Warning: the following contains a highly uninformed opinion on the upcoming ongoing comic series from DC, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (written by Geoff Johns). Yes, another Justice League. Because DC has not yet begun to ape Marvel’s style.
So recently, DC announced that JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA was coming back. Now to those confusedly asking how it can be coming back when it’s already here, note that the current series is just called “Justice League”. Prior to the reboot, there was a series called “Justice League of America” (which I had the mixed but still enjoyable pleasure of reading in its last seven issues as written by James Robinson). But, probably as an attempt to distance it from the purely American connotation and give it a more international feel (not to be confused with the actual Justice League International, which came to an end some time ago), DC started its flagship series of the New 52 as just the Justice League.
It would appear that they aren’t entirely against the JLA though, as the like-titled series begins early next year. Additionally, the release of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1 will see not two or three or even four, but 52 variant covers! One for each state in the US, and a couple there to round out the 52 theme, including presumably the standard cover.
Initially I thought those covers would be unique to each state. Evidently I thought wrong, since it’s just a standard template with a state flag plastered on it at the customer’s request. I’m disappointed.
Before I devolve into my usual pedantic ramblings, I’ll just say the plot synopsis is not forthcoming, DC remaining tight-lipped about it. What we do know is that the team will consist of the following: Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Green Lantern Simon Baz, Katana, Green Arrow, Catwoman, Stargirl, and a new hero named Vibe.
I’ll get more into them in a minute.
My history with the Geoff Johns penned Justice League series has been rocky to say the least. I only ever read the first eight issues of it before I abandoned it out of frustration. Admittedly it could have gotten a lot better in the interim, but I’m not about to track down copies just to find out for myself. My main problem with Geoff Johns’ depiction of the heroes was their utter unlikability. There was always this undercurrent of superiority about the characters, but JL just took it to a new, irritating level. But if you want my opinions on that series in full, read my retrospective on the first eight issues. [Edit: Really? I haven’t actually written that yet? That can’t be right, I’m certain I wrote that.]
Since I stopped at issue eight, I can only guess at what’s happened since. But one thing I took away from issue eight was that Steve Trevor, the League’s liason to the US government, recruited Green Arrow to join a new team he was forming. We can now plainly see that this was the team. And while I have little to go on, I’m going to take a guess about why it’s here.
Other than being a cash grab on DC’s part. I’m talking in-universe.
It was established roughly at the time when Trevor recruited Green Arrow that the US government is scared of the Justice League. After all, they’re a group of superpowered beings, with knowledge, strength, speed, and technology far beyond even the US’ prodigious resources. And none of them (save Cyborg) is reasonably accountable to the state, due to their identities. Not helping matters is two of their number, Wonder Woman and Aqua Man, possessing ties to sovereign nations with resources also beyond comprehension, and which the US can’t afford to get into open conflict with (especially after so many wars in the middle east).
In short, as Steve Trevor threatened previously, the Justice League could just brush away the old order and make themselves masters of America (if not the world) if they really wanted to. Understandably, the government doesn’t want that to happen. So they need their own team of metahumans, ones they can control. They need a Justice League….of America. The United Nations had their own Justice League in the form of JLI. It’s only fitting for the US to not have to rely on a League with no loyalty to it.
At least, that’s what I theorize. Anyone who knows more about what’s happened in JL since my departure, feel free to correct me in the comments.
So let’s take a look at that list. Green Arrow is obvious, he was well-established. Steve Trevor seems to have some involvement if the main cover is to be believed, which is also not surprising. I’ve not read any of the Savage Hawkman, but this wouldn’t be the first time he’s been on the JLA. Nor have I read Birds of Prey, so I can’t say either way about Katana‘s inclusion other than she being the possible token Asian of the group. Nothing wrong there, if the pre-Flashpoint JLA team was any indication, you can make any obscure character compelling. Martian Manhunter has been bopping around the DCU for a while, so there’s that, and some promotional materials (namely a free comic from Free Comic Book Day) states he’s got some major connections to the JLA and a knows stuff we don’t.
From here it gets puzzling. I have nothing against Simon Baz as Green Lantern and I can fully understand why from a marketing perspective he would be on the team. Every Justice League needs a Lantern of some variety. But I’m reading Green Lantern right now, and Baz is a wanted fugitive, suspected of being a terrorist. Would he really be placed on any government team? Even if it’s not state-run, who would hire such a notorious person? Maybe later issues of Green Lantern explain things.
Stargirl makes sense given she’s a kind of patriotic-themed heroine. But she’s always been associated with the Justice Society of America, not the Justice League. How does she exist in this continuity, considering the JSA was retconned from this universe? Then again, how could The Shade exist in this continuity? With him I always just said his series was set firmly in the old history. Can’t say the same here. I’m baffled.
Vibe. I know nothing about Vibe, since he’s a new character. He’s getting a solo series though, which seems to suggest from a synopsis that he’s one of the most powerful people in the new DC universe. He’s sounding more and more like a lame creator’s pet from the nineties. Don’t want to prejudge his before he’s had a chance to prove he’s terrible or not, but this bodes ill.
[Edit: Okay, so apparently Vibe is NOT a new character. He’s apparently been around since the mid-eighties. So really my assertion was incorrect. Vibe is like a lame creator’s pet from the Eighties. And he’s also totally radical. Apparently. Even I didn’t see this one coming.]
And finally we have…sigh…Catwoman. Why is Catwoman on this team? Who invited her? She’s more often a villain than a heroine. I know this team is going to be more secretive and shadowy, but this seems like such a blatant executive decision based on the fact that she played a huge role in Batman media as of late.
Despite my misgivings, I’ll still be reading the first issue. I kind of HAVE to, don’t I? It’s one of the biggest new series to come out of DC in a while, and will naturally be the central thrust to the New 52…sigh…fourth wave. I can’t believe we’re already coming up on the fourth wave. Wasn’t it a short while ago I was saying goodbye to OMAC and saying hello to Earth 2 and Dial H? I know DC is kind of desperate for relevance, but it wouldn’t hurt to slow down people.
Oh, and before I forget, all this will lead into another huge crossover event called Trinity War, where the Justice League and the Justice League of America and Justice League Dark (remember them?) will have some huge battle royale or something. To that I say no thank you. After all the Marvel crossover events and Rotworld and Death of the Family and what have you, I’m altogether burned out on big event comics. Case in point, that thing starting in the Superman books. That “H’ell on Earth” thing. I wasn’t even reading any of the Superman titles (though I’ve long thought of reading Supergirl), but count me out even more. Let someone else handle that stuff!
I need a drink.
What do you think? Is this lineup as bad as I’ve made it out to be? Does my theory hold water of any kind? Did I check out of Justice League too early, and it got good right after I left? Is Catwoman not a terrible choice? Leave your comments below.