Justice League International (or JLI for short) is a DC Comics superhero team written by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, with art by Kevin Maguire, created in 1987.
Writer J. M. DeMatteis was given the Justice League title after finishing the previous Justice League of America series. Paired with writer Keith Giffen and artist Kevin Maguire he set out to create a "big seven" title similar to the original lineup and Grant Morrison's subsequent JLA title. However, at the time, Superman was being revamped by John Byrne's reboot while George Pérez was handling the relaunched Wonder Woman and Mike Baron was handling his relaunch of The Flash. Aquaman was off limits as well due to the character being in creative limbo for some time. According to the introduction to the trade paperback of the series, Denny O'Neil took pity on the team and gave them Batman to be used in the series. Dr. Fate's inclusion coincided with DeMatteis and Giffen writing a Dr. Fate series. Editor Andy Helfer (also editor of Green Lantern at the time) suggested using the newer Guy Gardner instead of Hal Jordan. The resulting comedic tone was Giffen's idea; in terms of the industry, it served as heavy competition compared to Marvel Comics' grim and gritty titles. The title would introduce new characterizations to old characters: Guy Gardner was now a loutish hothead, Captain Marvel was no longer a separate personality but retains Billy's personality, Booster Gold was greedier and more inept than he had been in Dan Jurgens' series, and Black Canary's personality was written as a strong feminist. DC Comics Bonus Books appeared in issues #18 (October 1988) and #24 (February 1989) and featured extra stories of JLI members by new comics creators.
Justice League International was created after the 1987 company-wide crossover and limited series, Legends, when a new Justice League was formed and given a less America-centric mandate than before. Following the events of both "Legends" and "Crisis on Infinite Earths", the new League also gave DC an opportunity to mix characters that represented different universes or histories prior to the mid-eighties. While Batman, Martian Manhunter and Black Canary maintained the connection to the former League, Blue Beetle was a recent acquisition from Charlton Comics, Doctor Fate was from Earth-2, Mister Miracle was brought in from (Jack) Kirby's Fourth World and Captain Marvel was previously on a separate Earth populated by characters from Fawcett Comics. Doctor Light was a new addition, making her first appearance during the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" storyline, while Guy Gardner served as the legacy hero for Green Lantern.
The series would go on to become nominated as "Best New Series" in 1988 by the Harvey Awards but was beat out by Paul Chadwick's Concrete. It would also feature Adam Hughes' first work for a major comic publisher.
The term JLI covers several different names for the series, including the first six issues, which were titled simply as Justice League, and the later issues when the book was renamed Justice League America (without the "of"). Another spin-off, Justice League Europe, was renamed Justice League International (vol. 2) toward the end of its run.
Justice League: Breakdowns
"Breakdowns" was a 16-issue crossover between the Justice League America (#53-60) and Justice League Europe (#29-36) titles, changing the tone of both series from a humorous one to a more serious one, and introducing new creative teams to both books. The major events that occurred were the following:
- Maxwell Lord is initially in a coma from a failed assassination attempt. He is later possessed by JLE foe Dreamslayer of the Extremists. Following the end of the "Breakdowns" saga, Maxwell Lord has no more mental powers, apparently drained completely when possessed by Dreamslayer.
- The Queen Bee, ruler of the country Bialya, is killed in a coup d'état led by Sumaan Harjavti, the twin brother of the original dictator, Rumaan.
- Despero awakens and escapes Manga Khan's starship to wreak havoc on New York City, seeking vengeance against the Justice League. A force of the Justice League's best (Martian Manhunter, Power Girl, Fire, Rocket Red, Metamorpho, Flash, Guy Gardner, Major Disaster), along with the Conglomerate (led by Booster Gold) and Lobo, were unable to stop him. Ultimately, it was Kilowog and L-Ron who subdued Despero by transferring L-Ron's consciousness into the cybernetic control collar that remained around Despero's neck.
- While possessing Maxwell Lord's body, Dreamslayer kidnaps and later murders Mitch Wacky on the island of KooeyKooeyKooey, where the Blue Beetle and Booster Gold previously attempted to open a resort called "Club JLI." Using Lord's persona, Dreamslayer lures a large portion of the Justice League to the island and takes mental control of them, making them the "new Extremists."
- The Silver Sorceress, one of the former Champions of Angor and a Justice League member, dies defeating Dreamslayer. Her gravesite is on the island of KooeyKooeyKooey.
- The U.N. withdraws its support from the Justice League and it disbands. The Martian Manhunter seemingly takes a leave of absence, although he later re-emerges under the persona of Bloodwynd.
The release of Justice League Spectacular launched the revised Justice League titles under new writers and artists. The Justice League titles expanded to a total of four by the early to mid-1990s: Justice League America (formerly Justice League International), Justice League Europe (which had started two years after Justice League launched, spinning from #24), Justice League Task Force, Extreme Justice and Justice League Quarterly. Justice League Europe was later retitled to become the second volume of Justice League International.
However, with new writers and artists coming and going into the Justice League titles, there was very little consistency in continuity. The more powerful and recognizable characters such as Superman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman and Batman came and went in the various titles, replaced by lesser known characters such as Bloodwynd, Maya, Maxima, Nuklon, Obsidian, Tasmanian Devil, and Triumph. Longtime JLI-era characters such as Captain Atom, Martian Manhunter, and Power Girl were revised and revamped repeatedly, with mixed responses from fans.
By the mid to late 1990s, with the commercial success of the series fading, each of the titles was eventually cancelled.
In 2003, Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire reunited for the six issue miniseries Formerly Known as the Justice League. This depicted Maxwell Lord trying to get the gang back together as The Super Buddies - a Hero-For-Hire group that operated out of a strip mall. 2005 saw second storyline, I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League, by the same creative team published in the pages of JLA Classified. This one told a story of the characters attempt to rescue Ice from Hell.
Over the course of the series, Power Girl and Batman joined the group as well, with Wonder Woman appearing in the book's final three issues. The title was heavily tied to Winick's run on Power Girl, which had the title character dealing with villains connected to Max Lord's plans in Generation Lost, and eventually had her rejoin the Justice League International after a crossover between the two titles. The title also indirectly tied into Odyssey, a storyline published in Wonder Woman that saw the title character being removed from history with her existence forgotten by most of her fellow heroes. This formed the basis of the book's finale, with the members of the Justice League International racing to track down Wonder Woman before Lord could find her and kill her. Plot threads from Kingdom Come and The OMAC Project also appeared.
Generation Lost ended with a teaser that a new Justice League International series would be coming in a few months (with Booster Gold as leader).
The New 52
As part of The New 52, Justice League International was relaunched in September 2011, after the conclusion of the "Flashpoint" storyline, written by Dan Jurgens and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.
This Justice League International is formed by United Nations director Andre Briggs as a UN-controlled counterpart to the original Justice League and is based out of the Hall of Justice. The founding lineup of the team consists of Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red (Gavril Ivanovich), Green Lantern (Guy Gardner), Vixen, August General in Iron, and Godiva, who are recruited to the team due to having their identites publicly known. Batman is denied membership due to having a secret identity, but is allowed to accompany the group as part of an effort to foster good relations between the JLI and the original Justice League. The team goes on to defeat the Signal Men and the alien conqueror Peraxxus.
During a press conference outside the Hall of Justice, Rocket Red is killed when a bomb explodes, while Fire, Ice and Vixen are hospitalized and become comatose. This leads Booster Gold to recruit Batwing, OMAC and Firehawk to the team.
In May 2012, DC announced the cancellation of Justice League International. The series concluded with issue 12 and the Justice League International Annual in August 2012.
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