‘JUSTICE LEAGUE’: It’s High Time DC’s Biggest Book Took A New Direction
By Jarrod Jones. For nearly fifty issues, we’ve thrilled to the exploits of Geoff Johns’ Justice League, watching the New 52’s flagship title chart the course for nearly every calamity laid at the DC Universe’s doorstep. Check the list: Forever Evil, Throne of Atlantis, and now The Darkseid War — it’s all been good, exciting stuff. Widescreen superheroics featuring the publisher’s most iconic characters.
But c’mon, you guys. It’s time for something new.
While it’s true that the success of Justice League — consistently one of DC’s best-selling titles — has been, well… respectable (especially given the market’s present health), the propulsion of the book, insofar as its place and purpose within the DCU, has indisputably fallen behind the times. And not just because Superman has shaggy hair and a full-tank of superpowers, or that Bruce Wayne is conspicuously behind the Batman’s cowl, or that Wonder Woman is sporting armor that doesn’t make us want to retch; nowadays, there’s a legion of brand-new readers from all walks of life clamoring for superhero sagas that better reflect the world we live in, while at the same time offering the roaring spectacle absolutely everyone knows and loves. But Justice League seems comfortable maintaining status quo.
Problem is, if we’re all being honest with each other, Justice League is an artifact of an era that’s decidedly in the industry’s collective rear view, a throwback to the days when DC stacking the deck with its most popular characters was widely considered to be shrewd business. It still is, for the most part, but the impetus behind this article is simply this: it’s gotten pretty chilly over in Justice League, and it’s past time somebody injected some life into this beast. It’s time for the titans of yesterday to take their membership cards and go home.
In my eyes, this is a job fit for only three people. Submitted for your approval, I give you DoomRocket’s Justice League Dream Team:
The Writer: Marguerite Bennett. I’ve never known a writer to master such a precarious balance between fury and romance. Bennett’s the kind of writer you want on a team book on the scale of Justice League; between DC Comics Bombshells, inSEXts, and Angela: Queen of Hel, Bennett’s proficiency with voice and characterization — to say nothing of scale and exhilaration — is well-documented. And with A-Force, Bennett’s collaboration with G. Willow Wilson, the writer proved beyond doubt that she can handle the superhero juggling act with grace. Bennett’s been taking the industry by storm for a while now. It’s time the entire world knew it.
The Artists: Aaron Kuder and Ashley A. Woods. Action Comics is the best Superman book DC Comics has, and that’s due in no small part to the loving care and considerable talent of Aaron Kuder. A big book demands even bigger scale, and Kuder has proven time and again that he can bring a 200 million dollar budget to DC’s superhero effort. When he’s not rendering the most fearsome, titanic creatures this side of Kirby, he’s giving every character he’s charged with the diligence they deserve. When heroes stand together in Kuder’s world, they look and feel as though they come from their own corners of the universe, instead of some pre-ordained house style. With Kuder at the helm, the League will the the most characteristic and lovable its been since the days of Kevin Maguire.
As for Ashley A. Woods? She’s been turning heads in the industry for years with her indelible craft and palpable enthusiasm. But it’s been her work on Niobe: She Is Life that has brought imminent fame to her doorstep. Woods has displayed work that has the the level of thoughtfulness this brand new League will need to become a unit that cares, worries, and otherwise looks after each other. For this new League, Woods would be tasked with backup stories, pitting each member together for an adventure that strengthens their bonds. I couldn’t imagine an artist better suited to the task. And while it appears that Marvel is already keen on what she can do, DC would do well to outbid anyone who came between them and a fruitful professional relationship with Ashley A. Woods.
The League: Now, all these fine people need is a team. And since we’re wishing for dreams to become reality, it’s not beyond the realm of appropriate behavior that I select a suitable group for this all-new, all-different Justice League, one I feel would be a better fit for the 21st Century. Here’s the team I assembled that would do the most good for a world that could use a bit of change. And hope.
