Saturday, January 21, 2012

JL #13 "And The Winner Is....!" AFTERWARD

So...were you surprised?
I'm especially curious what long-time JLA fans think of this story.
For those of you not in the know, this is the "official" DC comics JLA membership history:
the JLA was founded by Aquaman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman, and Wonder Woman. New members added in this order: Green Arrow, the Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, the Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkwoman, Zatanna, and Firestorm.

I will establish in the next issue that the founding members in "my" universe are the same, but with John Stewart traded in for Hal Jordan. Then instead of Hawkman as the third new member, "my" Justice League chose Hawkwoman first. Then Black Canary joined, leaving the next slot open for The Elongated Man. Now, in "my" universe I haven't yet introduced Red Tornado, so it's not likely that he will join in the next issue (!). So that leaves Hawkman.

To me this makes a bit of sense, as in the JLA the Elongated Man joined immediately before Red Tornado did. Likewise, when Hawkwoman eventually joined *she* joined at the same time as Red Tornado re-joined. So I simply took Red out of the equation, combining Ralph Dibny and a Hawk. I did like that part of the story.

Let's talk about a few of the things that actually worked in this story before we get to what *didn't* work. First of all, I liked the idea that the Justice Leaguers would sit around and discuss things like the membership. In the real comics we only saw it happen once (more on that later). I tried to make it interesting, and show some characterization at the same in scenes like this:

As the lone "minority" member, and as a member of the cross-species Green Lantern police force, I totally think John Stewart would have said this. The problem is, I needed to *answer* this comment! So I had The Flash tell him that most of the super-heroes he knows are white Americans, which I also think The Flash would have said. Before the two friends (who I believe are probably Republican-Democrat, haha) get into a discussion about Affirmative Action, we have Batman as the voice of reason.

However, even though I liked the idea of the story, the actual story is pretty boring! Ten people sitting around a comic-book...hmmm....not very exciting. Dramatic? Maybe. Dull? Maybe! And then I not only start the story this way, but I end it this way, too! Yikes~!!

So then we move on to a list of candidates. This was my chance to introduce the kids to a second level of depth to the DC Universe, which I thought was a good idea. Again, it was a good IDEA. Besides adding a few new characters that I had hoped to include in adventures later, I also added some more history to the group. I established that The Atom had been a member, but had quit to live in the jungles of the Amazon. He will appear again and every time I did a "flashback" sequence I tried to include him. As for the other guests, although I had hopes to use them again, none of them caught the interest of my audience, so after one more cameo appearance most of them never appeared again. So that was a bust, too.

What turned out NOT to be a good idea was the plot of going to *interview* all of these characters. Looking back and re-reading this story now, I have no excuse. I don't know what I was thinking. In hind-sight, I totally don't think the JLA would have handled things this way. This seems like something the
Avengers might have done, but not the JLA. It was a mistake. I've shown the worst panel from this issue here: "Hey, would you like to join our group? Yes? Okay, then maybe we'll let you in." This is just mean! I was probably thinking of it like the Oscars, where there are specific people *nominated* but then only one gets in. But I   handled this badly. Re-reading it now, I cringe. Imagine if there had been several who had wanted in, and only one had been voted in! I can't even imagine how badly that story would have stank.

 So, besides thinking the whole plot of the issue is bad, what else is good? Let's see....I liked how I handled Black Lightning. He appeared in the actual JLA comic in a similar role as he does here: the only time the JLA was shown "reviewing" a potential member. He gave them the same basic response I have him give "my" team, which I thought was correct: "No thanks!" I wanted to establish that there are "cosmic" or "world-wide" characters and also "neighborhood" or "local" heroes. And BL is definitely in the latter category. Of all the other characters featured here, I do wish I had taken the time to do another Black Lightning guest-star story. As created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden, he was always one of my favorites. Oh, well.

I also liked the interaction between members Black Canary and Wonder Woman with non-members Batgirl and Supergirl. I thought they "looked" like the Justice League. I think it's a shame that in DCU continuity these two women never got the respect they deserve. I don't know why I wanted to add Nightshade to the mix, though! That was another mistake a good editor would have changed, haha.

I also didn't like how I included Captain Marvel/Shazam. His FILMATION cartoons were currently on Japanese TV, though, and he was in-and-out in the Giffen-DeMatteis JLA of the then-current comics, so I wanted to make it clear that he was on the same world as "my" Justice League. I should have just mentioned him in the beginning and left him out.

That brings us to the discussion for the pros and cons of the two main candidates. Again I think I made a mistake when I showed them discussing this stuff for four pages. If the story had gone from page 37 ("we have two candidates") directly to page 42 ("let's vote them both in") I think the story itself would have been better. Of course, if I had had an editor I would have cut down half of the candidates in the first place, or I would have skipped this whole story and just written the Elongated Man and Hawkman as new members and gotten on with it. But I was trying to do something different, and ended up doing something mildly confusing and mostly boring. Sorry! 

I do sum up the feelings of most JLA fans when I have Black Canary say that they should induct the "other" Hawk. By the time Hawkgirl/woman joined the JLA it was way overdue. The Hawks are such dramatically visual characters, it's hard to go wrong with them in a story. Likewise the always stretching Elongated Man. Visually, they were a good choice.

Be here next issue when I make another tactical error by not having a wildly exciting first adventure for the two new members. Instead, we sit around the satellite and talk---again---for the second issue in a row.
Something to look forward to! :-(

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