iEditorial | JUSTICE LEAGUE Vol. 2: The Villain’s Journey
Unsung tales and missed opportunities deeply diving into the JUSTICE LEAGUE archives reveals insight into narratives that might have been — or may yet — be brought to light from the case files!
For many, DC Comics “The New 52” relaunch was the publishing imprint’s most elaborate failed experiment. In 2011 the entire line of comics were relaunched and rebooted after the near-cataclysmic events captured in the FlashPoint story arc. Geoff Johns the author behind the revelatory “crisis” event which centered arrived The Flash’s irrational decision to prevent his nemesis the Reverse-Flash from murdering his mother, the result of which has a drastic effect all-across the DC Universe.
The result was “The New 52” reboot which was an effort by the publisher’s to rewrite company-wide mythology and “clean slate” much of the major storylines especially among DC Comics greatest icons which included the membership among the World’s Greatest Heroes the Justice League, in fact when the Justice League #1 launched it inaugurated the arrival of “The New 52”. Johns and one of DC’s Finest Jim Lee teamed up for their revisionist view of many of the imprint’s long-standing characters including Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
This week DC celebrated Lee by offering many of the artist’s most prolific works, among them the collected volumes of several series runs including Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain’s Journey which reprinted for the first time “The New 52” run of the title’s issues #7-12. It featured the Justice League’s confrontation with a new adversary who has been following their rise to fame, in a new world that heralds them as heroes, but are they really worthy of that title? The complex story arc actually features two additional prologues that reveal some interesting motives.
Unexplored, Not Pursued
Leading up to the league’s battle with Graves, there is an engaging story by Johns and drawn by Carlos D’anda, not Jim Lee, a Justice League team-up featuring Green Arrow. It’s the “first time” in the new continuity that the Emerald Archer crosses paths with the team, as he petitions for a position among their ranks. The League don’t appear all too impressed by the archer, who insists he helped them take down Amazo the Android, helped prevent an attack from the Court of Owls’ Talons, but is rejected by most of the current roster, especially Aquaman and Green Lantern.
The Aquaman snub is interesting because it reveals a dangling plot line that appears to have not been explored: one that placed Arthur Curry and Oliver Queen in directly opposing paths before they assumed their superhero identities. That Green Lantern isn’t impressed by Green Arrow is also of note considering that the pair have often shared adventures together, especially during the Bronze Age of Comics and into the Modern Era. Green Arrow isn’t brought into the inner circle but is approached by the League’s liaison agent Steve Trevor for another mission all-together.
At the conclusion of their adventure and after the Green Arrow pleads his final case, their part ways, but consider the possibility of opening their ranks. It’s then the Batman protests that it wouldn’t be a good idea, and insists how badly it went the last time that the League let someone in…leading to a dramatic double splash page with the Justice League locked in combat with the Martian Manhunter! Readers of the current volume of the Justice League will note that not only is J’onn J’onzz a member of the team, he’s the group’s current chairperson.
Without further integrating that bit of backstory, the Justice League would soon find themselves in a series of big scale brawls beginning with “The Trinity War” and leading into “Forever Evil”. These events brought them in direct conflict with a government sanctioned “Justice League of America” that included amidst its roster the Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter, and inducting several “rookie” members. Firestorm and an Element Woman were invited to train with the team, while the duplicitous Atomica was uncovered as a psychopath from an alternate-Earth.
The Justice League’s core members have pretty much stayed intact and only recently, after entering into the cross-publishing “Rebirth” and facing the dangers of the Dark Multiverse in “Metal” took a major step to reexamine their roster. The latest team includes many of the recent founding members including Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, but have now recruited John Stewart, the Green Lantern, Kendra Saunders, the Hawkgirl and brought Martian Manhunter back.
Still there is the dangling participle of what exactly transpired — in full detail — between J’onn J’onzz and the original seven members, and though perhaps the beef between Aquaman and Green Arrow may have played into some one-shot story in either one of their respective titles, they’ve never crossed paths since the apparent proclamation of disdain between the two heroes. In fact, the long-term history of the current era Justice League is in much flux, as recent events in the Batman/The Flash team-up arc “The Button” revealed a great deal of missing history.
As the current mythology attempts to restructure itself and open up the possibility that an eventual explanation will be laid out for diehard fans of the Justice League’s illustrious history, in the meantime devoted readers can dive into Justice League: The 100 Greatest Moments by Robert Greenberger and published Book Sales Chartwell. The hardback is available now from various retailers including Barnes and Noble.