Draft Dodging (or, All You Need is Guy Gardner)

Well well, look who’s come crawling back! That’s okay, I forgive you; welcome to the latest chapter of Tact is for the Weak, the article that can eat 34 hotdogs in five minutes!

For months, fans have been speculating about who will fill out the ranks of the upcoming Justice League of America. With a #0 prologue issue scheduled to hit shelves July 19th, and #1 shipping August 16th, this new incarnation of DC Comics’s premiere super team seems destined for success. Fan-favorite writer Brad Meltzer (of Identity Crisis fame) and red-hot artist Ed Benes (who is no stranger around the big red “S”) are primed to take this team to the stars and beyond, boasting not only a solid creative team, but also a variation of the popular “Big-7″-type roster (a la the original JLA or the beginning of the most recent, Grant Morrison-written incarnation). While some characters are obvious choices, others are guaranteed to surprise readers, with one particular addition that Meltzer claims will take everyone by surprise.

However, beyond certain tidbits of information, the rest is purely speculation. In its latest issue, Wizard Magazine ran an article in which Meltzer described the decision-making habits of the three core members (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) on a number of popular choices for League membership. Additionally, rumors have been swirling around the internet, making it even harder to divine sure things from wishful thinking.

So what do I do? I add even more speculation, of course!

…actually, not quite. By using my three greatest gifts (common sense, deductive reasoning, and an internet connection), I have narrowed down the list of possible League members to a very probable few. So, without further adieu, may I present to you your (probable) future Justice League of America!

Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman- sure things.

The “Trinity” of the DC Universe have already been given guaranteed spots on the new team, as evidenced not only by the preview covers of the upcoming series, but by Meltzer himself in numerous interviews, as well as preview art supplied to Wizard. The “Big Three” will be doing the picking of the rest of the team, actually, and it should come as no surprise that these three characters will jointly take up the leadership roles in the new League.

The Red Tornado- sure thing.

Revealed by Meltzer himself, the Red Tornado will actually be the focus of the first story arc of the new series, titled “The Tornado’s Path.” A popular member from the “Satellite Era” (towards the end of the Silver Age) League, the Red Tornado is actually an elemental being trapped in an android’s body…and that’s about all most people know about the powerful, if bland, character. For a while in the late 1990′s, “Reddy” also served as leader/mentor of the young superteam Young Justice, which later disbanded and partially reformed as the current Teen Titans.

Green Arrow- safe bet.

In an earlier interview with Wizard, Meltzer admitted that Green Arrow is one of his absolute favorite characters to write; to be frank, readers agree that Meltzer and Ollie go together better than any other subsequent Green Arrow writer (*coughcough* Winick*hackcough*). Meltzer’s run on the Green Arrow title, while temporary, is widely regarded as one of the best arcs of the current series, and during the now-famous Identity Crisis, Meltzer successfully piloted Green Arrow as the story’s chief narrator and viewpoint. The first member to be elected into the League following the team’s formation, Ollie has been a solid fixture throughout the years and has provided, among other things, plenty of human contrast to the otherwise god-like cast. Plus, there’s no arguing with the preview cover of Justice League #2; that there’s a bow and arrow, m’boy!

Similarly, there’s hardly any doubt that it will be Ollie, not his son Connor, who will step in with the League; while Connor did enjoy a brief membership in the 1990′s, it was only in his father’s shadow. Despite Connor Hawke’s upcoming special, he still remains too small a player in the DCU to be considered over his father for membership. Wizard Magazine seems to thing that Roy Harper, formerly “Speedy,” has a “good” chance of induction, but this is no more than a red herring; look for the telltale beard of Oliver Queen in August.

Green Lantern-safe bet.

You’ll have a hard time finding a Justice League- in any of its incarnations- without a Green Lantern bulking up its power quotient. Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Kilowog, and even *shudder* G’nort (of G’newt) have all been a part of the League at one point or another. And, of those GLs, all four human Green Lanterns are shown on the joint cover of Justice League #1 (see the big whopping picture above). At this point, the only debate is which GL it will be. So, let’s run down the list:

With his duties as headmaster and general bad ass at the Green Lantern Corps home base of Oa, it’s unlikely that Kilowog will be able to fully join any team on our side of the universe. And, even if he didn’t have that same excuse, Guy Gardner is one of the few potentials that Meltzer has already responded to with a resounding “no” (another such rejection being the illustrious G’nort). Kyle Rayner, now zipping around space as the nigh-omnipowerful Ion, is unlikely to be home any time soon.

