Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tales from the Library! - Justice League International Volume 1

This installment of “Tales from the Library!” has been brought to you by the “evil” known as Sallie Mae… yes, I have college loans to pay and they suck so much.

Don’t worry; it’s not a new segment. This time, I’m talking about old books I don’t own. For the 1980’s, I decided to visit the public library for this one. Today, I’m looking at a version of the League done by Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire. I’m sorry I left out Justice League Detroit. I just couldn’t get past the break-dancing hero known as Vibe. Now, this version of the League was actually formed in another crossover called Legends. I talked about that crossover a while back. At the end of the crossover, Dr. Fate asked those selected heroes if they would want to restart the Justice League. Only a few accepted the offer.

The writers are Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. Giffen has worked on many books including Legion of Superheroes, Lobo, Blue Beetle, and other Justice League books. Giffen is also an artist  and was on books like OMAC and 52. DeMatteis has also worked on a lot of books including the Spider-Man books, the Defenders, and other Justice League books. He’s also the one who decided that that this series would have a comedy vibe. Kevin Maguire is the artist and he’s been on too many books to list.

Justice League International Vol. 1
Writers: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis            
Penciller: Kevin Maguire
Inkers: Terry Austin and Al Gordon

The newly-formed Justice League meets up at their HQ.  It’s apparent that this team is going to take some time to get used to each other and it all revolves around a obnoxious Green Lantern named Guy Gardner. After the League stops a hostage situation at the UN (which may have been staged by someone), the League then has to travel to the Middle East. Apparently, a superhero group from another world has a pretty big hatred towards nuclear power. Nuclear weapons destroyed their world, so they’ve come here to make sure it doesn’t destroy Earth. The leader of Biaylia tells the group about Russia's nuclear program, so they head to Russia.

Hmm... superpowered people preaching against the use of nuclear power? Yep, it's the 80's.

The situation ends up with the League going up against Russia’s Rocket Red crew. Think Iron Man mixed with Russia. After this mission ends, they head back to the Cave where they are greeted by Maxwell Lord and Booster Gold. Lord has basically been trying to get in with the League. He even was able to lure Dr. Light (the female variety) and BG in with his ideas. Dr. Light doesn’t like and leaves and Booster leaves as well. Because of an attack from the Royal Flush Gang, Booster was able to prove himself to the League and join in the end.
Booster Gold: Also, add the fact that you're were trying to kill me a few minutes ago, Miss!

We get introduced to a villain known as The Gray Man. We find out that he was assigned by the Lords of Order to retrieve the remaining dream energy from the dead and return it to them.  He’s also able to create duplicates of himself. Unfortunately for him, this means he’s immortal and he’s gotten tired of if. So, he’s decided to go after the living and use the energy for himself. He starts his quest in Stone Ridge, Vermont. Dr. Fate heads there to stop him but is captured by ‘ole Gray Guy. Elsewhere, reporter Jack Ryder (I can make so many jokes with that name) aka “The Creeper” finds out about strange stuff happening in Stone Ridge. He takes a crew up there to see what’s up.

At Justice League HQ, Guy Gardner aka “Insufferable A-Hole” tries to challenge Batman for leadership of the team. A fight breaks out and ends when Batman does the funniest thing I have ever seen. What’s even funnier is the reaction from the other Leaguers. Fate is able to contact the League and he tells them about the situation. They head to Vermont and Captain Marvel does reconnaissance. When they land, they find the Creeper doing his creepin’. They also find out that Stone Ridge has transformed.
Without a doubt, this is one of the funniest moments in comics.

The League and the Creeper head into the city and find that its citizens are comatose. We find out that Captain Marvel has also been captured by the Gray Man who uses Billy to attack the League. J’onn fights CM so the rest of the League can find the Gray Man. J’onn is able to knock CM out after a lengthy fight. Back in New York, Maxwell Lord calls in Hal Jordan in order to recruit him for the League. Jordan’s wary of Lord since Guy’s on the team.

In Stone Ridge, the League finds the villain in a movie theatre that’s showing a James Bond film I haven’t seen yet. The Gray Man calls all of his duplicates back to the theatre and they attack the League. The League tries to fight them off, but they are overwhelmed and knocked out. Luckily, Dr. Fate is able to get free of Gray Man’s shackles. Gray Man and Fate go at it. Fate decides to teleport the whole theatre to another dimension in order to finally beat the Gray Man. J’onn (with an unconscious Billy) notices the town turning back to normal now that Gray Man is gone. He leaves knowing that Fate’s handling it.

