Friday, September 2, 2011

Rebooting Justice League #1

Heh. Best laid plans of mice and men and all that, but I had hoped to get into some non-DC content, particularly looking at the reboot done to the Marvel Avengers for the TV show Avengers: The Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Obviously, I didn't have a lot to do while we waited out the sturm und drang of Irene over the weekend.

But after yesterday's review of Justice League #1 followed by reading some other reviews and comments, I wondered how the hell I'd go about pulling off this opening salvo of DC's New 52. I think what stuck in my craw was a comment I read on Comics Alliance that asked, if the the characters in Justice League #1 were no-names rather than Batman, Green Lantern, and Superman, would anyone really care? Would they be interested in what was going on?

That thought just wormed its way into my brain. I couldn't see any reason that comic would be anywhere close to a success if it was Matban, Leen Grantern, and Mupersan headlining (Good thing they didn't use Wonder Woman, eh? But then why was she and Flash and Aquaman on the cover? Hurm.). The more I pondered (and I had plenty of time to last night due to the recent discovery of a ghost in our 150+ year old house), the more the setup of the comic bugged me.

For a company that claims it wants to move forward and create new legacies (and fans), Justice League #1 sure did stand heavily on the shoulders of the past. While this might be great for an fan like me who knows what the hell a parademon is, it means that there is a huge reference not available to new readers who have only seen a few DC movies or played a few DC video games right off the bat. If one of the reasons for a reboot is to make things more accessible to new or casual readers, then this is a problem.

Had I my druthers, I'd have avoided an origin story entirely. If the decision was made to back away from an actual, hard reboot, then why not use the freedom of legacy that offers? You could certainly refer to the origins of the Justice League in the initial arc, probably to explain who the hell Cyborg is as he'd be the least known of the seven. I'd plot the story around the return of Darkseid, that evil space tyrant whose attempt on Earth five years ago brought together seven of Earth's greatest heroes. Cyborg would have been the POV character, as opposed to Batman. We could get the facts about Vic early on by making him the one who has been the most gung-ho about keeping a watch out for Darkseid, giving him a chance to talk about how the initial attack was what set things in motion to make him part machine (parademon attacks Vic's Dad at STAR Labs while Vic was in the middle of chewing him out over missing important football game. Dad realizes what a heel he's been just as his son gets mortally wounded trying to save him.) and how he felt like he could have done more in the ensuing struggle against Apokolips ("I felt like the weak link, Diana. I promised myself that next time, I'd be the whole chain."- Oh no! EmoBorg is creeping in here too!).

This would give Cyborg some early scenes of being cool to help warm him to new readers. It would also put him in a leadership role when Darkseid returns, as he's been learning all he can about the villain for the past five years, and would let him reference the group's original encounter by contrasting how this time was different. So five years ago, Darkseid attempted to take over the Earth on the cheap. He started by sending emissaries and saboteurs. Superman, as a Kryptonian, got an Emissary ("Great Darkseid demands that you follow the ancient Kryptonian Compact and refrain from involving yourself in this matter. Go find yourself another planet of toys to play on."), as did Aquaman ("Surrender now and you shall be allowed to live as a Client Ruler, O Lord of the Planet."), and Wonder Woman/Themyscira ("This does not concern your kind. The days of the Old Gods are done. Leave now and cling to your memories awhile longer."). Green Lantern got flat out attacked, as it'd be in an interstellar invader's best interests to get the Space Cop out of the way fast. Batman and Flash responded to attempts by Darkseid's minions to take out high science WayneTech labs and Cyborg was caught in the middle of a similar attack on STAR Labs.

The heroes rallied together, defeating the invaders, and everything is hunky-dory, natch? Well, except that was really more of a probing strike and the Big Invasion is beginning in Issue #1. As the arc progresses, the original seven rally some additional allies (the 8 auxiliaries), and we go at it. We'd still have plenty of time to get the character beats and conflicts out there, but would skip over the inevitable "Heroes Fight On First Encounter" trope that's just a huge waste of time nowadays. (Hint: The answer to "Who would win in a fight, _____ or ______?" is always "The one whose name is on the cover. If none, then each scores a point, but it remains a tie.")

If we're already treading on the legacies of these characters, then starting up a five year in the past origin story seems kind of a waste. It just has no impact - we know the heroes win five years because if they didn't, there'd be no now, right?

So my Justice League #1 would open with Cyborg and Lantern chasing down a parademon in Gotham. This draws the interest of Batman, who gets involved  and things snowball from there. ("My city!" "But we agreed the League would deal with any more sightings of Darkseid's soldiers," replies Cyborg. "It's just one," points out Lantern, "They've been popping up at random ever since we kicked ole Stoneface back to Apokolips five years ago. Left overs." "No," says Cyborg, "Not this time. This feels different." "He's right," Superman suddenly says, dropping into view, a dead parademon in each hand, "We need to get the League together on this."). By the end of Issue #1, we should have the entire team of seven assembled. Maybe Aquaman or Flash don't get many lines, but still, they'll be in the damn book that they're on the cover of.

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