I live in the mountains of Virginia. If you sit really still for just a few minutes you can hear the sound of a banjo playing. So I don’t need to say that I wasn’t surprised to see a less than stellar comic book collection at the three libraries within driving range. One particular library is so small that it is literally the size of a typical living room.
Needless to say I took a peek in it one day and very quickly scanned the sad book collection before quickly exiting thinking it a waste of time. Now you think you know where I’m going with this, but you don’t. You’re expecting me to say, “boy was I wrong!” Well sadly you are mistaken because upon further investigation this library had basically one graphic novel. It was, however, one I haven’t read before and one I dare say I have always wanted to read. A hard cover trade for Justice League International Volume 1.
Now this collects the first six issues from the relaunched Justice League series leading to the “Justice League International” moniker by issue #7 in the year 1987. Keith Giffen does the plot with J.M. DeMatteis doing the script. Pencils are handled by Kevin Maguire with Al Gordon (#2-7) and Terry Austin (#1) doing the inking. Lastly colors are done by Gene D’Angelo and Daniel Vozzo with Bob Lappan doing the letters. Some of these names I’m familiar with, but none so much that I would go out of my way to read this because “so and so” wrote or drew this book. The draw for me reading Justice League International stems from my affection for the Brightest Day series Justice League Generation Lost written by Judd Winick in 2010. Needless to say after enjoying that run so much I was curious to dive into the history of the Justice League International.
So as the story begins we get the sense that the Justice League is in turmoil somewhat and looking to rebound. We have Martian Manhunter, Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Mister Miracle, Black Canary, Batman, Captain Marvel/Shazam, Dr. Fate, and Green Lantern Guy Gardner making up the team in the beginning. Throughout these seven issues we get a rather interesting character study on the whole group and find that they all have some pretty glaring flaws. I think sort of the over the top interaction between the group ultimately serves to be the charm of this book. You will not find stuff like this written today and in the next paragraph you’ll find out why!
The first point made in this series, and a recurring theme throughout, is that Green Lantern Guy Gardner is a royal douche. He is whiny, self serving, chauvinistic, cocky, and completely idiotic. To the point where you constantly wonder how this guy ever became a Green Lantern at all, let alone a member of the Justice League. The whole group hates him and none of them hide their dislike for Guy and the feeling is mutual. Gardner seems to think he should lead the group and continues to act like a little 2 year old right up to the infamous scene where Batman has had enough and punches him in the face. Aside from the Guy Gardner domination we do get some cool villains including the Royal Flush Gang and Maxwell Lord who winds up playing a big role with the group. We also get to see Booster Gold join the Justice League and there’s a nice little ongoing tale involving Dr. Fate.
The art is what you would expect from the late 80’s with limited color options. However, it is very well penciled and inked. Proportions are never odd looking and facial expressions are a particular strong point. The art throughout is consistently tight and focused opting for rectangular panels throughout with very few splash pages. The colors as expected are minimal, but bright which was a staple of the time for these types of superhero books.
Overall, this makes for a fun read despite the constant fighting and complaining within the group. It is so different from something you would read today. I highly recommend it just for the entertainment value. The only really bad thing in this is Black Canary’s terrible outfit. Not only is she wearing a headband, but an ugly baggy blue suit with a ridiculous bird looking chest plate that has wings coming off of her shoulders. Tie that off with a white belt and white boots and you have one of the worst female costumes in super hero history. Did I mention Batman punches Guy Gardner in the face?
Parental concern: None