And so it begins.
In this week's Justice League #13, readers saw characters take the first steps toward a secondary team and the new Justice League of America title.
In the issue's back-up story (the entire 6-page story is below, courtesy DCComics.com), Steve Trevor reunites with Green Arrow, who has warned him of a mysterious new threat to the Justice League. DC today pointed out the importance of this move in the formation of the new Justice League of America.
Coming from DC in early 2013, the new Justice League of America title will feature art by David Finch when it joins the New 52 roster. And while the new JLA title will be written by Geoff Johns, who also writes Justice League, the two teams will be very different.Led by A.R.G.U.S. and Trevor (whose role was just replaced in the current Justice League title), members of the new JLA team will include Green Arrow, Katana, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern Simon Baz, Stargirl, Vibe, Hawkman and Catwo
Of course, the fact that they're different doesn't mean they can't be as good as the team in the main Justice League title. In fact, with the much-hyped distraction of a "romance" within the ranks of the original Justice League, the heroes of the JLA might be more equipped to save the universe.
Readers should also keep in mind that Geoff Johns is known for his affinity for lesser-known characters, particularly the Justice Society of America -- a team he guided for more than 100 issues and 10 years. This new JLA has a lot in common with the JSA, and even Johns himself admits a similarity.
"The book is going to have a tone that is JSA [and] the original Ostrander Suicide Squad, which was very character driven and...utilized characters we don’t necessarily see together a lot," Johns said of the new book. "Those are the two biggest influences on where the book is going."
So who are these underutilized characters? What might they bring to the New 52? What do we know about them, and what might they add to a team of heroes operating under the direction of Steve Trevor and A.R.G.U.S.?
Newsarama outlines a brief "Who's Who in the New JLA: "
StargirlCharacter Overview: Stargirl, a blond, teenage character that Johns created, is probably one of the most beloved characters who was introduced in the last 20 years to DC Comics. (She even made #2 on our wish list for the New 52's JSA.)
When Courtney Whitmore originally appeared in Johns' first comic book, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., the character was inspired by his sister, who had passed away. And even though Johns now says Courtney has evolved into her own character since that original inspiration, it's clear Stargirl is near-and-dear to his heart. As Johns told Newsarama when he left JSA, "I won't be away from a character like Stargirl for very long."
Although Stargirl was previously associated with the Justice Society of America, she has worked with the JLA and other teams in the past. And she's a character who's been featured on Smallville, Justice League Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
New 52 Version: The character hasn't shown up in the New 52 yet, but Johns has offered some clues about her, saying that Courtney Whitmore is a teenager with a constant smile and an altruistic nature. According to Johns, this new version of Stargirl is about 17 years old and has an origin that's associated with Hollywood. She's a "phenomenon in Los Angeles," but she's the opposite of the Paris Hilton crowd.At New York Comic Con 2012, Johns said Stargirl is the "only one who's really excited to be there," and he called her a "PR move" for the JLA. But make no mistake — this teen has always emerged as an important addition to any team, and with Johns writing her, Stargirl will surely be a powerful part of the JLA.
Originally, she kind of "inherited" her mantle, because she used a Starman-associated weapon and was the stepdaughter of Pat Duggan -- a hero from the Golden Age of DC. In the New 52, that "Golden" history has been eliminated and Stargirl doesn't appear to have the same weapon. But Johns indicated this new version of Stargirl will still have a link to Pat Duggan and Starman.
Johns used to call Stargirl the "heart" of her former team. Count on her to continue that role in the JLA, while also providing an updated, youthfulness to the team and a much-needed moral compass.Vibe
Character Overview: If Stargirl is one of the most beloved lesser-known characters in the DCU, Vibe is the exact opposite. In fact, Newsarama named him No. 1 on our list of the Worst Justice League Members of All Time.
Vibe was originally created with a tie to the short-lived craze over break-dancing, which explains why readers weren't enamored with him. With the alter ego "Paco Ramone," he also had this strange habit of faking a Mexican accent, and he wore a costume that is among the most dated-looking outfits to hit comic books.
Despite having a metahuman power to emit shock waves, Vibe became an early fatality in the history of the Justice League. In fact, he's credited as being the first Justice League member to be killed in the line of duty.
New 52 Version: The Vibe character first showed up in the teaser image for Trinity War that showed up in last DC's Free Comic Day release in May. Johns said that in his New 52 incarnation, Vibe is recruited to the JLA by his older brother. (In pre-New 52 continuity, his brother was the also-underappreciated hero known as Hardline, or Reverb.)