At Justice League HQ, Guy Gardner has finally woken up. He tries to look for his ring (he took it off during his “fight” with Batman), but he somehow ends up bumping his head and is again unconscious. In another dimension, the Gray Man is finally stopped by the Lords of Order. It turns out the Lords gave Gray Guy those powers as some sort of honor or prize. ‘Ole Gray Guy asks them to take the powers away and the Lords do this. The Gray Man ends up withering away in the process.

Fate teleports the theatre back to Stone Ridge and the rest of the League wake up. He takes his leave from the League and the Creeper heads off to do more creeping or something. When they return to their headquarters, they eventually find out that plans have been made to make them a UN-sanctioned group.  Maxwell Lord is the one who’s set it up and Oberon strongly supports the move. J’onn thinks Lord is doing this out of self interest. Guy finally wakes up and has a completely different personality. Instead of being “Insufferable A-Hole,” Guy turns into “Mr. Nice Guy.” The rest of the League notices the difference too and they don’t care how it happened. They’re just glad it did.

J'onn: Hmm... something seems wrong about this Max Lord fellow. Maybe it is the combination of that smile and shaded eyes.

The League then have deal with another threat:  a weird satellite with a red death ray. The ray paves a path of destruction, so the League (with the help of Star Labs) head into space. After a little difficulty and some space-walking, they’re able to stop deactivate the satellite. It’s revealed that the machine is a training machine from New Genesis, so they believe that someone on Earth may have reprogrammed it into attack mode. It’s hinted that it’s Max Lord.

The mission is made public knowledge and they are hailed as heroes. Their success (as well as some words from Superman) helps the United Nations decide to make the Justice League an international league. The only provisions the League has to accept are two new members: America’s Captain Atom and Russia’s Rocket Red #7. Dr. Fate calls the League and tells them he can’t join. Captain Marvel quits the League because he can’t commit to it full-time and he has no experience. Finally, Batman steps down as the team leader since he doesn’t want to be in the open. J’onn is then made leader since he’s cool and he’s the only level-headed person on this team of crazy folk. The issue (as well as the trade) ends with the League officially going international.
I gotta laugh at Batman in the background. He's probably looks peeved because of Black Canary's suit.


Overall, this hardcover is pretty good. I can see why this version of the League got so popular when it was first released. I guess I can start with the stories. They’re all pretty good. Each issue is pretty connected to the next issue in one way or another. The league has to face a lot of challenges in this hardcover. They have to face random criminals and villains, a man who wants control of the League, and their own warring personalities… or just Guy Gardner’s personality. I like that each Leaguer has their own personality. Blue Beetle’s the jokester, Back Canary’s the butt-kicking female (who’s dressed horribly by the way), Batman’s the uptight drill sergeant, J’onn‘s the level-headed guy, and Guy Gardner is that guy you really want to punch.

Another thing that makes this is nice read are the comedy beats and the dialogue. It mostly feels like a Tuesday-night sitcom or something. A lot of the comedy stuff works. There are some comedy beats that are a little lame. A big example would be Guy Gardner’s transformation at the end. That was… weird to say the least. The dialogue was pretty good. It also wasn’t completely full of exposition which is kind of rare for a book from this period.

The artwork is pretty good. Kevin Maguire does his best to make each Leaguer seem distinct. He especially succeeds at the facial expressions they have. They’re really expressive and help make the book feel a little more light-hearted. The colors are bright and that also adds to the light-hearted tone the series has. The only thing that isn’t good about the art is Black Canary’s suit. Not even good art can make that costume look good.

After I read this hardcover, I set out to read the other volumes they have at the library. I think the series only has four volumes. I remember volumes 2 and 3 being pretty good. They had the same feel and what not. I also remember that there was a crossover with the Suicide Squad in volume 2, so I might look for those two issues. I think I got uninterested in the series when I got to volume 4. I don’t remember why. Maybe the comedy got too much or something.  Check it out if you need to laugh at something.

Well, it’s now time for me to hop into the DeLorean and head into the new millennium. Next time, I’ll be looking at a story that took me a long time for me to put together. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and have a laugh every once in while.


1 comment:

  1. I adored that run of JLI, got to read it when it first came out and still have the collection