Hello. My name id Field, Lyle Field.
I was reading the August 2012 DC Solicitations, this afternoon (which actually took place on May 14th around 2:45 PM and found out that Justice League International (JLI) is being cancelled at #12!
This news took me by surprise! I thought the New 52 version of the JLI was doing pretty decently in sales. It bared further investigation as to the possibility as to why it will be cancelled.
Like the other New 52 titles, JLI was (re)launched in September 2011 after the conclusion of the Flashpoint. JLI currently being written by Dan Jurgens (most famously known for the Death and Return of Superman that took place 20 years ago) with art by Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan (both contributing to Justice League: The Lost Generation maxi-series). David Finch (current co-plotter & artist on Batman: The Dark Knight) provided the covers to the series.
In the JLI series, the team was assembled by United Nations director, Andre Briggs, which included representative heroes from around the globe including Fire (Brazil), Ice (Norway), Rocket Red (Russia), Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Vixen (Africa) Godiva (Great Britain), August General in Iron (China) and their leader, Booster Gold. Briggs’ reasoning for the formation of the JLI is to have a group of heroes that is controlled answerable to the UN as it was recently established that the primary Justice League team answers to no one.
The JLI is also made up of members that do not have secret identities, hence Batman is denied membership because of his mask, however the Dark Knight does not give a rats ass as he had his own reasons in “joining” this group of Justice Leaguers.
The inaugural story arc has the JLI fight the Signal Men and the alien conqueror known as Peraxxus and they won, despite cultural and/or ego conflicts with each of the members of the team (check out Justice League International Volume 1: The Signal Masters TP on sale now). Ironically, Batman served more like a “cheerleader” to the team always building up their confidence, especially Booster Gold, which is probably a hold over from Jurgen’s recent run (on his creation) of the same name.
As the JLI bask in their first glorious victory, the Hall of Justice was bombed killing Rocket Red and injuring Fire, Ice and Vixen. Too make matters worse, the UN has disbanded the JLI and has prevented Booster Gold (or anyone else) from reforming the team without feeling the wrath of the UN. Too bad the UN has no “teeth” and Booster Gold goes ahead to seek new members, which has recently included Batwing and OMAC.
But why is DC cancelling the JLI? No definitive reason, but let us take a look as the most likely reason why it is being cancelled—sales!
This incarnation of the JLI debuted in September 2011 with sales figures of approximately 61,000 units sold. Not bad as it is in the top 25. Let us compare the JLI’s debut with two other DCnU titles from the Justice League Group—Captain Atom and The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men. Captain Atom #1 sold an estimated 39, 500 units while the Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men #1 did better with about 46, 400 units sold (probably in part of Gail Simone and Ethan Sciver being attached to this project).
Now compare the debut issues with the April 2012 sales figures of the same three titles: JLI sold 30,400 units, Captain Atom sold 11, 700 units and the Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men sold 15, 400 units. Big droppages on all three titles and if DC has a cancellation threshold of 20, 000 and less monthly units sold then Captain Atom and the Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men would be ripe for cancellation but not the JLI.
Let us look at the sales figures another way. Between JLI #1 and #8 monthly sales have dropped nearly 50%. Compare the JLI’s number to the sales droppage of Captain Atom and the Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men: Captain Atom dropped 30% in sales during the same period while the Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men had a 33% drop. If you look at from this angle, while the JLI is above the 20,000 threshold, it continues to go on a downward trend. Why?
The JLI consists of second to third tier characters as members with Batman (a non-member) the only superstar on the team. The concept of the Justice League is to have all the superstars appear in one book, which is the success formula of a super-team concept. If there is no or little superstars on a Justice League team where fans like to see their favourite hero(es), why bother getting it.
It is very rare that a Justice League title can make it without a good portion of first tier superstars on it. Keith Giffen was successful during the late 80s and early 90s run of his Justice League titles with J.M. DeMatteis, William Messner-Loebs and Gerard Jones in tow as writers, which also saw artists Kevin Maguire and Bart Sears become superstars in the comic book industry. The main reason, slapstick BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! Comedy. Good at the time of publication but I really doubt it can be used now.
The cancellation of the JLI will mark Dan Jurgens second failure as a writer on a Justice League title. Jurgens first run occurred in 1992 & 1993 and from reading some past interviews and remembering the stories—Jurgens had a tough time getting the characters that he wanted to use in the types of stories that he wanted to tell. Jurgens most notable issues during his first run were the two Death of Superman tie-ins, which sold like hot cakes. However, Jurgens has recently returned to Superman (with Keith Giffen as his co-pilot), where he had his biggest success that lasted a decade (1989-1999).
