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Justice League tropes that need to end in modern era

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ElijahSnowFan

cheese

Postby ElijahSnowFan » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:13 am

So, yeah. I read Justice League each and every month.

I do this for many reasons, one of which is the fact that I truly enjoy pain. Mind-numbing, to-the-brink-of-passing-out pain.

But in reading this latest volume from Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, etc. -- and reading an interesting post from Fieldy Snuts earlier -- something that I had always felt was pretty much true is, actually, totally true:

Justice League stories are being held hostage by ridiculous tropes that not only lessen the characters who are involved, but also negatively impact the kinds of stories we could be seeing.

That's not to say that these tropes weren't useful in the past -- they were fine. Storytelling in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s...they were appropriate for the era, and stories from different eras shouldn't be judged harshly as if those stories were produced in a vacuum and every other story produced during those times were great.

But my latest mind-blowing "this is just ridiculous storytelling for this era, the modern era" for the Justice League came in the latest issue, where Despero comes to the JLA satellite...only to be challenged by the obligatory "new kids on the block who miraculously earn their stripes when, actually, they probably should have been killed."

Suffice to say, that trope in the modern era needs to be...retired.

Preparedness, training -- I couldn't be the only one who found X-Men to be the most believable of an entirely fictional set of worlds because, every few issues, you actually saw them training in the Danger Room. You actually saw them learning to use their powers in team settings, if only for a few panels.

Those weren't throwaway panels. At least, they never were for me. It was through those lenses that, for instance, I believed that Angel -- who, in the simplest terms, could just fly -- could actually survive pitched combat with individuals with far deadlier powers.

It was through the Danger Room training pages that I believed that Bobby Drake could have learned how to control his temperature powers so that instead of being covered by snow/slush, he would encase himself in ice. And that instead of throwing snowballs, he would learn to freeze things to the degree that they could shatter with a punch.

I saw the teamwork developing. I would believe that five kids, only a few of whom had truly offensive powers, could defeat Sentinels and other, older, more experienced adversaries.

That made sense to me. It's why I have no doubt that Scott Summers is hell to deal with. It's not that he is simply powerful. It's that Cyclops has MASTERED those powers. He's mastered being a leader. Tactics. Scenarios. Cyclops is like...Tom Brady. Michael Jordan. He's simply the best.

Then in the Justice League...there's Element Woman.

See what I'm getting at?

I have read Justice League for decades, and while there have been interesting interpretations and good runs, as a whole, I feel comfortable saying this: That franchise has grossly underachieved. It doesn't have nearly enough great runs. It doesn't have nearly enough memorable storylines, defining storylines.

And I feel that is because the franchise is held hostage by these tropes, in no particular order:

1. "Good storytelling requires at least two teammates to dislike each other enough that it impacts their performance and weighs down the rest of the team, including arguing during missions or rushing headlong against a powerful villain, on their own, to prove their point."

2. "The rookies who have not mastered their powers or never seen training as part of a team scenario are always lucky enough to survive. So we'll always have more fresh-faced rookies. Despite the fact that failure by the Justice League means that Darkseid conquers the Earth."

3. "Batman's not so smart. Or he has 25 lives. Because Element Woman's clearly mentally unstable and needs help, yet The World's Greatest Tactician is willing to risk not only his life, but the lives of his teammates and of others, so she can say cute things as a member of the team."

4. "Superman's not so tough. I mean, seriously. Superspeed, superstrength, heat vision, and enhanced senses are easily negated because he only uses his super-brain every 100 issues or so."

5. "Surveillance and security are just random letters put together. They don't really mean anything. I mean, seriously. It's not like having defined security protocols would actually be useful. I mean, in just 21 issues, the Watchtower's been breached by David Graves and Despero, while their case files have been downloaded and stolen."

6. "Leadership and tactics are completely overrated. That's why Aquaman, who is a king with an army at his disposal, and Batman, who, again, is the World's Greatest Tactician and the nominal head of a global company, as well as an Amazon warrior bred for combat, never show any, including the necessary ability to know that you have to have...leaders and tactics."

7. "Batman keeps coming up with ways to kill us behind our backs."

8. "Batman trusts little kids with his life but doesn't trust us at all, even though we keep Darkseid from conquering the Earth. Repeatedly."

So on, and so forth.

