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Wednesday, November 15, 2017 

A superficial article about the Justice League's history

The Times-Record of Fort Smith, Arkansas published a superficial, unchallenging piece about the Justice League of America's history, in anticipation of the new movie that's due to come out in the next week. Some of the notes include:
2. The members of the JLA in its 1960 debut were Aquaman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman and Wonder Woman. (Cyborg didn’t exist yet.)
And nobody finds it absurd that Vic Stone was plucked out of his membership with the Teen Titans to suit the PC visions of Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns? Or, that continuity was almost entirely thrown out the window in 2011 for the sake of a merchandise-influenced rendition of many prominent superheroes? If they want to add Cyborg to the League, that's find in itself, but changing continuity so cynically didn't do any favors for the title.
3. The Justice League has had three origins. The 1962 origin brought the team together to battle an invasion from the planet Appelax. The 1977 origin brought the team together to battle an invasion from Mars. The 2011 origin brought the team together to battle an invasion from Apokolips. (The second was adapted for the “Justice League” animated TV show, the third is being adapted in the movie.)
Not mentioned is Johns's bad writing in the Justice League tainting the third origin and making it hard to appreciate. When you have such bad scripting involved in the four color edition, it becomes awfully silly to make it the basis for a movie. If that's all Johns wrote the comics for, then his goal was entirely commercial, not altruistic.
6. Joss Whedon (“Avengers”) was brought on to finish “Justice League” after original director Zack Snyder resigned to deal with a family emergency. We don’t know yet what changes Whedon made, except that he reduced the movie’s running time from 170 minutes to 121 minutes. (Maybe he just removed all painful references to “Batman v. Superman.”)
Not if Ben Affleck is still cast as the Masked Manhunter. Let's remember the criticism he received for sexual harassment that's turned up in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, and of course, Whedon didn't do much better with his own philandering. For all we know, that could taint the movie, which wouldn't be good.
10. A 1988 story established Black Canary as a founding member of the Justice League in place of Wonder Woman. (This terrible idea was quickly dropped.)
I think I own a copy of that story from the Secret Origins anthology of 1986-90, and it wasn't as bad as they're claiming it to be. Mainly because it wasn't until the mid-to-late 2000s that DC tried to restore WW as a founding member, to no real artistic success, because of all the serious errors they've made since that time.
11. Cyborg first appeared in 1980 as a member of the Teen Titans. His history was re-written in 2011, erasing his Titans tenure in favor of being a founding member of the Justice League, instead of Martian Manhunter. (It’s not easy being green.)
And that's just the problem! Again, if they'd written he graduated to being recruited as a member of the JLA, that would've worked a lot better, but instead, they insulted everyone's intellect with crappy stories written by Johns that insult all the hard work crafted by better writers who made better use out of J'onn J'onzz.
12. When Wonder Woman lost her powers in the ’70s, she resigned from the Justice League. When her powers were restored, she demanded the League monitor her during 12 labors, like Hercules, to ascertain her worthiness to return. (Yes, it was her request, but it still feels sexist.)
Gee, what's so sexist about that moment in storytelling that wasn't so sexist about Identity Crisis? And it was in about 1969 WW lost her powers, and they were fully restored circa 1973.
13. In the mid-1980s, the League was headquartered in Michigan. “Justice League Detroit” consisted of Aquaman, Elongated Man, Martian Manhunter, Vixen and Zatanna, plus new characters Gypsy, Steel and Vibe. (It didn’t last long.)
Well gee, that's because it just wasn't considered the most exciting period in Justice history. I do vaguely remember George Perez once said he was bothered by the stereotypical accent Vibe was given by Gerry Conway, and that could've undermined the last 2 years of the League too.
16. Black Canary was created in 1947, so by 1983 DC was having trouble explaining why she still looked to be in her early 20s. So “Justice League of America” #220 revealed that the then-current Black Canary was actually the daughter of the original, kept in unconscious stasis due to her uncontrollable sonic scream while she grew up, and with her dead mother’s memories downloaded into her blank brain. (It’s considered polite to pretend this story never happened.)
But you can't, I'm afraid. Sure, I'll admit the whole retcon co-written by Roy Thomas was pretty awkward and embarrassing with its Oedipal touches, but if we act as though they'd never thought of it before, we won't be able to judge or learn from history, will we? The last line in the column says:
20. In 1994, a character named Triumph was revealed to have been a founding member of the Justice League, but on his first mission was teleported into a dimensional limbo that also affected the timestream, erasing all memory of him. (Got that? OK, now go back to forgetting him.)
Must we? I think it's honestly a shame DC had to foist Zero Hour upon the universe, and throw out some storylines that might've worked. Which, come to think of it, is just what this boring article is doing in turn. I think it'd be better to just forget this cruddy news item ever got published, because of how unobjective it truly is.

Update: while we're on the topic of the Justice League, this Breitbart entry says the signs are not looking good for the movie from a critical perspective, a fact Time Warner's apparently been trying to hide, but Metacritic's been willing to let be known. Well, I figured the signs could be looking dim for prospects, but the following week will let us know the overall verdict the public delivers.

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