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After a solid, if not immensely entertaining first issue, the second issue of Justice League International is where the real action starts and the characters have to work together. Almost all the characters are memorable, mostly in positive ways but there are some issues. The artwork is great and the story has good pacing. The series is no where near the best issue of the New 52 but is definitely in the running for one of the most promising new series thanks to this issue.
The JLI are taking on their first mission against a giant Signalman and it does not go well. Booster’s leadership is brought into question and a team member is hurt. Afterwards, the team discovers their base has been destroyed, and then they discover there are more deadly Signalmen causing mayhem and havoc across the globe.
The key to enjoying a team in comics is to have characters you remember, care about and who interact well with each other, and writer Dan Jurgens does a great job accomplishing all those daunting tasks. This is where Justice League International shines and the reason it has so much promise – almost every character is enjoyable and all show the promise of developing well in the future. This issue also quickly re-introduces the characters, a helpful tidbit to anyone who missed the first issue. It does not do much to inform readers of the previous events though, so it is best to start from Justice League International #1 in order to understand this issue fully, but you can still enjoy the second issue without having read the first.
Booster Gold is the leader of the JLI because the higher ups think he can easily be controlled. Longtime fans of Booster will enjoy him here since he has developed a lot from his previous egotistical self. He is not a great leader because of his lack of experience, but his decision in this issue, while controversial among his teammates, shows the potential he has to become a great leader. He is a great character, but he’s not his usual humorous self. He’s grown up well, but I do miss his humor which will hopefully be restored without turning him into a joke. His “nemesis” Guy Gardner is not in the issue too much, but the excuse he has for coming back to the team fits into the plot flawlessly.
Booster’s negative relationship with Guy in this issue is definitely interesting and provides great tension between the team, but another conflict between the team has potential: Fang Zhifu, aka August General in Iron (aka we ran out of good names), and Gavril Ivanovich, aka Red Rocket.
The running conflict between the two is the nations they represent: Russia and China. At times this conflict feels forced and only there to add drama, but it is pretty entertaining to see. There are plenty of other aspects in Justice League International #2 that feel this way. Batman plays a pivotal role in helping boost Gold’s confidence as a leader, but he could easily be replaced with another member of the Justice League spouting the same lines. It’s nice to see him, but since he’s dominating the new 52 in more than ten books he really is not needed here. Sorry, Brucey, but your starting to hog all the books.
The only negatives in the characters are various problems with all the female members of the group. Fire is given few lines and is only enjoyable to people who know her already, who are only saying “Look! She’s on the page! She’s not doing anything but she’s there!” Ice also comes off rather cold. If you have not read previous issues her relationship with Guy will be lost on you and her brush off of him makes her seem like a harsh person. She comes off very rude and weak in this issue, and it is not a great introduction to a genuinely nice character for new readers. Godiva is some British bit- chick, who’s only power seems to be her flowing hair. She has the hots for Booster and is a complainer. She may irritate me, but she definitely makes an impression on the reader and makes the team more well-rounded. The last women, and tied with fire for weakest link of the team, is Vixen. She has the same problems as Fire – only seen and barely heard with nothing she says being important or interesting.
The story takes it’s time and is paced well. The team’s first time working together is, as expected, shaky, and many entertaining and interesting conflicts arise. But the best scene is when Booster is thinking about leaving the team and it is seen just how dedicated his team is to having him as their leader. This is a touching scene, but does feel slightly misplaced since some of the characters do not know Booster very well. Their bonding has definitely occurred quickly, but as long as it keeps developing there are no real complaints yet – it is something Jurgens has to watch out for though. The other major complaint with the story is the ending. It introduces a character I did not know so it had no impact on me and did not psych me up for the next issue. The action scenes are also not overwhelmingly spectacular. The story is given a lot of attention, but having more stunning action scenes would be nice.
The artwork is also great, but like the story, also flaws. Artist Aaron Lopresti has a great two page spread on the second page that quickly introduces us to the characters who each have unique designs. The backgrounds are usually not given much thought, but the characters are always detailed and the vibrant colors add the perfect tone to the comic.
Justice League International #2 may not be the greatest issue of the New 52 but it is unique and manages to do many things better than your average 52 series. It is a good start for new readers; it’s not dark but has some great dramatic moments that keep it from being boring. Longtime readers may not get as much enjoyment as they were hoping for with Booster’s non-existent humor and Guy’s quick appearance, but it is an enjoyable issue. The overall series is recommended to new readers and long-time fans of the characters alike – just don’t expect anything as phenomenal as Batman or Aquaman.