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Justice League International

“Only the Dead Know Bialya!”

Volume 1, Issue 17, September 1988
Released May 17, 1988

Cover Price: 75¢
Guide Price: $3.00 (as of 2011) Rating
  • Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Fan Rating
  • Currently 5.0/5 Stars.

Justice League International, Vol. 1, #17. Image © DC Comics



Writers: J. M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen
Penciller: Kevin Maguire
Inker: Al Gordon
Colorist: Gene D'Angelo
Letterer: Bob Lappan
Editor: Andrew Helfer

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Cover Description: Blue Beetle screams as a horribly disfigured Wandjina grips his face from behind. (No Booster Gold.)

Brief Synopsis: Batman's covert operation into the hostile nation of Bialya is blown while Martian Manhunter's rescue mission for Mister Miracle into deep space has hit a major obstacle.

Booster Gold's role in this story:
Featured (Booster Gold plays a prominent role)

Costume Worn: MARK I power-suit

Story Notes: The title to this issue's story is a reference to a short story by Thomas Wolfe, "Only the Dead Know Brooklyn," about a stranger who would never understand a foreign land.

This story has been reprinted in:
Justice League International Book One: Born Again (2020)
Justice League International Omnibus (2017)
Justice League International Volume 3 (2009)

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Page 5, panel 1
Booster Gold and Blue Beetle II are trapped together in a Bialyan prison. While Booster laments his hunger and their incarceration, Beetle writes such graffiti on the wall as, "for a good time call 555-1732 ask for Canary."

Page 6, panel 1
Luring the guard close to the cell, Booster uses his telepathic control over his Legion Flight Ring, now being worn by the guard, to draw the guard forcefully into the cell bars, knocking him out. This is the first demonstration that Booster can mentally control his ring even if he is not wearing it (and someone else is).

Image Copyright DC Comics

Page 8, panel 5
When Booster catches a falling Green Flame, Beetle comments that Booster gets "to catch all the beautiful half-naked girls that fall out of the sky." Though this sounds like sour grapes, there may be some truth to the gripe, as future issues will reveal.

Page 11, panel 2
Batman, Beetle, Booster, and Green Flame are confronted by Wandjina, Bialya's resident superhero. The name Wandjina is a reference to Aboriginal Australian elemental spirits, and the character is modeled on Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Wandjina was involved in a near-fatal Soviet nuclear accident in Justice League #3, which occurred before Booster joined the League.

Page 16, panel 1
Batman, Beetle, Booster, Captain Atom, and Flame come face-to-face with the Queen Bee and her chief aide, Jack O'Lantern. Flame and Lantern were both previously teammates on the all-but-defunct superhero team, the Global Guardians, before both went to work for more lucrative organizations with opposed political ideologies.

Page 18, panel 2
L-Ron demonstrates that he is capable of transplanting his consciousness into new bodies ("spring fashions") while Manga Khan makes yet another reference to Star Trek, specifically to the titular character in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, critically considered the best movie of the television based sci-fi films.

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Boosterrific Review: Highlights of this issue include former heroes turned villains, unusual use of a Legion Flight Ring, Batman underestimating his opponent, and Kevin Maguire managing to sneak a little good girl art into this action-packed story of global politics. Issues like this justify the enduring popularity of super hero comic books.

Boosterrific Rating:

  • Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Worth Its Weight In Gold.

Average Fan Rating:

  • Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
(1 vote)

  • Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
KMD (Nov. 11, 2009, 15:52:40)
A fun issue with Booster and Beetle at their best and, as our host notes, Green Flame does look nice (and spends half the issue in her underwear!).

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