Build a Better Justice League 2: The Game

Posted: May 17, 2011 in comic books, Jeff Holland, Threat Quality
Tags: , , , ,

OK, so as we were talking about, key to creating a good Justice League comic – y’know, AFTER putting a capable writer, artist and editor on it – is starting with an interesting lineup. But that doesn’t have to be the classic “Big Seven,” just because it worked so well when Grant Morrison suggested it.

So let’s play a game. It’s called “Build Your Perfect Justice League.”

But because at the end of the game, your dream-League should look like, y’know, an honest-to-god Justice League lineup, not just a random assortment of folks that are neat, I offer some rules/guidelines: 

1) Your dream-League will consist of 12 members, maximum. This can include several reservists or rotating specialist seats – but two of these seats will be filled already (see point 2).

2) You must choose ONLY ONE of the big three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman). Assume that the other two keep reserve status, so it’s not like they’ll be completely absent.

3) You may select ONE Green Lantern (and…yes, this includes Jade, why not), and ONE speedster (if you think Max Mercury would be a bad-ass addition, go for it).

4) You may choose UP TO THREE second-tier heroes: Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman/woman, Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, Atom, Aquaman, etc. You get who I mean. The ones you’d really have to make a case for making into a movie.

5) Diversity is encouraged. There’s no reason this needs to be a whitebread JLA, even though DC seems to make that harder year after year.

6) It’s not absolutely necessary to consider current continuity, but that is a plus (see next point).

7) Avoid pilfering from other teams, if possible. If they’re in the JSA, the Teen Titans, the other Titans, Doom Patrol, the Outsiders, or even the JLI (they’re really their own thing for our purposes here), you should provide a compelling reason for reassignment.

8 ) THAT SAID! You may fill out your lineup with any past League member, or non-membership-holder, if you think they bring something worthwhile to the mix (meaning: want to make a case for The Creeper? Here’s your shot!).

9) BUT! This is the most important part: Each character should ideally be selected with two criteria in mind –

  1. What do they bring to the table? (A particularly useful power set, experience, insight, etc.), and
  2. What makes them an interesting choice, from a team-dynamic/storytelling perspective?

So, let’s get to work! Okay, okay, I’ll go first, if you insist. My League has 10 active members, along with the two (obvious) reservists:

Wonder Woman: Field leader. Years of experience, good working relationship with most of the other characters, and leads with a warrior’s assuredness and an ambassador’s diplomacy.

Martian Manhunter: Strategist/team spirit. A Superman-comparable power set (PLUS shapeshifting), he can direct operations when Diana’s in the field and behave as team psychologist as needed.

Hawkman: The Brawn/Wildcard. A great fighter, but also a prickly teammate, easy to trust in battle but hard to get along with. Especially with Shiera out of the picture (as of the Brightest Day finale, at least), he brings some fire and attitude to team dynamics.

The Atom (Ray Palmer): The Scientist. Granted, I’d rather Ryan Choi were still around, but otherwise, it’s good for Hawkman to have at least one friend on the team – someone to talk to, someone to translate for him, and someone to tell him when he’s being a dick (the Wilson to Hawkman’s House, as it were).

Green Lantern (John Stewart): The Cosmic Perspective. Frankly, my favorite GL, the most mature, the best team player. Also, he’s got his finger on the pulse of the alien aspects of the DC Universe.

Flash (Wally West): The Heart. Not only is Wally a great team booster AND a veteran Leaguer, he’s married with kids – meaning he literally brings a sense of family to the group, not unlike the dearly departed Ralph and Sue Dibny. (C’mon, one superspeed kid pressing all the buttons in the Watchtower, while the other only wants to play his Nintendo DS? And Linda’s gotta manage all that? Good stuff.)

Steel: The Engineer. John Henry Irons is a capable hero, but it’s his inventive, curious mind the League can really use, both as a consultant and a guy who makes the Watchtower more awesome.

Vixen: The Naturalist. Vixen’s got a really interesting, adaptable, earthy power set (ability of any animal she can conjure up), and a connection to The Red, making her basically the animal counterpart to Swamp Thing. (Once again, thank you, JLU, for giving her a spotlight.)

Supergirl: The Student. Sure, there’s always the Teen Titans, but Supergirl is a special case – a teenager with Superman’s power set, who’s generally characterized as well-meaning but a bit out of her depth. There’s also a history of her being trained by Wonder Woman, so this is the next logical step.

