Or, Why the Justice League Isn't the Fantastic Four.
With the release of Justice League of America #1, or more accurately, with the release of the variant cover to Justice League #1, there's been a lot of talk about Brad Meltzer's chosen line-up, who belongs in the League, and who doesn't. But I think that's missing the point. Because you know who I think should be in the League?
See, to me, the Justice League is what makes the DC Universe a universe, one world where all these separate stories take place (and you know how much I love having one universe). The fun of a Justice League story is that anyone could show up and fight or team up or just eat Thanksgiving dinner. In that way, the Justice League is a crossover event as ongoing series. In fact, its predecessor the Justice Society was the first inter-company crossover!
And unlike the Fantastic Four or the X-Men, there is no set line up or other common factor uniting the members. ANYONE could reasonably be in the League, from Dr. Fate to Robin, Superman to Odd Man, as long as they were committed to saving people. I mean, we all know who founded the League, but the League has grown and changed and completely turned over its membership in past 46 years. So why limit the team to just "big guns" or, in the opposite direction, just people who don't have their own book? Why limit the League at all?
Not only does a larger team give a writer the full gamut of characters to play with, it makes good internal logic as well. A bigger Justice League is better equipped and better organized to handle the big threats that come up. Really, why have only one Green Lantern or one Flash on the team, when you can three or four? Does it HURT to have Captain Marvel, Superman, and Wonder Woman on the same team? If Aquaman can help at all, who cares if his powers are lame?
For that matter, who needs powers at all? One of the most brilliant additions that Justice League Unlimited introduced to the League, the element that MOST needs to be added to the comics, is the large support staff of "civilians." Why should the League be exclusive to meta-humans and boy billionaires? If Oracle as character has any message, it's that one can save the world without necessarily being able to punch Despero in the face. The Justice League could be a giant volunteer organization devoted to saving lives all over the world, like the Red Cross with superior fire power. (How'd you like that on your resumé? "2004-2006, Saved world. Often.")
In contrast, any Justice League that has less than twelve members seems needlessly exclusionary and self-defeatingly handicapped. Not only is the League not as capable of doing good as it could be with more members, story opportunities get cut off as well. Isn't the fun of a superhero universe watching Metamorpho and Wildcat banter with each other? Or seeing Captain Atom fall before the might of Neron, only to have Zatanna pull a magic save out of her, um, hat? Or read about Superman giving his annual St Crispin's Day speech before an assembled crowd of gods, robots, knights and madmen, before they go off to fight yet another all consuming evil?
Isn't that what having a superhero universe is all about?