112171826272 About a month ago, I read Comics Buyer’s Guide #1662. The issue arrived in the mail sporting a Justice League of America cover which featured the new line-up introduced by James Robinson and Mark Bagley. Though I’ve lost interest in the JLA over the past couple of years- shortly after Brad Meltzer left the title for readers interested in those kinds of details- I was still looking forward to reading about the new line-up, the new creative team and the new plans for the title.


To my pleasure, both Captain Comics and Mr. Silver Age had contributed articles on the subject. Captain Comics introduced the new members of the team while Mr. Silver Age surveyed Justice League line-up changes of years past. The juxtaposition should have been interesting- even comforting- but instead, it caught me off-guard. Captain Comics rightly spent time introducing the new members of the JLA to readers who may not be familiar with them or may not be aware of their current status quo. Yet, he seemed almost defensive as if he had to justify the inclusion of any new member in such an austere group of heroes. Meanwhile, Mr. Silver Age was light-hearted, poking good-natured fun at the clichéd method of introduction in which the newest member was instrumental in resolving their first case and gently mocking the rules of membership that resulted in a lag between the initiation of Hawkman and Hawkwoman.


It struck me that the addition of new members in the past was welcomed and even considered an occasion for joy but the addition of new members today is met by skepticism. That’s not true of every fan. Yet it does seem to be generally true of the older fans who make up the readership of CBG (and the membership of this site?).


What happened? Why is there no welcome mat for new members?

I’m aware of some of the fan objections. “They’re too new. They were forced on us quickly instead of being introduced over time. They’re the writer’s pets. They’re the replacement heroes instead of the real ones. But I don’t think those objections hold water.



440px-Firestar442 Firestar was rejected by some fans as a rookie who hadn’t earned her way onto the Avengers when she was added to the team in 1998. Yet she had already been in comics for 12 years (and cartoons before that), which is more than Atom, Hawkman and Red Tornado had combined before their individual entrances to the Justice League. Plus, Firestar had been a long-standing member of another team when she was introduced as a new member of the Avengers. The newest members of the JLA have been around even longer than that. As Captain Comics noted in his article, Congorilla was introduced in 1959 and has roots going all the way back to 1940.


7636_4_008 Another Avenger, Triathlon, was rejected as a writer’s pet who was shoe-horned onto the team too quickly. Yet writer Kurt Busiek did exactly what fans suggest should be done. He gave Triathlon a slow roll-out, waiting 19 issues to make him a member of the team, from his introduction in #8 to the big roster shuffle in #27. That’s a slower roll-out than was given to Kitty Pryde, who was made a member of the team 9 issues after her introduction.


Every single member of the new JLA has a long and storied history (which Captain Comics so kindly pointed out). They have roots going back to the Golden Age (the Guardian) or the Silver Age (M’onel). They’re served with distinction on other teams (Cyborg and Starfire) or even on earlier incarnations of the JLA (Dr. Light). They’ve even starred in their own series (Dick Grayson had over 100 issues of Nightwing in the past and Batman & Robin in the present). They have the credentials to serve.


Yet that should be beside the point. Defending the credentials of the new members legitimizes the conceit that new members have to prove themselves in order to be able to join.


14-1 These new Justice Leaguers have better credentials than many past members had when they joined the team in the first place. Ray Palmer had been the Atom for less than a year when he joined the JLA. Hawkman had his own title for all of six issues when he became a member. Hal Jordan had been a replacement hero for six months when he became one of the JLA’s founding members.


It wasn’t about the credentials. At least, not those established outside of the title in question. As Mr. Silver Age reminded us, the new members proved their worth to the team by solving the mission. That happened in the story.


The new members were added to the team because they brought something new or something interesting. If today’s new members star in interesting stories then that’s how they will prove their worth. They will be as welcomed as the stars of other celebrated tenures like Zatanna and Black Canary, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. TERTI-Cv4


Isn’t that what we hope for? As fans, we want new and interesting stories. Instead of skeptically sneering at the arrival of new members or the introduction of a new line-up, we should be rolling out the welcome mat wishing them success. It might not work. Other past tenures have failed to excite our imagination and that could be the fate of this group as well. But it’s not what we want. It’s not what we hope for.


So I say “welcome” to new members, whether I’m reading the title or not. I’m glad that Echo became an Avenger and Static a Titan. I say welcome to M’onel and Starfire and even Congorilla. I hope you can breathe new life into the Justice League of America. You’ve paid plenty of dues to get here. All I ask is that you do something entertaining now that you’ve arrived.

