One other thing DC seems to be missing about team books these days is the lineup. Some lineups are very fluid and change a lot. Others do not. When you pick up an issue the Fantastic Four is supposed to be 4 specific characters. While many teams are more fluid than this, fans expect certain heroes to be on certain teams.
DC seems to understand this group fairly well at this point. Take the fab 5 from the 60′s, add in the Wolfman/Perez group and Supergirl and you are done. In the last two verisons, they have come close. For some strange reason, the first time they skipped Changling/Beast Boy and this time they left out Tempest.
Titans Roll Call
Flash (Wally West)
Here, DC seems to not know what they are doing. 3 times they have gotten the basics right, but just as many times they have gotten them wrong.
The founding members of the team originally were: Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter, plus Superman and Batman. With each new Crisis, this seems to change. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were out at one point, Black Canary was added in. Now I think all 8 are considered founders. Whatever. To many, the original 7 are the JLA, no one else need apply. They call them the "Big 7". I prefer to think of them as the "Classic 7." Martian Manhunter does not pass my test of "big" because he disappeared for a dozen years. No one outside of comic fans knew he existed until the recent Justice League cartoon. And attempts at a solo comic book never make it past 3 years.
The team expanded over the years. Early additions were Green Arrow,the Atom, Hawkman. Later Black Canary, Phantom Stranger, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, and Firestorm would join the team while Metamorpho and Black Lightning turned down membership.
It feels like 1982 again. In 1982, the League disbanded. A new League was formed which included Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Zatanna, and 4 new characters, Vixen, Vibe, Steel (the grandson of Commander Steel and cousin of Citizen Steel), and Gypsy. This book was poorly received and I was personally blamed during a visit to DC Comics for "making it last longer than it should because I was a ‘completist’". If I had stopped reading it when I stopped liking it, sales would have dropped faster, and it would have ended sooner.
1987. Crisis on Inifinite Earths is over. Legends is over. The Justice League is born once again, this time with a cast from across the previous separate worlds. Interestingly enough, in the forward of the collected edition "Justice League:A New Beginning", they talk about how the writer Keith Giffen asked for the book, got it and then was told he could not use Superman, Wonder Woman, or Flash. Maybe today feels more like then. Except they were allowed to use Batman. The new League looked like this: Batman, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Green Lantern (Guy Gardner), Dr. Fate, Capt Marvel (Shazam), Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), and Mr. Miracle (Scott Free). Dr. Light (Kimiyo Hoshi) and the Creeper stopped by, Booster Gold joined, Fate and Marvel left to be replaced by Capt Atom and Rocket Red. Fire and Ice joined while Barda guest starred. The book sold well enough that a second book (Justice League Europe) was added. Flash (Wally West), Power Girl, Animal Man, Elongated Man, and Metamorpho were added to fill the second team. Eventually, Superman, Hal Jordan, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, the Ray, and others would join this era of the League. A third book was added (Justice League Task Force), but with the major heroes spread too thin, or not in any of the books at all, the franchise folded.
1996. Grant Morrison takes over the JLA as writer. GM retuerns to the founding 7 members, or their current versions (Wally as Flash, Kyle as GL), and proves that star power and high action = success. While he expands the team as before, his expansion follows a different pattern. Green Arrow and Aztek join only to leave almost immediately. Hawkman is denied him, so GM creates his own enhanced version as Zauriel, the angel. The old classic Plastic Man joins. Steel gives the team a high tech Iron Man type, while Huntress gives them more down to Earth perspective. And Oracle is the electronic eyes, ears, and data access of the League. Orion and Barda of the New Gods round out the team. They fight aliens, rougue angels, reimagined classic JLA foes, two Injustice Leagues led by Lex Luthor, Darkseid, and the end of all that is. Oh yeah, GM also does a company wide crossover called DC 1 Million, which gives us a robotic version of Hourman and a JSA team up which brings the JSA back from obscurity. Mark Waid and Joe Kelly each take a turn at the team. Waid reduces the team back to 8, while Kelly expands that core to include Major Disaster, Faith, Firestorm, Atom, and Mantou Raven (a tribute to Apache Chief of SuperFriends fame). John Stewart replaces Kyle as the active Green Lantern on the team. While it still focuses on the big names, the book loses its focus as writers come and go.
2007. Brad Meltzer takes over the team with a new book. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman. The newly returned Hal Jordan. Black Canary. Green Arrow stays away to give his former ward, Speedy, now Red Arrow a chance. Red Tornado. The modern Hawkgirl. Vixen. Black Lightning finally joins the team ( At Wizard World Boston in 2005 I asked DC if they would consider adding Black Lightning to the team when it reformed in the "One Year Later" event. They said they would consider it.). Dwayne McDuffie takes over this book with issue 13, John Stewart is added as a second GL, and Firestorm (Jason Rusch) joins. Zatanna and Dr. Light have returned recently. Now with issue 31, the team has been disbanded once again. Why? Basically, we’ve been told that editorial says Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman are not available. Also, Hal is taking off to create his own branch of the Justice League. Oh, and for those of you who missed it, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, and Bruce Wayne are currently considered dead.
I don’t know. I think the membership of the Justice League is an easy thing to figure out. Big names sell the book. 2nd tier names allow for a wider range of stories.
Justice League Roll Call
The Big Guns
So, who would I put in the Justice League? History has shown me that none of the 2nd tier names are necessary for the team to have good sales and good stories. I’ve revised my childlike admiration for the Satellite era to say "wait, why were Elongated Man and Red Tornado on this team?" Morrison finally put Plastic Man on the team and made me like Steel. Kelly gave me Apache Chief. Meltzer gave me Vixen and Black Lightning.
SuperFriend’s Justice League.
Yeah, that would be a good team. And of course, Superman is the leader.
Do you have a favorite lineup? I so, Dan Didio, VP of DC Comics is asing for input at: the Newsarama site. It is at the end of the article. "And my question for the readers this week: in reading through the questions this time, I noticed a lot of concern over the Justice League, and a variety of opinions on what the Justice League should be. So let me turn that back to the audience – what would you consider the perfect team for the Justice League f America, and why?"
(picture credits to: Grand Comic Book Database )