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Synopsis "The Signal Masters Part 1" (20-pages)
Andre Biggs (the Head of United Nations Intelligence) and Emerson Esposito (his assistant) bring a proposal before the Russian, British, and Chinese representatives on the UN’s Global Security Group. Biggs wants to create a new UN controlled super-human group, a Justice League International, as a counterpart to the celebrated, but ultimately independent Justice League. A list of candidates is quickly reviewed with uncooperative elements like the Batman or Green Arrow rejected in favour of more controllable super-humans with known civilian identities. The idea is approved, but Biggs has already contacted the membership candidates and arranged the group’s first meeting.
The UN has requisitioned the Justice League’s disused Hall of Justice much to the anger of a a group of protesters who believe that the Hall belongs to the American people and should not be usurped by a dysfunctional elite who do not properly respect their opinions (I am reading that gag properly aren’t I?). Booster Gold arrives to meet Biggs and is concerned by the potential for negative publicity. However, Booster is swayed when he’s told that he is going to be the leader of the new group. That news doesn’t go down well with Green Lantern Guy Gardner who storms out. He’s met outside by Batman who asks him to stay – he’s suspicious of the UN’s motives – but, Guy refuses.
The new group’s first mission is to investigate the disappearance of the UN Science Research Team in Peru. It’s the fourth team to disappear, so the new JLI board their new Queen Industries supplied jet transport to investigate. It’s clear that the group isn’t yet a team with Rocket Red and the August General bickering and Godvia’s problems with authority. Booster has words with Briggs about the membership, but he just gets told to make it work. The jet leaves before Booster can take his seat and he finds that Batman (contrary to the UN’s wishes) has decided to tag along as their pilot. While they are away two protesters use stolen Blackhawk ammo to burn the Hall and keep it out of UN hands.
The JLI find that the Peru site has been scoured clean of the UN team. They are suddenly attacked by a hoard of animated rock creatures/statues who scuttle away after a quick battle. The victory is short lived as an earthquake signals the arrival of a larger treat. They lift into the air, but are ambushed by a giant android who rips its way out of the ground.
- The UN has “flirted” with the notion of super-human resources before.
The Justice League Europe (a spin-off of the original JLI) means a lot to me as its the franchise that really got me hooked on comic books. It was the first series I followed from issue No. #1 without missing an issue. I’m also British (some people may even call us European) so the JLE was a big deal when I found it on the news-stands. It was well-written with sharp characters and balanced the humour with a richer, darker storyline than the American title was pursuing at the same time. It also only contained a mild level of national stereotyping. Things got a bit odd later on (least we forget the Beefeater and the damn Castle), but it started well. Its the benchmark I still measure JL books again.
So how does this new launch compare: hard to tell yet. It’s not an instant grab them by the throats success, but neither is it in any sense really bad. However, Jeremiah Massengale from Pop Matters calls this issue a “wasted opportunity”. While Kris Vire from Time Out Chicago says that it:
establishes itself in the first few pages as yet another attempt at a ham-fisted “internationally sanctioned” team book, with cliched, anonymous members of the United Nations commenting to a generic Max Lord-type on the diplomatic ups and downs of potential member heroes from various countries
Yet, as a counterpoint, Nick Winstead of Comic Book.com says that:
And for those who dismiss the team as a collection of B-listers with no depth, throw all that out the window. The first issue of the DC relaunch JLI is far and way already intriguing, complex and out of the gate exciting. The timeliness of a team such as this is truly genius, and already in this premiere issue, clashes over leadership, personality flareups occur, and so much more.
So who are we to believe? Well the review scores in the table below don’t give us much more guidance as they are all over the place. The reviewers look really split. I think Andy Hunsaker is right when he says that “this one’s gonna be tough to deal with”.
The oddity of this book is that it isn’t THE Justice League, which is what the original JLI was in its time, instead its a group organised as a counterpart to the real Justice League. That means that the JLI is having to find its position in DC’s post-Flashpoint world. Jesse Schedeen (IGN) calls it a “poor man’s Checkmate” and that it has “no complex political drama”. Why use a “UN Global Security Group” when there is a perfectly good real-world UN Security Council as used in JLI (vol. 1) and Checkmate (vol. 2). It’s 2011 surely we can move past the Super Friends version of international politics? I did like Erik Mona’s quip that Batman should
I think Batman should have to say “Howdy, partner!” every time he speaks, just to remind us that he is American.
