WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Harley Quinn #72, by Sam Humphries, Abel, Hi-Fi and Dave Sharpe, available now.
After previously teaming up to solve a mass-murder mystery in the DC crossover event Heroes in Crisis, Harley Quinn and Booster Gold are working together again in the latest story arc of Harley’s ongoing series. Despite their rocky beginnings, Harley and Booster have proven to have a surprisingly effective working relationship — with the potential for something far less professional — in this story and Harley’s Year of the Villain tie-in. The renewed prominence of Harley and Booster in the DC Universe and their seamless ability to work with other, more wacky characters makes a strong case for why there’s still place in the DCU for Booster’s old team: Justice League International.
Created by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire in 1987’s Justice League #1, the team featured superheroes from all over the world coming together after the events of the crossover Legends. Due to editorial restrictions, Superman and Wonder Woman were both unavailable to be included on the team’s initial roster as both characters were the midst of their own respective high-profile relaunches by DC at the time. Instead, the JLI featured an offbeat line-up, including Booster Gold, Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle, Black Canary, Guy Gardner’s Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter Shazam and other offbeat characters.
Leaning into the self-awareness of how unorthodox and eclectic the JLI’s roster was, the creative team brought a sharp sense of humor to the proceedings, from Booster becoming increasingly obsessed with get-rich schemes, Guy Gardner’s more boorish tendencies amplified and Shazam’s naïveté reflecting his alter ego’s young age all coming into play. The series was officially renamed Justice League International starting with its seventh issue, as the team cycled their activities in embassies around the world while the roster grew to include more foreign superheroes.
By the mid-90s, the original Justice League International series ended, taking its unique blend of slapstick humor and superhero action with it. While members of the JLI roster have reconvened for more comedic adventures on a handful of occasions, the main DC Universe versions of these characters became increasingly series, as typified by Blue Bettle’s death at the hands of JLI co-founder Maxwell Lord, who was revealed to be a nefarious supervillain all along.
The New 52 and DC Rebirth eras brought about the resurrection of Ted Kord, reuniting the fan-favorite Blue and Gold friendship for a new generation, with Ted also appearing alongside Booster during Heroes in Crisis.
If the reunited Beetle and Booster or Harley and Booster’s adventures together have proven anything, it’s that there’s still enough space in the DCU for the JLI’s unique brand of antics and adventure. With many of the old JLI heroes still active around the DCU, a reunion that brings Harley into the JLI fold seems like a natural fit, as she and Booster continue to navigate their new lives together in Los Angeles while facing off against a rich and powerful mogul that wants them both dead.
One of the most eclectic, beloved Justice League lineups in DC Comics history is Justice League International, and it’s endured in the decades since the original series conclusion. With Booster Gold building off his appearance in Heroes in Crisis by reteaming with Harley Quinn, it may only be a matter of time before Booster’s best friend, Blue Beetle, resurfaces. And with Harley Quinn veering more into comedy than most of DC’s current publishing line, perhaps an impromptu JLI reunion could further elevate the humor of the book even more, as the possibility of Booster’s former teammates guest-starring to observe his blossoming relationship with Harley looms over the two characters.
Plenty of DC heroes can save the world, but only a few know how to have fun doing it, and Harley and Booster are the perfect characters to reintroduce the DCU to its most fun Justice League.
Harley Quinn's latest team-up exemplifies why the Justice League International still deserves a place in the DC Universe.