Justice League International #14: Shop or Die (June 1988)

justice_league_international_vol-_3_tpbTHE PACKAGING: Vol 3 of the Justice League International trade series, featuring some lovely new Maguire cover art and three whole female characters. Woot!

THE CREATIVE TEAM: Keith Giffen (Plot & Breakdowns), J.M. DeMatteis (Script), Steve Leialoha (Pencils), Al Gordon (Inks), Gene D’Angelo (Colors), Andy Helfer (Editor) featuring the New Gods created by Jack Kirby.

JUSTICE LEAGUE ROLL CALL: J’onn Jonzz, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Mister Miracle, Rocket Red (Dmitri), Green Flame & Ice Maiden with Oberon and Max as civilian “support.”

GUEST STARS: Lord Manga/Manga Khan, L-Ron, Big Barda, G’nort

justice_league_international_vol_1_14THE STORY: A mysterious spaceship approaches Earth…it’s Manga Khan! One of the most iconic and at the same time ridiculous JLI villains, he’s here to force the Earth to shop or die. At his side, trusty robot sidekick L-Ron, whose importance to this comic cannot be overstated.

Green Flame and Ice Maiden have got as far as Oberon in their quest for employment, but threatening him may not be the best strategic move to impress J’onn.

Somewhere in his distant sector of space, G’nort figures out the situation with surprising efficiency and zooms off to warn/save the Earth.

As Lord Manga’s sinister announcement interrupts the TV stations across the world, everyone reacts with a mixture of bemusement and concern, which is about right for a Manga Khan situation. As the Justice League rally to meet this new challenge, they find themselves short-handed and J’onn reluctantly include Green Flame and Ice Maiden in the mission.

THE CHARACTERS: Batman has quit, Black Canary has mysteriously gone AWOL and Guy Gardner appears on the cover but not in the story. Captain Atom is basically scenery. Oh and Max is still in a hospital bed. It’s as good an excuse as any to let some new blood into the team…

And not a moment too soon, given how much of this issue is given over to suburban frat bro bullshit, with Beetle and Booster making all kinds of creepy speculation about the relative hotness vs badassness of Scott’s wife Barda. Who by the way spends most of the issue in the kitchen “putting mayonnaise in the lasagna” while the boys watch a football game. Oh, JLI.

manga-14THE COMEDY: Despite the uncomfortable humour coming from the boys (be better, Blue Beetle) and the treatment of Barda, the comic is settling into a more consisten tone where the humour mostly comes from puncturing conventions of the genre. Manga himself is a clear example of this, a character designed to be a comedy villain who talks to himself and has a possibly unhealthy relationship with his robot sidekick.

THE ART: Guest artist Leialoha’s style is very different to Maguire’s but he is good at drawing action. His character designs blander in expression than we’re used to (especially the interchangable white dudes with different hair colours: Ted, Scott and Booster) but his G’nort is excellent and his epic space panels are pretty, well, epic. Leialoha’s design of Lord Manga and L-Ron in all their shiny metal goodness is a major addition to the JLI visual palette.

THE KITCHEN SINK: Wow, Booster and Beetle are so much skeevier than I remember. I knew I was going to wince about some of the portrayal of Fire, whose character is defined as 80% flirt to 20% shenanigans, but I had forgotten how much Barda is often treated as a throwaway 1950’s style bad housewife joke. Still, all that is going to change very soon, when she finally strides out of the kitchen… Still, Scott and Barda are sweet together, Green Flame and Ice Maiden finally have a foothold in the team and we have a Manga to battle, so it’s not all bad.

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PREVIOUSLY ON THE ONE TRUE JUSTICE LEAGUE:
Justice League The Story So Far
Justice League #1 (May 1987)
Justice League #2 (June 1987)
Justice League #3 (July 1987)
Justice League #4 (August 1987)
Justice League Annual #1 (1987)
Justice League #5 (September 1987)
Justice League #6 (October 1987)
Justice League International #7 (November 1987)
Justice League International #8 (December 1987)
Justice League International #9 (January 1988)
Justice League International #10 (February 1988)
Justice League International 11 (March 1988)
Justice League International 12 (April 1988)
Justice League International 13 & Suicide Squad 13 (May 1988)