Today, Peter and Patrick are discussing Justice League International Annual 1, originally released August 29th, 2012.
Peter: With any reboot, world-building is near the top of the priority list. If you’re starting from scratch, you have to start with something and move on from there. Justice League International is a series that has become central to the future of the Justice League family of books. While this Annual will be the last issue bearing the JLI banner, I doubt this is the last we will see of these characters, many of whom have other books to appear in. This is a glimpse of the future of the Justice League family, and even if you haven’t read the 12 issues of Justice League International, the Annual is definitely worth the read.
Just to set the scene a bit I am going to run down the JLI members and the major points from the first 12 issues that are at all relevant to the Annual. If this is old news to you – apologies. The Justice League International was conceived as a publicly sponsored super hero team, with significant oversight by the United Nations. As such, each member of the League is from a different country from around the world.
Booster Gold: Leader. From the 25th Century, Michael Carter, a former(future?) football star who got caught gambling, stole equipment from the museum he worked at and traveled back to the 20th Century, and went back in time to become a famous superhero. Has loose knowledge of the future.
Guy Gardner: Green Lantern numero uno. ‘nuff said. (see also: Green Lantern Corps)
Godiva: French woman with the ability to do crazy things with her hair.
August General in Iron: Leader of the Great Ten from the People’s Republic of China.
Fire: Brazilian fire wielder.
Ice: Ice slinging member from Norway. Romantic interest of Guy Gardner.
Vixen: African, can wield the abilities of the members of the animal kingdom thanks to a special amulet.
Red Rocket: Leader of the Red Rocket Corps from Russia. Died earlier in the series. Still a soft spot among the members of the team.
Batwing: Armored Batman from Africa. (see also: Batwing)
O.M.A.C.: Kevin Kho was transformed into the One-Machine Attack Construct by the Brother Eye satellite. Fought free of the programming but stuck in the OMAC form. No longer has his own series, but moved to JLI after issue 8.
Batman: During their first adventures, Batman served as a member of the team in a effort to help Booster and provide guidance to the team.
During their previous adventures, the League has been met with plenty of public protest to their actions, which is strange because there is such positive response to the other Justice League. After a terrorist bombing that killed Red Rocket and hospitalized Fire, Ice and Vixen, the remaining team went on a revenge-mission, recruiting Batwing and OMAC along the way. They lose the Hall of Justice and their funding/sponsorship from the UN, and end up disbanding. During the funeral from Red Rocket, they decide to soldier on, in his memory. Bruce, still believing them gives them funding and a new HQ.
Now for the Annual.
The team — minus Booster — descend on a terrorist encampment in Africa. Booster hopes this is the kind of mission that will curry favor with both the UN and the Justice League. Guy leads the team in the field, and despite promises from Booster Gold that the real Justice League is on their way to help, he pushes in. They take down the terrorists, without any help, but not before the terrorist leader blows himself up. The majority of the team heads back to the HQ, not Batwing; he decides to stay behind in Africa.
Back at the base, Booster announces that they are about to get their sponsorship back from the UN, and that they are expanding the team. Guy storms off in a fit, just like Guy does, and quits the team, because Booster is lying about the League, and he doesn’t trust him. Booster introduces the new members: the Olympian and the Blue Beetle. The Blue Beetle was under the impression that this was the major Justice League, because he was hoping that Cyborg could help him with the Reach Scarab. The Olympian joined because apparently he had a crush on Godiva back before he got his powers and now wants to make amends. But all hell breaks loose when the Brother Eye takes over OMAC. He attacks his former team members, damaging the General’s armor, teleporting Blue Beetle to wherever the Reach are, and dispatching the Olympian with ease. Luckily, Booster manages to dispatch OMAC with the Skeets Protocols in his suit.
Time freezes and a second Booster Gold appears. This one’s from the future, and works for ARGUS. Future-Booster warns Present-Booster that he needs to stop Wonder Woman and Superman from getting together. However, discovering that he was too late, future-Booster and present-Booster both fade away Marty McFly-style.
Later, in the hospital, Batman is confronted by the Brother Eye, now back on his satellite. Eye refers to a new programmer, and an evil mastermind that will come and defeat the League, giving Batman an ultimatum: join him or die.
