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Subj: Misinformation Begats Misinformation
Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 07:36:22 am EST (Viewed 4 times)
Reply Subj: On reserve and honorary members: from the JLA CHARTER itself...(yes, Adam is in there)
Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 05:42:26 pm EST
I KNEW SOMEONE would bring up Amazing World of DC Comics # 14 and the JLA Role-Playing Guide; somebody always does whenever the topic of honorary Justice League members comes up.
Scott provided the excellent short-form answer below as to why those references aren't applicable. And in any event, if it were a true reference, that means the information contained within it would have been drawn from citable sources. I stand on my statement that one will not find any pre-Crisis comic story that shows or states that Adam Strange (or any of the others listed by Scott) was an honorary JLA member.
But let me elabourate on Scott's comment by talking about the error-ridden DC stories of the 1970's--because that's the real source of the confusion.
It all began in 1968--the year I mark as the end of the Silver Age--when many of the writers who carried DC through the Silver Age were let go or not offered any more work because they dared to approach the publisher and ask for health and retirement benefits. Men like Gardner Fox, Arnold Drake, France Herron, and John Broome (who left comics for his own reasons) were gone, and the "Young Turks" were brought in. Writers like Denny O'Neil, Gerry Conway, Mike Friedrich, and Steve Skeates.
Besides the new flavour that these writers brought to DC stories (they tended to become more "Marvel-ish"), one thing I noticed right off was that many, many minor continuity mistakes began to appear.
Granted, continuity errors had slipped in during the Silver Age too, but they were far less in number, and when they did, they were addressed in the letter columns. There, the editors would fashion an clever answer to explain the mistake away, or if the error was irreparable, they would flat out admit "yes, we screwed up--but it won't happen, again."
The loss of corporate knowledge when the old writers were let go was directly responsible for many of the mistakes which began to infiltrate DC stories of the '70's. Messrs. O'Neil, Conway, and the like may have been fans of the Silver-Age DC stories, but when it came to recalling the details of the hero histories, their knowledge of some of the details fell into the "kinda-sorta" level of accuracy.
Many of those 1970's discrepancies were simply out-and-out errors, in contradiction to what had been established during the Silver Age: stories which insisted that green-kryptonite bullets could penetrate Superboy/man's body (they can't); that Mordru the Merciless' only weakness is being buried underground (that's not it); that Lana Lang is an honorary Legionnaire (she's not). I remember one long run of several issues of the revived Green Lantern title that spelt Hal Jordan's surname as "Jordon".
But then there were errors that were made not so much because the writer's lack of knowledge but because he had a "neat idea": things like the revived All-Star Comics title insisting that the Superman of Earth-Two possessed powers only at the level of his debut--no flying, only leaping, and bursting shells could throw him for a loop (wrong!), or over in Wonder Woman, stating that Doctor Mid-Nite of the Justice Society was able to operate as a blind super-hero not because he could see at night or through infra-red goggles, but because his other senses were enhanced a la Marvel's Daredevil (all together now--WRONG!), or that the Legion of Super-Heroes had a "no duplication of super-powers" clause in its constitution (it did not).
It's this "neat idea" thing which is what really makes Amazing World of DC Comics # 14 (Mar., 1977)--a special issue "all about the Justice League"--and all of the subsequent references based on it, worthless as a reference.
While much of the information contained in AWODC # 14 was drawn from actual issues of JLA, a great deal of it was fabricated by the writers for inclusion, and this is where those writers got to insert their neat ideas.
Scott pointed out one of those "neat ideas" in his post below. Not only did AWODC # 14 insist that John Stewart was an honorary JLA member (you won't find that in any story), but it stated that his super-hero sobriquet was "Black Lantern". (I can just see the thinking here: "Hey, Stewart was an angry black man, right? So, naturally, he'd call himself Black Lantern.")
AWODC # 14 also contains the Justice League charter, which was obviously created by the writers, since only twice in the JLA series were the readers informed of specific by-laws (and the charter in AWDOC # 14 contradicts both of those). (Subsequent to the cover-date of AWODC # 14, JLA # 147 [Sep., 1977] established the reason for Hawkgirl's rejection for membership as the JLA charter having a "no duplication of powers" rule--this is another 1970's error, since that was not the reason she was not made a member when Hawkman was, as JLA # 31 clearly states.)
As a complete fabrication, the JLA charter in AWODC # 14 provided a perfect outlet for the writers to indulge in their "neat ideas". It is stated that the Justice League falls under the oversight of the United Nations. This was never seen in the original series, and of the two JLA issues cited by the charter to support this, one is completely incorrect and the other only tangentally involves the United Nations.
The most egregious error in this JLA charter is its insistence that anyone who ever assisted the Justice League on a mission holds a status as an honorary or alternate status in the League. This was a catch-all so that the writers could include all their "neat ideas" for certain heroes to have a membership in the League. Besides those who were actually seen to have accepted some form of membership in the League, the charter also insists that Adam Strange, Batgirl, the Vigilante (of Earth-One), "Black" Lantern, and Charlie "Golden Eagle" Parker were honorary JLA members.
What tickles me most about this bit of fol-de-rol is that it is inconsistent internally. If any hero who ever assisted the JLA on a mission is automatically an honorary member, why was Robin, the Boy Wonder omitted from the list (he assisted the League on at least two missions), or Supergirl (who had also helped the League a couple of times by then), or Hawkgirl (who had not yet been made a member at the time of AWODC # 14), who held the record for the most guest-star appearances in the title to that point?
Clearly, AWODC # 14 is a flawed document; however, the problem goes to the phrase I used as the banner of this post: misinformation begats misinformation. Other references, including the JLA RPG and DC's Who's Who series (the pre-Crisis one), used the error-ridden AWODC # 14 as its source reference. Thus, material which never appeared in the original JLA title has become accepted as fact. In fact, they are actually factoids.
Standing by for heavy rolls.
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