One of the reasons I'm really liking the current era of Avengers, as well as some previous versions, is that they are truly functioning as a team. While Bendis certainly liked dialogue more than most, you always got the feel that the team functioned as a unit -- even when they had Sentry on the team, which wasn't ideal, but Bendis was clearly trying to find a place for the character.

But under Jonathan Hickman, the proper Avengers book...it's exactly what I would believe a global/galactic force to be. They just...they just feel like a unit. A team. A coherent, functioning, effective team.

In Justice League? You get Element Woman and Firestorm. The first needs mental help, the second are two teenagers who, at this point of the DCnU, are not very experienced at all.

I truly believe the Justice League's slavish devotion to these tropes is why the franchise has underachieved for years. Truthfully? The only reason why this franchise is even still relevant is because Bruce Timm and DC Animated made it so, after Grant Morrison's run ended.

It's been a long, long time since then, folks. A long, long time.
User avatar

alaska1125

dINGO

Postby alaska1125 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:31 am

*sigh*
This is all too true. I can't believe anyone is still actually picking this up. There's only one time I can think of that defies your "rookies win the day" point, but that was when DC decided to cut their losses and the Detroit League got their asses kicked by...Professed Ivo. Think on that for a moment.
By the by...how do you rate the current League versus, say, Robinson's run. I'm torn.
User avatar

IvCNuB4

Staff Writer

Postby IvCNuB4 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:31 am

I see most of your points and admittedly I didn't understand how by staying small that prevented Despero from reading Atom's mind. But the newbies also got their asses handed to them in 4 pages. They most likely would have been killed had J'onn not showed up and covertly saved the day.
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ElijahSnowFan

cheese

Postby ElijahSnowFan » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:51 am

alaska1125 wrote:*sigh*
This is all too true. I can't believe anyone is still actually picking this up. There's only one time I can think of that defies your "rookies win the day" point, but that was when DC decided to cut their losses and the Detroit League got their asses kicked by...Professed Ivo. Think on that for a moment.
By the by...how do you rate the current League versus, say, Robinson's run. I'm torn.


Sigh. Just...sigh.

The Detroit League was easily my least favorite version, for just those reasons: You had "hotheads." You had rookies who had NO BUSINESS being in anything called the Justice League. You had no teamwork and horrible leadership and...just...wow. Just wow. A true low point for the franchise.

It was so bad, it impacts Vibe to this day. See what I mean about how horrific stories truly limit the characters and franchises? There was no reason for Vibe to be a "bad" character. Diversity wasn't as valued then, but the fact that he was diverse and young isn't the reason that people despised the character so.

The reason is that he was "a hothead who broke team" all the time. He was an awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful teammate. That stuff matters.

With Robinson's team...you know, I knew what he was trying to do. I understood it completely.

Bruce Wayne was dead, Superman was off-planet on New Krypton, Wonder Woman was unavailable, no Hal Jordan, there was no Flash....he was stuck as to who the hell he could even put on the team.

Soooooo...you wind up with Congorilla and Mikaal Tomas.

Oh, my God. Just...wow. Just...WOW. Holy hell.

I have tried to purge my mind of James Robinson's run. And I like James Robinson's writing, as a whole. But oh, my God. That era of Justice League...Oh, My God.
User avatar

ElijahSnowFan

cheese

Postby ElijahSnowFan » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:07 am

IvCNuB4 wrote:I see most of your points and admittedly I didn't understand how by staying small that prevented Despero from reading Atom's mind. But the newbies also got their asses handed to them in 4 pages. They most likely would have been killed had J'onn not showed up and covertly saved the day.


Exactly -- that issue just frustrated me so much. Because think about it:

Just last issue, the League finds out that somebody hacked and stole their casefiles, and it had to be someone who was new who was on the Watchtower.

Then, the very next damn issue by the same writer, you have...new members just roaming the damn Watchtower, without a single senior member present! NOT ONE!

That's ridiculous, right? That can't be described as anything other than ridiculous writing, right?

Add that to the fact that Despero should've killed them, and it's just...man. Just...it's just bad.

The reason I read Justice League each month is that, in my very core, that is my favorite franchise. I like DC's characters the most. I always have.

But Justice League over the years...it's definitely an abusive relationship. That book has so grossly underachieved. I don't even know if DC truly understands how painful that franchise has been, is currently.
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alaska1125

dINGO

Postby alaska1125 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:21 am

ElijahSnowFan wrote:
Sigh. Just...sigh.