As I mentioned before, this issue really is the kickstarter to the future of the Justice League family of books. Obviously, the superhero hook-up from Justice League 12 is some kind of ill-omen. I love that this is somehow the catalyst to something bigger, however, I don’t like that you had to read this book to get that perspective. It wasn’t even mentioned or alluded to in JL 12, even in the two pages of previews at the end. This is possibly something from the far future that the guys at DC wanted to set in motion now, but to be shelved until a time TBD. I mean that’s fine with me, especially since this could be a integral part of a storyline of Crisis-like proportions.
This issue has some great character moments for Booster Gold. I haven’t been a huge of fan of Booster over the years, but the teases presented by Future-Booster are just too cool to ignore.
This conversation between the Boosters really gets things going. First of all, check out poor Future-Booster. He’s clearly seen some action lately, his armor is all dirty. And he’s wearing that ARGUS badge. Plus he drops the name of noted time traveler Rip Hunter. Intriguing stuff.
Also, I like that Brother Eye makes a comeback. Brother Eye may be your typical Hal 9000 computer, but I love that he refers to himself in the third person, but it sounds like the first person. That is a clever bit of writing by Geoff Johns.
The Justice League books are beginning to develop in a way I wanted them to a year ago. They are beginning to intertwine with one another, and this Annual is really the starting point, especially with the JLA slotted to make an appearance next year. The return of Brother Eye makes me think Maxwell Lord is behind some of this – since he still works for Checkmate, and is partially responsible for Kevin becoming OMAC.
The real meat and potatoes is the end of the issue. It brings up a lot of potential questions, like is Brother Eye’s new programmer? And what will happen to OMAC and the rest? Where did Booster go? What happens with Superman and Wonder Woman? Patrick, I know we put this together rather last minute, but what did you think? Do you like that the Leagues are going to start having greater connections and start acting like a family?
Patrick: Man, it is alarming how quickly this team is scattered into the wind. Future-Booster remembers enough future-history to relay to his past self that Godiva, August General in Iron (what a stupid name, by the way) and the Olympian will stay together as a group called the Global Guardians. But the rest of the group? Poof! Gone. The only dude who seemed to be invested in the group at all was Booster Gold, and he’s literally been erased from time.
Actually, that’s where I wanna start: Booster ‘n’ Booster – time travelers. Time travel is a murky, murky narrative device (see our Captain Atom write-ups for examples of time travel gumming up the works). The mere mention of Rip Hunter makes my stomach turn. Rip – for those not in the know – is Booster Gold’s son. The man is a professional time-traveler: he goes all throughout the time stream, preventing terrible things from happening and generally trying to stay below the radar. But the character’s very nature supposes a universe where cause and effect don’t really exist in the conventional sense. Further, he travels so far into the past and future as to render the Earth totally un-Earth-like. Any time Rip’s around, verisimilitude flies right out the window and reality (and the rules governing it) are invented wholesale. But here’s where I have a little hope for this time-wankery: both Boosters disappear.
Think about it. (Just don’t think about it too hard.) If Superman and Wonder Woman kiss, and that eventually ends in something terrible happening, and Booster goes back in time to tell himself to stop the hook-up from happening, but fails because he’s too late, why would either of them disappear? The Future-Booster clearly knows about the kiss and the fall-out because he lived a reality where that happened, so how does not changing anything in the past have no effect on the future? Also, why’s Booster suck so back that he can’t go back in time to before the kiss and work it out? I would love if there were an air of finality to Booster’s disappearance. Whatever’s happening here, these time travelers ought to be powerless to stop it – if total annihilation from TIME is the price, so be it.
But to address your question more directly: I do wish this was the direction of the Justice League (vanilla, International, Dark or of America) series would take. Specifically, it’s fun to see the more narratively-twisted corners of the universe explored with just tons and tons of superheroes. Pile ’em on, I say. We might dole out a lot of praise round these parts for intimate stories, but this kind of Crisis-esque storytelling is essentially unique to superhero comics. No other organization has the history, the cast of characters or the editorial will-power to delve into concepts like this. And yeah, these things often turn out bloated – I don’t expect anything less from the on-coming Trinity War – but hey, we get to see a show right?
I’ve been following Blue Beetle (because it’s awesome) and I do have to admit that nothing in this issue shook me like seeing Jaime spirited off to the Reach base. Jaime’s just a kid, and that alien technology has been battling him for so long now, basically ruining his life while offering nothing positive in return. But Jaime’s been able to beat back the machine for a time – I can’t imagine going to the HOME OF THAT TECHNOLOGY is a good sign for the kid. I’m just saying: nothing ever gets easier for the Blue Beetle.
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