Gods of Prey

Gods of Prey!
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"The Justice League act like they're better than us. Some even think they're gods. But they're not. None of them are. That's where we come in."

Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman. Powerful beings beyond normal human comprehension, fighting for truth, justice, freedom, hope. All of that and more.
Lucas Davenport no longer works for the state of Minnesota. Now he's in charge of the Department of Extranormal Operations, the thing that stops the Justice League from just being the a gang of vigilantes. The League pursues justice. The DEO enforces the law.
When an unlicensed, unauthorized branch of the Justice League opens in, of all places, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, it's up to Lucas to try to defuse the ensuing metahuman battle. He doesn't have any powers of his own, but he's backed by the entire U.S. Government. And, he hopes, by the truth.
But what Lucas doesn't know, and what the League is about to find out, is that the metahumans operating out of Sheboygan aren't acting like gods... they are gods. And they're about to deliver a long overdue lesson in humility...

April 1, 2017

Disclaimers

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League are all owned by DC Comics, which in turn is owned by Warner Brothers. My use of them here is covered under both fair use and protected speech (as it's parody).
That's not the part I want to disclaim, although it's important.
The part that I want to disclaim is that frequently artists get overlooked when it comes to creating characters, or even making their own interpretation of well-known characters, and I don't want to do that. The cover art of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, were all drawn by Alex Ross. I do not own the art in question (although I'm probably going to buy the prints). He is, in my opinion, the best comic book artist working today. The specific prints are available here:


Explaining the Joke Ruins the Joke
by Roswell Camp

Comics books have been a lot of things over the years. Silly, weird, funny, serious, tragic, horrific... basically everything. But there have been notable ups and downs in mainstream comics. And sometimes, it's stuff from which the industry hasn't really recovered.
The 1940s were the Golden Age of comics, when the icons of Superman and Batman (and others) were solidly established. The 1950s and 1960s — the Silver Age — had more experimentation, strange influences, and unusual plots.
And then there's the 1990s. The Dark Age. It's when suddenly everyone became humorless and grim. When murder and blood and death and nihilism was more "adult". When comics were more about how many human ears Bloodpouch [1] carried in one of his eponymous storage units than they were about telling stories.
The comics industry has never really recovered from the Dark Ages. You still have a huge number of "edge" and "dark" characters roaming around, killing with abandon and having "acceptable civilian casualties" because it's more "realistic". If anything good came out of it, it's that a large number of writers were aware of this, and there was a lot of discussion and commentary about what "adult" and "realistic" really meant [2].
But we're still seeing it now. Man of Steel, arguably a Superman story, was washed out and not... well, heroic. Instead of being epic, Batman 5: Superman [3] came off as self-important and arrogant. And neither were fun. This is the epitome of Dark Ages thinking: why make something "fun" when you can instead greywash the entire screen and make everything so gritty that you feel that your glasses are covered in ash? [4]
I don't care for that style of storytelling. I'd much rather have something that was, if not ridiculous, then at least relatable. But I also like the quiet moments in comics, when the characters just kind of... talk.
What I wanted was a group of super heroes that didn't so much fight crime as sit around talking about fighting crime. And the weather. And politics. And they'd disagree, and there'd be fights, and bad guys would happen. But mostly it'd be like if you took Kevin Smith's Clerks and gave it a superhero theme.
And so was born the Justice League of Sheboygan [5].
There are three members, and they've all got crazy godlike powers — one of them is a literal elder god from before time, another is descended from elemental forces of order and chaos, and the third is the most powerful psychic on the planet — and it's given to them to prevent evil forces emerging from a dimensional breach below... Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Sheboygan, Wisconsin, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is about an hour north of downtown Milwaukee, about halfway to Green Bay. It's a nice enough place — I've been there exactly once and there were no supervillans around — but it's not exactly Metropolis [6].
But imagine that you're a super-powered being who's been told to be the guardian of a small town on Lake Michigan and then nothing happens. There are about 50,000 people in Sheboygan. Sure, there'll be some crime, but nothing up to the level of two godlings and the world's most powerful telepath.
And so mostly they just sit around and talk about stuff. For pages upon pages. Sometimes they go for a walk to "patrol for crime" and nothing ever happens. It'd be comedy, but very dry comedy [7].
And then in the fourth issue or so, there's an actual crisis, and the Justice League (the real one) heads in to handle the problem. But because they don't know the situation, or that the situation's already really been resolved, they make a mess of things. Things get very bad, very quickly.
And that's about when Gods of Prey happens.
There's no way DC would do anything like this. It wouldn't sell well, the readership would be almost nil, and nothing in particular would happen. I mean, sure, stuff happens, but you're not going to get the huge sprawling battles that comics are so fond of.
In the actual comic, there wouldn't be any Lucas Davenport, of course. I'm just putting him here so it works as an April Fools'. And yeah, the comic itself will never be a thing. But for some reason, it's important for me to keep all the details straight in my head. I know what happens, even if it never actually, y'know, does.

Footnotes

1. One of the trends of generic superhero art in the 1990s was pouches. Everyone had pouches. Some of the pouches had smaller pouches on them. If you Google "Bloodpouch" you'll find a character that embodies everything wrong with the 1990s comic book art style. It was done as a parody, of course, but back then that kind of thing was all too common.

2. Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man tackles exactly these issues. Later, in Flex Mentallo he covers a lot of comic book history and weirdness, deconstructing in along the way. And Warren Ellis's Planetary takes apart comic tropes while embodying them. If you're looking for Punchmaster fighting Gunhaver for twenty pages, you'll be sorely disappointed.

3. Yes, I know it's Batman V Superman but I wish to believe that the V is a roman number. It amuses me to do so.

4. And it's not just superhero movies. Most movies nowadays are getting a tonal color wash to artificially influence emotions. But this isn't the place to rant about that, and I am not the person [8].

5. They don't actually call themselves that. They don't call themselves anything. If you have a bunch of friends over for bratwurst and beer, it probably doesn't occur to you that "hey, our group needs a name."

6. Metropolis, of course, does not exist. Neither does Gotham. Someone once said that Metropolis was New York City in the daytime, and Gotham was New York City at night. Now you know.

7. Instead of thinking of it like Clerks, a better model might be Seinfeld. Or maybe not. Still, it'd be different from everything else out there.