Why Didn't Giffen/DeMatteis Use Aquaman in Their Justice League?

#1 Posted by Jekylhyde14 (746 posts) - - Show Bio

Soon I'll be going to South Korea to teach ESL for a year. This is great news and I'm psyched but I'm not looking forward to being away from my beloved Western superhero comics for a whole year. To soften the blow, I've been buying up the entire Giffen/DeMatteis run of Justice League so I can read it from start to finish whenever I feel homesick. I've read much of it before, sure, but never the entire run from beginning to end. I've also got much of the rest of the volume up to issue #92 and Zero Hour since I'm not as familiar with the runs done by Jurgens and Vado. Anyway, all this got me thinking back to how Giffen/DeMatteis had wanted to do a Big Seven revival with their Justice League but how those plans were basically ruined by the Post-Crisis status quo:

They were told hands-off when it came to Superman because Byrne and co. wanted tight control over the man's character and history.

George Perez wouldn't give consent for the use of Wonder Woman for basically the same reason. He wanted complete authority over her rebirth.

The Flash wasn't available because Barry Allen had died in Crisis and Wally didn't officially take up the mantle full-time until after Legends which is about the same time this Justice League started up. I guess DC wanted Wally to find himself first...

Hal Jordan wasn't given to them because he was already leading The Green Lantern Corps team, and DC figured that one team was enough which Marvel could maybe learn a lesson from.

Despite all of this, Giffen and DeMatteis made the most of what they had to work with. Denny O'Neil took pity on them and allowed them to use Batman. The Martian Manhunter was free and clear so he became the mainstay of the team throughout their run. They were allowed to use the Green Lantern Guy Gardner in place of Hal which may have led to more humor in the long run. To replace Wonder Woman, they did exactly what DC did to replace her in the late 60's: Use Black Canary. Initially Captain Marvel was brought in so no one would miss Superman and was later replaced by Captain Atom. Basically, they dealt with it by playing up the idea that this League wasn't made up by the best and most notable and they got a ton of laughs in the process. One question remains, though:

Why couldn't they use Aquaman? I can't remember. I know there was something funny going on with the character back then. He had a well-received mini-series in 1986 that was supposed to get a follow-up but never did until a one-shot in 1988. Maybe this is proof that DC couldn't decide what direction to take him in and that this was the reason? He had left the Detroit League to work on his marriage. Maybe he and Mera were still having problems? Do any of you know the answer? I'm really just curious and bored.

#2 Posted by SmashBrawler (5493 posts) - - Show Bio

I think Aquaman joined later on to the european branch, but I don't know why he wasn't in the original team. He wasn't in Legends either. Maybe they wanted to expand on the whole Mera stuff? And Aquagirl died during COIE, so maybe they wanted to expand on that too.

But I honestly don't know.

#3 Posted by Jekylhyde14 (746 posts) - - Show Bio

@SmashBrawler: Yeah, Aquaman definitely became a member of Justice League Europe much later on and got to be part of the "who's the father to Power Girl's baby" drama. Also, thanks for reminding me that he wasn't in Legends. My gut tells me that his absence has something to do with the failure to negotiate with Neal Pozner over the follow-up to his 1986 mini-series. The rumor is there were "creative problems." Maybe that was enough to keep DC from using the character until they could reintroduce him without bringing up the Pozner material? I can't say that for sure, though, and I never read Neal Pozner's Aqaman, so...

It's funny how DC rationed the Big Seven during this era. Wally got to join Justice League Europe as soon as it formed and sort of stayed there. Superman was only a member for nine issues and an annual before he got pummeled by Doomsday. Wonder Woman was on and off a member of Justice League Europe and America. Hal was on the Europe/International team around the same time as Aquaman, but then he went through his Parallax phase. Batman left midway through the Giffen/DeMatteis stuff and never really saw a reason to come back. Each of the Big Seven were on the team during this era but rarely at the same time or on the same branch. They were actively trying to keep this team from falling into the same groove as the Satellite era. It made for some interesting stories though we were all glad to see things go back to normal in Morrison's JLA.

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