Welcome to the first installment of a new semi-regular column that will be tracking the goings-on surrounding the Justice League of America and Justice Society of America. We'll alternate which of the teams we talk about each time, and we're starting with the League. DC’s Big Guns have had their share of ups and downs over the years, but it seems as if resurgence is in the offing. Though details are not complete at this point, here are the things that we know:
There will (probably) be two ongoing Justice League books.
James Robinson will be writing, and Mark Bagley will be drawing, although it’s not been totally spelled out as to how the books will be divided.
The going rumor/assumption is that Geoff Johns and a superstar artist will be handling the other book, but that awaits confirmation.
The currently "officially" revealed line-up for Robinson/Bagley JLAAs of Comic-con International: San Diego announcements, we know that the following characters will be involved: Mon-El (apparently with a Super-family branded costume and possible name change), Batman (Dick Grayson), Donna Troy, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Vixen (though not pictured, she's been discussed prior to the cover release), and Congorilla (who wasn't pictured, but Robinson spilled during the panel).
With that said, we’re going to use the bulk of today’s inaugural installment for one of the grand, all-time favorite comics reader pastimes . . .line-up speculation! But first, a quick look at the confirmed characters, and their history with various teams.
Mon-El: Lar Gand from the planet Daxam has long been a mainstay of the Legion of Super-Heroes; depending on your timeline/continuity iteration of choice, Mon-El also spent time in the present under the code-name “Valor” and was a member of L.E.G.I.O.N. I think that we are assuming at present that this Mon-El is a younger version of the Mon-El that convinced Sodam Yat to help in the fight against Superboy-Prime in Legion of 3 Worlds. Mon-El, currently protecting Metropolis for an absentee Kal-El the pages of Superman, possesses essentially the same powers as Supes minus the vulnerability to Kryptonite and plus an allergy to lead (since somewhat cured by the Legion). His secret identity on Earth is the assumed alias of police officer Jonathan Kent, Clark Kent’s cousin.
Batman: After the events of Batman: R.I.P. , Final Crisis, and Battle for the Cowl, the mantle of Batman was taken by the first Robin/Nightwing, Dick Grayson. As both Robin and Nightwing, Grayson has had a long history of team affiliations (and leadership). He’s led multiple incarnations of the Teen Titans and Titans, as well as the Outsiders and the replacement Justice League (during the Obsidian Age). During the “Battle for the Cowl”, Nightwing commanded a veritable army of heroes that included veterans like Wildcat and Black Canary. He’d clearly have little trouble assimilating into a new League, especially with Donna around.
Donna Troy: Let’s just circumvent all of the continuity weirdness over time and stick with “She’s Wonder Woman’s younger sister.” Donna, herself having briefly been Wonder Woman, comes to the party with powers similar to Diana (strength, speed, flight, etc.) but also energy-based abilities that include manipulation of darkness and cold (though these are frequently ignored, they were present in Infinite Crisis). Under various names (her own, Wonder Girl, Troia, one “Darkstar” of many), Donna’s been a member of the Teen Titans, Titans, and the Darkstars. She’s also led the Titans on various occasions, but typically defers to Grayson; he, in turn, usually regards her as his most trusted lieutenant and one of his two best friends (along with Wally West).
Green Lantern Hal Jordan: Currently battling damn dirty zombies in a crossover near you while simultaneously crying for justice, Hal Jordan stands out as the veteran among this group. One of the founders of the JLA, Hal’s frequently taken the backseat to leaders like Superman and Batman (Bruce Wayne). He briefly took point in Justice League Europe prior to the Coast City disaster in “Reign of the Supermen” and he’s always been a leader in the GLC. It’ll be interesting to see how he integrates with a larger League, given his recent split with the JLA after Final Crisis (a story still playing out in Cry for Justice).
Congorilla: Forgotten Heroes alum Congorilla will be fighting alongside Jordan in Cry for Justice (which, again, is being written by Robinson), so it seems somewhat sensible he’d wind up here.
Vixen: Remaining from the current League, Vixen was a member of the ill-fated “Justice League Detroit” and the ill-fated by-design Suicide Squad; she also worked in various capacities with Checkmate, the Birds of Prey, and Ultramarine Corps. It’s been said that Vixen will be taking something of a leadership role; my guess would be that each title has a squad, one with Vixen in charge.
It’s also possible, based on the teaser image seen at the DCU Editorial panel and above, to speculate that one of those silhouettes might belong to Starfire. However, let’s talk about the group above. Mon-El, Donna Troy, and Hal Jordan would certainly fill out the “powerhouse” quotient of a team, while Vixen and Congorilla add elements of agility and Vixen’s diverse power palette. Batman, of course, is Batman; yes, it’s Dick instead of Bruce, but he’s still one of the most capable heroes in the DCU.
The question is, then, “If you could add three more characters to that line-up, who would they be?”
My take is that there should probably be someone to deal with supernatural threats, another member with diversified energy powers, and one more member to be a sort of “utility infielder” that could maybe respond in various ways to particular threats. My picks? Blue Devil for your supernatural guy, Firestorm or the recently returned Captain Atom for diversified energy powers, and Plastic Man as your utility guy. Granted, if the Starfire speculation is correct, then she’s going to eliminate the need for that “diversified energy powers” slot.
Then again, maybe you’re not a fan of the six that we’re pretty sure about. How about we try this, as your posting homework for this evening? For the line-up above, pick three characters you would add. Additionally, starting from scratch, draft a nine-member JLA roster of your own choosing; I’ll save my take on that for another time. What say you, readers?