“The Signal Masters, part 1”
Last night, a bit later than usual because of (1) Previews not shipping until the first rather than the last Wednesday of the month, and (2) some unrelated issues going on at my mail-order comics source, I received my “end-of-September” shipment of books, with the bulk of my DCnU #1's. It has been a long wait. I had, of course, gotten the new Justice League #1 with the August shipment, since it was one of only two DC Comics to ship the last week of August; I had also given into the buzz and digitally double-dip purchased the new Action Comics #1 several weeks ago based on the almost uniformly – and deservedly – good reviews it was impossible to avoid seeing. My thoughts on those first two issues of the New 52 can be seen via the links associated with their respective titles. Both of those issues tell stories set in the past of the new “present” – five years in the case of Justice League, something more than five years in the case of Action Comics. So this is my real introduction to the new status quo, the way things stand right “now” in the post-Flashpoint universe of DC Comics.
A little background. I never read any of the previous Justice League International series (there were more than one, right?). My main exposure to some of these characters as a group is through the recent Justice League: Generation Lost series. Booster Gold, of course, I really grew to like between 52 (is that really five years ago?) and his just-ended series. I was looking forward to the group in Generation Lost continuing in a new JLI series before the announcement of the Relaunch. This is, however, not what I was looking for at that time. So I'm trying to approach this as something totally new – which is what you have to do. I don't think that in the new continuity these characters really have any history together.
Anyway. All in all, this issue is pretty good … but not outstanding. Basically, by five years after superhumans “go public” in the new DCU, the United Nations believes it needs its own team, under its own authority and control. So they assemble a group of basically second-tier heroes under the “leadership” of Booster Gold – “Great Q rating, knows P.R., craves attention … A leader I can control,” Andre Briggs, Head of U.N. Intelligence informs the U.N. Global Security Group at the team's inception. The team is assembled as much as anything for political considerations – Ice is “sure to be popular with our Scandinavian members,” Vixen is in because “Zambesi will appreciate your courtesy,” and so forth. The balance of the team includes Fire (Brazilian), Rocket Red (Russia), August General in Iron (China), Godiva (the U.K.) – and Guy Gardner Green Lantern, because “it's hard to say no to a Green Lantern.” Not to worry – He says no as soon as he learns that Booster Gold is to be the leader. A suggestion of a “J[ustice] L[eague] connection” via Batman is rejected – “I thought the idea wa a team we could control. No,” states one of the GSG flatly. Not to worry on that count, either – Once the team is together and dispatched on their first mission, to investigate a missing UN research team in Peru, Booster finds that their pilot is indeed Batman. “Why – ?” – “Thought you might appreciate the help,” Batman replies. He leaves unsaid the fact that, as he had previously told Guy Gardner, the UN must have some ulterior motive in making Booster the leader (right after he had cautioned him, “Don't sell Booster short”), and he means to discover it. What he does is not undercut Booster, rather assuring him he's along not because he's afraid Booster can't cut it, but rather because they're shorthanded, as well as “A few of us [the "real" Justice League?] happen to think it's a good idea to have a connection between our teams.” At which point, Booster asks, “Does the U.N. know you're here?” which brings forth the funniest line of the issue: “I've always enjoyed your sense of humor, Booster.” So far, I'm really liking this Batman in all the contexts that we've seen him – Flashpoint #5, Justice League #1, and here.
Anyway, the issue ends with a giant humanoid creature of some sort bursting out of the earth – it appears that the new half-formed team recognizes it – “Is that … what I think it is?” Godiva asks – as Booster shouts, “Pull back! PULL BACK!” The character bits such as above that we get along the way I find far more interesting than whatever this threat is. There's also some kind of subplot – the JLI's new headquarters is to be the Hall of Justice – but crowds are demonstrating outside because that's public property being taken over by the UN. And some among the crowd are willing to resort to violence to make their point that the UN can't be “buying off” their heroes – they set a bomb that engulfs the Hall in flames. “So much for the U.N. takin' over the Hall.” – “Now that is what I call justice – ” I need a lot more information than we're really given here to follow what's going on here.
Overall, I enjoyed this issue. Jurgens is a good writer, and most of these characters I think he's pretty familiar with. Booster Gold, of course. Rocket Red is a hoot. The art by Lopresti and Ryan – solid. Nevertheless, something here just doesn't grab me like I figure DC is hoping this Relaunch is going to. As I said above, the “menace” of some kind of earth-monster just seems a bit … mehh. I'll keep reading, for a while, but unless things pick up I may end up dropping this title, probably going to trades rather than monthlies. We'll see.
Incidentally, it turns out that the mysterious black-haired woman on the original cover image back in May has become the blonde Godiva. That after disappearing altogether in versions of the shot released in the interim. Frankly, I don't know what the big to-do was -- other than to give people like me false hope that the original black-haired woman might be Alexandra from the Booster Gold tie-in issues to Flashpoint somehow making her way into the DCnU. Hope that was of course dashed as she was killed off in the last issue of Booster Gold. Not sure why they did that, and frankly I would have thought having a Greek member of the JLI would have made sense, too. Oh well. I still think they had some larger reason for developing that character -- even though that reason may have ended up wiped away by the decision to use Flashpoint to reboot (can I use that word?) DC continuity altogether, with no ties to the old DCU (so they claim). This is, of course, just some more of my "random ramblings." We'll see what happens.
Cheers, and thanks for reading.