The Detroit League was easily my least favorite version, for just those reasons: You had "hotheads." You had rookies who had NO BUSINESS being in anything called the Justice League. You had no teamwork and horrible leadership and...just...wow. Just wow. A true low point for the franchise.

It was so bad, it impacts Vibe to this day. See what I mean about how horrific stories truly limit the characters and franchises? There was no reason for Vibe to be a "bad" character. Diversity wasn't as valued then, but the fact that he was diverse and young isn't the reason that people despised the character so.

The reason is that he was "a hothead who broke team" all the time. He was an awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful teammate. That stuff matters.

With Robinson's team...you know, I knew what he was trying to do. I understood it completely.

Bruce Wayne was dead, Superman was off-planet on New Krypton, Wonder Woman was unavailable, no Hal Jordan, there was no Flash....he was stuck as to who the hell he could even put on the team.

Soooooo...you wind up with Congorilla and Mikaal Tomas.

Oh, my God. Just...wow. Just...WOW. Holy hell.

I have tried to purge my mind of James Robinson's run. And I like James Robinson's writing, as a whole. But oh, my God. That era of Justice League...Oh, My God.


Agreed with the Detroit League. Exactly why I made the point...Firestorm, NuAtom, and Element Woman should have been toast before J'onn ever had a chance to show up. Let me reiterate...Professor freaking Ivo wiped out the Detroit League...and they had...ok, possibly a weaker power set, but Ivo ain't Despero.

As far as the current versus the Robinson League? I'm actually going to say the Robinson run was better...*shudder*. But only by default as he was crippled by the lack of the actual Justice League. Johns/Lee have all the good toys and somehow seem to still make it pretty terrible.
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chap22

Rain Partier

Postby chap22 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:20 pm

alaska1125 wrote:
Agreed with the Detroit League. Exactly why I made the point...Firestorm, NuAtom, and Element Woman should have been toast before J'onn ever had a chance to show up. Let me reiterate...Professor freaking Ivo wiped out the Detroit League...and they had...ok, possibly a weaker power set, but Ivo ain't Despero.

As far as the current versus the Robinson League? I'm actually going to say the Robinson run was better...*shudder*. But only by default as he was crippled by the lack of the actual Justice League. Johns/Lee have all the good toys and somehow seem to still make it pretty terrible.

Taking out Mikaal and that goddamn golden ape, I actually liked Robinson's lineup. And I liked a lot of te character stuff he did early on, with Dick and Donna and Jesse and Supergirl and Jade and some of the others, as a lot of times when you have the "big guns" in a JLA book characterization is just something writers barely even pay lip service to.

But man, the actual stories just got progressively worse and worse. And the less said about Cry for Justice the better. Ugh.


Still better than this hogshit Johns is churning out though.
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SuperginraiX

Outhouse Editor

Postby SuperginraiX » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:32 pm

As a non-Justice League fan, I really dug the JLA era and the Giffen/DeMatteis era. Besides that, I haven't really connected with the team.

I'm not reading the current series (I'm not reading any DC or Marvel books right now) but from everything I hear, it sounds like a terrible parody of everything bad about the book. But with pretty art. I did collect the first four or five issues of it. I DID like the Jim Lee art.
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LoganRSA

FROGMAN

Postby LoganRSA » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:35 pm

This is part of the reason the I can't even pretend to get excited for a mythical Justice League movie. Do we really think that the storytelling in a movie is miraculously going to be amazing when the books have been dreadful for years?
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S.F. Jude Terror

OMCTO

Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:37 pm

I think there's a danger in making comics too serious and realistic in that it becomes a procedural instead of escapist fantasy, and I don't really have any interest in that.
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ElijahSnowFan

cheese

Postby ElijahSnowFan » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:51 pm

S.F. Jude Terror wrote:I think there's a danger in making comics too serious and realistic in that it becomes a procedural instead of escapist fantasy, and I don't really have any interest in that.


The problem is that they want it both ways -- and DC's the leading proponent of that realism for everyone but the heroes, especially the Justice League.

Just this month, you get a Catwoman who gets the Ted Kord Special. You had Sue Dibny getting raped on the Watchtower (in a previous timeline.)

OK. Great.

DC, mainly DiDio, is on the record as saying that the "Bwah-ha-ha League" is...not what comics should be. And that if Superman walks into a bar, people wouldn't buy him drinks. They'd get the hell out of the bar because it might get blown up at any second.

