New Justice League International on the Way With Booster Gold, Hawkman and Shazam?

Artist R.B. Silva shared a handful of images this week and last via his Instagram page, one of which featured the tantalizing caption "Can't talk about it." What can't he talk about? It looks like a new Justice League or Justice Society team, featuring Red Tornado, Shazam, Booster Gold, Hawkman, Black Canary, Batgirl and Nightwing. While three of these members have been affiliated with Justice League International in the past (that's Booster, Shazam and Black Canary, pre-New 52), characters like Hawkman, Black Canary, Shazam and Red Tornado have also been Justice Society members throughout the years. Based on the character choices alone, and on the recurring "Egyptian artifacts" motif--you've got Shazam and Hawkman, plus Booster who's got connections to such things in his past, at least some of which remains intact in spite of the New 52--we would have called it for "Justice Society."

Except that one of the images--alongside a sketch of Red Tornado and Nightwing--is captioned with the hashtag "#justiceleagueinternational" - a team that neither of them are exactly widely associated with. Booster Gold is arguably the character most associated with the JLI, having been one of the principal stars of almost the entire Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis run on the title. He also led the team in the New 52 under writer Dan Jurgens, who created Booster, and artist Aaron Lopresti. The lineup also just begs to be written by Geoff Johns--which is notable not only because Johns is currently writing Justice League and Justice League of America but because the abrupt cancellation of Justice League International, which wasn't performing up to its potential but was certainly not selling badly compared to a dozen or so titles that survived that particular round of cancellations, led some fans and industry observers to speculate that Johns (who wrote the Justice League International Annual which was published after the title ended) might want to take his shot at the characters. Not that he hasn't already had plenty of experience with Hawkman, Booster Gold and Shazam--the characters dead center in the middle of that group shot at top. And not that Silva's run on Superboy--another Johns favorite--might not have captured the Chief Creative Officer's attention.

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And, of course, there's a bit more evidence to consider that this team might be going by some variation on the Justice League name: Hawkman, Shazam and Black Canary all appear in the final page of this week's Justice League issue, in which Cyborg is looking for potential "recruits" to the team. None of the characters on that page appear to be locks for long-term Justice League membership, although we already know that some of them will be members of the Justice League of America. Perhaps this new Justice League International will get a couple of the characters following "Throne of Atlantis" as well. Booster was last seen in the aforementioned annual, when a future version of himself arrived to help him at a critical moment. That "future Booster" was wearing an A.R.G.U.S. patch, the name of the clandestine organization where Steve Trevor works. Trevor, of course, will be heading up the Justice League of America team written by Johns and featuring Hawkman. That throws into question exactly how "international" such a team might be. While their origins are tied to foreign objects, both Shazam and Hawkman are American characters in the New 52. And unless we're set to learn something new about Red Tornado, Booster Gold's (never-mentioned-on-the-page) Canadian citizenship would make him the only non-U.S. character in this "International" team, which appears to be led by Hawkman and Booster--two guys working alongside an American paramilitary organization. Of course, that's one of the things that's problematic for the JLI in general--DC has few, if any, truly international characters that are particularly marketable and as is often the case in comics, the publisher has to choose their battles when deciding whether it's worthwhile to try and do something to make characters more marketable, or just to embrace the marketplace and publish a comic you think will sell. In the case of the Jurgens/Lopresti run on Justice League International, DC did reasonably well with putting unfamiliar faces of foreign origin on the page. Characters like Godiva and August-General-In-Iron got as much or more play in the title as Guy Gardner and Batman. Even then, characters like Vixen seemed to have almost nothing to do in the title before she sustained an injury that sidelined her for the rest of the run. Ditto Fire and Ice, who are non-Americans that turned out to be basically non-entities for much of the series.