Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My five favorite Justice Leaguers

In response to my five favorite Avengers, I am doing a quick story on my five favorite Justice League members.

Batman (Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson)

Batman is not only one of the most recognizable members of the Justice League, but he is also a founding member.  Although he did form his own team in the Outsiders, Batman has always returned to the League whenever they needed him.  

After taking up the Batman mantle, Dick Grayson was approached to rejoin the team by long time friend Donna Troy.  Writer James Robinson said that one of the goals of bringing Grayson to the team was to write teamup stories with Supergirl, sort of as a homage to World’s Finest, which was a series that featured Batman/Superman team-ups.  

Whether it was Wayne or Grayson under the cowl, having Batman in the League gave the team a detective, and someone with expert hand to hand skills.  One of the great things about Wayne, was his paranoia that led him to create a list with all of the weaknesses of the other members.  While this may cause controversy among the other heroes, this was also a good backup plan.  After all, how else would you stop super powered beings if you had no super powers yourself.

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner)

All four of these Green Lanterns have served time on the Justice League at some point in their careers.  Hal Jordan was one of the founding members of the League and served on the team for many years.  In the last few years, Jordan has returned to the team periodically, first after his death, and most recently after the Cry For Justice event..

John Stewart served as a replacement for Hal Jordan.  His tenure on the team was not very long in the comics, however he was one of the founding members in the Justice League cartoon.

Guy Gardner served on different incarnations of the team, including Justice League International.  One of his memorable moments was when he had gotten in an argument with Batman, and was knocked out with one punch.

Kyle Rayner was a member of the Justice League during the 1990’s, shortly after he became the Green Lantern.  He periodically served on the team before Jordan’s return.

Currently none of these four Green Lanterns are serving on the Justice League.  However, the Jade, the first female Green Lantern of Earth (the daughter of Allen Scott, the original Green Lantern) is currently on the team.

Each Green Lantern brings something to the team, whether it was Jordan’s experience and fearlessness, Stewart’s military experience, Rayner’s unpredictability, or Gardner’s rage.  Another good thing about having a Green Lantern on the team, is that there is someone on the team who deals with space, thus giving the writers the freedom to allow the Justice League to go around space.

The Flash (Barry Allen, Wally West) 

Like Wayne in his time at Batman and Jordan as the Green Lantern, Barry Allen as the Flash is one of the founding members of the Justice League and was on the roster for many years.  In the first issue of the Justice League series, Allen faced off against the villain Despero in attempt to save his teammates.  His tenure on the team ended after his “death” during the Crisis on Infinite Earth mini series.  

Similar to Grayson, Wally West, who operated as Allen’s sidekick Kid Flash, joined the team soon after he took up the mantle of his mentor.  He was also featured on the Justice League animated series.

Currently neither Flash is on the Justice League.  However, they are both starring in The Flash series.  The speedster on the team is Jesse Quick.

Having the Fastest Man Alive on the team gives the Justice League some light hearted moments, as well as having someone who can go from any corner of the Earth to help with a crisis.  

Zatanna (Zatanna Zatara)

Zatanna has been a member of the League since the 1970’s.  In addition to being the first member of the team to use magic, she has been involved in one of the team’s most controversial moments.  During the events of the Identity Crisis mini series, Zatanna wiped the memory of Doctor Light, something she has done to many of the villains who had knowledge of the Justice League.

She has recently left the team and currently stars in her own series, written by Paul Dini, who not wrote for the Batman animated series and Detective Comics, but also has a mad crush on Zatanna (something I can relate to).

Cyborg (Vic Stone)

A long time member of the Teen Titans, Cyborg joined the team shortly after the Cry for Justice event, but was written off of the team after a battle with Doctor Impossible’s gang.  Although his tenure on the team was recent and short, Cyborg will have a presence on the team, according to writer James Robinson.  

During his time on the team, Cyborg has rebuilt the Red Tornado and has been helping Roy Harper.  

After seeing Cyborg joining the League, I felt that he had gotten his moment, similar to what I felt when Wolverine and Spider-man had joined the Avengers, yet his lack of appearance in the Justice League title, can mean they are either placing him back on the Teen Titans, or put him in his own series.  Hopefully Cyborg will make it back to the team on a more fighting capacity.

Honorable mention

Wonder Woman - Gotta love the lasso and the old school outfit

Martian Manhunter - the Heart and Soul of the Justice League

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stepping up the Scales

Penn returns to Welterweight with 21 second KO over Hughes

B.J. Penn, former UFC Lightweight and welterweight champion, made a triumphant return to welterweight this last Saturday at UFC 123, scoring a knock out victory against former two-time champion Matt Hughes in just 21 seconds. 

After the fight, he began heading back to the locker room, but quickly came back to the octagon out of respect for his opponent, according to the post-fight press conference.

“I was trying to recreate the Caol Uno fight,” Penn said.  “But I can not be disrespectful of Matt. I gotta go back in there and give Matt the honors.”

Road back to welterweight

Penn (16-7-1) had been coming into his fight with two straight losses from UFC Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.  According to the post-fight press conference, Penn was fired up as soon as he got the call that he would face Hughes.

“Me and Matt put on great fights and I am just happy it went that way,” Penn said.  “Matt Hughes is my idol and will always be my idol.”

Penn’s KO not only gave him his first victory in the welterweight division in the last four years, it also gave him the overall victory in his trilogy against Hughes.  He had won their first fight back in 2004, in which he was crowned the fourth UFC welterweight champ.  Hughes won their rematch back in 2006.

Former fighters who have had success gaining (or cutting) weight

Penn, is not the only MMA fighter to have success in two different weight classes. 

UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture was the first fighter to win titles in two divisions, earning titles as a heavyweight and a light heavyweight.

Another UFC fighter who has gained success in changing weight divisions is Jake Shields.  Shields is a former Elite XC Welterweight champion, and a former Strikeforce Middleweight champion.

Strikeforce fighter Dan Henderson earned titles in Pride Fighting Championship’s welterweight and middleweight division.  Current Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem competed in Pride’s middleweight Grand Prix tournament, earning victories over Vitor Belfort and Igor Vochancyn.

Most recently Urijah Faber, a former WEC featherweight champion, has moved back down to bantamweight.  In his first fight back to bantamweight, he defeated Takeya Mizugaki by submission in the first round.

Future Matches for Penn in the welterweight division. 

Although it seems like Penn has been given a fresh start in his return to the welterweight division, he still has quite a ladder to climb if he wants  to regain the title. 

Possible opponents for Penn in the welterweight division include Shields, Carlos Condit a former WEC Welterweight champion, and Josh Koscheck, the current number one contender for the UFC welterweight title.

Another possible bout for Penn would be a rematch against former champion Matt Serra.  Penn previously defeated Serra in a lightweight bout back in 2002.

Perhaps the one match up Penn will be anticipating for is a rematch with current champion Georges St. Pierre

According to MMAweekly, Penn’s next opponent may be Jon Fitch at UFC 127.