There are a few books I gave up on within an issue or two of their launch, not because they were bad books, but because there was an overabundance of books I was more interested in, and I just don’t have the money to support every single title I see. Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti’s Justice League International was one of those books, and with my nostalgia factor never higher (thanks, classic JLI hardcovers!), I thought I’d give their first trade, “The Signal Masters”, the shot I denied the title in single issues.
The idea behind the book is simple: with the Justice League as uncontrolled but still largely popular heroes living in the skies, the U.N. finally agrees to fund a team of its own, with heroes drawn from member nations to represent some of the best and the brightest of the world. Let by Booster Gold, the Justice League International will be a peacekeeping force and public relations bonanza, but the team’s larger-than-life personalities and B-list status often make just as much trouble as the book’s bad guys.
Lopresti’s art is a fantastic fit for the book, crisp, cartoonish and lively, though his action sequences have very little flow or sense of space, which makes parts of the middle of the book something of a slog. Similarly, his creature design is uninspired – except for the simple, largely immobile giants, who have a legitimately unearthly sense about them – which was a problem I noted with his art back on Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman. Lopresti would be fantastic in a dramatic or comedic take on this material, and he handles both sides of the book wonderfully, but I feel like the more action-oriented aspects of the title are a bit of a weak point for him – and for the book in general.
I think there’s an interesting direction to take this concept, albeit one that is necessarily divorced from Giffen’s iconic run. But this is not a daring book. It’s not a book that wants to take chances. Despite that, however, it is a fun one – not as much as, again, the old JLI, but it tries to recapture that spirit and does a fairly admirable job. I wasn’t in love with the book, but I wouldn’t be shocked if I ended up buying the second trade, and there’s a very simple reason for that: the characters. Jurgens and Lopresti do a great job nailing down most of t he characters (only Rocket Red remains slightly problematic), and the team has an undeniable alchemy on the page that gives even relatively stunted banter a solid rhythm. Think of it as a continuation of the solid Justice League: Generations Lost – an enjoyably lightweight take on a classic team.
– Cal C.