The political element and a potential conflict with the real Justice League could drive a cracking title, but there seems little evidence here. There is so much potential here, but nothing really ignites into brilliance. And maybe that’s where the differing opinions converge.
There are so many directions that this book could go in – light-hearted Super Friends romp, densely-plotted political thriller, straight-down the line superheroes, bwah-ha-ha soap opera. So what is it? Global Guardians, Checkmate, Super Friends, Giffen/DeMattheis JLI, or what? I personally wanted it to be a bit more… well… intense. It’s light in terms of tone, but also in terms of grit. Other’s were happier in the direction it took and their reviews reflect how well it matched their best expectations.
I think Hugh Armitage (Digitial Spy) concludes his review best by saying:
If Jurgens can iron out the kinks, this could turn into an entertaining title, or it could go the other way and sink into obscurity. We are intrigued to see which way Justice League International falls.
eview type=”Character Site” site=”Gotham Knights Online” url=”http://www.gothamknightsonline.com/book-review/review-justice-league-international-1/” reviewer=”David” score=”2.5/5″ ]
|Digital Comics||Comixology||441 reviews (12/06/12)||4/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Doug Zawisza||2.5/5|
|Comics Portal||Comic Vine (Staff)||Mat Elfring||3/5|
|Comics Portal||Comics Bulletin||Sunday Slugfest||3/5|
|Comics Portal||IGN||Jesse Schedeen||4/10|
|Magazine||Crave Online||Andy Hunsaker||7/10|
|Magazine||Digital Spy||Hugh Armitage||3/5|
|Magazine||Inside Pulse||Grey Scherl||8/10|
|Magazine||Pop Matters||Jeremiah Massengale||2/10|
|Magazine||Under The Radar||Kyle Lemmon||4/10|
|Magazine||The Out Housers||Brian Burchette||98/100|
|community site||Comic Vine||21 reviews||3.8/5|
|Community Site||iFanboy||868 pulls||3.4/5|
|Reviews Blog||A Comic Book Blog||Wayland||85/100|
|Reviews Blog||Bureau 42||W. Blaine Dowler||35/42|
|Reviews Blog||Comic Book.Com||Nick Winstead||A|
|Blogs||Fandom Post||Chris Kirby||C|
|Reviews Blog||Heretical Jargon||The Heretic||9/10|
|Blogs||Major Spoilers||Matthew Peterson||3.5/5|
|Blogs||Nerdy Nothings||Tom Tomorrow||B-|
|Blogs||Razer Fine Reviews||Alan Rapp||3.0/5|
|Reviews Blog||Weekly Comic Book Review||Minhquan Nguyen||C+|
|Blogs||World of Black Heroes||World of Black Heroes||3.5/5|
|Character Site||Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||3/5|
Cover. The cover for this issue was released with a mysterious black-haired woman in a black costume. She disappeared from a second version of the cover and there was speculation online as to her identity. The character in that position on the final cover is Godvia, an old member of the Superfriends (like Fire and Ice) who was picked up as a member of the Resistance in the Flashpoint timeline.
Page 1. This panorama of characters shows potential members of the JLI, but it also shows the first appearances of characters who do not yet have their own titles in the New 52 line-up. Specifically Plastic Man, Creeper, Metamorpho, Congorilla, and B’wana/Freedom Beast don’t have their own titles. The original B’wana Beast was killed off in Grant Morrison’s 1980s Animal Man title and was succeeded by a character called the Freedom Beast. He in turn was killed off in Justice League: Cry For Justice #1 (September 2009) and in the last issue of the last pre-Flashpoint JLA title (Justice League of America (vol. 2) #60 (Oct 2011) Congorilla said that he was going to find a successor for them. It looks like he has already been successful or that there has been some other quirk of history with the Beasts.
Note Booster Gold Legion Flight ring on his right hand – it’s missing from the cover.
Page 2. The UN Global Security Group is an odd setup as it’s missing members of the traditional UN Security Council – specifically the United States and France. UN Intelligence as in the UN Intelligence Taskforce — does Biggs work for UNIT?
Bao says they have “flirted with this notion” before. In the post-Flashpoint world it appears that the original Giffen/DeMatteis JLI never existed or rather this book is written from that standpoint. Bao’s statement could be a continuity escape hatch or she could be referring to any number of international/UN backed projects including the Global Guardians, Checkmate, or even the UN’s recognition of the Justice League – any and all of which may or may not still be in continuity.
