12 May 2008

Justice League International Vol. 1 HC (DC, 2008)

Let's hope DC collects the entire run of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League run because it was, in my opinion, the best run in League history. And my opinion matters, dammit! Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis chose to take the humourous route for this League and while some readers didn't like it, most embraced the concept like a long lost friend. I seem to recall reading a Giffen interview in some magazine where he admitted that making Justice League funny was not his nor DeMatteis' original plan. They were merely adjusting to the situation. When DC green lit a new Justice League comic, Giffen said he naturally wanted some heavy hitters in the team. He wanted Batman. He got Batman. How about Superman? Sorry, no. Okay, no problem. Green Lantern? DC gave him a Green Lantern but not the Green Lantern. Dr. Fate for some magic kick ass-ery. Captain Marvel was being revamped so the powers that be at DC insisted he be included. And the Martian Manhunter as well since he was in the previous Justice League (the "Detroit League" which no one wants to talk about nowadays). And then DC gave him Blue Beetle, Black Canary, Doctor Light (the good one, not the retconned rapist), Mr. Miracle, Oberon and Booster Gold because he had his own solo title at the time.

And that's how Justice League International got to be funny. Not because the writers wanted it to be but because they looked at the group and thought, "Holy crap! That's a lot of second stringers we got stuck with!"

I don't know whether Giffen was being truthful in that interview or not but I don't care. His Justice League had
one of the greatest moments in comics EVAH! and it also introduced the Beetle and Gold partnership that was cruelly destroyed when DC wanted to bring back the infinite Earths. Also, Batman made a funny:

But reason numero uno this Justice League is fondly remembered today? Kevin Maguire. No one draws facial expressions like Kevin Maguire.

Sam Neill is Maxwell Lord.

The hiring of an unknown penciller and giving him the task to draw the company's flagship super group either proved that DC saw this guy's talent and decided to give him a big break or that DC just couldn't be bothered with yet another League comic that was never gonna outsell Uncanny X-Men anyway so they just grabbed the nearest penciller they could find and gave him some cash in return for some artwork. In any case, both the comic and the penciller owed each other for their respective successes.

And now for the hardcover collected edition....the main gripe here is the almost newsprint quality of the paper stock used. I said "almost" because I don't think it's the same paper stock that they used on the original comic. This one is of a tad higher grade but still not glossy and for a retail price of USD$24.99 and just seven issues (192 pages), the fanboys cried foul. I for one do not agree with the fans but I can see where they were coming from. Plus, I loved the JLI so I'm biased. What's collected here are some of the most fun superhero stories ever written just a few years before mainstream comics went all gritty and dark and "mature". Go grab a copy and give Kevin Maguire some lovin'. And then wait for volume two.


Anonymous said...

I hated the Giffen/DeMatteis run when I was a kid... super-heroes aren't supposed to be funny! And what's wrong with Kevin Maguire's art and the jokey faces?

I have since learned the error of my ways, and I managed to get the first 16 issues (and few annuals) of JLI. I'll start picking up the HCs if/when a 3rd volume is released.

Khairul H. said...

One of Us, One of Us, One of Us, One of Us, One of Us, One of Us....