DC Comics is currently publishing a comic book called Justice League of America, but to me it does not star the Justice League. Why do I feel this way? Because DC and the writer keep putting in stuff to tell me this is about the Justice League when the identity of the team should be obvious.
The latest issue, 51, opens up with a collection of heroes attacking a green dome. A collection of heroes who could be – and many have been – the Justice League. Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, Red Tornado, Zatanna, Steel, Dr. Light, the Atom, Captain Atom, Firestorm, Zauriel, plus some Metal Men, JSAers, and Titans. Then Superman tells us the team inside is the JLA. Who’s left? Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Plastic Man, Hawkman, John Stewart maybe? That is the point, when you see the group, it should be obvious that they are the JLA. This is not.
Instead we get Batman (Grayson), Donna Troy, Jade, Jesse Quick and Supergirl. I think Cyborg is on the team too, but he was not in this issue. The problem is this team is not iconic enough. Wally West, Kyle Rayner, Conner Hawk, and Dick Grayson worked as members of the JLA when they were THE representation of DC icons Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Batman. Now, no one would create a JLA not using Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne in those roles. Oh wait, they did.
The next issue is the piece of text describing why we have a Justice League. "At times of crisis, earth’s greatest heroes come together to combat evil. The roster may change, but the fight for justice continues. They are the JLoA." I cannot disagree more. First of all, for almost every major crisis in the DC universe, the JLA has been disbanded. That aside, these are hardly earth’s greatest heros. By the way, "Earth’s Mightiest Heroes" is the tag line of Marvel’s Avengers. The JLA is the "World’s Greatest Super-Heroes". It was on every cover as I was growing up. And that little "the roster may change" is just a way of saying "we decided we wanted to write about this group".
Now, sometimes a certain character is not available. I was surprised to see Superman – currently walking across the country, Captain Atom – currently chasing down Maxwell Lord, and Firestorm – currently dealing with Brightest Day issues in the opening pages. Wonder Woman is dealing with something that has changed her past. But that still leaves us with a ton of heroes who put together would make one think of the JLA instead of the Titans and Infinity Inc.
I am in no way a "The BIG 7 is the only real version of the JLA." In fact, Gardner Fox, writer of the earliest JLA stories once mentioned in an interview that he interned to use Green Arrow in the first JLA story but forgot about him when writing it. The JLA has been more that just the BIG 7 since issue 4 back in 1960. The Big guns. The current holders of the big names. A few better known characters. Yet with room for a few characters who had never been members before and a few choices by the writer.
A few issues back, #49, Donna Troy talked about how she had ‘moved up’ to the JLA. It felt like a wimpy attempt at justifying why she was in the book. At the same time, the same writer had Roy Harper’s arm ripped off. Robinson was quoted as saying, "Roy would only ever be the 2nd greatest archer." So here we have one writer saying that promoting one Titan to the JLA was wrong, but its OK for this writer to promote 1/2 a dozen heroes with the same issues, never going to be the #1 greatest at their talent.
The other problem with this group, is they already have a book. Its called Titans. Jesse Quick was a member for a while. Jade could easily be there too. Oh wait. DC screwed that up by filling up their book with a villain team that kills heroes. Yeah, that is what I would expect if I picked up a book called "Titans."
In 1996, I visited the offices of DC Comics and talked to the then editor and assistant editor of the JLA comic. When they found out I was a complete-ist, they explained how people like me skew the perception that DC is producing what we want to read. People like me kept the Detroit era JLA going longer than it should have. I will not do the same now.
Dear DC Comics, Consider the Justice League disbanded (due to the fact I am no longer buying it) until you put together a team that lets me know they are the JLA by its membership, not by trying to tell what it is. A few new characters are fine, but we need a core group that makes you instantly feel like you are reading about the Justice League. Psst, the current comic titled ‘JLA/the 99′ actually feels like it contains the JLA …
Comic cover pictures credit to: Grand Comics Database