Page 3. Booster Gold last appeared in issue #47 of his own series where he was trying to help Barry Allen correct the Flashpoint. His suit was badly damaged, but he managed to make it back to the Vanishing Point – the base used by his sponsor Rip Hunter. He mentioned needing a new suit. Booster was a member of the Justice League: Generation Lost league wherein he slowly evolved to become the groups leader, hence his position of leader here. Booster’s book was written by Dan Jurgens (his creator) who of course is the writer of this book.
Ice and Fire were also members of the Generation Lost League. Vixen was a member of the Justice League of America and even served as its leader for a time, but she was injured during the Blackest Night event and left to recuperate. Zambesi is her home country. It’s a template for whatever stereotype you want to throw at an impoverished African country. The actual name Zambezi is from the great river, the fourth longest in Africa, that rises in Zambia.
Green Arrow has his own book which is illustrated by Dan Jurgens, but is written by JT Krul. It’s mentioned that he’s a Justice League member. One of the representatives note that he’s “too likely to cross the line” which could be a reference, if it’s still in continuity, of his murder of Prometheus in Justice League: Cry For Justice #7.
Page 4. Gavril Ivanovich was the Rocket Red created for the Generation Lost League. In that series he was a turncoat and outlaw who left the Rocket Red’s to pursue his own brand of vigilante justice which harked back to the old Cold War era. His suit of armour was largely self built and modified. His position here suggests a change of station for him in the post-Flashpoint timeline.
The August General In Iron was created by Grant Morrison to be China’s Captain America. He was Captain Zhifu Fang of an elite unit with the PLA. He was transformed into the August Captain In Iron by a Durlan weapon and the experimental treatments used to save his life. In was promoted to General to mark the launch of the Great Ten – the Chinese government’s team of “super-functionaries” at the Beijing Olympics.
Guy Gardner, along with Fire and Ice, was an original member of the 1980s JLI. In fact he’s the only one other than Batman who was a founding member of that League. He wasn’t part of the Generation Lost as he is now part of the Green Lantern franchise.
Blue Beetle was another of the Generation Lost Leaguers as a replacement for the original Blue Beetle Ted Kord.
Godvia is a character who was, like Ice and Fire, an old member of the Global Guardians – the team of international superheroes gathered from the old Super Friends comic book. She hasn’t appeared much, but did pop up in the Flashpoint timeline as a member of the Resistance.
Page 7. The Hall of Justice was the Justice League’s iconic headquarters from the Super Friends cartoon and was introduced into the DC Universe proper by Brad Meltzer during the first arc of the last Justice League reboot.
Page 8. First panel: there is that pink glowing girl who is showing up in all the New 52 titles as an observer to events.
Middle panel: there is a thin bearded gentleman in the background. Is it my imagination or is that Keith Giffen?
Page 9. Guy Gardner always believes he should be the leader. He was the first to turn up for the original Justice League and brought the team to blows before Batman arrived and told him to sit down.
Page 10-11. Like anybody can keep the Batman away form a Party he wants to attend. Batman saw a different side of Booster Gold in his own title. Booster’s secret job was as defender of the timeline, but to do that he needed plausible deniability so that time travelling opponents didn’t suspect it was him stopping their plans and hunt him down when he was a younger man. Batman may not have known the full details, but he suspected something was up. Batman also worked with Booster during the Generation Lost series and implicitly believed their story about Maxwell Lord.
Page 12. Rocket Red arguing with the August General. You’d have thought that two Communist countries would be best of friends, and indeed Mao’s China and Starlin’s USSR did have good relations to start with. However, Mao fell out with Nikita Khrushchev and the two countries became bitter rivals until they both began to modernise. Gavril is something of a throwback in terms of his sensibilities – in Generation Lost he’s shown wishing for a return of Russia’s Community heyday – so his nationalist antognism towards the August General has a certain level of foundation.
Page 15. “Black Hawks depo.” In the New DC Universe the Blackhawks are an elite anti-terrorist team. The solicitation of their first issue reads:
Welcome to a world waging a new kind of war that’s faster and more brutal than ever before. It’s fought by those who would make the innocent their targets, using computers, smart weapons and laser-guided missiles. The new enemy hard to find and closer to home than we think.
Between us and them stand the Blackhawks, an elite force of military specialists equipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us.