DC Comics has been releasing more issues in its recalibrated universe (a.k.a. the “DCnU“). Many fans and critics greeted the renumbered titles with skepticism, but I still give DC’s editorial management credit for a bolder experiment than usual annual crossovers, which inevitably lead to a short-term spike in readership followed by diminishing returns. Many of the early reviews have been positive so far. I liked the first issues of the renumbered Justice League, in which Batman and Green Lantern met for the first time, and Action Comics, featuring a denim-clad Superman.
I’ve already blogged about how I would approach DC’s “Big Three” — Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman — with a mix of reverence to their 70 years of shared history and an attempt to keep them young and relevant for new audiences across serialized media.
As I’ve portrayed the Justice League in my “Societe de Justice Internationale” role-playing scenarios (using GURPS Supers and Mutants & Masterminds), that group of superheroes is the “national team,” similar in theme and power levels to Marvel’s Avengers. It has international branches, but it is based in the U.S. and focuses on threats such as natural disasters, alien invasions, and supervillains that no single superhero can handle alone.
The “major leagues” include the Justice Society, which is composed of “legacy” heroes — semiretired costumed vigilantes and their children and grandchildren. Marvel has its Invaders. The Justice Society, which began in World War II, disbanded during the Cold War (in a parallel to the censorship of comics) and served as mentors and inspiration to the Justice League.
The experienced metahumans of the Justice Society and Justice League have a few offshoots, such as Justice League International, the covert Outsiders, the futuristic Legion of Superheroes, and the street-level Birds of Prey. I’d put Marvel’s X-Men and Fantastic Four at this level.
The “minor leagues” include the young adults of the (formerly Teen) Titans and the up and coming Young Justice. Marvel’s equivalents include the New Mutants, Runaways, and Young Avengers. Some of the people on these supergroups are the protégés of older heroes. Just as the Justice League has its Legion of Doom, so do the sidekicks have their own foes, such as the Brotherhood of Evil.
I like this generational aspect and would try to keep it. See my previous blog posts on how relative ages should work out. For example, the Justice Society’s Nite Owl is the protégé of the Golden Age hero of the same name, and Batman (about age 30) is the dark vigilante of the night in the Justice League. In turn, Batman’s former sidekick Nightwing (about 20) leads the Titans, and Red Robin (age 17) is on Young Justice.
For the sake of convenience, I’m limiting my ideal Justice League roster to 12 members. In upcoming posts, I’ll share which characters I picked and why. My approach is similar to that taken by the very cool DC Adventures: Heroes and Villains, Vol. 1.