I was worried about this one. It’s the last issue of Justice League International, and the cover hints that Rocket Red isn’t the only one being buried.
Inside, we’re in epilogue territory. The super-powered terrorists the JLI fought over the last few issues are defeated, but some members are injured and one is dead. The able-bodied gather in a Russian cemetery to say a private goodbye to Gavril Ivanovich aka Rocket Red, and are attacked by Malik, brother of fallen villain Lightweaver. Can the downhearted League members rally to defeat this surprise attack?
Of course they can! This is the little team that could – derided by the so-called big guns of the original Justice League, under-promoted by DC Comics, they apply power and compassion to win the day. The other big difference between the JLI and JL is that they actually like one another, meaning the teamwork comes easily. Surely DC aren’t really putting them out to grass so soon?
With UN backing and funds withdrawn, leader Booster Gold doesn’t see how they can continue to function. But while Batwing plans to go back to Africa, and Batman reckons Gotham and the JL is enough for one hero, the latter does have faith, and resources. He’s already having JLI headquarters rebuilt in Washington, and has put ongoing funding in place. OMAC, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, August General in Iron and Godiva want to stay on. Vixen and Ice – in hospital but at the ceremony via GL-vision – are game. And Fire will likely be up for it once the small matter of her being in a coma is overcome.
The League stands. Yay!
They even have an annual coming in a month’s time.
Oh. An annual written by Geoff Johns. Writer of the ‘flagship’ Justice League book. A fan of maiming and death. That doesn’t bode well.
Let’s hope I’m just being a pessimist. I can bear the JLI book being canned, so long as the team is still out there, fighting the good fight. Heck, I could even stand the JLI being broken up, so long as the individual members are OK. Maybe one or two will join the Justice League, which is due a shake-up in its 12th issue.
But the heroes of the JLI certainly deserve more than death or comics limbo. Writer Dan Jurgens, artists Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan, and the other creatives who worked on this run have given us a team worth caring about, one I wish to see grow. Even in this last issue, the creatives refuse to phone it in – the character interaction sparkles, with team bonds only strengthening, and several great lines of dialogue. The artwork is a feast for the eyes, from the splendid opening spread through to the inspirational final panel (if Lopresti isn’t snapped up by a Batman title soon, I’ll be amazed … his Caped Crusader is first rate, whether looming in a tree or leaping across a graveyard). There are excellent colours, too, from Hi-Fi Designs, who manage to light scenes realistically without sacrificing drama. And Travis Lanham’s letters are easy on the eye.
As for that cover by David Finch, Richard Friend and Sonia Oback, it evokes an elegiac mood beautifully.
So it’s goodbye to the JLI monthly, one of the small number of New 52 titles that has kept quality and my interest up. The book deserves tributes rather than gravestones.