This leaves the two earth-bound GLs, John Stewart and Hal Jordan (which you probably already figured out). While Hal was a founding member of the original League, he is also the star of his own title, whereas John has (to many fans’ chagrin) been oddly absent from his own book. While giving John more face time as a Leaguer may placate a few readers, however, it’s hard to argue with the evidence: of the two covers shipping for JLA #1, the cover that “features Green Arrow and Green Lantern” (as described by DC themselves) shows Hal taking center stage, and upon further scrutiny of the preview cover to #2, it’s hard to assign that Green Lantern’s wispy tuft of hair to John Stewart. Face it, folks: despite Wizard’s efforts to mislead you all (a recent article claimed that Hal’s membership chances are “poor”), Hal will be in the new League, and frankly, he deserves it. While fans may or may not agree that he is the most deserving GL, it’s hard to resist such an obvious chance to explore how the rest of the DC Universe perceives the one-time villain.

So, while we’re looking at that cover of JLA #2, who else are we (probably) seeing? Well, that winged figure at the top looks an awful lot like Hawkman (although there’s also a case to made for Hawkgirl, who did actually join the League sans-Hawkman during Joe Kelly’s Obsidian Age story arc). Below him, you can clearly see the Red Tornado on the left, what appears to be Faith (another Obsidian Age holdover, who later jumped ships to the Doom Patrol) on the right, and a fairly nondescript flying figure directly below. My guess is that this is Captain Atom; unlike Captain Marvel, there’s no cape, and DC staff have been claiming for some time now that following his adventures in the Wildstorm Universe, Captain Atom will be playing a much larger role in the DCU. Then again, the Cyborg (of Teen Titans fame) could easily fit the bill, and has been deemed by Wizard to have “very good” chances.

And that leaves the mystery figure between Green Arrow and Green Lantern. Honestly, I have no idea who that’s supposed to be; it could be the Flash (who, by the way, is Bart Allen now) with smoke trailing from his body, Black Canary with really long hair (hey, it’s One Year Later, right?), or Goro (from Mortal Kombat) after a decade with Jenny Craig. Knowing Meltzer’s love of “Satellite Era” characters, it could easily be the sorceress Zatanna, or perhaps a newer faces such as Starfire (a former member of both the Teen Titans and the Outsiders). Ah, well; perhaps we do need at least one surprise member come August 16th!

There are some noticeable absences on this team, but they’re all with good reasons: The Martian Manhunter is too busy redefining himself and hunting down other martians to join the League, and Aquaman is currently suffering from a bad case of amnesia (not to mention a massive Conan Complex). Ray Palmer (the Atom) has passed the belt on to a new hero, and the Elongated Man probably wants to be left alone for a while.

Well, that wraps things up for this week, but there’s still just enough time to hand out this week’s Tactless Book of the Week Award! This week, the award goes to… DC Comics’s Teen Titans #37! Not to belittle Marvel Comics’s efforts; with the first part of “Planet Hulk” coming out, there was certainly competition for a spot on the ol’ Tactless Wall of Shame, but DC takes the cake with (dare I say it?) the most tactless book in the history of Tact is for the Weak! The story is fine enough, with the young team taking on the classic villainy of the Brotherhood of Evil (complete with the romantically-linked set of giant talking gorilla and giant talking brain). The Doom Patrol even shows up, and we get to finally see why a certain former teammate refuses to come back to the group. However, the truly tactless terror is unleashed when an unsuspecting Wonder Girl (still fraught with grief over the passing of her lover, Superboy) stumbles upon Robin’s underground laboratory attempts to clone the Boy of Steel back to life. After a brief confrontation, Wonder Girl explains to the Boy Wonder that even if they successfully clone their friend back from the grave, it “wouldn’t be the same person.” Shamed, Robin admits that he really, really misses Superboy…and then the two Titans kiss. Hard. Oh, Wonder Girl looks confused as she flies off, but it’s obvious what’s going on here: with Superboy out of the way and all this big, sexy cloning equipment lying around, Robin’s decided that One Year Later is One Year Long enough, and Wonder Girl is officially fair game once again! Let’s just hope he ends up in better condition than Wonder Girl’s last boyfriend…

Well, that’s that. Before I release you all back into the wild, let me once again remind you about the Tact is for the Weak title graphic contest! See last week’s column for all the details; remember, the deadline is August 2nd, no exceptions! Unlike your typical fanboy, I will not eagerly forgive late artwork! Just e-mail your submissions to thebriboy@yahoo.com , and be sure to write “Tact is for the Weak Title Graphic” in the topic line of your e-mails; this is not my normal e-mail account, and I usually delete everything that I get, since it’s all spam. See you all next week, you hooligans!

P.S.: Go Italy!

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