Steel. Every team needs a leader, and you better believe Steel fits the bill. Why? There are more examples of when Steel bailed our beloved Superman out of a jam than there are bats in the Batcave, that’s why. Not only is he a genius, not only is he arguably one of DC’s hardest hitters (meaning, between that powerful suit of armor and that giant-ass hammer, he can hit really, really hard) he’s a man with a tremendous heart.
This new League will not only need a leader they can trust, they’ll need a mentor. And while the responsibilities will be great, and the dangers will be severe, there isn’t one person I’d want on the frontlines more than John Henry Irons.
The Flash. It’s a well-established rule that every incarnation of the League requires one founding member to keep everyone on the same page. (Hell, even Justice League Detroit had J’onn J’onzz.) This is the member that acts as the team’s moral core. It’s beating heart. And since Barry Allen is the closest thing the DCU has to a cool uncle — at least, that’s how everyone thought of him prior to Flashpoint — the Scarlet Speedster would be right at home as Justice League’s elder statesman. There’s never not a reason to have someone around who can transcend dimension and time through the power of their fleet feet. Barry stays put.
Barda. If the aftermath of The Darkseid War is going to contribute anything to the future of the DCU, it’s Barda’s full-time membership in the Justice League. Her last-minute rescue of her beloved husband in Justice League #46 was easily one of the coolest, most iconic moments of the entire fracas, and taking into account Barda’s considerable might (not to mention her time in Grant Morrison’s JLA), there is no one more well-suited to defend the Earth alongside her fellow Leaguers. Whenever a cosmic-level threat comes along (that generally being the case in the DCU), your odds of survival grow exponentially when you realize there’s a 6’2″ mountain wielding a Mega-Rod by your side.
The Atom. I’m getting pumped for the CW’s upcoming Legends of Tomorrow, primarily because it’s gonna showcase none other than Arrow‘s greatest hero, Dr. Ray Palmer, aka The Atom. (Yeah, I said it.) As played by Brandon Routh (who’s a bonafide hero in his own right), Palmer has never been more relatable or likable, and with a starring role in yet another high-profile television show, he’s never been more in the public eye. Now’s the time for DC to capitalize on The Atom’s ever-growing popularity by inviting one of their greatest scientists on their greatest team. Just think of the techno-babble we’d hear between Ray and John Henry. I’m squeeing already.
Lana Lang. Don’t look at me like that. If you’ve been reading Action Comics at all for the past year or so, you’d know it in your bones that Lana Lang has become one of the most vital supporting characters in the Superman line. Her tenacity in the face of a good skirmish has proven time and again that Lana can hold her own during battle, while keeping the superpowered people in her life grounded with her no-nonsense demeanor. Lana has an acute bullshit detector, something a disparate group of heroes, operating on a full spectrum of experience, would demand. And with John Henry waiting for her when she comes home at night, Justice League would have its very own Power Couple.
Oracle. One of the strongest aspects to Grant Morrison’s JLA was the team’s most vital component: Oracle, the League’s curator of intelligence and strategy. Back in those days it was Barbara Gordon who copped to the digital moniker, so it’s only fitting that Babs’ present-day title would introduce the world to an all-new tech guru, Batgirl’s own roommate, Frankie Charles. Newly-christened as Oracle, Frankie operates very much like Barbara did years ago, by pooling together information that aids in Batgirl’s (and Black Canary’s) war on crime. And since she’s a relative newcomer to the DCU, there wouldn’t be a better book for Frankie to earn her bonafides than in the pages of Justice League.
Zatanna. Who do you call when Klarion the Witch Boy wants to turn everyone into mice just to feed his jerkface cat? Zatanna, that’s who. Zatanna isn’t just a legendary presence in the DCU, she’s an alpha-level powerhouse who can wield magic like you wouldn’t believe. And she’s no stranger to being a Leaguer, either; her time in Justice League Dark taught our favorite sorcerer how to work with others while asserting her own agency no matter what parallel dimension she happened to find herself. (Never mind she’d been a member off and on well before the days of Flashpoint.) If this team ever needed to face down a horde of demons from the Dead Zone and live to brag about it, Zatanna would be their ace in the hole.
Agree? Disagree? Who do YOU think should work on ‘Justice League’, and who would you place on the team? We want to know! Tell us about it in the comments section below.