Justice League International
for short) was formed after the 1987
company-wide crossover limited series
, when a new Justice League
was formed and given a less America-centric mandate than before,. The new comic was written by Keith Giffen
and J.M. DeMatteis
, with art by Kevin Maguire
. Although the first six issues of the title were simply titled Justice League
, they, together with the latter issues when the book is again renamed to Justice League America
are counted as well. Another spin-off title Justice League Europe
was later renamed to Justice League International
(vol. 2) for the last issues of the run.
During this period of time, the membership of the Justice League consisted primarily of then-lesser known heroes such as Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Mister Miracle, and Guy Gardner. Because of the humorous nature of the series, these characters are still primarily known for being comical in nature, but are extremely identifiable and have a loyal fanbase to the present day. Many of the characters made popular during this era of the Justice League have also regained prominence, particularly Maxwell Lord and Blue Beetle, because of their roles in the limited series The OMAC Project. Guy Gardner co-stars in Green Lantern Corps, Booster Gold stars in Booster Gold and a new Blue Beetle stars in his own self-titled book. Wally West (Flash) continues to star in The Flash. Fire is a regular in Checkmate, Metamorpho is in Batman and the Outsiders, and Power Girl is the chair-person of the Justice Society of America.
The funny tone of this series was very popular, but eventually the "Breakdowns" story arc (see below) led to new writers and changed the tone to a more serious take.
Justice League: Breakdowns
"Breakdowns" was a 15-issue crossover between the Justice League America
and Justice League Europe
titles, revising the organization that signalled the change from the humorous tone to the more serious tone. The major events that occurred were the following:
- Maxwell Lord is initially in a coma from a failed assassination attempt. He is later possessed by JLE foe Dreamslayer of the Extremists. Following the end of the "Breakdowns" saga, Maxwell Lord has no more mental powers, apparently drained completely when possessed by Dreamslayer.
- The Queen Bee, ruler of the country Bialya, is killed in a coup d'etat led by Sumaan Harjavti, the twin brother of the original dictator, Rumaan.
- Despero awakens and escapes Manga Khan's starship to wreak havoc on New York City, seeking vengeance against the Justice League. A force of the Justice League's best (Martian Manhunter, Power Girl, Fire, Rocket Red, Metamorpho, Flash, Guy Gardner, Major Disaster), along with the Conglomerate (led by Booster Gold) and Lobo, were unable to stop him. Ultimately, it was Kilowog and L-Ron who subdued Despero by transferring L-Ron's consciousness into the cybernetic control collar that remained around Despero's neck.
- While possessing Maxwell Lord's body, Dreamslayer kidnaps and later murders Mitch Wacky on the island of KooeyKooeyKooey, where the Blue Beetle and Booster Gold previously attempted to open a resort called "Club JLI." Using Lord's persona, Dreamslayer lures a large portion of the Justice League to the island and takes mental control of them, making them the "new Extremists."
- The Silver Sorceress, one of the former Champions of Angor and Justice League member, dies defeating Dreamslayer. Her gravesite is on the island of KooeyKooeyKooey.
- The U.N. withdraws its support from the Justice League and it disbands. The Martian Manhunter seemingly takes a leave of absence, although he later re-emerges under the persona of Bloodwynd.
The release of Justice League Spectacular launched the revised Justice League titles under new writers and artists. The Justice League titles expanded to a total of four by the early to mid 1990s: Justice League America (formerly Justice League International), Justice League Europe, Justice League Task Force, and Extreme Justice. Justice League Europe was later retitled to become the second volume of Justice League International.
However, with the influx of new writers and artists in the various Justice League titles coming and going, there was very little consistency in continuity. The more powerful and recognizable characters such as Superman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and Batman came and went in the various titles, replaced by lesser known characters such as Bloodwynd, Maya, Maxima, Nuklon, Obsidian, Tasmanian Devil and Triumph. Longtime JLI-era characters such as Captain Atom, Martian Manhunter, and Power Girl were revised and revamped repeatedly, with mixed responses from fans.
By the mid to late 1990s, with the commercial success of the series fading, each of the titles were eventually cancelled.
In 1989, the first 7 issues of this series were collected in a trade paperback
called Justice League: A New Beginning
and issues #8-12 in the follow up graphic novel Justice League International: The Secret Gospel of Maxwell Lord
In 2008, DC announced plans to collect the early years of the JLI as hardcover volumes, the first of which has already been released.