Justice League International Vol. 1: The Signal Masters review

If you’ve been reading “Justice League” then you know how those heroes are acting like a bunch of arrogant teenagers who won’t take anyone’s advice and slam their bedroom door whenever they come home from school. The world governments, uneasy about the Justice League’s brash actions and closed-off behavior, have decided to enlist a group of heroes from countries around the globe to better represent the people. This group, this Justice League International, has been hand-picked to cooperate with the citizenry and ideally even take orders from them. It’s a good premise for a book, but how well was it executed in this volume collecting the first six issues?


So as a Batman fan, this is what I see when I look at the cover for this book:

Clearly Batman is in this book because people are far more likely to buy a comic with Batman on the cover than they are a team of C list heroes. But I think that consumers are too smart for that and the inclusion of Batman is more of a turn-off than anything. Rather than peaking my interest, it shows how little faith DC has in these characters holding up their own book! If they need to shoehorn Batman in there to convince readers to give it a shot–is it really worth buying?

I must say that when it comes to buying “Justice League International” in single issues the answer is no. It’s probably not worth it. But here as a cheap TPB “Justice League International” reads much better. It’s lighthearted fun that fans of the more bang-pow-zap super heroics will enjoy and it would also make a great read for kids! Its style reminds me quite a bit of the X-Men cartoon I grew up with– you know what I’m talking about: da nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh-nah! Da nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh NAH! Du-NUH! This is something I could give my five year old nephew to flip through and not have to worry about him seeing a lot of sexual imagery, gore, or foul language. It’s a bunch of tight-wearing do-gooders fighting giant robots and space aliens. It’s that simple. And when it keeps it that simple, it works. “Justice League International”, when at its best, is all about funny character interactions (I liked Rocket Red and General August in Irons moments the best) and over-the-top and somewhat campy villains. But there are parts where it tries to take itself too seriously and I think that’s where it runs into problems. Batman is the book’s greatest weakness. He’s a distraction. But also it’s important to note that he is better written than he is in Geoff Johns’ “Justice League”. He seems smarter, more mysterious, and he has a far more commanding presence. You see the Dark Knight given the respect he deserves here by the rest of the team but it’s still strange seeing him operate in the daylight for 99% of the book. Also…Batman’s busy enough as it is. DC keeps trying to sell us on this idea of a connected universe, but Batman’s getting spread too thin. He’s fighting owls on Tuesday, then on Wednesday he’s flying to Antarctica with the Justice League, but then he needs to fly to Brazil with the Justice League International after that, but not before rescuing his son from the villain Nobody, and he also has to go save Gordon from–you get the idea. The market’s so over-saturated with Batman that folks are likely to get sick of seeing the character, if they haven’t already.

If “Justice League International” had simply been about these 3rd string crime fighters trying to make the world see them as the heroes they really are  AND if it would’ve maintained a fun and adventurous tone throughout then it would’ve been great. But those moments in which it tries to get dramatic bring it down and the threat that they face is far too big. Keep it small. Have them show up to find out that the “other guys” have already been there to clean up the mess and then the world governments can get all mad at them wanting to know why they didn’t get there first. It’s funny and we can empathize with them. What happens in “The Signal Masters” is a greater threat than what the Justice League faced in their own book! And when the enemy proves to be this formidable and the world looks to be in this much danger, you (at least I did) get pulled out of the comic for a moment and that nerd logic kicks in and you have to ask “Where is Superman?”.

Although the story is passable fun, the artwork was very nice. Nothing mind-blowing, it’s not the sort of book that takes a lot of chances in its storytelling or appearance, but it looks good and I’d like to see more from Lopresti in the future now that JLI is being canceled. His style is very clean and he definitely had his work cut out for him since these characters are all so very, very different. All the heroes had expressive faces and a unique look all their own, but the newer characters were rather uninspired. The main villain–whose motives are already very similar to Galactus–looks way too much like Galactus. And the little mud-men aren’t very original or imaginative looking either, so I was pretty disappointed in the designs for the baddies and some of the action can get a little jumbled, but other than that I thought it was a pretty good looking book. It has a look and feel like something from the 80s for sure and maybe that’s why it didn’t last. The series final issue goes on sale August 1st.

Supplemental Material

There are 7 pages worth of sketches and original character designs, none of which look any different from the finished product. There’s no commentary by the artist or author. Nothing. You’ll also get the original covers but surprisingly nobody re-colored one of them in which Godiva was made to look like a brunette and…I mean, she’s a character whose superpower is her hair and for the folks in charge to get that twice? Come on.


These 6 issues give the full first story but it ends with such a colossal cliffhanger that you may walk away from this book dissatisfied. Still, it’s a better deal than buying the monthly comics which would’ve set you back $17.94 (not including tax). This book is selling for $14.99 full-price, which still doesn’t really feel that worth it for me, but if you’re a big fan of over-the-top superheroics then I could see the price being fair. Amazon is selling it for $10.19 which isn’t too shabby.


The reason I never reviewed the original monthly comics is because this is far, far from a Bat-title. Batman is here and he acts more like Batman than the caped crusader we see in the “Justice League” title, but he feels far more removed from his natural habitat. Fans of more “grounded in reality” stories or readers who enjoy a more complex narrative and complicated characters may be turned off by “Justice League International” while those who love giant alien robots and outer-space scrap dealers will probably get a kick out of it. For me, I found it to be an okay read and very affordable, but it’s not something that I would typically gravitate to. And the ending, while not as disappointing as “Batwing Vol. 1” since the main obstacle is overcome, it does have a cliffhanger that definitely left me feeling somewhat cheated.

SCORE: 6/10