Views: 110

Comment by The Baron on January 22, 2010 at 12:54pm
It's a funny thing. Certain characters just "feel" right to me as Leaguers or Avengers, and some don't. I can't give you logic for it. Firestorm's been around for ages - still doesn't seem right to me that he was in the JLA. Firestar, on the other hand, seemed just fine to me as an Avenger.
Comment by Lumbering Jack (M'odd-R8-Tr) on January 22, 2010 at 1:07pm
Is this where we blame decompressed storytelling? I can't say for sure, but I'd bet that Firestar and Triathlon became members by the end of one ~storyline~ where someone like Kitty probably was inducted as an X-Man after several. Again, just guessing on this since I don't have relevant issues within easy access.
And count me among those who like throwing new members in the mix ... Liked Firestar, Justice, Triathlon, Jack of Hearts (of course), and Spider-Woman being added as new members to the Avengers. Though I can't say the same for Wolverine and Cage.
Have you noticed that the cache of being a member really only applies to three teams? The Fantastic Four, Avengers and Justice League. The members of every other team seems to not matter much for fans.

(... And when I read the title of this column, I thought you were going tisk-tisk the older Legionnaires for not saying "Glad You're Here" to new members of the board!)
Comment by Jeff of Earth-J on January 22, 2010 at 2:32pm
My first thought, Chris, was that you answered your own question, although you do make a good case why those excuses don't hold water. For my own part, I've tended to object to new members of established groups for being too "lightweight." Other than that, I agree with Bob: certain characters just don't "feel" right as Leagers or Avengers.
Comment by Doc Beechler (mod-MD) on January 22, 2010 at 3:28pm
I think rejecting new members of the X-Men seems a bit too much the antithesis of their reason for being. You can't fight prejudice by keeping away people who want to join.
Comment by Batmatt Beyond on January 22, 2010 at 4:36pm
I've discovered that I prefer a league made up of unlikely characters over one made up of characters where I think, "Ah, of course! That makes perfect sense!" I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the JLI over Morrison's "Magnificent Seven" JLA. Thus, I'm intrigued by Robinson's new team. I haven't cared for his work recently, but I like the mix of former Titans with old League pros and quirky out-of-nowhere picks. Then again, I was really excited by the Detroit League because it was the first time in my comics reading life where I could get in on the ground floor of a new roster.
Comment by Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) on January 22, 2010 at 5:13pm
I know what you mean about "feeling" right, Baron -- even though I think exactly the opposite of your examples. Firestorm seems to me an updating of Snapper Carr -- a junior member with superpowers. But to me, Firestar seems a better fit for the New Warriors.
Comment by Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) on January 22, 2010 at 5:15pm
Strangely enough, Cyborg seems like a Justice Leaguer to me -- and has for years. At the same time, I don't see Starfire as being League material. Two characters introduced in the exact same issue, handled by the exact same creators for most of their runs... and yet one feels right to me and one doesn't.
Comment by Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) on January 22, 2010 at 5:22pm
I have to go with the Baron on this as well, or to paraphrase that one Supreme Court Judge: I can't define what make a Justice Leauger, but I know one when I see one. Personally, I was excited to see James Robinson's new line-up and wanted to give it a chance, but it got high-jacked by Blackest Night, so maybe I will pop in once that is over and see what is going on.
Comment by Chris Fluit on January 23, 2010 at 5:59pm
Wow. Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Comment by Lumbering Jack 1 day ago
Is this where we blame decompressed storytelling? I can't say for sure, but I'd bet that Firestar and Triathlon became members by the end of one ~storyline~ where someone like Kitty probably was inducted as an X-Man after several. Again, just guessing on this since I don't have relevant issues within easy access.

You could try but you'd be wrong. Kurt Busiek's Avengers started before the era of decompressed story-telling. Firestar was added to the team after only one story, but that story took place over three issues and she was added to the official roster in issue 4. As for Triathlon, the 17 issues between his introduction and his membership included Moses Magnum, the Grim Reaper, the Thunderbolts, the New Warriors, Beast, Triathlon's second appearance, the Wrecking Crew (by guest creator Jerry Ordway), the entire Ultron Unlimited saga, the Exemplars and Taskmaster. Kitty, on the other hand, was added after only one storyline- she was introduced at the beginning of the Dark Phoenix Saga and added to the team after it was over.

And count me among those who like throwing new members in the mix ... Liked Firestar, Justice, Triathlon, Jack of Hearts (of course), and Spider-Woman being added as new members to the Avengers.

Those were all good additions to the team. I was sad that Jack of Hearts was killed off so quickly but the following writers.

Have you noticed that the cache of being a member really only applies to three teams? The Fantastic Four, Avengers and Justice League. The members of every other team seems to not matter much for fans


Those are the big ones. However, I can think of a couple examples of fans rejecting new members for the Titans and the X-Men. Though fans do seem to be more flexible regarding the JSA.
Comment by Chris Fluit on January 23, 2010 at 6:01pm
Comment by Doc Beechler
I think rejecting new members of the X-Men seems a bit too much the antithesis of their reason for being. You can't fight prejudice by keeping away people who want to join.

Great point, Doc, though that doesn't keep some fans from looking down their noses at "newer" members like Psylocke, Gambit and Bishop even though those newer members have now been X-Men for 20 years.

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