There has long been a conspiracy theory that Dan DiDio and the powers that be at DC Comics have been trying to utterly destroy the classic Giffen/DeMatteis run of Justice League International. That late 80s run replaced standard superheroics with great characters and lots and lots of comedy. The last few years of DC Comics crossovers have seen the systematic dismantling and killing of those characters, essentially pissing on one of the most unique and fun runs of a comic book ever.
That conspiracy theory should no longer be considered just a theory. The new Justice League International that comes out of the New 52 reboot immediately establishes something: none of those original Justice League International stories happened. None at all. Booster Gold has never been involved with the Justice League, there never was a JLI before the beginning of this issue, and there isn’t even a Max Lord in sight (Lord was the mysterious Svengali who pulled the strings on the original JLI).
Setting that annoyance aside, how is Justice League International #1? It sucks. It is, frankly, a completely shitty comic that hovers right on the edge of unreadable. Dan Jurgens, the writer who killed Superman, has no way with dialogue. While the Giffen DeMatteis run was filled with snappy banter and great jokes, the new team limply drop tired one liners at each other. Especially grating is the ‘comedic’ nationalist rivalry between the Soviet Red Rocket and the Chinese August General of Iron (a Grant Morrison character who survived through the reboot. He looks like a big crab or something), and the way that British superheroine Godiva says such highly British things as ‘Sod off.’
The book is written like an illustrated outline; there’s no drama on the page. Characters stand around and say things at each other, and then monsters come out of the ground at the end. There’s a sense that Dan Jurgens lives in some kind of isolation chamber, because his vision of the UN is baffling. More baffling is his version of storytelling, which is stilted and dull.
Justice League International #1 raises some really important questions about this whole reboot, especially the question of ‘How much of a reboot IS this?’ The new JLI makes their headquarters in the old Hall of Justice - yes, from the Superfriends cartoon - but people are protesting. Why? I don’t really know. Characters stroll onto the page with no explanation of who they are or what they do - I have simply no clue what’s up with the aforementioned Godiva - but with plenty of intimated backstory. This reads like a comic book that is the end result of a decade’s worth of shitty continuity, not a brand new jumping on point.
It’s also at least the fourth book this week to feature Batman (weirdly enough Batgirl isn’t one of them). A rebooted universe and it’s already, in week one, suffering from Batman fatigue.
I’ll be picking up the second issues of some of the New 52, just to see where the titles go. I will not be doing that with Justice League International. It’s a piece of shit.