To the surprise of… well, everyone who is paying any attention at all to sales charts, DC has a seventh canceled series of its New 52 relaunch: the mid-selling, semi-popular Justice League International - a particularly baffling decision given that fully half the company’s line is selling less than it.
According to Dan Didio in the DigitalSpy article above, the reasons for the cancellation are: “It was selling okay, but we had greater expectations for that line. There’s a lot of those characters that I feel we’ve told a lot of stories with, so at this particular moment we’ll give the title a rest, and maybe give some of those characters a rest.”
Because I have nothing better to do, let’s talk about what this means a little…
So, first off: those reasons make no sense, and are clearly spin. The first explanation makes little sense given that, again, there are a vast number of books doing worse. They had greater expectations for all their books, and they’re making a lot more money off this one than, say, Savage Hawkman. The second reason is even sillier, given that Batman features in roughly 30% of the company’s output in any given month – this is not a company (or an industry) that gives successful characters a ‘rest’.
To my mind, there ARE a few potential reasons that make sense. The first is closely linked with what Didio said above: Justice League International is not terribly successful, and is somehow hurting the core Justice League franchise. If that’s the case, bid farewell to Justice League Dark as well. The second makes the most sense combined with that one – DC wants to spin a Justice League book out of the massively successful core title, and having a spin-off like this already in print hurts its chances, so they’re clearing the way. Again, this bodes ill for Justice League Dark, though it’s hardly fatal. Perhaps we’ll be getting a Justice League Unlimited title in September?
The last reason is the simplest, but not (I think) the most likely: DC got into a tiff with one or both of the creators, couldn’t find a replacement, and decided to cancel the book.
Now, even though I enjoyed Justice League International: The Signal Masters (and will probably purchase the second trade), I don’t really consider this a bad thing. A curious business decision, perhaps, particularly given the number of titles sliding towards truly abysmal sales, but not necessarily a bad thing. As I mentioned in my review, the core concept of the book was sound, but its indebtedness to Giffen’s iconic run was, in my own opinion, holding the book back from becoming something really worthwhile.
I know comics don’t like getting political, but given the state of the world today, the global economy, the vast political problems plaguing our country and many others like it, a book featuring superhumans working for the United Nations could look at important, real-world problems – a more epic take on the material of Ex Machina, for example. Or, if they wanted to do a comedy, then at least imbue it with both the wit AND the intelligence of Sorkin’s The West Wing. There are a lot of interesting directions to take this material, but Jurgens chose the path of least resistance… and the book suffered for it. Hopefully the title and the characters will come back sometime soon, and with someone willing to take a risk and send the title in a surprising new direction.
Fare thee well, Justice League International. For now.
– Cal C.
*Thanks to wwayne for pointing out the book’s cancellation!