Back in the autumn/winter of 1988/89, I'd narrowly failed my A-levels, which meant I couldn't walk my chosen path to further education. Re-sits didn't seem like an option, so I joined the ranks of the unemployed for those few cold months.Don't get me wrong, life was good - my parents were still together, I had great friends who I saw almost every day, it was just that life wasn't going how I'd expected.
I devoured comics in my late teens. They were 45p each and regularly filled shelf space at the local supermarket, but if you went into town, a shop called Timeslip sold them for 55p; a worthy increase, considering they were the latest issues, fresh from the States. I started with Marvel (The New Mutants), but moved onto DC after enjoying the role-playing game immensely. It was a good time for comics, what with Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns bringing them into the public eye. They were - at least the ones I bought - well-written and beautifully drawn; in a couple of years time, it would all be about the art, pushing story to one side, but that's a discussion for another day.
Anyway, one of the comics I started reading was Justice League International. It was a strange one, almost as if it was telling us what superheroes did on their days off, when they weren't doing what the others were doing in their own comics. Sure, the day was saved plenty of times and in true comic-book style, but what really worked for me was the interaction between the characters and their humour. It's slapstick in places, yet there are times when it can be deeply moving too, all thanks to top-notch writing from Giffen and DeMatteis.
What I really admired about it was the characterisation. This wan't just Batman and a few other heroes, this was a team where each individual mattered - they were more than their powers, they drove the stories, making the comic so much more than bog-standard 'who is the bad guy this issue' fare. Sadly, all good things come to an end. The Justice League have had several incarnations since, but I've never tried them; perhaps I'm missing out, but I just can't imagine it having the same effect on me as it did back then.
Inevitably, there's a movie on the cards, following the success of Marvel's Avengers Assemble. That was a great film, although it was disappointing that - at the climax - Black Widow and Hawkeye were reduced to getting people out of a bus while all the other god-like characters were involved in a huge battle. The Justice League movie can work, providing the emphasis is - like most of the Avengers - on character rather than spectacle. I've a suspicion it'll be more latter than former, but you never know, they may do it err... justice.