Just a League of Vacancies: Dwayne McDuffie on JLA

Dwayne McDuffie on JLA

Justice League of America #31

Superman’s going into space. Batman’s "dead" or...not going to be “Batman” as best we can tell. Wonder Woman might just be replaced by a dude (albeit in a different costume). We’ve talked with DC’s Dan DiDio at length about it – DC in 2009 will be marked by an absence of their top three heroes.

DiDio’s ensured readers (most already raising a skeptical eyebrow) that the absence of the “Trinity” will allow for other heroes to rise up in the respective legacies of the originals.

So while the coming year will surely be one of strong opinions being voices from fans, there’s one contingent that we haven’t heard from. What if, just to spitball a little here, you happen to write a book that’s set in the DC Universe’s current continuity that stars Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman?

That writer would be Dwayne McDuffie, and that book would be Justice League of America.

We recently spoke with McDuffie about the (re)introduction of the Milestone characters to the DCU via the pages of JLA, and went back to talk about the changing face of the Justice League.

So what does a League look like without the Trinity? Well, actually, as McDuffie was quick to remind us, we’re forgetting one more.

“You forgot Hal leaving to form his own Justice League,” McDuffie said, noting the forthcoming Justice League series by James Robinson. “This is going to be a very tough year for the Justice League. In issue #31, things hit bottom and the League is at its weakest. Unfortunately, that's precisely when the threats start to get bigger. Way bigger.”

For fans of McDuffie’s who’ve felt that he’s had to shoehorn other storylines into JLA during his run, he stressed that issue #31 is it.

“Issue #31 is my last crossover/tie-in for a while,” McDuffie said. “All of the dangling plotlines from the first two years will be tied up. Final Crisis will have a devastating effect on the team. And then we go forward...”

McDuffie said that in terms of the long-term planning for the DCU, he does get a call to let him know where things are headed so he can reflect changes in characters or the larger DCU in his title, but as Final Crisis loomed, “I got a lot of calls. JLA is right at the center of the DCU, so anything of significance that happens elsewhere will be reflected in its pages as soon as possible.”

So…looking at possible replacements…how do you replace Superman and Batman? The earth has a plethora of Kryptonians on it now. Can you just grab one? Likewise for the “winner” of the upcoming Battle for the Cowl in the world of Batman? What about Icon or one of the Milestone heroes, even?

“I don't think you replace individual members, you try and shore up the team,” McDuffie said. “A Kryptonian with the right values could be a Justice Leaguer, Icon's certainly qualified, and whoever wins the Battle for the Cowl is probably good enough, too, but none of those guys are on my short list. I'd want J'onn and Aquaman, but they're both dead, so that's out. I dunno. Amethyst?”

And McDuffie’s answer for a Wonder Woman replacement is basically the same. “I'd look for someone to help the team, not fill a slot. You don't get somebody to replace Michael Jordan, you build a good starting five.”

But still, there are many unanswered questions – how well does the JLA work without the “big three?” How does the world react to a JLA without Superman or Wonder Woman in it? How do the other heroes react?

McDuffie’s answer is the same for all:

“I suspect we're about to find out.”

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