In the 1980s, when the trend in comics was for grim and gritty, the debut of Justice League International
was like a ray of sunlight. Elsewhere, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns
and Alan Moore's Watchmen
effectively deconstructed the myth of the superhero, showing the very human aspect of the men and women behind the masks--and what they showed was dark indeed. Writers Keith Giffen and JM DeMattais's JLI
also peeked behind the masks, but what they found was decidedly brighter.
JLI begins after the disbanding of the previous incarnation of the Justice League. Recent events have made it obvious to the world (well, the world of the DC Universe, at least) that the Justice League is needed, and heroes from across America--and, eventually, the world--band together to form a new league. But these aren't the icons that leap tall buildings in a single bound: there's no Superman, no Wonder Woman, no Flash, no Aquaman. Batman is there, though and he's joined by the Martian Manhunter (a member of every previous incarnation of the League) and a bunch of second and third-tier heroes in the shape of Captain Marvel, Black Canary, Dr Fate, Guy Gardner (a Green Lantern), Mister Miracle, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. Behind it all, the machinations of billionaire entrepreneur Maxwell Lord manipulate this new league into forming, with mysterious motivations and far-reaching results.
It's unfortunate (and a little unfair) that years later JLI isn't mentioned in the same breath as Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns. Its influence on the entire superhero genre is just as important, and its standards were just as high. Kevin Maguire's crisp and realistic artwork, particularly his talent for drawing facial expressions, is perfect for a book that's more superhero sitcom than soap opera. Writers Giffen and DeMattais keep the focus throughout the book on the characters and their interaction; the actual action (the backbone of most superhero comics) takes a back seat to the fast-paced dialogue and witty one-liners. There are no angst-ridden demons behind these masks, just people doing a job, albeit one which happens to involve wearing garish costumes and regularly saving the world. It's not a business to be taken seriously, as Blue Beetle himself testifies: "Just once I'd like to save the world and have it be a gay, madcap escapade." --Robert Burrow
About the Author
Keith Giffen and Jean-Marc DeMatteis are highly respected comics writers with a host of titles between the two; Giffen has worked on Legion of Super-Heroes and more recently was the layout artist on 52; DeMatteis wrote the acclaimed Brooklyn Dreams and remains one of the most popular writers of Spider-Man. Kevin Maguire is a top-tier artist with a unique gift for facial expressions. He most recently reunited with Glffen and DeMatteis on Formerly Known As The Justice League.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.