I came real close to checking out of this issue with the first page. A mysterious figure who identifies himself as Andre Briggs, head of United Nations intelligence stands before a collage of characters. The images behind him are projections of potential candidates for the proposed “Justice League International” team, but in print it simply looks like someone had a whole lot more caffeine than any human being should have and was then assigned the task of hanging dozens of superhero Fatheads on the last empty wall of someone’s office.
Lopresti’s style is clean and crisp, his figures are heroic, but this mishmash is far from his greatest stuff. As a matter of fact, it reduces some potentially great art to hover somewhere only slightly above mediocrity. Which is about where the remainder of the issue resides.
Dan Jurgens is tasked with producing a Justice League title, but isn’t allowed to bring in Justice League level characters. The team in this book – led by Booster Gold with Vixen, Rocket Red, Godiva, Fire, Ice, and August General in Iron – doesn’t inspire greatness. Sure, there are some fun characters here and the potential for character interaction is primed, but the execution of those interactions reverts to cliched arrangements: “Russians and Chinese can’t get along,” or “Why does he get to lead and I don’t? I’m going to leave.”
These characters are all introduced and the interpersonal relationships are rushed into, but the end result is that, as Booster Gold himself whines about in this issue, we don’t know anything about any of these characters. There’s very little here to hook a reader, unless you happen to be a fan of previous incarnations of the Justice League where some of these characters may have appeared, or just happen to be a fan of any one of these characters. Otherwise, there just isn’t much of a hook for readers to grab.
Readers who have been around a while will find that this initial issue – from the proposed roster to the pre-approval to U.N. sanctions – to be a little familiar. They may have read something very similar before in a title that eventually became “Justice League International” 25 years ago. Newer readers might find these story points to be intriguing, but not very compelling.
Jurgens recognizes this and tries to steer away from sleepwalking through comic history by inserting a major threat. The problem is, Jurgens and Lopresti are tasked with establishing the premise and promise of this new team through so much of the issue that the threat introduced at the back of the book just doesn’t seem so threatening.
Aaron Lopresti does a great job of drawing up a magnificent collection of spandex-clad heroes and heroines and even drops in some dynamic poses and wonderful expressions. I like what Lopresti does with the characters and the storytelling (although I’m not sure how a stone building can catch fire so completely) even if I’m not a fan of a large number of the costume changes. Booster Gold’s costume is much more an investigation into what costumes for DC characters would have looked like had those same characters been included in the 1990s Image Comics launch. There’s unnecessary detail and design work where his most recent outfit is so much cleaner.
There’s not a lot to rave about in this first issue, but that doesn’t stop Jurgens from delivering an all ages read that you can comfortably flip over to a younger reader. After all, isn’t recruiting a new band of comic book reader one of the objectives of this relaunch?
The first issue introduces a handful of characters, serves up a heaping helping of unanswered (and largely unasked) questions and then stops. I’m hoping the second installment offers just a little more for me to latch onto.