Written by Dan Jurgens
Artwork by Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan
Justice League International quickly became one of my favorite titles to read back around issue four. The team is solid, their relationship is existent, but not fully-formed, and Jurgens was allowed to keep Batman, if only for the first arc – which ended with an explosion that potentially killed them all. My only reservations about the JLI thus far have been about their status quo amongst the superhero world. Up until this issue, Booster’s rag-tag team has been backed up by the United States government, giving them just a little bit of legitimacy in a world dominated by bureaucratic red tape and by-laws. This issue explores the aftermath of the explosion and how it has affected the team.
The narrative bombs starting falling when Fire and Ice are found, both with critical wounds due to the blast. As soon as they’re taken care of, August General emerges from the flames with the corpse of Gavril Ivanovich, the Red Rocket. Though he was short lived, this iteration of Red Rocket was one of my favorites. Instead of drenching the character in Russian nationalism, Jurgens decided to give him a realistic, modern take on his home country and how it fits into the world. Kicked out of the actual Red Rockets, Ivanovich was as much a Russian as he was a JLI member, and it really was sad to see him go.
Andre Briggs and Emerson Esposito are the next to go. Searching through the wreckage, Booster finds their scorched bodies and weeps for them. In an issue that could have come off as really cheesy and forced after only six months of storytelling, Jurgens finds a groove and doesn’t diverge. The emotion feels real and the subsequent anger and frustration are understandable and relatable. Even Batman’s exit leaves you feeling less comfortable, as the team just keeps getting smaller.
The fight between Booster and Lightweaver was fun, but ultimately just the set up to introduce Batwing into series and onto the team in upcoming issues. It makes perfect sense, now that there’s a Batman in Africa, but it still seems weird. I’m not a fan of Batwing, and I hope Jurgens keeps his panel time to a minimum in the tradition of the real Batman.