Tag Archives: JLA: Tower of Babel

Justice League: Doom, Where Are Your Heroes Now?

As fans of the superhero genre have learned, Marvel might crank out a good live action movie, but it’s Detective Comics that makes a great animation. With the upcoming release of the 13th animation in the Justice League series, we wait in eager anticipation for Justice League: Doom. Until then, let’s do what comic book nerds do best and nitpick.

Justice League: Doom at first doesn’t sound like a proper title. It sounds like a file name that writer Dwayne McDuffie came up with when he started with this piece and never got around to correcting before he passed away last year. For a while I even assumed it was the code name that Batman kept all his Justice Leaguer information under. I do know that for the longest time I couldn’t even see the colon in the title and thought it was just a merger of Justice League of America and Legion of Doom.

Justice League: Doom is based on the comic book series JLA: Tower of Babel, an epic storyline heralded as one of Mark Waid’s best works. Dwayne McDuffie was hired to adapt the storyline for animation, which required many changes and may have lost some of the impact felt in the original.

The first change I saw was the cast. The roster for the Justice League constantly changes but there are some comic book archetypes that need to be seen. So there’s the big three: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Their story hardly ever changes. Then there’s a Green Lantern and The Flash. These two can be interchanged with other incarnations that wear their mantle.

Green Lantern can be switched out with any member of the Green Lantern Corp, but the Justice League tends to use the human ones. This leaves John Stewart, Guy Gardener, Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan; Alan Scott doesn’t count. The Flash is also narrowed down to Barry Allen, Wally West or Bart Allen.

In the original comic, it was Kyle Rayner who wore the ultimate weapon in the universe, while he was still the inexperienced Last-of-the-Green-Lanterns. The speed force was wielded by Wally West, the former Kid Flash who was forever trying to outrun the shadow of his mentor.

For Justice League: Doom, the storyline follows the rest of the Justice League series and uses Hal Jordan and Barry Allen to play the Faster Friends; yeah, they used to have a comic title together with that tag line.

This leaves Martian Manhunter who this time has gone through a slight reboot. The Manhunter now wears more complete clothing that doesn’t match the chest baring Barsoom novel series. This doesn’t change the fact that his real physical appearance and inspiration is a direct lift from that book series. If you see the live action movie called John Carter, then you’ll have a very good idea of what I’m referring to.

So what about the seventh member? The Justice League is usually comprised of several key members. In tower of babel however we saw Aquaman, the worlds most useless superhero, and Plasticman, the shape changing unitard wearing sight gag; didn’t he get the memo to wear the underwear on the outside? Both were replaced with Cyborg, the affirmative action, token superhero.

The Justice League cartoon series had John Stewart who was lord of the green lantern ring, which worked out fine as there was perfect continuity for it. This matched later on with the JLA comics switching out Rayner for Stewart as well. Again, proper as Rayner had to go out and play intergalactic cop in the Green Lantern title. So why Cyborg? Let’s forget that he’s a visible minority with disabilities and the best HMO in the world. I also want to forget that he was originally a thirty something adult that spent a lot of time with adolescent Teen Titans. This brings us to The New 52.

The New 52 is a revamp and relaunch by DC Comics of its entire line of ongoing superhero books. All of its existing titles were canceled, and in it’s place 52 new series debuted starting at issue #1. Nothing more than a large publishing event that came after the Flashpoint crossover storyline. Apparently the Flash’s time traveling screwed up continuity so badly it affected the real world. So while titles restarted at issue #1, rebooting all the characters to allow them to be reintroduced in a contemporary manner; for a new generation of readership; the only title that somewhat survived was Green Lantern. They poured a lot of time into the storyline over the last five years, having been the focal point for two big crossovers; Blackest Night, and War of Light. They’d be stupid to abandon that goldmine now, reboot be damned.

While the New 52 is not being received well by older fans, it’s understandable why DC would want to cut ties with a complex continuity that has been in place since the 1930s. Without the reboot, the next logical step would have been to add footnotes to each comic rather than flashbacks and editor notes.

The entire Justice League series of animation that have gone direct-to-DVD seems to support the New 52 as well, as it also neatly ignores a lot of back story. Almost like a game of red rover, Cyborg from the New 52 Justice League was called over.

The best way to describe the current state of things in the DC comic universe right now is to compare it to a lie. Almost as if older nerds were hazing a lesser nerd, trying to convince them that all they held dear would be destroyed. A lot of fast talking would have to be done, based on an inch of truth called back story. So just like such a hypothetical joke, a lot of work had to be done to fill in the gaps of this lie called the New 52.

