STORY: Dan Jurgens
ART: Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan
Dan Jurgens has done an excellent job with Justice League International in the ‘New 52’; it’s one of my favorite titles out right now. Each issue adds more character development that has taken a group of misfits that couldn’t make it in the Justice League proper and turned them into a formidable team that sheds their original United Nations sanction to take care of themselves.
As a whole, Justice League International is a classic ‘rags to riches’ story for each member in their own way. Unlike the major Leaguers – who aren’t depicted as having a need for adoration or praise – the members of the JLI are characters who are much more grounded, and thus more relatable. Booster Gold pretty much a joke in the superhero community, Godiva’s a small-time street hero with no worldly experience, August General in Iron attempts to make a better name for himself and his country, Red Rocket wants to honor the legacy of his title, Batwing works to make himself a better hero for his home and for Batman, and O.M.A.C. just wants to be normal. It’s this sense of making oneself better that makes JLI so enjoyable. Everyone has wanted or needed to prove themselves at some point in their lives, and these characters need to prove themselves to the superhero community and the world at large.
Guy Gardner narrates Justice League International #11 as the team has their final stand against Breakdown and his anti-superhero agenda. The eponymous villain wants to see the end of superheroes because of in the inequality in both physical ability and social hierarchy. With the help of a few small-time villains and growing animosity from a civilian mob, Breakdown manages to put up a good fight against the JLI. It’s not often than writers feel the need to delve into the personal lives of villains – unless that’s the point of the story, in which case most tend to flub it up – Dan Jurgens uses minor criminal Lightweaver as the emotional core of the “Breakdown” arc.
We’ve already seen interactions between Lightweaver and his younger brother debating the nature of good and evil, and this month, Breakdown’s right-hand man is murdered during the final fight, only his younger brother at his side in his final minutes. Obviously, Lightweaver’s brother acted as a physical conscious, encouraging him to end his current life of crime, but Lightweaver consistently ignored these warnings until it was too late. It’s a sub-plot that deals in emotional ramifications, familial issues, and a desire to be something greater.
O.M.A.C. presents a similar situation, as Kevin – the boy stuck in the big, blue body – has to fight himself to take control of the overwhelming power and drive than comes with being a One Man Army Corps. The team must first incite O.M.A.C.’s rage to help free them from Lightweaver’s energy prison, then later calm him down when he loses control and starts rampaging through the city, even though the fight is over. O.M.A.C. is such an interesting character, it’s a shame DC cancelled not only his self-titled series, but has now doomed Justice League International to the chopping block. Here’s hoping Boy Blue can make a third, successul comeback.
Dan Jurgens loves the JLI. He’s nurtured this book since day one, and it’s been a slowly evolving tale that just gets better and more cohesive with each issue. It really is a shame that such an excellent series is ending so soon.