Sunday, November 26, 2017

I think it's always good to keep in mind who created what component of big superhero films like Justice League.

Spoiler alert: Starro The Conqueror does not appear in the film at all.
  • The Justice League of America was created in 1960 by Gardner Fox, although it was based on an earlier super-team he created with Sheldon Mayer in 1940, The Justice Society of America.
  • Superman and Lois Lane were created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Ma and Pa Kent were created by the pair the following year.
  • Batman and Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon were created in 1939 by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Alfred Pennyworth was created by Kane and Don Cameron in 1939.
  • Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter
  • The Flash Barry Allen was created in 1956 by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino, although he was a reimagined version of a character with that name and power-set originated in 1940 by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert.
  • Aquaman was created in 1941 by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris. Mera was created in 1963 by Jack Miller and Nick Cardy.
  • Cyborg was created in 1980 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
  • Steppenwolf, Parademons, Darkseid and Mother Boxes were all created by Jack Kirby as part of his "Fourth World" cycle of cosmic comics in the early 1970s.

The first appearance of Steppenwolf, left; note that his sweet hate, cape and giant ride-able dog do not appear in the new film.

The above gentlemen were responsible for originally creating all of the characters and concepts you see in the Justice League, but it's probably also worth noting that the particular iterations of the characters all seem to come from certain places, too.

For example, the film's version of Aquaman is the long-haired, bearded, grumpy version from the Peter David-written, 1994 series...mixed with the loud, boisterous version of the character from the 2008 Batman: The Brave and The Bold cartoon. While The Flash is named Barry Allen, he's young and inexperienced, needs to constantly eat and is aware of The Speed Force, like the Wally West of the immediate post-Crisis Flash comics. Batman, inexplicably, is an aging, grizzled, 20-year-veteran of crime-fighting, designed to resemble the version from Frank Miller and company's 1986 The Dark Knight Returns miniseries.

Pieces and parts are taken from all sorts of different comics, with even a small, gag moment like when Aquaman got tangled in Wonder Woman's lasso of truth and couldn't stop telling the truth out loud, having appeared in print first. Christopher Priest-penned short story in 1998's JLA 80-Page Giant #1 where the very same thing happened, for example.

That said, somewhat surprisingly, in terms of plot, the film struck pretty closely to presenting a newer, more Hollywood version of just two comics stories:

Justice League (2011) #1-#6 / Justice League Vol. 1: Origin by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Scott Williams and others: Apokolyptian Parademons invade planet Earth, necessitating seven superheroes--the very six in the film, plus Green Lantern Hal Jordan--to unite and repel the invasion. The newest and youngest hero, Cyborg, is himself created during the course of the invasion, with the help of Mother Box technology.

Earth 2 #1-#6 / Earth 2 Vol 1: The Gathering by James Robinson, Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott: Apokolyptian Parademons led by the ax-wielding Steppenwolf invade an alternate reality, attempting to conquer it and transform it into a new version of Apokolips. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman give their lives fending off the invasion, and a new group of heroes rise to protect the badly shaken world. Nicola Scott's helmet design for the villain is imported directly into the film.

Neither of those are particularly good comics, mind you, but having seen the film, it's pretty clear why they made some of the choices they did in order to introduce such a relatively wide variety of characters in as efficient a way as possible.

If you need suggestions for good Justice League comics to read, I would start with Grant Morrison, Howard Porter and company's JLA and keep reading until you hit the end of Mark Waid's run on the title. The Giffen/DeMatteis comics are pretty great, too, although perhaps a bit dated at this point and lacking the super-star power. The Alex Ross comics--2005's Justice with Jim Krueger and Doug Braithwaite and the just-published collection of all of his collaboration with Paul Dini, Absolute Justice League: The World's Greatest Heroes--are pretty great entry points, too.


Anonymous said...

needs to constantly eat ... like the Mark Waid-written Wally West of the immediate post-Crisis Flash comics

The idea that he needs to eat constantly was introduced by Mike Baron.

Caleb said...

Thanks; I rewrote that sentence. I forgot Barron and Messner-Loebs preceded Waid; immediate post-Crisis Flash is apparently one of the holes in my DC reading.