Last time I talked about what might have been. Today, lets talk about what could be. The reality is two fold. One, we need more black and other minority heroes featured in comics biggest flagship titles like DC Comic’s Justice League. The second is that in attempts to diversify so far, fans have had to give over the histories, likenesses and names of several characters already. We need to be prepared and expect more. Hanna-Barberra gave us a good attempt for the times.
Let’s start with the easy and or obvious. Europe. Wonder Woman is Greek. She is so tied to Greek mythology it is amazing she is still being drawn as white. A light shading to her skin, an acknowledgement that Paradise Island is tied to that region of the world and she is ready. Aquaman is often tied to Greek or Roman mythology also. Physically, he is so obviously Norse he could easily be from Scandinavia instead of Maine. Move him, lock, stock barrel and history to northern Europe. Zatanna could hail from Paris, France. Is there a hero more Italian than Plastic Man?
Africa. Black Adam’s skin tone was changed a few years back. Dr Fate had a recent version set on an alternate Earth where he was a local from Egypt. We logically expand this to the other heroes tied to Egypt. Most prominently, Hawkman and Hawkgirl. If they are reincarnations of Egyptian royalty, there is no reason for them not to look Egyptian. If they are from space, their skin could be any color. Vixen grew up in Africa. Golden Pharaoh of the Super-Friends. Dr. Mist. Metamorpho. Freedom Beast who replaced Bwana Beast. Batwing.
Asia. We need the heroic Dr Light. A fellow fan told me recently he thought Samurai on the Super-Friends was a revised Red Tornado. Sure, Samurai’s costume needs an update, but we need him so much more than an android. The reality is we need more Asian heroes. Ryan Choi taking over the role of the Atom is OK, but we need more. JLA member Faith was a blip I barely remember. Maybe we could pull from the Justice League of China or The Great Ten. Katana served in Amanda Waller’s JLA. Mr. Unknown of Batman Inc.
Speaking of more, does DC have heroes from India? Despite DC Comics trying to introduce a wider variety of heroes over the years with events like Bloodlines, Planet DC, and Batman Inc, I cannot think of any prominent enough to mention here. I went and looked up these events. The options were lacking.
Latin and Native America. The only prominent hero I can think of from South America is Fire. How sad is that. The Super-Friend El Dorado is from Mexico. Maybe Blue Beetle Jamie Reyes fits in this group. For Native Americans, we have the Super-Friend Apache Chief, his more recent interpretation as Manitou Raven and Manitou’s wife, Manitou Dawn. Batman Inc’s Chief Man of Bats. That’s all I’ve got.
North America. The United States. Too many good heroes, even after moving some of them across the globe. I still need 2 pictures to cover this group.
Superman, Black Lightning, Mr. Terrific, Green Arrow, Firestorm, Green Lantern Hal Jordan.
Green Lantern John Stewart, Batman, Black Canary, Steel, Flash, the Ray.
And so many more. Rumor is the Milestone characters like Icon and Rocket might be available as well.
Now to the meat of this. A Justice League for 2020. Some of the writers and editors have gotten things right over the years. I am sure that some decisions on roster were made based on things I will never know or understand. But these feel right for now.
1. Ethnic diversity. Hanna Barberra made a stab at this with the ethnic heroes in the Challenge of the Super-Friends and beyond.
2. Bigger than America. Giffen and DeMattis started their run by dropping the America from the teams name and comic. 6 issues later the the comic was renamed Justice League International. The book was popular enough to spawn a sister title and a quarterly.
3. One token Black hero is not enough. Meltzer’s team brought in Black Lightning and brought back Vixen. McDuffie expanded upon this by adding John Stewart as a 2nd Green Lantern on the team and the new Firestorm. The team had room for all of them. I think Icon and Hardware even appeared during McDuffie’s run on the comic.
4. Bigger membership. Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and the whole team behind Batman the Animated Series. After hesitating about doing a show which featured 7 leads, they realized the team could be even bigger. This is not just a team of 5 or 7 or 8. It is a League. There were a 11 members of the Super-Friends who faced off against the Legion of Doom. The satellite era of the League had 14 members when I found it in the late 70s. The international team grew to become 2 teams. Morrison, Kelli, Meltzer and McDuffie all had a dozen or more. The team needs to be bigger.
How do we have a team that feels worthy of the name Justice League in 2020? We do what every creative team has tried to do since the dawn of the team. Include the biggest, brightest and rising stars of the DC Universe sprinkled with a few heroes they want to give a bigger audience to.
Globally it could break down to something like this:
North America – Superman, Black Lightning, Mr. Terrific, Green Arrow, Firestorm, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Green Lantern John Stewart, Batman, Black Canary, Steel, Flash, the Ray.
Native and Latin America – Blue Beetle, El Dorado, Fire, Manitou Raven, Manitou Dawn, Vibe.
Africa – Dr Fate, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Vixen.
Asia – Atom Ryan Choi, Dr Light, Katana, Samurai.
Europe – Aquaman, Ice, Mera, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, Zatanna.
Outer Space – Martian Manhunter.
That’s a big team. How do we chop it down to a more reasonable say 16? That is up to the writer and editor as long as every group is represented. Or maybe we just have a League that is that large. I propose a League of Justice designed for 2020.