“Justice League International” #4 feels like a comic that was written by editorial guideline. By that I don’t mean that Dan Jurgens isn’t the person writing it, but rather that “Justice League International” is following a very familiar and specific series of steps that you could see being handed out to new writers on the best way to handle a superhero comic.
In “Justice League International” #4, we get the heroes overtaken by the minions of the bad guy. The bad guy, after defeating them all, stops to gloat and tell them his plans to destroy the planet. The good guys find a way to break free from the bad guy’s grips by working together as a team and combining their assets. The bad guy barely pulls out a victory and we head to a cliffhanger before next month’s conclusion.
In other words, it’s every generic superhero team book. And with the exception of the scenes involving Guy Gardner, there’s not much spark to this script, either. Guy livens up his scenes with his snide comments and general disdain and bluster aimed at the villain, Peraxxus. If we had more moments like that I’d have been quite pleased. But overall, there’s nothing too original or noteworthy. We’re also already getting a vibe that there are more members of the cast than Jurgens knows what to do with; Vixen, Fire, Rocket Red, and August General in Iron might have well not even been in this issue, thanks to contributing nothing at all. I don’t expect all eight characters to have huge roles every month, but when half of the cast is sidelined for an entire chapter, it’s a bit of an eyebrow-raising moment.
I still like Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan’s art, though. It’s cute and energetic, and the moment when the team bursts out of their containment cocoons is a fun team portrait. But even Lopresti seems less than enthusiastic on his characters this month. The pages with the team captured feel like they take an eternity as a result, something he’s normally much better with.
“Justice League International” is, right now, easily the weak link of the three “Justice League” titles. I love the idea of the strange mixture of characters that the book promises, and the nod to the earlier, Keith Giffen helmed version of the title with its merging of humor and drama. But right now, “Justice League International” feels like a pale shadow of the original. It’s just not quite there. A little more deviation from the standard playbook can only do some good at this point; more originality, please.