JL: The B-List

Justice LeagueI feel rather guilty commenting on this image. After all, a character is a character is a character where a superhero is concerned. The redundancy that occurs is so rampant that a mainstream comic is only as good as the creative team attached to it. The concept? The character’s design? Well, it has all been done before, hasn’t it? Any complaints I have simply come down to a matter of personal taste. My opinion is no more valid than the opinion of any other reader.

A company only has to worry when a large number of negative opinions correspond. And even in this instance action is not necessarily needed right away. Trademarks can take quite a few blows before one is forced to assess the damage and make crucial changes. DC could have happily coasted on America’s love for Batman for several more years if need be. However, its second base, Superman, seemed to be wearing away beneath a wave of apathy and continuous court proceedings. It was clear that a change was needed. But have enough changes been made?

Aside from the addition of Cyborg, DC’s “big seven” are the same characters we have always seen. And so far, the costume designs and origins have not been altered enough to spark my interest. But on a positive note, these small changes might be the exact changes needed to rein in lapsed DC fans. Personally, I would have swapped Cyborg out for Mr. Terrific. Yes, Cyborg is a known intellectual property, but the majority of individuals familiar with the character know him as a teen. Placing him in the JLA is akin to putting Blade in a children’s cartoon. It can be done, but why? Mr. Terrific is a better fit as the JLA’s resident tech hero and a JLA placement would have helped to bolster sales of his solo series. Again, just one opinion. I would have also swapped Barry for Wally, but most Americans couldn’t care less which character is in the suit. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. All of DC’s most powerful trademarks are lined up in a neat little row—as it should be.

The second tier is where DC veers severely off course. And sadly, the second tier is more important than the first, for that is where the powerful trademarks of the future are found. Judging from this group? DC’s future looks weak and out of touch with mainstream America.

But let’s focus on the good first. The Atom. If that is a poorly rendered Ryan Choi, then I’m very impressed. Bringing an Asian American character into the “big leagues” is a great move. Bringing back a dead character that fans thought of fondly? Even better. Bringing in a character that can bring a fun Spider-manesque quality to the table that is truly unique for the crew assembled? Enjoy your home run, DC. You’ve earned it. Still, that could be Ray Palmer depicted, but I’m not even going to contemplate the possibility that DC would make such a backward-looking and uninspired choice.

Moving on, we have Deadman, Element Woman, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Mera, and an unknown woman who could be any number of DC’s light-haired heroines. The first thing that comes to my attention is how overwhelmingly white the troop is. This wouldn’t be an issue, but given the minimal ethnic and racial diversity within the “big seven” it is a troubling problem. This is supposed to be the future of the DCU. These are the intellectual properties that will be DC’s building blocks for the next several decades. And they in no way reflect the future of America visually. They in no way reflect the present of America visually. I think making this incarnation of Hawkman multi-racial/ethnic would help—especially given America’s latest crop of action heroes. However, DC’s new characters of color seem to be exclusively male. This should also be rectified. Replacing a redundant character such as Mera or Element Woman with a female character of color would be an improvement—preferably a woman who is not the same ethnicity as Atom or Cyborg and doesn’t have the same exact powers as another member of the team (Aquaman or Firestorm). Energy blasts or magical powers, perhaps?

The addition of Green Arrow is another misstep. The character’s skills are dated. A character that shoots arrows in an age of guns? The character’s appearance is dated. A Robin Hood pastiche? And there are already two white male blondes on the team. Why has a third one that brings nothing to the table and has failed consistently in connecting with fans been added? The answer to that question had better not be because the character appeared in Smallville—a show that is now cancelled.

As for Deadman, Firestorm, and Mera, being showcased in high profile events and series have not roused fan interest. Why the continual promotion of characters that fail to perform? Is it because DC is looking to place these characters in film or television? Note: What works in one medium does not always work in another. I think Hitman would work well as an HBO series. Hitman would also be a terrible addition to the JLA. Everything has its place. Research and common sense help to identify that place cheaper and faster.

And with that? The constant DC coverage comes to an end. I mean, really. DC doesn’t pay my bills and doesn’t even produce the comics I actually read!

Shout out to Dark Horse, by the way.