In April, DC Comics is killing the Justice League. To which I say: Finally! It’s about time!
Since the early 2000s, I’ve wanted DC to shake up the Justice League’s roster. Posting on DC’s online forums under the screen name youngguns, I’d often advocate for kicking out Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman and bringing in Nightwing, Power Girl, and Cyborg. A League comprised of formerly-Teen Titans, legacy heroes (including Kyle Rayner Green Lantern and Connor Hawke Green Arrow), and other young powerhouses seemed like it could be a ton of fun, as well as fertile ground for fresh stories.
Though my exact roster often changed, it usually looked something like:
- Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)
- Flash (Wally West)
- Green Arrow (Connor Hawke)
- The Atom (Ryan Choi)
- Power Girl
Now, it seems DC is finally going to give me what I want … a brand new Justice League without Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and the other Big 7. However, I do not think I’m going to get my Justice League. That is both a darn shame and absolutely the correct decision on DC’s part.
The Future (State) Is Now
Post-April, some group of DC heroes will surely step up to become the new Justice League. In-universe, it makes sense for Nightwing to take charge and create a new League. He knows basically every other DC hero, knows there must be a Justice League, and has led the Justice League before.
Unfortunately, I think time and publishing plans have passed Nightwing and his generation of heroes by. Throughout 2021 and 2022, DC has stuck relatively close to the road map outlined in its 2021 Future State event. In Future State, the Justice League consisted of Superman (Jon Kent), Wonder Woman (Yara Flor), Batman (Jace Fox), Aquawoman (Andy Curry), Flash (Jess Chambers), and Green Lantern (Jo Mullein). Most all those characters (or in Aquawoman’s case, her mentor) feature prominently in DC’s current publishing line-up. This is likely no accident.
What’s Important Is That the Justice League Stays Fresh
So it seems probable that the chance to be the Justice League is going to leapfrog Nightwing and co. Instead, it will be given to characters created within roughly the last decade. Is that a bad thing? I say:
Besides just wanting to shake up the League, teenage me wanted to fill the team with fresh characters I was attached to at the time. And just as Kyle Rayner, Connor Hawke, and Ryan Choi were my faves of the moment, I’m sure Jon Kent and Yara Flor are resonating with newer readers today. Since James Tynion IV’s Batman run began in 2020, DC has shown great aptitude for creating new characters and leveling up the next generation of legacy heroes. More notably, readers have responded to those new characters incredibly enthusiastically.
At this point, it would be foolish for DC to backtrack and fill the Justice League with my favorite heroes from the 1990s and early 2000s. In fact, I would be disappointed if they did. What I’ve loved most about Future State- and Infinite Frontier-era DC is its propensity to try new things. For the first time in literally forever, there’s more than one Wonder Woman-centric book on stands each month. Superman’s son is Superman. Green Arrow and Aquaman are teaming up in a miniseries that I can’t believe is a) good and b) selling.
For the past decade or so, DC Comics’ larger superhero story has stood still. (One recent Justice League story even went out of its way to smack the Big 7 in the face with this fact.) Now, the story is finally moving again, with an intensity and energy I don’t think DC has seen since the 1990s. To be mad that DC is going to fill the Justice League with relatively new characters would miss the point, which is that DC has exciting new characters with which to fill the Justice League.
While the new Justice League I expect we’ll get isn’t as exciting to me as my ideal Justice League would be, the fact we’re getting a new Justice League at all is superb. It means DC is willing to take a chance on fresh faces and fresh ideas, which is really all youngguns ever wanted.