Several of the key things I want from this campaign are a sense of the history that got the heroes to where they are as well as some of the combined openness and access to old ideas that comes from the DC Universe. The heroes may repeat from Earth 2 to Earth 1, but only the biggest villains do. So let’s define the biggest villains and come up with new ones that are either honestly new or radically re-imagined from their old names. I also don’t want to do issue by issue re-creations, so I’m backing away from original ideas of having the JAA form due to aliens suspiciously like the Parralaxians appear (or having Hitler summon Valkyries to kill FDR, which is just AWESOME as an origin for the JSA). Let’s try something new. Extrapolating from Earth 1 and Earth 2 it looks like the teams of heroes form 1000 days after the appearance of Superman, more or less, so the team forms in August of 2011; since we’ve established the new team lineup occurs right after Calendar Man’s Mayan Apocalypse story that means we’re on issue 18. Let’s take a quick look at what the trade paperbacks would look like for those issues
Book 1: Come Together, Right Now (issues 1-6)
This is the non-arc for issues 1-6. We have a series of individual stories where the team isn’t really a team yet. They grate on each other’s nerves, don’t work together smoothly and every issue involves them splitting up into three smaller teams of two or three to resolve smaller crises and then coming together to handle the big issue. All of the villains are unique to the JAA,
Issue 1 (Aug 11) The Horror of the Hodag: the heroes meet and fight in pairs against the devices of Hephaestus Odysseus Daedalus Achilles Gunner, aka Dr. Hodag, a master inventor who plans to conquer the world with his unstoppable war machines (read: Giant Robots) that are powered by a ‘unbound energy’. Once they defeat their paired menaces all find a way to Dr. Hodag’s Wisconsin base where they are trapped in a unbound energy force field and have to work together to escape and capture Hodag. Once it’s done they exchange numbers.
Issue 2 (Sept 11) Bleeding Kansas: Superman’s first stab at pulling these people into a team is dealing with an extreme weather event in the Midwest, similar to the tornados that actually struck in April 2011. These are unnatural and generated by the Blood Tornado, a ‘wind vampire’. The alert comes out, the team assembles and try to do rescue work only to face smaller dust/blood devils that fall pretty simply, while the fight against the Blood Tornado is a big fight.
Issue 3 (Nov 11) The Assembled World: the heroes first ‘official’ team meeting is interrupted with them being warped to a distant world/time/dimension by Krellak, the scientist of an insectoid race who is desperately searching for someone powerful enough to save his world from whatever is eating away at the fringes. Due to the weird physics of the place everyone can fight and move in space, but it clear they can’t win… until one of the heroes grasps that the world is a computer-generated pocket dimension made by a piece of software. They are able to stabilize the code from the inside while Superman is able to reach the real world Silicon Valley programmers in time to keep the computer from being shut down.
Issue 4 (Dec 11) Dominion: right on the heels of last issue The JAA (less Superman) exit from the Assembled World to find Earth entirely paralyzed. Everyone moved themselves to a safe position and is now just standing there. Kanjar Ro’s gamma gong has mind controlled the entire planet and only they are free for not having been present at the time, and Ro is harvesting their brainwave energy to power his weapons for an entirely different space war. The heroes split up to a) free Superman by entering his mind via the Green Lantern and b) outwit Ro and destroy his devices. Humanity barely remembers the loss of the entire day, but it does spur the US Govt to officially recognize the group.
Issue 5 (Jan 12): Ghost Stores: The team sets up their new HQ in what turns out to be the Overlook hotel of super-hero bases, with spirits present there that mess with the heroes heads, toss them into other dimensions, possess them and otherwise mess with them until Zatava can be brought in to help put them down. The issue ends with the entire building disappearing and Superman gaveling the meeting to order in t eback room of a local steakhouse.
Issue 6 (Feb 12) Teamwork: The newly officially recognized JAA has a charity/PR gig ‘completing’ against Kyle Lawrence, famed former Olympian turned baseball and basketball player. Amazingly he begins beating them – out swimming Aquaman, out-running Flash, etc. – as he is draining their powers via a scavenged piece of Kanjar Ro’s brainwave energy drainer, so that they all meet ‘in the middle (the heroes lose 1 AP, he matches their new ratings plus a smidge). He then goes on a rampage, driven mad with power as the Sportsmaster, and the team has to bring him down together. Since Lawrence didn’t realize what was happening (and he loses the powers afterwards) the whole thing is billed as part of the show and the team moves forward.
Book 2: Little Terrors
This book is a series of 2 parters that follow the same sort of strategy (problems that require splitting up to resolve, then back together for the solution) but we spread them over two issues with a cliffhanger in the middle and add in some inter-team sub plots. I’m going to really quick and dirty some plots here:
Issues 7-8 (Mar – April 12) Catastrophic Crash: A coal mine collapse, a potential nuclear meltdown, the capsizing of an oil tanker on the coast all are the work of the Catastrophe Twins, who are trying to corner the US energy market by fomenting panic and snapping up stock in the aftermath. Their own powers of super-feline abilities (for one) and probability manipulation (for the other) let them hold off the team for a while until once they are located.
Issues 9-10 (May-June 12): The Prince of the Power of the Air: a malevolent demonic force alters the nature of flight around Atlanta, forcing the JAA to engage in a massive number of high end rescues as planes are falling out of the sky near the Hartsfield airport. Once the planes are safely brought down it turns out their passengers and crew have become zombie-like agents of evil. The JAA has to track down Deacon Dark, the evil wizard who put these plans into motion for unknown ends.
Issues 11-12 (July-August 12): Invasion of the Body Swappers: the JAA receive an emergency request from Aquaman, but when they get there nothing’s wrong. Actually Aquaman has been replaced by robot of Dr. Hodag’s (who has escaped from jail) that is able to hit the heroes with a ‘swapping’ attack that teleports them to Hodag’s base while replacing them with a robot. Eventually the whole team is captured but ‘escapes’ only to discover that the entire city has been replaced with Hodag’s robots. Actually this is another layer of the prison designed to mess with them, but when they escape they are able to foil Hodag’s plan before he can implement it, saving the US Government.
Book 3: The Mayan Apocalypse (Issues 13-17)
This five issue run is the first time we have a long story arc that would vibe like the Grant Morrison JLA with a frenetic worldwide crisis. This involves the Calendar Man harnessing the power of the Mayan Apocalypse and there’s lots of disasters, shifted time, dinosaur attacks, people being wiped out of the timeline and other massive stuff. At least one hero made a sacrifice to stop things (call it Flash hurled through time and as to find a way back unless something happens) and the JAA is temporarily disbanded.
For example, let’s take a look at what we might do for Green Lantern villains. I’m picking GL because no one is playing her out of the group, she is really different in origins from the prevalent Hal Jordan one and because overall the GL rogues gallery is a little thin.