Eventually the Brightest Day will have set, Superman will have stopped walking around America, Wonder Woman’s Odyssey will be over, the Flashpoint will have passed and the War of the Green Lanterns will have ceased. Assuming that we don’t see some unexpected deaths, DC will enter 2012 with something they haven’t had for quite some time: their Big Seven, alive and not tied up in events (okay, so maybe I’m a bit naive in assuming that last one). What better time to get the band back together? For those of you who didn’t know, the original, Pre-Crisis Justice League was founded by Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal), The Flash (Barry), Martian Manhunter and Aquaman, and while the League has had many variations on that core seven, it has been a long while since the originals have been in the same place at the same time. How can DC use this to their advantage? Follow the cut to find out.
Justice League has long been a difficult title to write. When the League is comprised of big names like Superman, Batman and the like, it can be hard for a writer to spread his wings due to editorial restrictions based on what’s going on in the Superman titles, what’s going on in the Batman titles, and so on and so forth. As such, the title that follows a team of the most important characters in the DC Universe doesn’t seem… well, important. In the past, writers have tried to combat this by using lesser known characters that might lack their own ongoing series. While can lead to runaway successes Justice League International, readers will often complain that it isn’t the Justice League without the big guns. And so the cycle starts anew.
How do we make Justice League “matter,” then? My suggestion may not be the most novel, but it has its merits: have Geoff Johns write it. Now, hear me out. I know that Brightest Day hasn’t quite lived up to anyone’s expectations. Even so, Green Lantern and The Flash have had the quality super-heroic action that made Geoff Johns famous in the first place, and we all know that two out of three ‘aint bad. My reasoning, though, isn’t just because Johns could write some good Justice League stories. Honestly, there are a lot of writers working with DC right now that could. Johns, however, has the “star power” — if you will — to make his ideas see fruition. As Chief Creative Officer, I have the feeling that Johns would be able to take characters that would otherwise be mired in editorial red tape and do what he wanted with them.
Now, I’m not one of those who thinks that the Justice League needs to be the Big Seven. I think James Robinson’s variation of that core seven is a good idea in theory (though maybe not in execution). Nor do I think that there has to be noticeable changes in the status quo in order for a story to be good (an outlook that is one of the main things currently hurting good comics). It’s possible that I may have some ulterior motives. Like many people, I’ve been suffering a bit from event fatigue. It seems we have been getting approximately two events a year from both Marvel and DC — one big, one huge — with each one claiming to be more game-changing than the last. Frankly, it has been getting tiring. However, by putting the original seven back on the Justice League benches, DC could use the title to publish massive-scale stories that would normally fall under the “event” category. In my opinion, Justice League should be used to tell the sort of stories that now are told as events, even more so than its Marvel opposite, The Avengers. Some of the stories could be self-contained within the ongoing, and others that are more “event-like” in nature could crossover with other books and/or have tie-ins. Obviously, this doesn’t quite fix the problem, but it means you don’t have to add on another book to your pull, which is one of my many problems with events. It’s a small step in the right direction, but a step nonetheless.Continued below
The reuniting of the original Justice League could be a great idea from a marketing perspective, too. DC will often try to advertise huge changes in the status quo in ways that will make, and what captures interest better than saying the Justice League is reuniting for the first time in, oh, 25 years? Sure, it’s not completely truthful, but neither is it completely false. That’s marketing for you. The difference is, if DC wants to make a buzz about it and try to net some new readers, then they’re going to have to actually make it accessible to those new readers. One of the biggest failures of Batman R.I.P. was the fact that it got so much media buzz, yet no one mentioned that it was the culmination of Morrison’s run up to that point and thus wouldn’t make much sense with reading the preceding story arcs. These characters have extensive histories, and those histories need to be referenced and utilized in a way that doesn’t necessarily require reader familiarity. This, in my opinion, is another reason why Johns would be good for the revitalized Justice League: he weaves expository dialogue into his stories in a way that isn’t terribly overbearing, making his work a bit more accessible than some other superhero comics (which is interesting, considering his tendency to reference everything).
Do we really need the return of the original Justice League? Well, probably not. But let’s be honest: it would be neat to see it happen before one of them “dies” again. If this happened, though, I would think it neat to see another supplementary series that focuses on lesser-known members of the League, like the Justice League Unlimited Cartoon did. Failing that — and I know Burpee agrees with me on this — we need more Justice League International, and we need it now. But that’s a topic for another day.