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CSBG Archive

5/30 – Curious Cat Asks…

What is the point of making a big deal of having women be the leaders of the Justice League and the Justice Society if Black Canary and Power Girl never seem to do any leading? It is one thing for Grant Morrison not to do much with Canary as the leader in Final Crisis #1, it is a whole other thing to have Brad Meltzer and Dwayne McDuffie essentially ignore her as the leader in the Justice League’s own title! Meltzer is the one who MADE her the leader! What was the point?

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26 Comments

As far as the JSA is concerned, the chairperson has never really been an overall commander of the team. I don’t remember Sand, Hawkman, or Mr. Terrific ever doing a lot of directing the troops during their tenures. I’m inclined to think it’s usually more of a case of who has to do paper work and press conferences.

As for Black Canary, she’s just a casualty of the new JLA books obsession with the Big Three. Meltzer decided to establish that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were always the real masters behind the Justice League, and McDuffie is just running with with that. So obviously any other character appointed “leader” is still going to just play second banana (or fourth banana in this case, I suppose) to the Big Three.

The point: That it sounded progressive on paper?

Random Stranger

May 30, 2008 at 8:26 pm

I have to disagree with you on Hawkman and Mr. T not doing a lot of leading during their leadership of the JSA. There were a few story arcs around both of their leadership. Sandy I’ll agree with you on, we never saw him doing much in the way of making decisions but the other two did.

But when it comes to Black Canary and Power Girl I think it’s a situation where someone said, “Whose turn is it to be in charge? Oh, I know, the girl hasn’t ever run it before!” Never mind that neither of the characters have ever been shown as anything resembling leaders or that in both of their cases there were much more natural choices right there.

It could have been a good opportunity to add some depth to characters who haven’t really gotten much lately (like the Wasp when she lead the Avengers) but that was an opportunity blown. At least Power Girl hasn’t had her authority reduced to a joke like Canary…

Thinking on this I would kind of like to see a book feature what it’s like to lead a team of superheroes and dealing with the leadership issues. In comics the team leader is typically just the guy who says, “Go hit that person!” and gives the occasional pep talk. The closest I think we’ve ever seen to a comic dealing with leadership of a team is JLI…

The point of making Black Canary leader was to make her the leader. Meltzer seems to have a problem with showing us things instead of telling them. It’s a fault he shares with a number of DC writers.

Wasn’t there a point in the early 80s where about five DC/Marvel teams had female “leaders” – Zatanna, Storm, Wasp, Starfire and Liberty Belle in the All-Star Squadron. None of them really did anything, as I recall.

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 30, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Hillary Clinton for prez!!!

No?

Oh, well. Too bad, it might have been fun to see the good ol’ U.S. of A. having a woman for a prez.

Random Stranger

May 30, 2008 at 9:14 pm

You know, thinking about putting a woman in charge of a superhero team just for the sake of having a woman running a superhero team you’d think Wonder Woman would be a more interesting choice. I’d be able to immediately buy that she’d both be willing to take on the leadership role and be competent at it. And it would have set up some interesting directions to take the JLA while bolstering what has always been the weak link in DC’s iconic characters at a time when she was getting another big push. But that makes much more sense than slapping Black Canary in there and just ignoring the fact that she’s supposed to be the leader.

I have to disagree with you, Anthony. Storm and Wasp did quite a bit when they were appointed leaders. They received much in the way of characterization, and were shown to competent, capable leaders who were just as good at leading as any of their male counterparts. Storm is always thought of as the best leader behind Cyclops when it comes to the X-men. I’d say it was probably during the 90s that she didn’t end up doing much….

Too bad BC and PG don’t seem to be doing much, there seems to be lots of potential there.

Random Stranger: Fair enough. It’s been a long time since I read through JSA.

And Wonder Woman has led the JLA before, but it was during the Gerard Jones run and everyone tries to forget that era ever happened (for good reason).

I believe McDuffie’s had some editorial issues with respect to showing BC as a leader; apparently DC thinks that having her show up too much in JLA will keep people from reading GA/BC or something. I don’t have a reference for this, unfortunately.