Since we are talking about cancellations in view of the New 52, I want to go back and examine the next wave of titles speculated to be cancelled as the first year rounds to a close. These choices are based on sales figure from #8 of those titles alone:
Captain Atom (11,700 units sold) should have been slated to be cancelled with the first wave but editorial has stopped it mainly because events in that series will change the face of the New DC Universe. When will that happen? Unknown but it better sooner or later.
Voodoo (13,100 unit sold), I always knew this title would not make it and it is still hanging on… again… by DC editorial as this title (along with Grifter) is rootly connected to the Daemonite situation that will beleaguered the entire New 52 Universe in the near future. Also, I believe that this title and Grifter will be cancelled so that they will be part of an ensemble cast as members of the New 52 WildCATS team.
Blue Beetle (13, 700 units sold): The curse of the Blue Beetle continues to live on. If cancelled, it will be the third time in nearly 30 years. The Blue Beetle has always played well as part of an ensemble cast of heroes rather than a solo one. I really doubt that a crossover with Green Lantern: New Guardians will bring long-term sales up and reader interest on that title. It looks like DC is prompting Blue Beetle to join the Teen Titans since Jamie will be moving to New York.
Grifter (14, 100 unit sold), same reason as why I think Voodoo will not make it long-term and it is further exasperated by the Title Killer known as Rob Liefeld. It seems within the New DCnU, if Liefeld’s name is attached to a title or project… it is certain to be DOOMED!!!!!
DC Universe Presents (14, 900 units sold), personally, I do not believe DC will kill this anthology title despite the sales. I think DC will give it another year but this time they will (probably) add more recognizable superstars that do not currently have their own titles like Kid Flash. In my opinion, I would like to see James Robinson do a multi-part story arc on the Earth 2 Trinity of Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman during their hey day.
Resurrection Man (15, 000 units sold): DnA’s second attempt at their creation… failed! Reminds me way too much of the early issues of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn… and that was almost 20 years ago!
The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Men (15, 400 units): Ethan Sciver had a great concept in mind but its execution was terrible. Also the art was pretty bad except for Sciver’s fill in art duties. When Gail Simone parted from the series, which is speculated has something to do with editorial control, I left the series. A crossover with the soon to be ill fated JLI did not help matters either.
Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE (16, 100 units sold), This by far my favourite title that is in danger of being cancelled. Not sure what is going to happen to Frank when his series will eventually get cancelled but I hope that he becomes part of the Justice League Dark squad. If that happens, I might return to the JLD.
Legion Lost (16, 200 units sold), the Legion of Super-Heroes is among my favourite franchises in the DC Universe. However, Legion Lost reads more as a finite series than an ongoing series. Upon the end of the Culling, this title is practically finished at least in this incarnation. If the Legion Lost team is to remain in the 21st century then I believe it is time to bring in Superman and transform Legion Lost into SUPERMAN AND THE LEGION by the current Legion Lost team of Tom DeFalco and Pete Woods.
The Savage Hawkman (16, 500 units sold) , again I believe the fate of this title is sealed thanks to Rob Liefeld , Title Killer! However, I think DC editorial will string this title along until at least the upcoming Trinity War event.
Now back to the JLI. August will be the JLI’s finale as the team will appear in Batwing #12 (also guest-starring Nightwing) and the JLI Annual #1 (also guest-starring the Blue Beetle). There is a number of outstanding plotlines that I would like to see continue.
OMAC. With the end of JLI, this will mark OMAC’s second time that he has appeared in a series that is slated to being cancelled within less than six months. I have been following the New 52 version of OMAC very closely and even though JLI Annual #1 states that all remaining plotlines in regards to OMAC will be resolved, I do not believe it will happen. OMAC’s story should be transferred to the Superman title for its continuation considering that OMAC artist and co-plotter, Keith Giffen, is the primary writer on that title now.
Booster Gold. He is a character that I really despise since his introduction but thanks to Infinite Crisis, 52 and Geoff Johns, Booster has become a likeable character. Dan Jurgens took back his character and stuck with the defending the timeline aspect where he ultimately met his failure thanks to Flashpoint. However, Booster’s character has continued to evolve thanks to the post-Blackest Night series—Justice League: The Lost Generation—where he has displayed leadership abilities that continued to evolve in the current (and soon to be ill fated) JLI.
For Booster Gold not to fade into the wilderness again, DC should propose a series entitled—The Blue and the Gold—that features the buddy-buddy team of Booster Gold and the Blue Beetle. The Blue Beetle #8 has sold less than 14,000 units in April 2012 and its cancellation is inevitable at its current state. Putting these two characters together as one series could be successful if they put Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens as the primary writing team with all kinds of stories that can grow.
As for the JLI itself. With the announcement of the Trinity War, which features a potential between the three different factions of the Justice League, it looks as though the members of the JLI will not be involved.
The cancellation of the JLI is a surprise. The reason as to why remain a mystery as I feel it has to be a creative editorial decision rather than one based on sales alone. Guess we will find out more in the next few months.