Now, if they want to do that, that's fine. You have created an era where Black Adam commits genocide and Bludhaven is reduced to a radioactive wasteland. Again, you can do that.

But DC shouldn't have their cake and eat it, too, giving us incompetence in the name of "cute naivete," giving us a Billy Batson "more in line with the modern teenager because nobody is a good person all the way through" and giving us a Justice League where Batman has contingency plans against every single hero but never seems to have a freaking clue about what the supervillains are up to.
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HNutz

Rain Partier

Postby HNutz » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:06 pm

Robinson's stuff (not counting Cry for Justice) wasn't that bad, considering that the big guns were mostly unavailable. I liked how he used Dick, reminded us that these guys have a history together and things flowed well, I thought. I liked how a scene ending with an unconscious Shade was picked up an issue or two later. I didn't even mind the gorilla & Starman.

Thought he went back to the well of "possessed superheroes" a bit too often, though.
User avatar

holtom2000

dINGO

Postby holtom2000 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:24 pm

ElijahSnowFan wrote:
Sigh. Just...sigh.

The Detroit League was easily my least favorite version, for just those reasons: You had "hotheads." You had rookies who had NO BUSINESS being in anything called the Justice League. You had no teamwork and horrible leadership and...just...wow. Just wow. A true low point for the franchise.

It was so bad, it impacts Vibe to this day. See what I mean about how horrific stories truly limit the characters and franchises? There was no reason for Vibe to be a "bad" character. Diversity wasn't as valued then, but the fact that he was diverse and young isn't the reason that people despised the character so.

The reason is that he was "a hothead who broke team" all the time. He was an awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful teammate. That stuff matters.

With Robinson's team...you know, I knew what he was trying to do. I understood it completely.

Bruce Wayne was dead, Superman was off-planet on New Krypton, Wonder Woman was unavailable, no Hal Jordan, there was no Flash....he was stuck as to who the hell he could even put on the team.

Soooooo...you wind up with Congorilla and Mikaal Tomas.

Oh, my God. Just...wow. Just...WOW. Holy hell.

I have tried to purge my mind of James Robinson's run. And I like James Robinson's writing, as a whole. But oh, my God. That era of Justice League...Oh, My God.


I think DC asked Robsinson to tank the franchise - again - so they could justify the reboot and say oh look, we're up a billion per cent.
yah, with six big guns and lame arse cyborg
as opposed to all lame arse leaguers. they didn't even have that special missing element that Booster, Beetle and the rest of that GREAT LEAGUE JLI
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ElijahSnowFan

cheese

Postby ElijahSnowFan » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:55 pm

Log-Man wrote:This is part of the reason the I can't even pretend to get excited for a mythical Justice League movie. Do we really think that the storytelling in a movie is miraculously going to be amazing when the books have been dreadful for years?


I hear you -- what would they even adapt from the comics, if they tried?

Even though the X-Men movies have been awful (IMO), at least the stuff they've been adapting from have been good-to-great comics.

Same with Marvel.

But like you, I have absolutely no faith in a Justice League movie. I just...there's just no reason to believe it would be good. You can barely find source material that's consistently good.
User avatar

ElijahSnowFan

cheese

Postby ElijahSnowFan » Sat Jun 08, 2013 3:01 pm

holtom2000 wrote:
I think DC asked Robsinson to tank the franchise - again - so they could justify the reboot and say oh look, we're up a billion per cent.
yah, with six big guns and lame arse cyborg
as opposed to all lame arse leaguers. they didn't even have that special missing element that Booster, Beetle and the rest of that GREAT LEAGUE JLI


Exactly -- the JLI had a unique element with the humor, and that was executed well, especially for the area. It was distinctive and memorable and funny.

But with Justice League now, you have the Big Guns and they're serious world-protectors who don't need military man Steve Trevor as a liaison...but they can't even screen their applicants well enough to know who might be a double-agent or who might steal their own case files.

The JLI was better because it gave action and comedy and "dramedy."

Justice League...it wants to sell itself as the World's Greatest Super-Heroes but they can't even figure out how to keep Superfast, Superstrong, Super-intelligent Superman from being turned into a were-Cheetah...but when he meets Batman, Green Lantern and the Flash?

Of course, he hands them their asses. Because incompetence had met its level.

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