It seems like the only things that McDuffie can write in JLA without editorial interference are the Red Arrow/Hawkgirl/Cheshire triangle and Firestorm.

Wait…are you seriously asking why a Brad Meltzer plot point made no sense, never went anywhere and was never followed up on? Because it’s Brad Meltzer, that’s what he does! It’s like asking why a Winick run had a homosexual in it or why a Loeb run had a plot hole on every other page. Some writers just have their signature style, something they just do. With Meltzer, his niche is not making sense and not following up on stuff….Dibny rape? didn’t go anywhere and not followed up on. Vixen’s powers? Ditto. Geo-Force’s situation? Ditto. And so on and so on.

I agree, Wasp and Storm were actually shown to be very effective and dynamic leaders in the 80s. So much so with the Wasp that I was shocked when I read back issues (I started with the 80s stuff first) and discovered what a totally different character she originally was. Roger stern pretty much created a whole new character with his Wasp.

On A total side note, is anyone at this blog ever going to address this story? It just looks so deliciously awful, it has potential to be a real debacle. Even on paper it sounds like a bad idea. I’d love to see what the CSBG crowd, both writers and commenters, think about it.

Yeah, Wasp and Storm were different because you could tell the writers of the book

A. Put a lot of thought into it

and

B. Actually DID make a big deal out of it.

Wasp took over a group of Avengers who were all veterans (and her good friends), so it was okay for her to try out leadership as a change of pace once her marriage broke up, and she really grew into the role under Stern (by the by, while Shooter came up with the idea of her becoming the team leader, he made Cap the leader during Secret War, which is why I’m cool with Morrison not highlighting current continuity – like Shooter, he knows these big crossovers aren’t about current continuity).

Storm – Claremont made a BIG deal out of her leadership.

More suicide girls ads on the site.

The closest I think we’ve ever seen to a comic dealing with leadership of a team is JLI…

I remember reading a lot of New Teen Titans issues that dealt with the leadership of the team.

I know that Robin was shown on a couple of occasions thinking about it; and would make the team run drills; and would think up ways of how to mix & match members in order to maximize their attack power.

I think he even “called an audible” on The Outsiders and made one of them switch to Defense. (I can’t recall exactly, though. It’s been 20 years.) I also remember that Donna Troy had a hell of a time being team leader when Nightwing left. So after he came back, it was established that Cyborg would be the new second in command (and de facto leader in absentia).

Soooooo… draw your own Political Parallels if you want.

As Anthony mentioned, there was a cool leadership struggle between Cyclops and Storm during the 80′s.

When the Professor came back in the 90′s, I remember there being two X-mena teams (Blue & Gold). I also remember Xavier mentioning something about Wolverine being able to win battles, but Cyclops winning Wars.

I think Wonder Woman did run the Justice League for a while, but it was during the Extreme Mullet Era; before Morrison, so it probably doesn’t count.

The thing about the current McDuffie-League that bothers me, besides that whole Black Canary thing, is that the current league wasn’t chosen in a casting call by the Big 3; but the powers that be have chosen to ignore it… or retcon it away! The thing is, it wasn’t that long ago!

No disrespect and all… but DC, if you are reading this, there pills that you can take for your memory loss problem! Just sayin’.

Marvel’s done a much better job with the female leaders thing. I always felt the women were the strongest characters in Claremont’s run, and Storm was every bit as much a leader as Cyclops had been. It’s always seemed the strongest, most iconic and best-developed heroines in comics were primarily X-Men.

Yeah, okay. I withdraw my point. The DC women had little to do as leaders, then. Nothing has changed. Sad.

I think Thok is on the right track, there seemed to be an editorial push to make Black Canary important again after Infinite Crisis stripped her of her “founding member of the JLA” title. She was pulled from Birds of Prey, given her own mini and co-headlines with Green Arrow while being given chairman position in the JLA. I have a feeling that Simone didn’t want to lose Canary from Birds (see her departure soon after Canary left) any more than Metzler wanted Canary forced on him as team leader for his JLA. I think this was a case of editorial mandating the story points and the writers kind of acknowledging them and moving on. I could be wrong.