The Question: The Detective. Because you don’t always need Batman to figure things out. Now…here, I kind of want to cheat, since I’m still a little pissed that Vic Sage is dead. So it’d be really easy for me to say, “Vic Sage returns to life because he was buried in the magical monastery in Nanda Parbat,” and boom, we’re back in business. And I also love the idea of the zen-detective Sage butting heads with the pragmatic, hot-headed Hawkman.
But Cully Hamner’s design for the Renee Montoya Question is really great, and a Latina woman on the team is preferable from a diversity perspective. So, the only reasonable response is to write Renee as a little bit more off-kilter than Greg Rucka did – and considering he put her on basically the same path Vic Sage followed, there’s no reason she wouldn’t share his attitudes at some point. And the adhesive gas she uses to apply her mask does allow for a history of quirky behavior.
Also, it’s nice to have a few non-powered humans, with no JLA experience, on the team for perspective. As long as Batman says they’re allowed.

Reservists: According to my own rules, Batman and Superman take the reserve seats. Batman only gets called in on the really confusing stuff, and Superman only gets called in when they’re taking a serious pounding. I would’ve liked one more seat to get a magician in there (Jason Blood gets first dibs over Zatanna) – so maybe The Atom gets bumped down a notch.

OK, your turn. Who did I miss? Who should never, ever be let on the team? Where’s Plastic Man? (Seriously, I feel like I haven’t seen him in years.) Why should Deadman lead the JLA? C’mon, go nuts.

  1. braak says:

    Okay! For my imaginary Justice League arc, I hereby commission:



    1) Wonder Woman (Field Leader). “Field Leader” is a good job for Wonder Woman, and at this point she’s basically the best at it.

    2) Mr. Miracle (Strategist/Team Conscience). I am exercising editorial authority and saying that Mr. Miracle’s escape artistry powers extends to a general “figuring things out in a cunning way” level, but, as the living embodiment of Freedom, he’s also going to be the first to draw the line when he thinks space-JLA has overstepped its bounds.

    3) Barda (Muscle). Because she is tough, in the first place, and in the second place her hot-temper will prove an interesting counterpoint to Mr. Miracle. LIKEWISE, their relationship as a married couple will provide a strong basis on which to build a feelings-based story. (bleh)

    4) Rocket Red #3 (Engineer). Partly, I think it’s good for cosmic-Justice League to transcend national boundaries. Also, Russian dudes are funny. He’s also got experience as a cosmonaut, and has a useful scientific and engineering background that includes alien technology.

    5) Shade (Magical support/wildcard). Can he be trusted? He’s been pretty evil in his time, but he was also friends with Starman, so how can we know? How can we know for sure?

    6) Starfire (Hothead). I like juxtaposing Starfire’s obvious experience — especially on cosmic adventures — with a kind of bristling resentment that Wonder Woman is still in charge of things, you know?

    7) 30th Century Superman (the New Guy). Lost in a time he can barely understand! A Superman with a broader range of powers, but also more pronounced weaknesses (he can lose energy quickly without the dual suns of the 30th Century). This makes him a good heavy-hitter without making him too much of a heavy hitter, and a nice fish-out-of-water interplay.

    8 ) Mogo (Headquarters).

    There, that ought to do it.

    (Man, racial diversity in the DC universe is hard.)

    (Also: Starfire might already be on a team. And Rocket Red might be deceased. But it doesn’t count, because I don’t know that.)

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    That is pretty good. I think Starfire was in the Grownup Titans book for a while before its most recent upheaval, and a Rocket Red might be on the Winick JLI book going on right now, I don’t know.

    Shit, I want to live on Mogo. I’d be like those little birds that pick food out of hippos’ mouths!

  3. braak says:

    I can’t believe no one has explored that idea yet.

    I should probably put another science guy on this, though. What’s Mr. Terrific up to these days? Also: is he still black, or did they undo that?

  4. Jeff Holland says:

    As far as I know, he’s still the J’onn of the JSA. I think “space mission” is a good enough reason to commandeer him.

    Wikipedia informs me that new GLs both train and relax on Mogo. Which he must just goddamn hate.

  5. Jeff Holland says:

    I like this Mogo-as-headquarters thing specifically in conjunction with getting a couple New Gods on there – Boom Tubes may have been Jack Kirby’s greatest invention.

  6. braak says:

    Yes! That is what I was thinking! Mogo as headquarters with Boom Tube access to different parts of space where they go on adventures exactly.

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