As many people around Seattle know, today kicks off Emerald City Comicon. Three days with hundreds of exhibitors, and hundreds of thousands of fans scurrying about in a state of frenetic glee. Comic book t-shirts abound; as do Doctor Who fans, and a guaranteed Imperial Trooper sighting (because you cannot have a Con without at least one guy in a Star Wars costume).
Get it? Khan? Con?
I have had a plan germinating in my brain for a while. I blame my friend, Kalen, who is probably more creative than I. Well, today seems like the day to share what our conversations have wrought. Forget about the movie that has been talked about for fifteen years but still has not been made. The cartoon was great, but I have my own stories in mind. So, knowing full well that DC is unlikely to pay me to write my characters, I present, Philip’s version of the Justice League. (All future image links will go to Wikipedia. And remember kids, DC owns these characters and all their rights. However that does not stop me from having a few suggestions). Also, if you’ve never watched the Landis proposal for the Death of Superman, you should. It has some profanity, but it is rather fantastic.
Tradition states that the Justice League comprises “The Big Seven”. I am going to tweak that a bit. I want nine. Also, it has been said that, “The Justice Society teaches you how to be a hero (legacy, training), the Titans teach you how to be a family, and the Justice League teaches you how to fight”. I want to tweak that a bit. The Justice League should not simply have the most powerful members of the super hero community; it should also have the potentially most powerful members too. I will get into it a bit later, but I refuse to believe that certain control freaks (coughBatman!cough) would not have it that way. So here is my team (I like the pre-New52 versions, but the current ones could be made to work):
- Superman– C’mon. Duh. Superman is the example that everybody (including us readers) should live up to. He is the one that does the right thing. Even when he does not have super powers he is trying to make the world better. And, Lois Lane is a fantastic character. She gets to appear too. Superman and Batman would put their few differences aside to form the League.
- Batman– Again, who are we kidding. Batman is the embodiment of what we could be if we tried harder. Mark Waid pointed it out in Kingdome Come and it bears repeating: Despite all their differences, the way that they operate; these two guys are trying to keep another child from losing their parents. The end. It can be an alien population or a street mugger’s newborn; these guys do not want anyone else to die. So you want a passionate, driven, and highly intelligent person to be there. He is only human, but he is also among the best.
- Power Girl– I know, I know, if I was sticking to classics I would use Wonder Woman. Honestly, I cannot figure out how she fights to bring about peace. I can only approach her if we are dipping heavily into Greek mythology (see Greg Rucka’s run and her current series). No matter how much I cringe at Power Girl’s costume, I think she is a better character in a team setting. She has been on the JSA plenty of times so let her be on the JLA. She runs a major company, has experience, can fly, super strong, is “kind of” a member of the Superfamily, and has no problem standing up to the first two. Also, the “Girl” part of her name? It is almost a dare. Sort of a, “Yes, that is my name. Are you looking at me? Do you see my muscles? Try me.”
- Martian Manhunter– The League needs J’onn. He has all the requisite powers (flight, strength, experience), and many more (martian vision, telepathy, shape-shifting). He is essentially the rolodex of powers. Also, it is very handy to have his telepathy around when the computers of the world are brought down by villains and the heroes need to communicate. But mostly, he does not fit in well with the world, no matter how many identities he creates and hides behind. However, that has made him fit in that much better with the League. He has been with more iterations of the team than anyone. He broods, he advises, and he provides stability.
- Green Arrow (Connor Hawke)- Look, Oliver has enough attention already. He has his soap opera of a TV show, people like his comic book right now; give me Connor. I like Oliver’s kid, (thanks Chuck Dixon!) and I think he is better suited. First off, he was in the JLA before, but outside of his first appearance he was horribly under-used. He has archery skills on par with his father and the rest of Team Arrow, but he outranks everyone in another area. In “Brotherhood of the Fist”, it was established that Connor is the greatest hand-to-hand combatant. Period. Better than Lady Shiva, better than Bronze Tiger or Nightwing or Batgirl. Better than frickin’ Batman. You know that scene in Serenity where she is locked in the room and takes out everyone? Like that, but better. Connor has the natural ability to be the best and he does so without killing. (We’re a family-friendly JLA here, kids. No killing baddies.)
- Resurrection Man– Mitch Shelley is tragically underused. He is a freaking powerhouse. Say there is an epic battle where death is assured. He just comes back every time. It is not an ideal scenario, granted. However he is one more character who would step up and take the challenges. Every time he dies he comes back with a different superpower, so it would be a way to either make the story go smoother (helpful power like strength or time travel) or complicate things (less-helpful, like being bulletproof).
- Impulse– I love Bart Allen. I still have a problem with his current name though. I am all for legacies, but I think Impulse is a better name for him than Kid Flash. I do not think that anyone in the Justice League should be called “Kid”, and I appreciate that it betrays his nature; mostly because it is true but also because it presents an opportunity for foes to underestimate him. And this group will have enough thinkers and brooders; we need someone to bring the fun. He has speed (which every team needs), a fair bit of experience, he can send energy scouts out to search around, he can vibrate through walls, and my favorite skill is that he remembers everything that he has read.
