There is just so much I could say about this Justice League International collection. I could write about the entertaining artwork, or perhaps the cohesive storylines. There are so many angles this post could take, because this comic is simply that good.
What do I focus on then, with so many pros to choose from?
The humor, of course.
I’ve read funny comics before, but these Justice League International comics are easily the most consistently laugh-inducing on “the shelf”. With the exception of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, they may be the funniest comics I’ve read ever, and I don’t say that lightly.
The characterization and witty banter presented in these pages is just so perfect. Each character has their own distinct personality, and their interactions with one another make for some of the best dialogue ever.
It was especially fun to see the writers having a little fun with some of the more serious-minded characters, such as the ever-stoic J’onn J’onzz:
The Martian Manhunter is as deadpan as ever, but he’s far more sociable and has bonded with a number of JLI members. Plus the image of Captain Marvel introducing him to Oreos for the first time is kind of super adorable.
There should be a tie-in comic that just chronicles various JLI members engaging in non-world saving activities, such as eating oreos for the first time. I would read the heck out of that comic.
Not only are the comics hilarious, but I’m finally starting to realize the importance of having read all of the pre-Crisis comics from “the shelf”. There have been a number of times where I wondered if I really needed that foundation to appreciate the stories. Oftentimes there is so much exposition that I feel like I could have jumped in at any point on “the shelf” and followed along for the most part.
Then I read this panel and it sort of hit me.
Had I not read the pre-Crisis comics, I wouldn’t have more than a vague notion of who Granny Goodness was. Or, truth be told, who Mister Miracle was as well. Without that foundation, this panel would have been glanced at but would have mostly gone over my head. I would have understood the joke being made without really getting it.
This panel made me glad to have read all of those earlier comics, because I know they will be referenced in later stories, and this way I won’t be weeding through references that make no sense to me.
Also, I’m always happy when there’s even the slightest chance Big Barda might make an appearance, so yay Mister Miracle!
While the comic references abound in these stories, there are also plenty of other pop culture references to add to the overall entertainment factor. My favorite reference was one that I almost overlooked:
Not being overly familiar with these particular characters, I thought the one girl’s name was actually Lucy. It wasn’t until I read her response that I said, “Hey, wait a minute…”
Being a big “I Love Lucy” fan, this little in-joke made me really happy.
And, on a more serious note, it helps to connect the comic to real life, reminding readers that these events all take place in our world.
So you know, win-win.
I will admit the one character I didn’t like in the trade very much was Batman. Usually I enjoy his dark, brooding persona, but in such a light-hearted, fun comic he was just such a downer. Granted, based on his characterization it seems like that’s the angle the writers were going for. Still, I was more than a little happy when J’onn J’onzz stands up to him and reminds Batman just who’s in charge of the JLI:
Cue the collective, “Oooooooo!”
Not surprisingly, Batman doesn’t respond well to this threat, and ultimately ends up quitting the JLI at the end of the trade. Although I’m sure he’ll probably be back at some point, I can’t say I was too sad to see him go. Batman works best alone, or with a lackey he can boss around (sorry, Robin). He’s just not a team player.
To sum up:
Batman in the JLI: Boo
These Justice League International comics are more enjoyable than I can easily express through words. I read through these issues with a relish that I haven’t felt very often while working my way through “the shelf”. These collections are light and breezy and all-around fun to read. Admittedly, there aren’t very many huge shakeups in these issues, nor are there that many serious moments, but those that do crop up are meaningful and leave more of an impact simply because they’re rare.
Although I do love the more serious tones of some, these stories are a welcome reprieve from the more sinister aspects of other comics. They’re fun, they’re easy to read, and they’re hugely entertaining. If reading them means I have to occasionally deal with a buzzkill Batman, so be it.