The Importance of Teamwork – DC Style

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I bought Young Justice Seasons 1 and 2 on Blu-Ray and I just started re-watching the series today. As I remembered, Season 1 starts a little slow, as it focused on building the younger Justice League heroes into a team. However, I was intrigued by “Schooled”, episode five. The entire episode, building on the theme from the previous episode, is about teamwork.  Whereas, “Drop Zone”, focused on leadership, specifically Robin realizing that Aqualad should be the team leader – “Schooled” focuses on all the members of the team learning to work together without showboating.  Batman arrives at the end to not only note that he is proud of how the new team handled themselves, but to tell them it’s OK to ask for help.  And, as he points out to his young proteges – that’s what the Justice League members do when they are over-whelmed.

DC Comics, especially in the classic comics of the late 80s/early 90s such as Justice League International, Justice League America, and Justice League Europe, frequently focused on team stories.  In these titles, every DC Hero was part of the Justice League, which was led by Batman and founded by the seven most popular heroes (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Black Canary, and Martian Manhunter) – in fact, since Batman was frequently rather busy in Gotham City – Black Canary (a woman) was the leader of the League when he wasn’t there.  However, because all DC Heroes were League members, virtually anybody could and did show up, with Blue Beetle and Booster Gold frequently commenting on the action from the Hall of Justice cafeteria – or chasing Fire and Ice (two female heroes).  The Warner Brothers Animation television series, Justice League Unlimited (building on Justice League which had just seven heroes) kept the feeling of a large league, and featured stories that focused on lesser-known heroes.  Besides encouraging everyone to watch Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, and Young Justice (in that order – to keep up with common plot threads such as Cadmus) there is an important theme here:  teamwork.

Whereas Marvel comics emphasized individual heroes even in The Avengers film, their team seems unwilling or unable to truly work together – in the DC universe, heroes have accepted two things:  they must join the League – which acts almost like a trade association (think Board of Medicine, Board of Nursing, The Bar, Certified Accountants, or any other professional organization); and some problems are just too big for a single person to handle.  Plus, for readers of DC Comics, it meant characters without much in the way of powers (Booster Gold, Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle) or with a single, rather limited power (Black Canary, Fire, Ice, Mr. Miracle and Family, Plastic Man, etc.) could exist in the common book – JLI (Justice League International), which then split into JLA (Justice League America) and JLE (Justice League Europe).  Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Flash all had their own books, and in some cases – several books.  But those characters appeared together in the Justice League books, along with hundreds of others.  The Justice League books also allowed for more female and minority characters.

But more than that – the style of JLI, JLA, and JLE – had characters working together – Ted Kord frequently ferried non-flying Heroes to the site of a disaster or supervillain attack in his Beetle flying machine, for example.  When the League faced a major disaster or villain – they worked together to solve the problem.  In Young Justice, the young heroes are learning the value of working together, even to defeat a more powerful enemy, such as Bane in “Drop Zone” or Amazo in “Schooled”.

Teamwork is a valuable skill – as an adult, no matter where you work – teamwork is often more valued than individual achievement.  Certainly, one has to learn how to work on a team for a common goal in a real world company.  Projects fall apart, costing time, money and resources, if the team cannot work together.  This is especially true if the team then blames each other for the failure of the project.  Still, the skills of working together as a team are important in the complex modern world.

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