Monday, July 24, 2006
Who Should Be On Brad Meltzer's Justice League
This week's zero issue of Justice League of America ended with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman standing around a table full of superhero glamorshots to start picking who will make up the next Justice League of America, While we readers won't know for quite some time, Meltzer has already made up his mind, and the entire line-up is already picked. Well, having not seen a single issue of the new series with the new League in it, aside from the preview issue that reveals Bats, Supes and Wondy will be on the team, I'm ready to come out and say it: Meltzer's wrong.
So, who should he have picked? Well, I'll tell you. Here's the criteria: The characters have to be Justice League material (household names, the most powerful and competent heroes in the DCU, and iconic enough that their name and powers can be summed up by a little symbol than can be stuck on the back of a chair), they can't be currently out of play (Like Arthur Curry/Orin's Aquaman, Wally West's Flash, Mr. Miracle, Steel, Booster Gold or Captain Marvel), they can't be already determined to be on another team (Like Alan Scott's Green Lantern or Jay Garrick's Flash, though they'd be cool Leaguers, wouldn't they?) and they have to be characters Meltzer would like enough to be able to write well (So no Plas or Martian Manhunter, unfortunately).
Green Lantern John Stewart From a story stand point, this would seem to make the most sense, as John Stewart was the Leauge's GL right up until the League dissolved just prior to Infinite Crisis. Also, John doesn't have any trust issues with any of the other Leaguers (i.e. he was never posessed by a space bug and turned totally loony). Also, there are currently two Earth-based members of the Green Lantern Corps, John and Hal Jordan. Jordan's starring in the Green Lantern monthly, while Guy Gardner is in Green Lantern Corps, Alan Scott is in JSA and Kyle Rayner is in Ion, making John the sole book-less Lantern. Finally, John is the Green Lantern of the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons, and why not match the book up to the cartoon in an effort to make the former accessible to fans of the latter? Especially when doing so comes as naturally as it would in this case?
Oracle Her role as information hub of the DC Universe makes Barbara Gordon a sort of de facto member of the League at all times anyway, so why not make it official and add her to the roll call?
Arsenal or Green Arrow Connor Hawke I think the League should have an archer, but as much I like Olliver Queen (and Meltzer's version of him), I would much rather prefer one of his two protegees take his spot (Meltzer seems to have a greater-than-average degree of affection for both of them, and writes them both well). Either is more versatile than Ollie (Arsenal is skilled with a variety of weapons and ordinance, and Connor's kung fu is better than his archery) which justifies using either of them instead of Ollie from a story stand point, and, from a storytelling stand point, it would be more interesting than simply recycling all the old characters. Choosing between the two, however, is hard. On the one hand, Connor's already been on the League, so seems like the person they'd go to first; on the other hand, Arsenal's put the most time in as a superhero and Titan, and thus seems to have earned it more. If diversity matters—and it does—then Connor has an edge, being half-Asian.
Tempest With Aquaman missing, the JLA doesn't have its Navy, and it would be cool to see the grown-up Aqualad graduate to the JLoA to fill in for his mentor, as Wally West did when Barry Allen died during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Why bother replacing Aquaman at all? Well, from a story stand point, it would be a rebuke against the convential wisdom that Aquaman is useless to the League. If the need to have a sea-going hero were demonstrated by replacing Aquaman with Tempest, it would show the former is needed. Also, Tempest is a sorceror, which would allow Meltzer to have a magic expert on staff without having to use Zatanna, who's still a bit tainted from Identity Crisis (As are the rest of "the Power Pact"). From a practical standpoint, Tempest isn't on any other team in the DCU at this point anyway.
Nightwing Damn, why so many former Titans? Because there just happen to be a lot of former teen sidekicks who have grown up and don't seem to fit in anywhere else at the moment. Take Nightwing for instance. Outsiders is a terrible book for him to be in (actually, it's a terrible book period). Within the context of the DCU, Dick Grayson is one of the most experienced superheroes on the planet with one of the longest and most impressive resumes. In the real world, he's one of the most popular and well-known heroes (even if people are more familiar with his secret identity than his current hero moniker). Besides, he's already temporarily graduated to the Justice League, briefly leading an incarnation of the team during "The Obsidian Age" (an incarnation of the League, incidentially, which should really be revisted again soon in the pages of JLA: Classified). And, finally, there's what I like to call The Superfriends Precedent, in which heroes on the show are automatically considered League material. And Dick Grayson was one of The Big Five on the various seasons of Superfriends (Even if it wasas Robin rather than Nightwing).
Black Lightning Like Nightwing, the Superfriends Precedent applies to B.L.—Black Vulcan was simply a thinly (and lamely) veiled version of him. Like Tempest, the character really doesn't have anywhere else to go. Like Arsenal, he's never been on the League. Within the meta-story of the DCU, it's easy to see his former Outsiders bossman Batman recommending him, and, from a real world stand point, he's a) black (the JLA has traditionally been too white) and b) Melzter must love the hell out of the guy, as he was included in Identity Crisis for one scene for no reason at all.
Hawkgirl The thinking goes that there should always be someone with wings on the team (see Grant Morrison's inclusion of angel Zauriel during his run, when the Hawk-people were unusable). I'm assuming Meltzer will want a Hawk, and I'd prefer he go with Hawkgirl, since she's the Hawk from the cartoon at the moment. Also, she's a woman (which is why she was the Hawk on the cartoon), which, like people of color, is something else the League has always lacked enough of. Finally, she'd be just plain more interesting than Hawkman, whom we've seen so much of in team settings over the years. Wouldn't you rather see Hawkgirl and Connor Hawke flirting than Hawkman and Olliver Queen arguing?
Vixen She's black and a woman!
Cyborg Again with the Titans! But hear me out: He was on a season of Hanna-Barbera's old Superfriends series (wasn't it called Galactic Power at the time?) as well as becoming a household name thanks to Cartoon Network's Teen Titans. His story arc as a character really seemed to run it's natural course under Marv Wolfman's time writing the Titans (when he went into space and embraced his mechanical side), and then again when Phil Jimenez brought him back to Earth and Devin Grayson wrote him (when he finally became fully human again). Geoff Johns restored him to cyborg-status (I don't think they ever did explain why he' sa cyborg again, actually) and stuck him on the Teen Titans, where he sticks out as the only adult on a teen hero team. He doesn't really fit on the team, and if the character's going to be relevant again, it almost has to be on a new team, like the Justice League.