- Mr. Terrific– First off, Power Girl will vouch for him. Second off, he is at least as smart as Batman. (They’ve had a relationship before and it might be time to revisit that well.) He is the Tony Stark of DCU, but with more moves. He is an Olympic-level athlete with multiple black belts. He has 12 PHDs. Think Batman but with less brooding and more making of gadgets. His floating T-Spheres could provide tech to improve communications, global probes, and flight technology. Also, he is invisible to technology, which would be great against Amazo or Toyman, and (depending on the version) Brainiac.
- Argent– Who? Waaaaay back on the Dan Jurgens’ run of Teen Titans, he created four new characters that were half-human, half-alien. Argent (Toni), is the most fun of them. She was raised a spoiled rich kid and therefore would have the most to learn about being heroic. She, my friends, is our approachable, see-through-her-eyes, entry-level character. Her plasma currently makes the shape of blades or bands of light to ride on, but Morrison tells us that in the future she essentially has Green Lantern’s powers. Batman knows that, and with the use of Green Lantern batteries currently threatening the universe (see the current issues. Short version? The Lanterns are bringing entropy to our doorsteps), he would be all for an alternative.
It drives me absolutely nuts that Batman has not taken Impulse under his wing. Back in Impulse #50, the title was changed for one issue to Impulse: Agent of the Bat and it told of Impulse and Batman teaming up to fight Joker. This kid is potentially the most powerful hero of all time. He can recall everything he has come across. I cannot imagine that Batman would not plop him down in front of the computer for an hour each day and have him memorize. But Bart could do that by himself. Batman, and the rest of the team, would teach him how to use it. He would have information and wisdom. Think about it, you can run around faster than everyone, think faster than everyone, send energy scouts out to see more than everyone… and Batman is not going to use that asset? Arrrrgh, it drives me absolutely bonkers that DC is not milking this treasure-trove of story potential. Batman would want Bart to take things seriously. He is a teenager with one of the shortest attention spans around. He would not focus on anything unless it was fun. There would be that balance of Batman’s drive to fix everything and Bart’s impulse to go have an adventure. Stable and unstable, intense and whimsical; I could spend the whole series on these two.
Also, I love Argent. There is a lot that can be done with her. And please, I have had enough with teams that only have one female on the roster. DC is better than that, c’mon. I picture Power Girl as her mentor. Both of them have lived a high-income existence, both of them wear costumes that show a certain confidence in their presentation, though Toni would certainly learn from Karen. I can picture them going shopping together or going on a walk downtown, just being casual and conversational on their downtime.
Also, I think Toni and Connor would be fantastic to watch. Connor grew up in a convent (ashram?). Toni was a party girl on the level of reality stars. But Connor is handsome and sincere. Toni is beautiful and passionate. There would be awkwardness, there would be Toni leading the charge, and if you think of Toni as my version of Green Lantern, it would be a whole new dynamic to the Green Arrow/ Green Lantern team. (Did Hal and Oliver ever date? Nope, so let us try something different.)
This team has its fair share of brooders. Martian Manhunter is king of brooding. As is Batman. With all the lifetimes that he has lived I am sure that more often than not, Mitch would be wondering why he simply could not die. Maybe he likes being an immortal, maybe he does not. But Mitch and J’onn would have plenty to discuss; leaving loved ones behind and all the things they have seen in their past lives. Also, it is established (thanks again, Morrison!) that in the future Resurrection Man has a gauntlet that helps him control his powers. Who better to develop and create that machine than Mr. Terrific?
There are numerous levels of experience. Martian Manhunter and Resurrection Man obviously have the most. Superman, Batman, and Power Girl are there followed closely by Mr. Terrific. That leaves Green Arrow, Impulse, and Argent as the trainees. I think the younger three would look on in awe at Superman and Power Girl and be rather terrified by Batman. I think Martian Manhunter could end up being the old uncle that the kids turn to. I especially think that Impulse would see a lot of his deceased friend, Max Mercury, in J’onn and would adopt him as his new go-to mentor. There could be a lot of heart in a boy from the future sent away with an alien from a far off planet who lost everyone. The guy lost his kids; why would he not want to take a few well-meaning youngsters under his care? I think Martian Manhunter could be great with kids and it would give the opportunity to show his lighter side (which we know he has. Oh man, an issue with Bart and J’onn running around fighting over cookies! HA! Comedy gold).
We have smart people, I want to use them. The crazed maniacal geniuses of the world are going to use them. Batman- smart. Mr. Terrific- smart. Power Girl- smart. Superman- smart. I still stand by the coda, “The Justice League outthinks the enemy and comes up with a plan. The Avengers just keep hitting the darn thing until it falls down.” I made sure there was plenty of strength on the team (Supes, Power Girl, and sometimes Resurrection Man), but there will be no sending in the Hulk and letting all the problems be solved by the monster. We will think smarter and win that way.
