Sunday, July 10, 2011

Introduction Part 3: Who Will Join The Magnificent Seven?

So I finalized "my" Justice League (gonna stop using those quotation marks here soon) as having been founded by the original seven JLAers but instead of Hal Jordan I had John Stewart. My next question was, who else?

In "real" DC continuity, Green Arrow was the first new member to join. I liked the bearded, caustic version of this character and thought he represented yet another US "type." So he was in.

That brings us to The Atom, the second new member to join in established DC continuity. I was of two minds concerning The World's Smallest Super-Hero: when he was used well he was an excellent character. All too often, though, he seemed to be an afterthought or a speck on the shoulder of The Flash. Still, all things being equal I probably would have included him except for one VERY important detail: in Japan the character known to the US as "Astro Boy" is known guessed it...Atom.

If  I had added The Atom to the Justice League, I knew many, many students would say, "That's not Atom!!" I thought about changing his name, but in the end I figured he wasn't worth it. Sorry, all you Atom fans out there!! Because of (bad) name recognition, The Atom was out.

Then I got a brainstorm. I decided to *switch* the histories of Martian Manhunter and The Atom. Instead of J'Onn leaving the group circa 1969, I decided to have The Atom, as the JLA's second member, be its first to quit! In established continuity he did move to Brazil in the early 1980s, so I simply moved the event forward a few years. That made The Atom an established character if I ever needed him (and I made a point of using him atleast once, believe me). And it left J'Onn right there on center stage. I liked it.

That left the field open for Black Canary to join from the Justice Society of America. In established continuity Black Canary joined the JLA right after Martian Manhunter had quit and Wonder Woman had taken a leave of absense. (This event I simply decided to ignore.) With a nod to both traditional *and* modern continuity, "my" Black Canary is from that other dimension where the JSA exists, but she is the daughter of the original. The JSA and Black Canary's specific history will be mentioned several times in passing before the JSA eventually appears.

But I forgot, I mean, Hawkgirl...or is it Hawkwoman? The super-heroine afforded the least amount of respect was an easy choice for me. I felt that the Hawkman-Hawkwoman partnership was a vibrant, interesting relationship and I wanted to include it. In established continuity they had come to Earth from their planet Thanagar to study policework. However, in modern continuity (ie HAWKWORLD, which was current when I was creating my stories) they were more akin to "Goodwill Ambassadors" after the events of the INVASION crossover. I decided to use both of these reasons in my series. But then why not have them join simultaneously? I very strongly considered having them both in there from the beginning, but in the end I decided against it. The major reason was I wanted to give whatever girls were in the audience another character they could relate to without any chance of her being overshadowed by another male hero. So in a somewhat radical move for male-dominated Japan, I decided to make HER the senior partner in their relationship. Of course her husband guest-starred several times before he actually joined up, but I do think it was important to show that she was her own independent character first.

And that brought my membership to ten. It was a nice, round number and I thought it lent itself to quite a few different mixes and matches of heroes. Ten members corresponding roughly to the JLA of the early 1970s, with Martian Manhunter taking the place of The Atom and Wonder Woman there where she always should have been and Hawkman being replaced by his wife. Those of you who know your JLA history will know who the next heroes to join will be! :-)

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