This week’s Justice League International #8 brought us a lot of what we expect in our superhero comics–action, drama, supervillains, and people getting beat up. And lately, many of the people in question who’ve been getting beat up have been our heroes, the members of the JLI.
Just like they always do, and it sucks.
I love my international Justice Leaguers, I really do, and I’m tired of seeing them get slapped around and treated like chumps.
Half of them were taken out in last panels of February’s Justice League International #6 by a surprise explosion. The villains hid a bomb under a stage the team was standing on during a press conference and set it off during a live broadcast to hurt and humiliate the Leaguers in front of the world, and it worked. Two issues later, and Vixen, Fire, and Ice are all still out of commission, and Rocket Red is dead (or at least he is for now. This is a comic book, after all).
These superheroes just got finished beating up some powerful supervillain from outer space named Peraxxus and his army of giant robots, and when they come back to Earth to celebrate, all it takes is an ordinary explosion to shake them to their core.
Yup, Godiva, you got that right.
I’ll bet you wouldn’t have seen those folks in the main Justice League title get taken out like that. A bomb under a frickin’ stage? Pffft! Superman would’ve shrugged it off, Flash would’ve run away at superspeed before the blast could hurt him, and Green Lantern would’ve shielded everyone else from the force.
Well… okay. Green Lantern might not have been able to shield anyone if he didn’t know the blast was coming, but DC would’ve found a way to have him do it anyway and say, “Oh my goodness, if I hadn’t thrown up my shield at the last second, we would have been KILLED!!!” just for good measure.
And do you know why? Because he’s the Green Lantern in the “important” Justice League series, so he’s supposed to be too good to be taken out so easily, just like all those other big shot teammates of his.
But those mofos in the Justice League International? KA-BLAMMO! All it takes is one ordinary bomb, and you get rid of a whole chunk of ‘em. And technically, they may actually have had enough power to withstand it better. Guy Gardner’s a green lantern, isn’t he? And can’t Booster Gold’s force field protect other people and not just him alone? Why couldn’t either of their superpowers have saved their teammates? You could come up with lots of logical reasons why they couldn’t, and maybe you’d be right, but I don’t think it necessarily has to do with their powers per se. It’s because DC wants these specific Leaguers to look like chumps, dammit. CHUMPS!
Don’t believe me? Take a look at how one of the “cool kids” in the main Justice League book refers to our hapless heroes.
Batman called them a joke, and he’s on the international team in the current storyline. He’s been supportive of Booster and the gang privately in the Justice League International series, so him acting like they’re losers in public around DC’s A-list crimefighters seems strange. He’s likely pretending like he has no faith in them in order to keep up a charade. But if so, why take this kind of attitude in order to mask his secret approval?
Probably because that’s the same way other people in the DC Universe think of them. Batman’s merely following the crowd so the ruse will stick, which means that, in the eyes of a whole lot of other characters, the poor international heroes are supposed to be the superhero equivalents of baseball players you want to bench.
Even in their own series, one of the Justice League International’s government backers says they’re failures and shuts them down.
It’s being telegraphed to us readers that DC characters think our heroes are worthless, and they’re written in ways to reinforce that line of thinking. We’re only eight issues into the new series, and poor Ice has been taken out twice now. First briefly by a giant space robot in issue #2, and more seriously by the aforementioned bomb in issue #6. Being a team punching bag was basically the same role she often played in the old Justice League International series before the New 52 relaunch, but now, it’s worse. See, in those days, Ice’s wimpiness was all about her, but today, it’s really just about her boyfriend, Guy. Her being hurt prompts him to worry about her and profess his love for her, and thus allows the writer to tell us, “See? Guy Gardner’s not a complete asshole, guys. Look at how much he cares about his girlfriend.” So far Ice isn’t her own character, she’s another character’s motivation.
And Vixen. She was taken out by the same bomb, and may have a serious spinal injury. BUT… she has animal mimicry powers. Shouldn’t she be able to just heal like a reptile and be as good as new? She’s unconscious in a hospital bed right now, so let’s hope DC remembers what her powers actually are when she wakes up.
Now, I know with the logical side of my brain that a lot of this is all set up. Our heroes are being broken down so they can get back up and beat the bad guy. Maybe Vixen will use her healing powers when she gets out of that hospital bed. Maybe Rocket Red isn’t going to stay dead. Maybe Ice will have story beats that are about her and not her more popular boyfriend. Maybe the team will triumph over adversity so awesomely that the rest of the DC Universe will deem them the top notch heroes they can be (and already are when it comes to personality and interest level. Remember how sad people were when Ted Kord took a bullet in his skull? These characters are fan-favorites for a reason, y’know).
And maybe, just maybe, it’ll all happen soon. Or at least, I hope it happens soon, because I’m waiting for DC to take the “BWAH-HA-HA!” out of this team and replace it with a jumbo-sized can of whoop ass. Now.