Review – Justice League International, Vol. 1: The Signal Masters

Justice League International, Vol. 1

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.


12 thoughts on “Review – Justice League International, Vol. 1: The Signal Masters

  1. Very fair review, I’ve been buying monthly because while Dan Jurgens rarely stuns with his writing, his books are always solid superheroics and like you, I like the character mix. Also, Godiva is English and I have to monitor these thing, wot? Plus, the art is pretty lush, I especially liked Lopresti’s Not Galactus character.

    • Lopresti’s character work can be gorgeous and expressive, a rare combination in comics art, but creature creation doesn’t seem to be his strong suit. Still, I doubt anyone is reading JLI for the action – they’re reading for Booster, Guy, Fire & Ice, and other rough personalities on the team. Godiva is a bit underserved thus far, but I did like her in the epilogue, hanging out with August General in Iron and kicking around NYC.

      How is the second arc shaping up?

      • Off the top of my head, rather well, Cal. (Checks his reviews of #7 and #8 …) Yup, it’s more intense, great character work, the odd artistic problem but shaping up to make a rather good second/final trade.

        And I apologise for the typos earlier. I’m usually better than this! Well, luckier, anyway.

      • Excellent. I think keeping to DC’s fairly rigorous schedule means artistic issues are almost guaranteed, but if the series keeps shaping up, I could see it becoming something I pick up fairly reliably in trade.

        Turns out I was reading your blog earlier today and I didn’t know it was yours! I enjoy checking in there, even if I (tentatively) disagree with you on Azzarello’s Wonder Woman (which is nowhere near as good as its first issue suggested it would be, but I don’t think is as bad as its detractors paint it to be).

  2. I agree with you: there’s no comparison between this series and the old one by Giffen & De Matteis (simply adorable), but, if you forget that old masterpiece for a while, the new version is a nice read. I do appreciate the fact that you wrote a review about a TP: reviewers tend to focus only on single issues, so your decision of ranting an entire trade paperback is something new and positive. I have 2 questions:
    1) This series is going to end with the 12th issue, despite its relatively positive sales data: what do you think about it?
    2) You wrote you gave up some of the New 52 series you were liking for economic reasons: which ones did you leave? If you tell us the names of the series you stopped to buy, we can tell you back for which ones you made the right choice, and which ones you should restart.

    • Well, I thought a lot about it – in fact, it wrote another post about it! Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

      That said, yeah, I gave up on a number of titles for economic reasons. I wanted to stick out the first arc of Red Lanterns, I can’t give up on Simone enough to completely write off Batgirl or Fury of the Firestorm. Resurrection Man and Suicide Squad, I’ve heard have grown pretty solid. Batwing has an interesting premise. I was enjoying Aquaman, Supergirl and Stormwatch before I gave up. Teen Titans and Superboy had potential. I’m a longtime Birds of Prey fan. That may be all of them.

      • Suicide Squad is overrated, in my opinion. Batwing is more than overrated, it’s a complete waste of money and time. A Batman – like character in a not urban setting is like a fish out of water: I’m surprised that DC management didn’t think the same, before deciding to let this series start. I don’t even consider this character as a part of the Batman family, since I’m sure this series is gonna be blown away in a matter of months. Restart with Teen Titans and Superboy: a Lobdell work will always worth 2,99 $.

  3. Pingback: New 52 News: Justice League International Canceled « read/RANT!

  4. Pingback: Review – Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth « read/RANT!

  5. Pingback: Review – Resurrection Man, Vol. 1: Dead Again « read/RANT!

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