The Justice League needs more Black members in it’s ranks.
That is the conclusion that I came to when I decide to participate in JLA Draft that recently took place over in our awesome forums. Basically it’s like a fantasy JLA draft where you can draft any JLA member, past or present onto your team.
I was just going to play the spectator, but I relented and enter myself into fray after the actual draft had taken place. And naturally, being the mischievous soul that I am, I tried to come up with teams that would either poke fun at comics, DC or the JLA. (Here’s what I came up with. )
So, being someone who critiques DC on their lack of diversity and Black heroes, I wanted to put create my own Black Justice League, partially because I was inspired by an old thread on DC’s message boards (“DC’s Version of The Crew”) and partially because I know that’s the only time I’ll ever really see anything like that happen.
I quickly scrolled through the Black members of the JLA who’d already been selected and they were pretty predictable. John Stewart, Steel, Vixen, Cyborg and Tattooed Man were already on other teams. Surely I’d be able to come up with seven other Black heroes who’d been part of the Justice League.
Um, I couldn’t.
I came up with Bronze Tiger, Coldcast, Amazing Man, Bloodwynd and Black Lighting.
So, by my count in the Justice League’s over three and a half decades in existence, they’ve managed to accumulate 10 Black members. That’s spread out over nearly a dozen incarnations of the actual JLA and including Justice League Europe, Elite and Task Force, Extreme Justice and Formerly Known as the Justice League. Ten members.
Now I could get snarky here point out exactly how many aliens they’ve had in their roster. Or how many robots or traitors they’ve had in their ranks. I could even count how many gods, new or otherwise they’ve had and see how it measures up, but I think that would undermine my main point; in an imaginary draft of fictional characters, I couldn’t come up with an entire team composed of Black heroes who’d been part of the JLA.
Of course part of it has to do with the lack of Black heroes in the DCU. That’s a problem DC itself is aware of and tried address by half-heartedly incorporating the Milestone characters into the DCU. It was at best a misguided effort and at worst, a disaster bordering on fiasco.
Another reason for the lack of Black heroes is the lack of Black creators. The late Dwayne McDuffie was a champion of diversity, because he knew what it was like to be in the minority. But it doesn’t seem like anyone around DC’s headquarters is championing diversity.
Of course it’s difficult to be in the JLA without having been a relatively major character in the DCU. And since the old argument is that Black leads don’t sell, it’s hard for a Black character to reach that elite level of JLA status. It’s a sort of conventional wisdom sort of thing.
But see, conventional wisdom would say that DC shouldn’t launch another Doom Patrol title, because those books never last more than a few years. Yet, I’m sure we’ll have another Doom Patrol monthly title before the decade is out. The same could be said of the New Gods, but we all know that it’s only a matter of time before we return to New Genesis and Apoklips on a monthly basis.
And on the other side of the coin is the JSA. Conventional wisdom would have stated that a JSA title wouldn’t have worked, but it did. It became one of DC’s premier teams, before falling into a relatively recent creative quagmire. But that illustrates my point; JSA had a strong creative team that made a solid book, which DC supported.
So why couldn’t they do that with a book featuring a Black lead, so that that lead might make it into the JLA one day, so that the next time I get convinced into doing something, I’ll have enough Black JLA members to come up with my own team?
I’m being selfish. But I really do want to see more Black characters make it to the JLA and I think that’s one of the few ways of making it happen. And even if the solo tile falters, the lead could pull an Aztek or Booster Gold and just head straight to the JLA.
Boom, problem solved.
So, DC, promise to think about it?
Tags: Black Lightning, Cyborg, dwayne mcduffie, Green Lantern (John Stewart), JLA, JLI, Justice League, Justice League International, Justice League of America, Milestone Comics, Steel, Wednesday Comments