WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Justice League #39
The Justice League has a new leader in Cyborg - the first Black superhero to hold the post. And while that's certainly cause for celebration among the comic book readers community, it comes at a time of crisis for the DC superteam. With a brand new Justice League super-fan villain pushing the team to its limits, not even Batman is able to keep up (running the world's top strike team takes a mental toll). So as Batman steps down from the position, he appoints a replacement who is long overdue.
Bruce Wayne doesn't explain his reasoning when he entrusts the Justice League to Cyborg in Justice League #38. But as Issue #39 picks up, it's confirmed that Cyborg now stands at the very top of the Justice League power structure. And as would be the case in our own world, the team's first appointment of an African-American chairman is making headlines. Not just in our world, but in the DC Universe, too.
Writer Christopher Priest didn't waste any time putting Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the League to the test once taking over the series. Emphasizing the actual cost that superheroics take on a normal human like Bruce Wayne, the Justice League was simply not prepared for its latest crisis. At first, it was a need for sleep that made Batman question his readiness. But when a few random coincidences during everyday heroics cost the Justice League human casualties, the world, and the other League members, took notice.
Among the heroes, the solution was clear enough: Batman needs to take some time off so his actions can be reviewed with a level head, and most of all, needs some forced leave to recharge his batteries. When he agrees, the League slowly (and naturally) turns towards Superman for leadership. But as Bruce points out, the Justice League's charter allows the departing Chairman to appoint his replacement. And without hesitation Bruce passes the duty to Vic Stone.
Victor Stone has had some challenging days of late, as well. After getting the chance to become human again in his Cyborg solo comic, there's the challenge of understanding his new powers after a major Mother Box upgrade in DC's METAL. Now he has the responsibility to answering for the Justice League's actions to the governments of the world - starting with the United States.
And you had better believe that when one of the most famous Black superheroes in the DC Universe announces he has taken charge of the world's greatest heroes, the world takes notice. And by "the world" we obviously mean "Twitter."
The collection of Tweets assembled by Priest and artists Ian Churchill and Alex Sollazzo will ring true for most superhero fans. While some celebrate the authority (finally) placed in an African America hero, Priest is sure to include one comment of dissent, bordering on ignorance and bigotry. As any DC Comics fan will tell you, Vic Stone's ability and worthiness to lead has never been in question. Just as the Justice League's new villain, known as The Fan blurs the line between comic book fiction and the audience that enjoys it, the response to Vic's appointment does the same.
This story comes at a fortuitous time, as the world celebrates the record-shattering Black Panther movie from Marvel Studios. And in a further twist of fate, some have pointed out that Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman previously played Jackie Robinson, the first baseball player to break the professional color barrier. The same sports hero called out in fictional praise of Cyborg. Celebration is certainly in order among those favoring progress and diversity within DC's Universe... but Cyborg isn't let off that easy.
As he soon learns in his first comic issue as Justice League chairman, the world expects different things of their best heroes. When the hero in charge finally represents a brand new community... a whole new set of expectations and challenges begins to unfold. Stay tuned to see how Vic Stone handles the pressure.
Justice League #39 is available in local comic book shops and online services now.