Villains/ Story Arcs
Those dopey card villains that the League faces so much? We are going to make them better. Yes, they are still a team of guys, gals, and usually a robot that taunt the League based on the Royal Flush motif. However, we are going to make them more powerful. What is the scariest thing that can be put in the news? A sniper. Look at all the movies and TV episodes about it. Snipers create fear because they can be random and unpredictable. And what is the superhero version of a sniper? Teleporters. We give all the members of The Royal Flush Gang the ability to teleport. This augments their threat level without taking away their individual powers. Also, it lets the fight scenes be more creative. Mr. Terrific is invisible to tech so he can take on Ace, the massive robot. But at the same time, Mr. Terrific is not super strong and the robot is, so it does not become too easy. Green Arrow would hang back; trying to find a pattern and fire off arrows when the Gang was not looking. Impulse, the only one who could keep up with the teleporters, would be too busy running around excited about his first mission to listen to Batman yelling in his ear. Martian Manhunter could phase through attacks but he and Superman could still be surprised when someone sneaks up behind them with fire or Kryptonite. There is potential there, darn it.
A league of eight gives plenty of room for stories, but I want sub-stories too. Bring on the supporting characters. What does Batman do when he finds out that Argent’s father was a career criminal? More importantly, give me The Daily Planet and GCPD.
Power Girl and Superman would try to talk Batman down. Martian Manhunter would counsel patience when dealing with Impulse. But it would be someone else entirely that would talk him down. He would be in Metropolis because Clark had sent him on a case. All of a sudden, he is approached by Lois Lane. Bruce respects Lois. “The greatest non-combatant I’ve ever trained”, he says, according to Paul Levitz. And Lois is an army brat. She invented spunk back in the 30’s. She has 75 frickin’ years of being awesome. And Lois would get in Batman’s face. She’s protective. She would call Bruce out on being unkind. She would make Batman blink. She would ask the question that would actually make Batman reconsider. She would calmly, sternly, and with a look of empathy behind her face ask,
“Is this how your father would treat a young boy?”
The answer of course, is no. Batman would actually have to think about how he was treating Bart. Because if there is anything in the world that Batman cares about, it’s making his father proud. Plus, it’s Lois. Lois makes Batman (and Clark, and Impulse, and J’onn) better. Can you imagine a scene with Lois, Toni, and Karen just touring through Metropolis? Toni would not be impressed at first, but Lois’ confidence and togetherness would make her even more in awe than she is of Superman. I can picture her after their first meeting. She could not help, at least once, asking Superman what Lois is up to that day. That kind of respect for a non-powered individual from a teenager hero would be fun.
Also, Harvey Bullock. If anyone dislikes the idea of heroes thinking they can just swoop into our lives and take charge, it’s Bullock. He’s a mean and gristly cop from Gotham who has no interest in playing nice. He chomps his donuts, smokes his cigars, and is all around rough in his demeanor. So what happens when there is a former career criminal that Bullock knows better than anyone who suddenly gets superpowers? Who is else the league going to call on to end this manaic’s crime spree? Bullock, naturally. He’d be teleported up to the headquarters and throw up from the ride. Impulse would drive him completely insane. He’d know about Toni’s father and wonder what a convict’s daughter was doing on the team. He’d take one look at Power Girl in costume and make a crude pass. But then… then he’d get a look out the window. This hardened criminal would get to see the Earth beneath him and the myriad of stars that the heroes see every day. He would be reminded how small he was and how big the world is. And on the monitors, he would see Argent save kids from a fire and Impulse run between a showering of bullets. He would see Green Arrow helping an old man on the ground while Martian Manhunter took on the main threat. He would not change his mind about these heroes “coming down from their wacky Olympus like a buncha spandex clan fruitcakes”, but he might just pause in between puffs of his cigar. (A cigar, which, by the way, Power Girl would have told him he was not allowed to smoke.) And as the fight wrapped up, Superman would pull Bullock aside. He would tell him how much Batman spoke of him and how many cases Batman had said Bullock solved. And Superman, in that easy-going manner that only he can muster, would tell Bullock that is was an honor to meet him. Right after their handshake, Bullock would be teleported back down by Batman. They’d have a parting exchange and Bullock would make some remark about not being allowed to smoke in their private clubhouse. Batman would smirk, “We have the most advanced technology from seven planets, Bullock. You don’t think we have air filtration?” And the issue would end with Bullock realizing that he’d been had by Power Girl.
Love triangles. Learning. World-saving. That is what I would want the Justice League to be. Oh sure, there would still be a fight scene for each issue. (I am a huge fan of “Castling”, where the League realizes the fight does not go well and switches enemies in the middle of a fight. But out of fear of misuse, I would save it. Only use it that one time when it would be the coolest.) However, I care the most about interactions. I want to see heroes talking to each other as people. Nobody needs to kill anyone to create drama. And in the end, the world, and our heroes, would be a better place.
There ya go. My love for the DC heroes (and their 75+ years of storytellers). What about you? Who’s on your Justice League? Or Avengers roster? Is there a Sherlock Holmes story that hasn’t been told? Do you read FanFics?