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- Brilliant! I’m in a rock. In space. About to attack aliens. Bloody Hell!
Synopsis "The Signal Masters" (20-pages)
Previously: The Justice League International’s first mission has been less than auspicious. The group was formed by the United Nations as a open, transparent, and controllable of version of the Justice League. However, the group was thrown together and launched on their first mission with no training and little knowledge of each other’s abilities. They were sent to investigate the sudden appearance of four giant statues called the Signal Men. They were captured by Peraxxus, the alien miner/pirate controlling the Signal Men, and then thrown aside as he began a count down that will end with the destruction of the Earth.
Columns of energy blast upwards from each of the Signal Men and throw large chunks of the Earth into space. The streams of debris converges upon Peraxxus ship where they are atomised and stored for sale on the interstellar commodities markets. The Justice League (the real one) is missing and all missiles fired at Peraxxus’s ship are vaporised. The JLI, who had been left behind by Peraxxus, survived the Signal Man’s ignition inside Booster Gold’s force field bubble. They reach the surface thanks to propulsion from Guy Gardner and then make contact with Biggs at the UN. He tells them that military strikes on the giants have failed and that the JLI are Earth’s last hope.
The August-General-in-Iron and Batman agree that they must take the fight to Peraxxus, but Godvia begins freaking out — the entire adventure and now space travel is far beyond her usual experience. Guy gives her a hard time, but it does change what they have to do. Rocket Red has an idea on how to get past Peraxxus’s defences. Biggs and Emerson are monitoring the team from the UN and get flack from the Chinese ambassador about their performance. They then watch the JLI’s shuttle (augmented by a Green Lantern engine) briefly fly into space before it is shot down by Peraxxus’s ship. However, unknown to anybody else, the JLI are actually hidden inside a hollow chuck of debris and are hitching a free ride thanks to the Signal Men’s matter stream. At the last moment Fire creates a jet of flame like a rocket motor and the JLI safely dodge the rock crusher near Peraxxus’s ship. With Rocket Red’s help she manoeuvres their rocky capsule into an open shuttle bay.
Once aboard Peraxxus’s ship Booster orders them to split into two teams – Batman, Rocket Red and Ice have to get control of the ship, while the rest of them will keep Peraxxus busy. They quickly find him, but Peraxxus’s axe is able to reflect Booster and Guy Gardner’s attacks back at them. He boasts that they are not the first super-defenders to face him and scatters them – only the terrified Godvia hangs back. She finally makes a move and manages to snatch Peraxxus’s miraculous axe from his hands. Without it he’s weak enough for Guy Gardner to shackle with a ring construct. A warning klaxon sounds and the ship lurches towards the Earth as Rocket Red takes control of the ship’s computers.
The ship is on a nose dive towards the closest of the Signal Men. Peraxxus recognises what’s happening and suddenly breaks free. He grabs his axe back and flees before the ship impacts. Guy manages to control the ship’s descent and the heroes escape before the impact. The destruction of the ship destroys one of the Signal Men and shuts down the rest of them, saving the planet. A messy victory by anybody’s measure, and even Biggs’ is critical, but a victory never the less. As the JLI watch the UN crews crawling over the remains of Peraxxus space ship they themselves are watched from afar by another mastermind who is at that every moment planning their downfall.
The final part of the Signal Masters sees the JLI work together to rout Peraxxus and the save the Earth in a typically messy JLI fashion. They destroy their own shuttle, the villains space craft, a good chuck of the Earth’s surface, barely escape with their lives, and to top it all the villain is forced to retreat rather than be actually defeated. Nevertheless, a victory is a victory and it’s a good end to the JLI’s first arc. It ain’t particularly sophisticated, but it works in its own rough way. I even think it holds up well against the conclusion to the first Justice League arc. They have a clear victory over Darkseid in a muddily told conclusion, while the JLI have a muddy victory over Peraxxus in a well told conclusion.
The entire arc has been big, bright, bold and in heinsight quite good fun. It started off a little shaky as the team was settling down, but these last few issues have really improved. I think this book is best when is rattling along at full steam and with everybody in motion at once. Every character has something to do, even if its just for a moment, and there is a nice trade off between heavy hitters and the weaker team members. What is also impressive is just how much action is crammed into 20-pages. This is probably the least decompressed title that DC’s publishing at the moment — with the possible exception of Young Justice.
That isn’t to say everything is perfect. The villain Peraxxus feels like a strange amalgam of half-a-dozen villains and borders on the Manga Khan/Mister Nebula-ish at times. They could have at least of given him a chatty inner monologue, sidekick, or references to the Manga Khan School of Melodrama. He serves the story, but you feel that a lot more could have been made of the Signal Men’s mysterious origin or of the previous worlds that Peraxxus has destroyed/sold. The other downer is the UN angle. Greg Rucka did that so well with Checkmate that Bao and co. feel shallow by comparison. I’m almost waiting for them to call the UN the World Assembly or something similar.
Surveying the Internets
The finale doesn’t exhibit any grand cleverness that would excuse the waste of trees or reader time. The finale doesn’t really offer any stronger characterization than previously seen. In fact some of the “acting” summarizes what has gone before, only through clumsy dialogue.
In a vacuum, this series â€“ and this issue â€“ is a nice read. It’s wholesome, dimple-cheeked fun of a Captain Planet sort that casual comic book readers of all ages can enjoy. The problem comes in that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the larger context of DC’s relaunch or modern comic book zeitgeist.
A character [Godvia] that acts with bravado, but is actually terrified of getting involved with cosmic level threats is a great hook. But Dan Jurgens is too busy telling his version of the Galactus story.
Is this issue good enough to keep people reading? No â€“ this issue, barely disregarding the last issue, is the weakest so far in the series. But does the rest of the series have the potential to be good? Definitely â€“ Jurgens can clearly create come interesting personalities, and has great character interactions.
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