Anthony Cheng

May 31, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Echoing Thok and winterteeth, I think the decision was almost certainly editorial. While getting the leadership role is a nice nod to the character, in a “she’s due” kind of way, it doesn’t jibe at all with Canary’s most recent interpretation as a female Iron Fist under Simone. Knowing kung fu doesn’t mean she can lead a team of superheroes.

Look, as long as Batman’s on the team, he’s the natural field leader. It would be out-of-character for him to let anybody else take point on field operations in an emergency. While Superman is busy being the ‘inspirational’ figure, Batman will focus on getting the job done … writers follow that because the characters beg to be written that way, regardless of who’s nominally the “leader.”

Yeah, okay. I withdraw my point. The DC women had little to do as leaders, then. Nothing has changed. Sad.

Woah, Dude!!! Let’s not go overboard, here! I mean, DC has given us Jenny Sparks, Caitlin Fairchild and Saturn Girl! All, excellent leaders!

And lets not forget that Power Girl was pretty good in her Justice League Europe/International days.

I’ll give you Saturn Girl, red, and also Dream Girl as well. Though Dream Girl wasn’t a leader as long as Saturn Girl, she also benefitted from good writing. Like the Wasp, she too went from a ditzy airhead to a competent, intelligent woman who was just as good a leader as her male counterparts, though she did keep some of her original traits as well – her vanity, her flirtaciousness – which really made he a well balance character. Levitz did some good work with her (may I also point out he also ‘toughened’ up Lightning Lass, Shrinking Violet, and Projectra/Sensor Girl? Man, Levitz really did a lot for the female Legionnaires, didn’t he?).

Weren’t Jenny Sparks and Caitlin Fairchild more Image/Wildstorm characters? I know DC owns the imprint now, but I never thought of them as ‘DC’ characters…

I’ve never read Legion comics of any kind, so I didn’t think of Saturn Girl. And I don’t read WildStorm.

That said, I didn’t mean to imply that DC has never had any strong female leaders. Barbara Gordon is a terrific character in Birds of Prey, of course, especially when Dixon and Simone were writing. And Amanda Waller is in a class by herself. And Scandal is the de facto leader of the Secret Six, and she’s certainly a strong character (not to mention a lesbian whose sexuality is largely incidental).

I actually think it made perfectly good sense for Canary to lead.

1) Immediately post- InfC, none of the Trinity should lead. They’re all supposed to be re-learning how to play well with others. Batman in particular shouldn’t lead, since his conflict with the Power Pact was the proximate cause of the League’s dissolution– and he had *twice* within the very recent past jeopardized the lives of all his teammates with his contingency plans against them (Tower of Babel and Brother Eye).

2) Canary is an experienced street-level operative/ detective character who has also been a superpowered member of three very powerful teams (Satellite Era JLA, post-Legends JL, pre-InfC JSA). She knows a lot about operations at multiple levels, and can think tactically about how to put lots of different kinds of heroes to use, and isn’t obviously “one of us” or “one of them” in any divide between metas and humans.

3) A few years of Birds-of-Preying had elevated her as a planner, a field-leader, and a fighter. She’d been learning from Oracle on one hand and Shiva on the other. Plus, Simone had just done a great job making her as well-developed a character as was around in the DCU.

None of that matters if no one in JLA ever does anything with her. But I do think that she was a sensible choice for leader,

In the “classic” JLA (i.e., pre-Crisis), I don’t think the chairman position was ever a big deal, was it? It was just a rotating thing, like President of the UN Security Council, and mostly seemed to be about making the monitor duty list and such.

Come to think of it, the current system seems not unlike the UN Security Council. Sure, Black Canary’s “in charge,” but the 3 “Permanent Members” of the JLA have effective veto power to override her whenever they feel like it.

It all comes down to DC’s obsessive Trinity Worship.

Let McDuffie do a story where Canary kicks out Batman for insubordination, and that’ll get things moving.

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