Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Taking the Chair

So...Dinah is the JLA's chair(wo)man now?

Honestly, I don't know how I feel about this.

When Power Girl was named Chairwoman of the JSA, I was grinning ear to ear. I loved that development. From her first appearance, she'd always struggled so hard to prove herself to the old, sexist fogeys that were the legendary super-team. She's rebellious, driven, courageous and she never backs down. She's grown a lot as a character since then too. She knows when to take advice and when to take charge and now that she knows where she comes from and who she is, she's really got no more lingering questions or doubts to hold her back. She is one of the most experienced of the younger generation which has a nice future-oriented symbolism.

It was the perfect development. (And I liked that it wasn't posited as Karen being a better choice for leader than Michael, merely that his role as White King was a greater priority. That means a lot to me, for some weird reason.)

I'm more uneasy about Dinah as JLA chairwoman though. And it's not anything against Dinah as a character. I love Dinah. And she's very experienced, very determined and more than capable of that sort of leadership role, founder or no (on a tangent: I love that Diana's a founder again, but why in the world couldn't both Diana and Dinah be on the founding team? It's not like they have redundant powers after all. But I digress.)

It's just, for some reason, I am very uncomfortable with the idea of the JLA having a chairperson.

I guess it's because the JLA always seemed so very egalitarian to me. What with the round table and all. I mean sure, there were people who'd take the lead at specific times during specific adventures, but it wasn't always the same person. The trinity may have been the core of the team, but it felt like everyone was meant to be equal within. Step forward and lead or follow as you will.

Now the JSA is a bit different. The JSA has always been family themed for me. Even during the Multiverse adventures, but especially nowadays. The JSA aren't all equal. Stargirl, Jakeem Thunder, Maxine Hunkel are no where near the level of Alan, Jay or Carter. And that's okay, because they're the kids and still learning, while the others are fogeys.

The Chairman office always felt right to me there, in part because of the origins during WWII and the All-Star Squadron. It always made sense to have a single field commander/leader. In the modern day, I felt like the chairman role still fit in a different way. As a bridge to keep the old fogeys and the new whippersnappers focused and united.

Notice the Chairpeople so far have been Sand, who might be from the forties, but is time-displaced and thus still very young. He was a child back then and thus tends to be in a strange not-fogey, not-kid area. Michael was more secure in his position as one of the successors, but he (as well as Mid-Nite and Dinah) are the oldest of them. He's confident and secure in his abilities like most of the others weren't. Power Girl, of course, has the background in Infinity Inc, loads of experience and a very forceful personality. Each character functioned to bridge the old, experienced geezers with the naive green youngsters.

It fits for the JSA to have a chairperson. But I don't honestly see where it suits the JLA. It's the team of Icons (versus the JSA as the team of Legends). The A-Listers. Some of the most recognizeable and iconic heroes around along with some that are just plain cool. No one icon is supposed to be greater than the other, and they're supposed to be equal and egalitarian, with the Trinity at the core. Having a chairman seems to throw off this balance somehow for me.

Hey, I never said I made a lot of sense.

That said, I'll give it a shot of course. JLA's started slow but the upcoming crossover with JSA (LOVE) will keep me reading at least until the end. Maybe this Dinah as chairwoman thing will work for me. Right now, the thought is still weird to me...oh well.


  • At April 06, 2007 9:05 AM, Blogger Mark Cook said…

    I always saw the chairperson of the JLA more as a wrangler than a leader - someone has to act as the spokesperson and be in charge of the administrative side, if only so Roy or whoever knows who to e-mail that they can't make the meeting because they're being hunted by Manhunter robots and no, assistance isn't required, they can take care of it themselves. And, considering the history of the League, "chair" is just what the title of that administrative person is going to end up being.

    Basically, the way I look at it is that Power Girl's got an awesome job - Leader of the Justice Society! - and Black Canary's got a stack of paperwork.

  • At April 06, 2007 9:10 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Aw, c'mon, Guy should SO be running the Justice League. Or Max Lord...or...oops, scratch that last thought.

    Now that I think about it, Mark may have the right idea. Power Girl has the glory, and Black Canary has the headaches.

  • At April 06, 2007 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Every group needs a leader, no matter how "egalitarian". Plus, maybe it's something the League now feels stronger about, following the "mind wipe" nonsense and all of its fall-out. Having a more established system of authority and (possibly) checks-and-balances within the League might be the kind of self-policing they need at this point in their history.

    Re: Power Girl:

    "From her first appearance, she'd always struggled so hard to prove herself to the old, sexist fogeys that were the legendary super-team."

    The only one I can recall that was an outright sexist was Wildcat. Could you cite the stories where Alan and Jay came off as "sexist fogies"? I think you're remembering stuff that really didn't happen.

  • At April 06, 2007 1:54 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    mark E: It's true that Wildcat was the only one to make overt sexist comments, but not all sexism is overt.

    To me, Alan and Jay both operated under clear assumptions because she was female. I'm not saying it wasn't understandable, they were men from a previous era after all, but there were definitely obstacles from that direction that PG needed to overcome.

    (Heck, Alan's STILL a little sexist so it shouldn't be a surprise that he was back then.)

    My problem isn't the JLA having a leader, it's that the JLA leader always seems to be the person who steps forward and leads at the time. I have trouble with it being made official I guess.

  • At April 06, 2007 5:28 PM, Blogger Matthew E said…

    Now, in this upcoming JLA/JSA crossover, they're going to be interacting with the Legion, and there's a very real chance that this is a Legion of Super-Heroes from a period of their history when Dream Girl was their leader. (If not Dream Girl, probably Element Lad.) It'll be a regular summit of statuesque blondes.

    (And in the main Legion title, Cosmic Boy's still the leader at the moment, but rumour has it that Shadow Lass could be the next one in, a few issues from now.)

  • At April 06, 2007 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I dunno - I'm more concerned because of Meltzer's bad track record on writing female superheroes and Dinah in particular.

    Archers Quest - Dinah was the only female character in the story and she was written as a cold bitch.

    Identity Crisis - apart from Sue (who was there to be raped and killed) and Jean (who was there to be crazy) none of the female characters really did anything except fill the standard "approved" wife, girlfriend and potential victim roles. Apart from Diana using her lasso to question inmates (under Ollie's directon - WTF?) and Zatanna being used as a plot device, not a single female character was used in a fashion that wasn't a victim or a cliche femme fatale.

    And JLA so far... despite the team being 44% women and Dinah being the chairwoman - none of the women on the team have really done much on-panel.

    Seriously, this last issue - Vixen is on panel for one page talking on the phone before the group photo scene. Hawkgirl I don't remember showing up until the group photo scene. Diana was in a few flashback panels with Clark and Bruce. And Dinah was there to play the crying mother at graduation and that was it.

    The rest of the comic? Men talking to men about men's work. Black Lighting talks to Batman. Black Lighting talks to Superman. Black Lighting talks to Geo-Force. Green Lantern talks to Green Arrow.

    It just disturbs me that for all this talk about how feminist this new League is, the women are being given few chances to actually DO anything. Heck, even in the first big battle spanning six issues, Dinah was the only one who really did anything in the fight before the final issue...

  • At April 11, 2007 2:30 PM, Blogger Rob S. said…

    I'm pretty sure a leader for the JLA -- even the official chairperson title -- is nothing new. I seem to recall Flash, Hawkman and Zatanna each holding the job.


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