Writer: Kieth Giffen, JM DeMatteis, John Ostrander
Artist: Kevin Maguire, Bill Willingham, Luke McDonnell
Collects: Justice League International #8-13, Suicide Squad #13, Justice League International Annual #1
So here we are with the second volume of the much loved Justice League International run. To sum it up quickly, it's a bit more of the same. Unfortunately, that goes for both the good aspects and the bad; the contents of this volume suffer from the main problem I had with the first one while simultaneously being hit with those oh so lovely things called tie-ins.
The good is, of course, still good. We're still treated to a fair amount of solid team fare with some of the trademark humor the run would come to be known for. The humor has started to become more of a factor as we move onward; the first issue of the collection is entirely centered around the new JLI embassies going up, which contains our first outright Bwa-Ha-Ha moment. Thankfully, it's still not our primary focus; there's plenty of super heroics to be found along with the endearing yucks and team dynamics.
They also write an effective Batman; he's a bit too far on the Batstard side of the scale for me, but there's no denying he's very effective. This is most apparent in the two issue crossover with Suicide Squad - the #13 issues of each - that advances plotlines from both series. The Suicide Squad issue contains a knock down-drag out fight between Rick Flag and Batman; it effectively lasts for about three total pages of multi-panel grids, yet it sells the fact that these two are beating the hell out of each other like few of todays overused splash pages can. The punch-for-punch flow of the action and full twelve panel grid moves the fight along at a fast pace while feeling as brutal as it is short. Some modern day writers and artists ought to take notes.
Unfortunately, the issue I had with the last volume rears its ugly head again. Once more, several storylines resolve themselves without much League participation; this time, the overarching plotline going since issue one plays out with Maxwell Lord while the League is dealing with a New God. The annual comes down to the Martian Manhunter with the helmet of Fate saving the day. It's fairly noticeable; yet again, I hope this is ironed out as we move forward.
Also problematic is the Millennium tie-in issues. While I appreciate their inclusion for the sake of completion-ism, they're parts of an event. Even with the text pieces explaining some of what happened in the other parts, they make little sense. It's essentially a compromise between including all of the event or none of those issues, but given the choice, I'd rather have had one or the other. This is why I hate ongoing series tie-ins; I've seldom been happier with comics than when DC switched to having most tie-in stories in their own dedicated miniseries.
Thinking about it on the whole, we're two volumes into this run - both volumes containing a generous number of issues - and I'm still not completely happy with it. The right stuff is there and I love the team dynamics, but the downsides just leap out at me. If I wasn't assured it got better, I think it might have dropped down my totem pole of comic priorities a bit after this volume. I still like it - and I'd still continue - but this book is not in "oh god I need the next volume NOW" territory.
The Score: 7.5 out of 10
Same as last time. This is good, solid, enjoyable work, but there are still some kinks to be worked out. We'll see what the future holds for this book. If you're a JLI fan I'm sure you already have this volume. If not I'd say it's still well worth it, but temper your expectations, because the book still hasn't hit its stride.