Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Justice League Of What Now?

A pop culture magazine is interviewing the Martian Manhunter about the recently reformed Justice League of America:

It is interesting to see some qualms about the full name Justice League Of America even back in 1997. FWIW, this "interview" was written by Mark Millar.

And I'll allow you to discuss amongst yourselves whether the "interview" is deliberately highlighting J'onn's non-Earth-native naivete about the implications of the name, and his lack of understanding of the freight associated with the name. Why else would he lump in the democratic Baltic States with Libya, Iraq and China? Unless Lithuania is secretly oppressing its people and developing nuclear weapons...

Of course, there are real-world implications, too: Warner has movies to market, and toys to sell. As far as I can tell, the forthcoming JLA movie hasn't an official name, just a working title: The Justice League Part One. But you can wager dollars to doughnuts that, whatever the eventual actual title, it won't include Justice League Of America. They gotta make sure this movie gets on screens in China, after all, and the toys onto shelves in St. Petersburg.

Which may result in a bit of fun blustering. Remember the hissy fit Fox News and others had with Superman Returns, when Perry White dropped "the American way" from "Truth, Justice and..."? While the JLA'a name is not so culturally embedded as Superman's slogan, I'm eagerly anticipating Bill O'Reilly's shit-fit when he discovers that they've dropped the "America" from the Justice League Of America.

Of course, as J'onn points out in the interview, the "America" is more about tradition and history. Certainly, by the time they hit the Satellite Era (if not earlier), the JLA had a global reach. And post-Crisis, the decision to use/not use "America" was more a signal of a new direction/new creative team than anything else. Even today, the sole purpose seems to be to differentiate the Hitch book from the Johns book.

I've no real point to make here. I'm certainly not suggesting that DC permanently drop the "Of America" from "Justice League." I have no problem with that (although readers in foreign countries might have a different viewpoint...?). I just find it fascinating that a random and no doubt hastily thrown together name from a defunct 1940s super-hero team continues to hold such a strong sway 75 years later.

From JLA Secret Files #1 (1997)


SF said...

I'm sure you know this history, so not sure why you don't mention it. The 1986 Keith Giffen Justice League / Justice League International book clearly had "qualms" about (or at least, winning objections to) calling the team "JL of America" a full decade before Mark Millar was trying to justify going back in time with that name.

snell said...

Well, the Justice League International was a plot device,as they became a UN organization. It only lasted only 20 issues...with #26 it was back to Justice League Of America.

Jonathan Hendry said...

I think Millar meant "Balkan" not "Baltic".