There’s a problem with the two major superhero teams in the DCU. They’re grown to be like families: dysfunctional. In fact, they’re so dysfunctional that it’s come to a point where both the Justice League of America and Justice Society of America have members divorcing themselves from the teams, splintering off into alternate titles (see JSA All Stars, JLA: Cry For Justice) and otherwise bumping around the DCU looking for a new purpose. Meanwhile it’s very obvious to readers that behind the curtain the DCU that is looking at these characters and trying to figure out what to do with them.
While JLA has undergone many changes over its myriad incarnations (ah, the Justice League International) and JSA is searching for a new mission, readers are left month to month wondering (and wandering) what to make of it all. While the national divorce rate is reported to be upwards of 70 percent, such should not be the case in the world of the superhero team. Here are few core ideas that should be considered when addressing the revitalization of these key franchises.
1) Permanently join the JLA and the JSA into one superhero franchise. This would be an event more potent than “Final Crisis” and “Blackest Night” combined. It would herald a new, ongoing era for the superheroes, present plenty of fodder for dramatic twists, antagonisms and character development. These heroes have been searching for something, maybe it is each other.
2) Short of a permanent team up between both franchises, use the monthly comic series of each to delve deeper into the relationships between the characters of both teams. The exciting part of both JLA and JSA is seeing everyone’s favorite characters in action. The not-so-exciting part is that both come off, quite often, as very superficial in terms of storytelling. There’s breadth, but not depth. Take some time, look into each character and let them tell the stories.
3) Finally, while justice is the name of the game, in order for both of these franchises to continue working they both need to practice a new kind of justice for the 21st Century (and kudos to the creators of JLA: Cry For Justice for exploring this type of ambiguity). The DCU needs to explore what justice means today. Both JLA and JSA need to reflect, to a greater extent, the cultural and global ambiguity of the nature of justice. Like a brand that needs a refresh, the DCU needs a “New Justice” while maintaining the integrity of characters that have been loved for decades.
Next up: Why not continuing Superman: World of New Krypton could be the greatest mistake of all!