Johns said that Vibe questions why he should be on the JLA. "He says, 'Why would they want me? I’m just this kid from Detroit. I’ve stopped three liquor store robberies, and one was by mistake.' His brother looks at him and says, 'Maybe they see potential in you that you and I don’t see.' And he’s like, 'Thanks a lot.'"
(It's worth noting that Vibe is from Detroit, which may help to explain why Johns likes him enough to bother updating him. The writer is also from the Detroit area, and you'll see a similar hometown for Green Lantern Baz below).Johns has voiced an excitement about his revamp of Vibe for the New 52. "I can't remember the last time someone requested to see [Vibe]," he said when the character first showed up in a teaser image. "That's the whole point, though. I like new challenges."
The last couple times we saw Johns use the word "challenge" to describe his attraction to a character was when he took on Booster Gold and Aquaman. Considering the positive revival those characters experienced under his pen, readers probably shouldn't scoff at Vibe.
Green ArrowCharacter Overview: Oliver Queen is a billionaire who turned into the superhero known as Green Arrow after being marooned on an island and surviving with use of a bow and arrow. He utilizes trick arrows to complete uncanny deeds as he fights crime.
One of the better-known DC heroes and often associated with the Justice League, Green Arrow first appeared in the Golden Age of comics back in 1941. The blond, oft-bearded hero has enjoyed a pretty constant popularity in comics, notably teaming up with Hal Jordan/Green Lantern in the '70's, when he was revamped as a politically left-leaning do-gooder.
Beginning in October, he'll have his own live action TV show on the CW called Arrow, in which he's played by Stephen Amell. The timing is particularly notable because Johns would be involved with the show in his role as chief creative officer at DC Entertainment.
New 52 Version: Green Arrow has a solo title in the New 52, but he also tried to join the current version of the Justice League back in issue #8, so he's obviously ready to be a team player. (And he's apparently got a beef with League-member Aquaman, whose first meeting with him is still a mystery but appears to be linked to his time on the island.)
At New York Comic Con, Johns promised "a lot of big Green Arrow stuff coming up," not just in JLA. Whether he was referencing the TV show or other appearances remains to be seen. But the fact that Green Arrow plays a key role in this week's Justice League back-up story indicates he'll probably serve as the leader of the JLA.Johns said he's taking Green Arrow's "large" personality "to the fifteenth degree" in the new JLA title. The writer will also be revisiting the Green Arrow/Green Lantern relationship.. only with a different Lantern this time. He's also contrasting him with Hawkman, a more violent, even brutal character with whom Ollie has previously been in conflict.
Since he was one of the earliest characters to be approached in continuity by Steve Trevor to join the team — and since he usually has a bit of a pushy personality — we expect Arrow to be one of the leaders of this new JLA.Katana
Character Overview: Tatsu Yamashiro is a skilled swordswoman and martial artist from Japan. She was launched into the New 52 as a member of the new Birds of Prey title.
While she hasn't historically been associated with the JLA, she's been showing up in recent, pre-New 52 continuity as a member of the Outsiders and JSA.
New 52 Version: Katana has proven herself a capable member of the Birds of Prey title, and writer Duane Swierczynski has given Katana a quirky new habit: She speaks to her sword, because she believes it contains the soul of her deceased husband. (In New 52 continuity, Yamashiro became a hero by fighting the Yakuza clan that's responsible for her husband's death.)
Johns' approach to the character remains to be seen, although he said he thinks she's a "great asset."
Martian ManhunterCharacter Overview: A core member of the Justice League in past incarnations of the team, Martian Manhunter has always been a very powerful hero who came to Earth from the planet Mars. He can fly, phase and read minds, and has superhuman strength, shape-shifting, speed, telekinesis, hypnosis and a slew of other cool powers. But he has a weakness to fire.
He had a commonality in the past with Superman, because they both came from another planet. He was able to mix with humans by shape-shifting into an alter ego, "John Jones," based upon his Martian name J'onn J'onzz.
He's another of the more visible characters from DC, having notably been a founding team member and almost constant presence on the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated TV series.
New 52 Version: Martian Manhunter entered the New 52 as a member of the Stormwatch team, which was largely made up of members who had previously existed in a separate imprint called WildStorm. As a member of the team, he was part of covert operations and wasn't considered a public superhero like the Justice League.
However, recent appearances outside Stormwatch have indicated Martian Manhunter did try to join the Justice League team at some point, although he ended up fighting them. In Justice League #8, which Johns wrote, he is shown spying on the thoughts of the Justice League, saying "They are not ready."
