#7. The cover features the current team running towards the reader, while six portraits of previous eras serve as the background. Personally, I think it’s a great cover. However, I thought- mistakenly as it turns out- that DC was going to publish six different covers. I thought I was going to have to choose one of those covers. But how could I choose? The obvious answer is that I should simply pick the cover that shows my favorite era. But there lies the dilemma. I don’t have one favorite era. I have several.
Admittedly, it’s a pretty good dilemma to have. After all, the dilemma is borne out of liking several eras. I like the satellite-era Justice League that I grew up with. I liked that it was so big, that it felt like a league. I liked that it had room for all of the big guns, and that there was also room for newer characters like Firestorm and the Red Tornado. I like the Bwa-ha-ha Justice League. I like the second-stringers and the mix of humor and action. I could read those comics again and again. And those characters are every much as real a Justice League as the team I grew up with. I like the new classic era. I like the Magnificent Seven that Grant Morrison put together in the late ‘90s. I like the classic feel and the big threats and, well, the fact that it was really good.
I was still left with the question of which cover to pick. However, that question led me to think about
some other things. Why is it that I have
several favorite eras when other fans seem to cling to one specific era as the
Maybe it has something to do with my own personal experience with comics. Most fans seem to have one point of entry. But I didn’t. I had multiple points of entry. And maybe that’s why I have multiple favorites. In order to explain, I have to tell a little bit about my own story.
Like a lot of others, I started reading comics as a little kid. My mom would give me Richie Rich comics as a way of keeping me quiet while we were on family trips. Eventually, she moved on to giving me Archies and then superheroes like the X-Men and the Teen Titans. Those are the comics of my youth, and they’ll always have a special place in my heart.
However, at some point, I started to think of comic books as kids’ stuff. I gave them up. It wasn’t just comic books. I quit reading Hardy Boys, too. I moved on to big stuff like “War and Peace” and James Clavell. The thicker the book the better as far as I was concerned. I left comics behind, even though my high school classmates still considered me “an expert” on comics.
I became an English literature major when I went to college. I kept reading the big books. I kept reading works with meaning and importance. And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed reading those books and writing papers about them. Then one summer, I happened to have a roommate who owned a big collection of comics. I didn’t have anything to read for school so I borrowed his long-box. I would read dozens of comics in a day. I read hundreds over the course of the summer. And I discovered that I liked these, too. I still read the big books when school started up again. But comics were a great way to cleanse my mental palate and enjoy myself after reading something big and important. I finished reading my roommate’s collection. I borrowed comics from anyone I could: two more roommates, my cousin, a friend.
Eventually, I had run out of comics to borrow and I had to buy some of my own. I bought some of the new comics that were coming out. And I bought back issues, trying to find those childhood dreams all over again. My collection grew- equal parts new and old.
That’s what I meant when I said I had multiple points of entry. I had entered comics as a child. But I re-entered comics as a college student and adult. I had that initial discovery. And I had an age of re-discovery. That alone would explain two points of entry. Yet the age of re-discovery wasn’t a single point of entry. I bought new comics. I also borrowed collections from a cousin and friends, filling in the gaps of comics that had been published since I’d move on to thicker books. And I bought back issues. During one trip to the store, I might buy a run from the ‘60s. During another, it might be a story from the ‘70s. My one age of discovery encompassed every era. So I like them all.
How does the Justice League fit into all of this? I’m familiar with the satellite-era team from my youth. I don’t remember reading any of the comics. But those were the same characters featured in the SuperFriends and featured in the Kenner SuperPowers action figure line and I know them from those sources. So I have that nostalgic love for that team as the team of my childhood. If there was any one version of the Justice League that I’d describe as “the real Justice League,” it would be the satellite team of Superman and Batman and Firestorm.
That first roommate I mentioned had a huge run of the Bwa-ha-ha Justice League. Those comics were some of the ones that I read on rainy days when I couldn’t go to work painting houses. Those stories were some of the ones that reignited my interest in and my passion for comic books and superheroes. Shortly after I started buying new comics on my own, Grant Morrison and Howard Porter re-launched the team with a new classic line-up. Those were the first JLA stories that I bought new. Those are the ones for which I remember the feeling of being so excited for a new issue to come out. Both of those eras are a significant part of my re-entry into comics. I hold them both on my own personal pedestals. And so I have three favorite eras of the Justice League.
That also means that I’m open to the new team and this new era. I’m used to liking different versions of the same team. I don’t dismiss the new team as not being the real Justice League. There’s lots of real Justice Leagues, and I’m ready to accept this one too if the stories are good enough.
By the way, this isn’t just a Justice League phenomenon. I have multiple favorites of the Avengers. I was buying Roy Thomas and David Micheline and Bob Harras issues back-to-back. I have multiple favorites of the Titans, and the X-Men. I have more than one Golden Age. It leads me into the occasional dilemma, such as this one. But I tend to think that’s a good thing.
And for the record: there are only two variant covers, not six, with each including three different eras and versions of the team. I’ll be happy with either one.