Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Justice League Of Their Own, Part Two

Monday, I wrote about The Justice League and why I wasn't overly impressed with some of the recent things put in motion. Today, let's talk about some of the things I believe could help turn things around:

Open Membership

Open The Justice League up to every available superhero from Doctor Occult to Damian, the current Robin. (More on this later.)

Founding Fathers (And Mothers)

Borrow liberally from the Justice League Unlimited cartoon and use the founder's clause that every Justice League team should have at least one founding member on it. One, because it provides the reader, new and old, with a sense of the familiar and two, it's just an awesome element for potential internal conflict with The League's young guns and who doesn't like seeing heroes working on a learning curve?

Each One, Teach One or It Takes A Child To Raze A Village

Have The Justice League become the epicenter of the superteam universe. Have them form partnerships and mentoring with their contemporaries The Justice Society of America and The Teen Titans. Have JSA'ers as "special guests" and if Jay Garrick, the original Flash, is on the squad, give it the same gravity of watching Vince Lombardi coaching a Brett Favre (Barry Allen) would have while a Damian (Peyton Manning) looks on.

Clothing Optional

You don't need a cape to be a hero. That said, those same courtesies should be opened up to some of the more periphreal DC teams such as The Doom Patrol, The Challengers of The Unknown and The Metal Men. It would help shine a spotlight on them and elevate their status in the reading public eye and quite frankly, each of these teams has three of the DCU's brightest minds in The Chief, Prof. Haley and Doc Magnus.

This next one, for me, has always been one of those things that even as a kid I could never quite wrap my head around. As an adult, I have given it a name.

The Firestorm Principle

If The League is working a locked room mystery case, why is Firestorm, THE NUCLEAR MAN on your active roster. Common sense would have the team comprised of Batman, Dick Grayson, The Martian Manhunter and The Elongated Man. (Well, at one time it would have.) Why's a living nuclear reactor getting page time. Usually, Firestorm is there so that a member of The League can go, "Firestorm, shed some light over here, please." That's what flashlights are for, man, not a nuclear man. Don't get me wrong, I like Firestorm but let's face it. Smarts aren't his wheelhouse. Extinction level events should be. Firestorm's appearance in a League story should be shorthand for "the villain shit has officially hit the superhero fan." That brings me to my next point.

Inner Conflict

Stop allowing writers to build teams as if they were building a fantasy football team. It's not. It's the premiere supergroup of comics. I don't care if you really, really like Guardian, most don't. He's not going to go down as a JLA legend. Use him and lose him and let's all move on to telling stories that someone other than your inner child might actually want to read.

Build-A-Bear (Team)

Tailor teams accordingly with the level of the threat. If Despero comes around, make sure Guy Gardner, Fire, Booster Gold and The Martian Manhunter are there to get some payback. Also, make sure they have the backing of League powerhouses such as Orion, Superman, Captain Atom and Wonder Woman to send a statement to every building throwing, world conquerering villain north, south, east and west of Earth, that The Justice League, like Wu-Tang, ain't nothin' to f*** with.

The League should be a glimpse into the DC Universe. You should be able to pick up an issue and be blown away by sheer awesomeness.

Sooner, rather than later, hopefully.


Anonymous said...

I think the main thing to ask is why a given team exists, and then make sure their adventures match. In the case of the Justice League, they are simply the best of the best at DC; every JLA member should be absolutely phenomenal at something or other. It follows that any threat or event worthy of the JLA's time must be big; not necessarily a supervillain or a physical confrontation, but whatever it is and whatever level it operates on, it needs to be worth taking Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern away from whatever else they were doing. Grant Morrison saw things this way too, I think. James Robinson does not.

A group like the JSA would be better for pairing seasoned veterans with energetic newcomers, I think.

Devon Sanders said...

That's sort of the point I'm making; the DCU is full of "best" so why limit the roster to seven or whatever number.

If you have a science type something-or-other, why not call in those who are absolutely phenomenal as opposed to those who are simply available.

ChrisM said...

I like the suggestions and I was thinking the other day that a more round-robin JLU style approach would serve the team well. Having the equivalent of the JLA "espionage" or JLA "detective" team would be awesome!

But I was thinking that from a writer's perspective, they are always looking for the chemistry/ dynamic/story/struggle of the characters in the team.

So, no, it doesn't make sense for Firestorm to be on a detective story-BUT its kind of a writing challenge and a potentially interesting story to see the fish out of water.

Similarly, it seems like you want a team that will have enough character to show strong interaction, but not so much that the book is overwhelmed by it. (especially since JLA is generally plot-driven).
I think the teams tend to be constructed based on the dynamic they bring.. Batman-the anarchist/strategist. Superman-the alpha male/leader/good guy. Firestorm-the young nube. Green Arrow-the liberal righteous/Green Lantern-the alien cop-hot dogger.

I have a fantasy JLA dream team but I honestly don't know if any of it works from a character perspective. But I think that's where Avengers has done well over the years-they've got flavor and they interact. Its boring to have a bunch of "best" guys on a team if they all perfectly get along or don't show any dimension...

Chad Bowers said...

Man, some of the best suggestions I've heard for the JLA in a while.

What's amazing and frustrating, is DC's willingness to bring in sister media stuff like, say, giving Superman a son for a few months to coincide with Superman Returns, or trying to cannibalize bits from Smallville into the DCU proper. And yet, there's JLU, an idea that's been market tested and approved by essentially everybody, and they absolutley refuse to use it where it's needed most.

Anyway, bravo, sir -- nice work.