Whatever that means.At New York Comic Con, Johns said “I’ll also say that this book will make Martian Manhunter the most dangerous character in the DC Universe.”
With Martian Manhunter's huge power set, expect him to be one of the main players on Johns' new team.Hawkman
Character Overview: A winged, weapons-wielding hero who has traced his origin to Egyptian history and alien technology, Hawkman has been part of DC Comics since the 1940s.
In modern comics, Carter Hall is usually portrayed as one of the more brutal fighters in the DCU and has been associated with both the JLA and the JSA. He's often associated with Hawkwoman or Hawkgirl, to whom he's also usually mystically linked.
New 52 Version: Hawkman's solo title, which launched as part of the New 52, is in a bit of flux because of the sudden, very public departure of Rob Liefeld. However, some of the character's new continuity has been established in its first year of publication.
Carter Hall is really Katar Hol of the planet Thanagar, although he somehow lost memory of that before his relaunch in the New 52 as an archaeologist. In his latest incarnation, the powerful "Nth Metal" of his Thanagarian homeworld has bonded with his flesh, enabling him to armor himself and manifest wings and weapons.
Johns is very familiar with the character of Hawkman, having revamped the character and enjoying a long run on his solo title. Fans of the character are hoping to see more of that acclaimed run in the writer's portrayal of Hawkman on the JLA, particularly now that his solo title is in question.
In the past, Hawkman's character has often conflicted with Green Arrow, the former interested in fighting criminals and the latter more interested in helping underdogs. Johns has promised to highlight that conflict in this new title, but in a new way.Johns also implied at New York Comic Con that Hawkman isn't much of a team player. He "just shows up, beats someone up, then disappears and no one knows where he goes."
CatwomanCharacter Overview: Selina Kyle is the acrobatic and cunning cat burglar known as Catwoman, associated with Batman and Gotham City since her debut in 1940.
Although her thievery usually has her playing villain, the character has often fought on the side of "good" over the years, sometimes even playing the part of hero.
Catwoman is a very high-profile DC character — she would probably be the most readily recognized character from this team among a mainstream audience. Wearing her signature skin-tight catsuit, Catwoman has appeared in numerous cartoons and live action TV shows and movies, including this summer's Warner Bros. film Dark Knight Rises.
New 52 Version: Selina Kyle, who got her own title with the New 52 reboot, is young now, and is still finding her footing. She's heavy on sex appeal (causing a bit of controversy last year), but she's also confident and daring.
Why she's on a heroic team isn't clear yet, but Johns has said that it's because Steve Trevor has something she wants, "and it’s not at all what you’d expect. It’s not a big diamond, it’s not a get out of jail free card, it’s something she’s been searching for that’s going to lead to a whole exploration of a side of Selina Kyle we haven’t yet seen," Johns said.Character Overview: Simon Baz, who was introduced in September's Green Lantern #0, is a brand new member of the Green Lantern Corps, which is made up of heroes who wield rings that give them the power of flight, and the ability to create hard light constructs that are only limited by imagination and willpower.
The character didn't exist until the New 52 universe.
New 52 Version: Simon is an Arab-American who, as a boy, experienced prejudice after the 9-11 terrorist attacks of 2001. He gets into street racing, but is in a crash that leaves his brother-in-law brain dead. After he loses his job as an adult, Simon becomes desperate and steals a car, which eventually leads the police to misidentify him as a terrorist. But before he is forcibly interrogated, he's surprised to be rescued when he inherits the Green Lantern ring once worn by Hal Jordan.
His family has been adversely affected by his branding as a terrorist, and because he's still wanted, he wears a mask over his face to hide his identity. He's also someone who's raised the interest of Amanda Waller.
In this month's Green Lantern #13, Simon was confronted by the Justice League on the issue's final page Upcoming solicitations show Simon battling the Justice League and other heroes. So we're guessing he won't be friends with Superman and the gang.
Johns was asked by a fan at New York Comic Con whether the addition of villainous characters like Catwoman and the new Green Lantern will cause the Justice League teams to splinter, to which Johns simply replied, “I think you’re right on track with that.”
...Come to think of it, none of these characters in the Justice League of America are on friendly terms with the established Leaguers (save perhaps Catwoman with Batman), and some of them have been shown to be downright unfriendly with the current Justice League.
It lends more credence to the theory that this team will conflict with the Justice League in next year's Trinity War.FACEBOOK and TWITTER!