'JLI' annual leads to an all-new 'Justice League of America'

The Justice League International is closing its doors, just as an all-new Justice League prepares to open up shop.

  • Justice League International ends its run with an extra-sized annual, and also sets up a new Justice League of America series.

    DC Comics

    Justice League International ends its run with an extra-sized annual, and also sets up a new Justice League of America series.

DC Comics

Justice League International ends its run with an extra-sized annual, and also sets up a new Justice League of America series.

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Justice League International Annual 1, available Wednesday in comic shops and digitally, wraps up the series launched in September and featuring the likes of Booster Gold, Guy Gardner and others as global peacekeepers dealing with bureaucratic red tape so that the A-list Justice League doesn't have to.

The annual, written by Justice League scribe Geoff Johns and DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio, continues a plot thread from Justice League issue 12 (also out Wednesday) and debuts two new JLI members — Blue Beetle and the Olympian — during its swan song.

It also sets up story lines for the debut early next year of Justice League of America, a new series from Johns and artist David Finch that stars an all-star group of Steve Trevor, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Vibe, Katana, Catwoman, Martian Manhunter, Stargirl and the new Green Lantern named Baz.

"With Justice League International, we wanted to bring a close to this interpretation of the team, show what its original mission was and how it didn't work," DiDio says.

"You're always playing mix and match in regards to the teams and when (Justice League of America) comes out at the beginning of next year, you'll get a very clear understanding why these particular members were chosen by Steve Trevor in order to assemble a new Justice League team."

DiDio got involved with the JLI annual mainly because of OMAC, the blue-tinged warrior whom he had written in one of the original series in DC's "New 52" relaunch last fall.

However, he enjoyed working with the two debuting JLI teammates, even if for one issue.

DC editorial had considered having Blue Beetle join another youth-leaning group such as the Teen Titans or the Ravagers, but JLI seemed like a nice fit for him, DiDio says. "Quite honestly, this is just a way station for Blue Beetle's next adventure."

DiDio also gives just a glimpse of the introduced Olympian. He was brought in to show a pre-established relationship with Godiva and set up a little of their backstory. Plus, the co-publisher says, he's a hero "that has a sensibility and a power that I enjoy writing that Geoff had a lot of fun with, too."

DC Comics

A new Justice League of America team debuts next year and includes Vibe, Catwoman, Steve Trevor, Baz, Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, Katana, Hawkman and Green Arrow.

There is "a pretty final conclusion" to what happens to OMAC although there's potential for him to reappear again, according to DiDio. In addition, the annual sets up a big mystery involving Booster Gold, has one character greatly affected by the newfound relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman (one reason why you should read Justice League 12 first), and sets the stage for a bigger role in other DC books for the all-seeing Brother Eye from the OMAC series.

A couple of story lines will also spin out of JLI Annual and into other Justice League books, with one of them tying into the fact that this team comes apart due to Steve Trevor and his motivations for creating his own Justice League of America team.

"You're going to see a different mix of characters, and by putting that different mix together, it creates new dynamics on how the team operates and what their goals are," DiDio says.

Front and center on the team will be Steve Trevor, Johns says, who will be one of the DC Universe's major characters in 2013.

The writer took a character who was always a doormat for Wonder Woman "and really fleshed him out and gave him a completely different vibe and feel," says Jim Lee, Justice League artist and DC co-publisher.

Justice League of America will reintroduce Vibe, an old Leaguer from the past, to the DC Universe as well as Stargirl, a heroine Johns used in his Justice Society of America run.

"That book is filled with all sorts of great characters but they're characters I love as much as I love Aquaman and Wonder Woman and Batman," Johns says. "They're a little bit more of an eclectic group and very unpredictable."

He has had a plan for Vibe and Stargirl "for an extended period of time so it was great to be able to put them on a major platform," DiDio says.

The one super-team DiDio arguably likes the most, though, is the pairing with Johns for the JLI annual.

"We've worked side by side for so long but we've never collaborated in this fashion on any series, so it was enjoyable for both of us and a wonderfully easy process," DiDio says. "We talk about stories so much that when we actually sat together to put it on paper, it came together very quickly."

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