What happens when your title isn't getting the buzz you want? Insert a popular character. In this case, we get Batwing. He, like everything and everyone in this issue, adds nothing to the plot of this series. No progress is made here. It is an interesting and somber issue with some humor, but in the big picture it takes no steps towards forwarding the story. This slow pacing needs to pick up immediately since Justice League International has been cancelled via issue 12. Hopefully it can turn itself around and have a proper ending, but based on the pacing in this issue, it would take fifty more issues to have the story run it's full course.
After an attack on the UN and the JLI, Lightweaver prepares to finish off Booster Gold when Batwing comes to his aid – but who will rescue him?
The characters are what make this issue entertaining and the closest at making this issue feel meaningful. Godiva and August General continue to work well together. We get to see Guy Gardner cracking about Tora's condition. This all leads to some funny "fight" scenes, including Guy Gardner and a Stapler. Then there's another instance where Godiva's hair gets tangled up in some trouble. These were entertaining fights framed around somber conversations laced with humor. Most of that humor comes from Booster Gold, who seems, after a short hiatus, to be back acting like a jerk – probably just to make a bad first impression on Batwing.
A new villain is also introduced in a very gritty situation when he is captured and we learn his gruesome power, the ability to turn things back into their basic elements which equals some very inside-out looking humans. Portions featuring Breakdown in this issue were surprisingly disturbing in a rather light-hearted comic like JLI. It felt like he belonged in Justice League Dark or Swamp Thing. But this somber tone seems to be growing on the JLI.
With their different personalities clashing and running rampant on every other page as they try to figure out a plan, no character (with the exception of the unconscious and dead) felt wasted, despite them not forwarding the plot, which is the major upset of the issue: nothing really happens to move the plot forward.
Ironically, this issue feels really long. But as soon as you finish and look back you come to the striking realization that nothing really happened in it. The only exceptions are another villain being established and an introduction of another character who is not even involved with the plot and comes out of nowhere, and I'm not talking about Batwing, but it would be easy to confuse the two.
Batwing is simply used to amp up the melodrama and get followers of his book to pick up this one. His companionship to Vixen was nice to see, but this issue could not really focus on that since she's kind of knocked out right now. Batwing just seems to be there to become the potential fodder of Lightweaver, who beats him so badly and so quickly you wonder how Batwing has even managed to survive his own book for so long. It was a small joy to see him despite the beating, and his instant dislike of Booster Gold was a surprise (though most people who meet Booster don't like him on site). Luckily, Batwing seems set to appear in at least one other issue of Justice League International, and hopefully he will establish himself as more of an important part of the plot.
The artwork has also made no progress. Instead it stays sub-par at best. This is not always because of Aaron Lopresti's sometimes oddly drawn and over lined characters. Usually it is because inker Matt Ryan went overboard with the shadows in the characters features and on their bodies. Shadows quickly usurp every other page with their negative qualities. The backgrounds are also lacking, with many panels neglected with only a white background. The only pure positive given to us by the artwork is the design of Breakdown's costume, a very unique and grim garb perfect for a man with such creepy powers. He looks like a scarecrow patched together with human limbs. It's perfect for the character and the brightest artist moment Lopresti and Ryan have in this issue.
The characters may be enjoyable, but the series really feels like it's on it's last legs and it's cancellation at issue 12 seems all the more reflective of how this issue turned out. The pacing is nonexistent because nothing happens with the exception of two characters: one who could easily have been introduced before and another who doesn't even belong. Adding Batwing was a blatant attempt to hook more readers onto a sinking ship of a series. But, despite the overall story-hiccups and artwork, Justice League International #8 is not at all boring or unentertaining. The characters are the sole reason why.
An all-around nerdette, I’m a comic book connoisseur, horror aficionado, video game addict, anime enthusiast and an aspiring novelist/comic book writer. I am the head of the comic book department and the editor-in-chief of Entertainment Fuse. I also write and edit articles for Comic Frontline. I am also an intern at Action Lab Entertainment, a comic book publisher at which I edit comic book scripts, help work on images in solicitations and help with other comic book related project. My own personal website is comicmaven.com.