; with Booster both leading and attempting to lead, bringing forth the familiar character that he’s been writing for years, and with Batman being…Batman. Rocket Red and August General In Iron seem to exist for most of the issue solely to play on the fact that Russians and Chinese don’t get along, but then when one becomes critical of Booster’s decisions, the other understands that a leader has to make tough decisions for the good of their team. Fire and Ice are bit players who have yet to come into their own in this title, though I hardly see them as background fodder as I highly doubt that either character is going to be leaps and bounds different than the ones who were scarcely used for years prior to Generation Lost. Godiva’s mind is single tracked, and that track is her wanting to get Booster into bed. Now, I’m all for the Booster-Man getting a little action, but the constant flirting gets a little uncomfortable at times, though I expect this to either pay off in them hooking up, or she winds up being a traitor. It’s going to be one of the two.
Vixen is a complete and utter waste of a character who is here, quite literally, so she can point at a screen and describe it as her “Native Africa”. Yeah. Vixen made the team because she’s African, and that’s her characterization. I’d probably be offended if I cared at all about the character, but I don’t, so I’m not. But hey, Guy Gardner finds his reason for returning to the team in this issue, and Jurgens creates a few interesting directions for the character to go in. The hot head who feels like he should be in charge, as opposed to the perceived corporate shill that is Booster. Not to mention that the way the Guy/Tora relationship is introduced to the reader leaves nothing but room for growth.
Aaron Lopresti does a fine job and channels the right energy from his run on Generation Lost. He does a great job managing the larger cast and keeping every character looking more defined than, in some cases, they’re handled by the writing. The Signalmen look more intimidating than they act, which is nice because they really don’t do a lot but still look badass. Booster’s new costume is still growing on me, and Godiva’s costume is horribly plain, but other than that I can’t complain at all about the looks of the characters. Some standouts to me include Godiva’s hair powers, believe it or not, where he really does get across that her hair should seem alive; and then there’s the character work on August General In Iron, whose look I love and really enjoy here. The action looks great, for what there is of it. Lopresti handles everything going on with ease and does a great job telling this story visually.
So what happens in the second issue? Our giant robot bad guy is one of five that are standing there sending signals into space. Literally, Signalmen. They send a signal to some bad guy who appears on the last page. The team itself comes together as Booster’s leadership ability is tested, questioned, and supported by some of the better personalities in the group. The Hall of Justice plot from last issue is relegated to a single page here, while the UN’s not knowing about Batman’s presence is already a thing of the past. A standout scene from the book that actually really sets the tone for the dynamic is Booster trying to compare his teams perceived failure to Batman and the Justice League, but Batman just pointing out that the JLI was gathered by a third party and hastily sent out on a mission they were unprepared for. And to be fair, that’s a pretty interesting hook on its own. Booster is leading a band of PR chosen super heroes from various countries of origin because the UN wanted their own super team.
Now it becomes a matter of whether or not he can pull this group together and make them as important as the Justice League, and not just a gathering of B and C listers trying to stake a claim to the name. Well, that, and if they can stop this new mystery bad guy!
Tags: Aaron Lopresti, Batman, Booster Gold, Dan Jurgens, DC Comics Relaunch, Justice League International, Reviews