As DC Comics‘ renumbering continues, here’s more of my take on an ideal Justice League. This is by no means the only way to approach that superhero team, but it’s more of a tweak than the current overhaul being given to that fictional universe. I’m still catching up on the new continuity (three weeks of issues have already come out).
I’ve tried to pick an interesting assortment of characters with varied powers and personalities. Since my version is shaped partly by the needs of my role-playing campaigns, I’ve stated that the current wave of metahumans has been publicly known for about 10 years, rather than the current “DCnU‘s” five. This gives more breathing room for supporting casts, elements from the past 70 years’ worth of stories, and multiple teams, without making the core members too old.
I’ve already named shrinking scientist the Atom, magician Zatanna, winged warrior Hawkgirl, shapeshifting telepath Martian Manhunter, martial artist Black Canary, and archer and social conscience Green Arrow. Here are my remaining six picks:
Like Hawkman and his convoluted backstory, Aquaman has been the butt of jokes for his ability to communicate with sea life. However, I’ve always thought that Aquaman was cool, from his days with the Superfriends and his crossover duel with Namor, Marvel’s Submariner, to his recent strong participation in Justice League Unlimited and Batman and the Brave and the Bold. Like Wonder Woman, animators seem to have had an easier time unifying Aquaman’s personality and demonstrating his prowess than many comic book writers.
Arthur Curry is not only the Justice League’s environmental champion, but as king of Atlantis, he has responsibilities and experience that few can match. Whether he’s “Conan of the sea” with long hair and a hook hand or wearing the gold and green scales, Aquaman should be regal, mighty, and just a bit playful. His protégés include Tempest in the Titans, Aqualad II in Young Justice, and possibly Animal Man. In addition to his wife Mera, Aquaman would get along well with Princess Diana of Theymiscira.
The Flash is the fastest man alive, with Marvel’s Quicksilver an analogue for the onetime police scientist. I’d use the recently resurrected Barry Allen, who’s a contemporary of most of my other choices. While other heroes have families and sidekicks, Barry’s relationships are especially close, with Jay Garrick in the Justice Society, Wally West in the Titans, and Bart Allen in Young Justice.
The Flash‘s sense of loyalty, strong moral compass, and creativity make him close friends with Hal Jordan/Green Lantern and Superman, but the speedster’s impatience may occasionally grate on Batman and Aquaman’s nerves. Arguably one of the most powerful metahumans in the DC universe, the Flash is the resident expert in time travel (backed up by Booster Gold in Justice League International).
Speaking of the JLI, while I’d put Guy Gardner on that team, John Stewart is my choice for Green Lantern on the Justice League. Sure, he could occasionally swap places with Hal Jordan when one or the other has a mission in deep space, but Stewart’s military background, ethnic diversity, architectural ability, and pangs of conscience make him an interesting addition. Stewart’s straightforward attitude would be an asset in working with the Flash and Batman.
With Alan Scott on the Justice Society and Jade in the Titans, Stewart would be the resident expert in alien invasions, occasionally putting him at odds with exiles Superman, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter. As cosmic energy wielders, members of the Green Lantern Corps are similar to Marvel’s Thor or Silver Surfer. Green Lantern could also be a mentor to Firestorm and Static Shock in Young Justice.
The final three members should come as no surprise. Wonder Woman is the Justice League’s supreme tactician (similar to Ms. Marvel in the Avengers) and is nearly as powerful as Superman. Wonder Woman‘s mother, Queen Hippolyta, could have served with the Justice Society during World War II. Diana’s “sisters,” Donna Troy/Troia Cassie Sandsmark/Wonder Girl, would be on the Titans and Young Justice, respectively, with Artemis as occasional backup and foil.
Wonder Woman is a role model for all superheroines, but even for her, the expectation of perfection would be hard to live up to. I figure that her optimism, desire for peace, and toughness would be reasons enough for her to get along with just about everyone in the league. I also think that Wonder Woman would be the Justice League’s first choice as diplomatic representative to world governments.
On the strategic side, Batman keeps the Justice League working. Bruce Wayne is responsible for the team’s satellite Watchtower, training numerous up-and-coming vigilantes such as the Outsiders, and trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. Similar to the acrobatic Captain America on the battlefield, inventive Iron Man in the workshop, and brilliant Sherlock Holmes as a detective, Batman stands equal to his superpowered allies, if often in the shadows.
Batman’s protégés are equally impressive, with Nightwing leading the Titans, Red Robin in Young Justice, and Oracle helping both the Justice League and the Birds of Prey. His focus on the streets of Gotham is similar to that of Spider-Man or Daredevil in New York City. Bruce is serious and reserved, occasionally annoying Barry, Ollie, and Hal, but Diana and Clark are close enough to know and like his true self.
Superman, the first modern superhero, should be the standard-bearer and unofficial leader of the Justice League. He’s a powerhouse like Marvel’s Hulk, a natural authority like Captain America, and has a cool cape like Thor — or rather, they have those qualities like the last son of Krypton. Superman‘s foes, such as Lex Luthor, Darkseid, and Brainiac, are worthy challenges to the entire superhero community.
Although Superman doesn’t typically have sidekicks, he does have family such as Karen Starr/Power Girl with the Justice Society, Kara/Supergirl with the Titans, and clone Connor Kent/Superboy with Young Justice. Superman‘s moral certitude might irritate Batman or Green Arrow even he inspires them and others. I don’t mind if “big blue” is a “boy scout”; his extraterrestrial origin and sheer strength of muscle and will are more than balanced out by his Midwestern regular-guy charm and desire to defend and — be a part of — humanity at all costs.
Of course, superheroes are only as good as their opposition. Even a pantheon of 12 and assorted sidekicks and spinoff teams can’t be everywhere at once in a world with almost 7 billion people. Natural disasters, common criminals, supervillains, and the occasional alien or mystical attack should be more than enough to keep the Justice League busy, not to mention rivalries within their own ranks.
In the DC Universe Online MMO and my “Societe de Justice Internationale” scenarios (using GURPS Supers and D20 Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures), it’s cool when Player Characters get to meet a “named” character. However, they have to feel like they can make a positive difference. I hope that any version of the Justice League in print, TV animation, games, or live-action retains that sense of camaraderie and fun while saving the world… Whom would you pick and why?