Hence, why Cyborg is a member of the Justice League now. Aside from the more sinister reasons of his membership, Cyborg is also the bridge between children raised on the Teen Titan cartoons, which is why I wasn’t surprised at the anime influence for The Justice League: Doom.

So there you have it, the current roster for the Justice League. Everyone is annoyed and feels betrayed because Batman essentially could back stab them at any point when he wanted. You can read more on what happened in Final Countdown to Justice League Doom, here. This wasn’t a back stab, it’s what I will now refer to as a Bat stab. Unlike villains, middle-management and high school bullies, Batman never needs to lord this over anyone. As far as anyone else was concerned, they didn’t need to know how screwed they were until he dropped the bat hammer on them. In addition, back stabbing sounds like a last ditch ploy to win, while every plan that Batman has come up with were winning moves, not moves of desperation.

So was this all a good movie by DC? Yes, I wanted to see more of their animation. No, because I felt cheated out of a better storyline. Will I ever watch DC Animations again? It can’t be helped, I’m an addicted comic book nerd. Think of it as solidarity. I’ll be with them no matter what.

So where are the villains and what exactly did Batman do?  Stay tuned next time.  Same Bat Time.  Same Bat Channel.

Final Countdown to Justice League Doom!

 

The latest of DC’s projects gets released this February 28th on DVD and Blu-Ray and it’s the 13th animated movie of the Justice League series is ominously titled Justice League Doom, from writer Dwayne McDuffie.

So what’s so awesome about this? Aside from premieres in Beverly Hills and a little bit of coverage, this almost feels like a straight to video deal. Meanwhile Marvel has The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers coming out soon, while Nicholas Cage is currently doing his crazy hair thing as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, right now in theaters. What’s there to celebrate with an animation that’s not in 3D or worth an overpriced ticket to see?

What fans of the superhero genre have learned is that Marvel might turn out a great live action feature film but Detective Comics crafts an awesome animation combined with memorable stories; with recent Batman movies as the exception of course.  How many times do I need to be surprised by a radioactive spider before I realize it’s just not enough.

Justice League Doom is based on the comic book series JLA: Tower of Babel storyline by Mark Waid. Waid has been a long time writer in the comic book industry, having notable work with titles such as the Flash, Captain America, Kingdom Come; almost the epic era of comics. Waid is also the creator of two titles, Irredeemable and Incorruptible, which tell a story not unlike a What if… or Elseworld series. If they were to describe Irredeemable as anything, it’d be, “What if Superman went evil?” Not in the Superman Rex storyline where he attempts to control earth, but kill and destroy anything that annoys him evil and laugh about it. That is the kind of storytelling that Mark Waid has brought to the table.

That’s right, Justice League Doom is not a rehash of an origin story, but a… adaptation of an epic story that’s only been done once; so far. To point out how this is different from the movie reboots happening right now, let say this: Statistically in the world, Thomas and Margret Wayne must die every twenty minutes in a retelling of Batman.

JLA: Tower of Babel runs a dark storyline about how each member of the Justice League of America is picked off one by one. Not by throwing their evil counterparts of the day at them, but incapacitated with calculated hits that maximize their weaknesses, physically and psychologically. Ra’s al Ghul, a near immortal villain of the Batman franchise is the one that makes these things happen, but it’s the Batman who’s to blame.

So who gets hit?  The JLA at the time consisted of Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern; Kyle Rayner; and wait for it… Plastic Man.

The comic book version of Batman is nearly infallible. If he gets hit, it gets corrected quickly, otherwise he’s a paragon of all that is awesome that’s prepared for everything. The comic book version also paints a picture of a psychopath who’s a mixture of indomitable will, paranoia, and control issues. What does this mean? It means that Batman has studied every superhero that’s a potential threat, and has created contingency plans on how to put them down if he ever needs to. Given enough time, resources and preparation, Batman has laid the smack down on Gods. So what happens when a villain steals all of these plans?

So this storyline has been re-imagined and adapted by writer Dwayne McDuffie. The Justice League roster will change; no doubt to be in line with DC’s The New 52 reboot atrocity; so will the villains and so will the methods of how the heroes are put down. The original story was darker and inferred a lot more pain and death, but I won’t hold it against DC. Especially in light that Nathan Fillion; Firefly, Castle, Slither; will be voicing the part of Green Lantern again!