Panelology is a weekly podcast about comics. We talk about current books, what we're looking forward to, and how to get into reading comics in the first place.

Justice League International: Volume One (DC Comics, 1987; JL #1-6, JLI #7)

I do not think that there is a single comic run that people have recommended to me as many times or for as long as people have told me to pick up Justice League International.  I would have grabbed it sooner, but it’s actually pretty hard to find.  So when I came across the first four volumes last week, I pounced.

The premise behind Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’s Justice League* run is pretty straightforward:  the public lacks faith in a reformed Justice League, and the somewhat random assortment of heroes who form the new League have to get along long enough to fight bad guys.  And on top of that a scheming Maxwell Lord is pulling strings and insinuating himself into the team’s operations.  Missions span an issue or two each and flow from one to the next, with the League’s administrative and personality clashes forming the book’s connective tissue.  DeMatteis’s humor keeps the script lively, especially as it comes to asides and color commentary.

What surprised me the most was how well Justice League International’s art holds up.  Kevin Maguire and Austin & Gordon’s linework is simple and clean, with figure work that, while somewhat idealized, avoids excesses that would make it feel dated.  The same goes for D’Angelo and Vozzo’s colors—cleanness and intentionality help the book stand up to time. composition and expression. 

The pieces of comics and other superhero-related media that Justice League International reminds me of astounded me as I read it.  I have no doubt that this was an influential run on comics.  It is also a good run—by and large, it ages well.  It has clean, clear art with focused layouts.  And even its sense of humor—while a little corny—survives the thirty years that have passed since Giffen and DeMatteis began their run on Justice League.  It’s definitely worth checking out if you want an approachable, classic JL story.

* As this book goes on and its scope and location change, so too does the book’s title:  it maintains consistent numbering back and forth between Justice League, Justice League International, Justice League of America, and Justice League of Europe.

Collected in

  • Justice League International, Vol. 1 (Justice League #1-6, Justice League International #7)


Writers: Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis | Breakdowns: Keith Giffen | Penciller: Kevin Maguire | Inkers: Terry Austin (1), Al Gordon (2-7) | Colorists: Gene D’Angelo, Daniel Vozzo | Letterer: Bob Lappan

Morning Glories: For a Better Future (Image Comics, 2010; #1-6)

Uncanny X-Force: The Apocalypse Solution (Marvel Comics, 2010; #1-4)