Thursday, April 23, 2015

Convergence: Justice League International #1

Zero Hour vs. Kingdom Come!

You know the core plot of Convergence, Tellos’ ridiculous contest of champions, is starting to grate on me when it brings down a book like this. Let me put this out there, I LOVE the JLI. The International lineup is what brought me into the DCU as a reader. Invasion was my doorway. For me, Blue Beetle, Martian Manhunter, Fire & Ice, and Booster Gold are the pillars of the DCU. So seeing them back, even for just a few pages. Heaven.

Things have changed after a year in dome for Metropolis. Blue Beetle has taken over leadership of the JLI, which now consists of Martian Manhunter, Fire, Ice, Captain Atom, and Red Tornado. Everyone but Tornado has lost their powers, leaving Beetle as the experienced hand to lead the group through their exile. In addition to his professional success, Beetle got the girl too, as it turns out that Fire is now his girlfriend too. I’m not sold on Martian Manhunter’s unease at the JLI’s methods; I like to think of him as a bit more supportive than we see here. I also couldn’t help but notice that Captain Atom pretty much does nothing. I can’t remember a single line of meaningful dialogue, and without his distinctive metal look, he’s pretty forgettable.

Can you imagine how this would work if Ron Marz could just write this book with its own story? The opening sequence where the team takes on Metallo was the sort of generic superhero mayhem that I love. Most characters got a line or two of dialogue and a great action moment or two. That’s followed up by some interesting interaction as we see how the team is making things work in the dome.

Like the other Convergence titles, things go off the rails when Tellos shows up. Not only do the Kingdom Come characters appear as simple villains, but the conflict also derails the established interactions and enjoyable status quo for the JLI. Of the two, I’m more upset seeing the fantastic Kingdom Come incarnations of these characters reduced to generic antagonists. Wonder Woman and the rest of her league deserve better. I’m still rooting for the JLI, but it should be tougher to make the choice. Marz just doesn’t have the space to make the conflict more nuanced.

Mike Manley’s art is a fantastic throwback to my beloved 90’s JLI. Blue Beetle looks wonderful, Fire and Ice look like ‘80s holdovers, just like they are supposed to. Best of all, Martian Manhunter looks imposing, wise, and powerful.

This is a GOOD comic. I’ve got to think that if these characters could benefit from a marketing push like the one that the New 52 got that people would be invested in these characters more than the generic versions in DC’s monthly output. In any case, I’ll take this while I can get it! 

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