They got it all wrong. The old ones depicted me as this always smiling happy-go-fucking-lucky masked crimefighter, shooting arrows with boxing gloves on the end. I mean, please. That just insults everyone’s intelligence. Not to say I always just send an arrow into every crook’s eye (though see below), and my desire to limit the violence used to the minimal necessary (mostly) did help inspire my more gimicky arrows. Like my glue arrows. I actually get great satisfaction sending a glue arrow into some punk’s face. And, they can be handy when rescuing people from burning buildings, for example.
The worst characterization, or caricature, is the ‘new improved’ re-boot, featuring me as a rich man. Ha. As if everyone was like Bats. As if most rich people would even care about fighting crime. As if they weren’t the cause of it in the big picture. And for the record, I never made a cent off those comics. What was I gonna do? Sue? And reveal my lower middle class identity? I only hope they served in some way to inspire people, to ‘do good’ I guess, though boxing glove arrows and compassionate rich people are just ridiculous.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, she’s even more beautiful and intimidating in real life. I like her, totally respect her, though I’ve never been sure if she feels the same. That said, somebody from the Great Triumvirate voted me into the JLA, it had to at least be two out of three, and I’d put my bet on Bats and her. Bats because I’m a normal guy like him, with a common interest in gadgets, and Diana because she was actually an archer too. She doesn’t use a bow now, but she trained with one back on Paradise Island. She told me once that they all the amazons do. I know, hot, right?
Anyway, the thing is, Diana’s like 6’6” in those boots, which puts her breasts at about eye level for me, so every time I talk to her I’m like, ‘Don’t look. Don’t look.’ But the worst time I ever got busted was one night at the Hall of Justice. Everyone else was either gone or asleep, and I walked into the main room and there she was bending over the monitors, and there was that amazing glorious ass, just pure muscle, with those stars everywhere on her blue booty shorts. Like staring into the Universe.
And then she turned around and totally saw me. I’ve rarely seen her that angry, at least at one of us good guys. She didn’t talk to me outside of business for a long long time after that. I will say though, when it came business time, all was forgotten, and we worked as a team, all of us, and there are few people I’d rather have next to me when fighting armored blue apes from space. I did redeem myself soon after though when the Legion of Doom attacked New York. Scarecrow had her paralyzed with some nightmare (what could Amazons be afraid of?) and I sent an arrow through his bag-mask. Never was sure if I got his eye or not. Poison Ivy dragged him off with one of her vines. Anyway, when Diana recovered, she thanked me, though I’ve since gone on to piss her off many times. But at least she knows I’ve got her bare Amazon back.
I like Bats, I really do. He’s just so annoyable. The guy just doesn’t have a sense of humor at all. Except like, one time, he hid my arrows, and thought that was hilarious. Went around bragging to everyone. Still does. And I guarantee he snooped around and took bat-pics of all my toys. But would he ever let me check out his bat-utility belt? No. And the times I’ve been in the Bat Cave, just dying to poke around at all the cool shit there, not once does he ever leave me alone. Even when I ask, like, ‘Hey Bats, can I check out your grappling hook?’ he’d just say, ‘Maybe later.’ And then we’d have to leave to go fight the League of Assassins or something.
But yeah, ‘Bats.’ He hated that. I could never call him Bruce. Only Diana and Sups could really get away with that.
We had a rivalry, sure. But I think we also had a bond. I mean, we were really the only two non-gods in the JLA. I heard rumors, never confirmed, that he almost opted out of joining. I mean, there’s a difference between beating up muggers, or even Joker and his pyscho flunkies, and being teleported to another planet, or dimension, and almost getting turned into a tree by a magician demon from the future.
But I’ll give him this: he’s a smart mo fo. Not just at designing gadgets, but at all kinds of technology. I mean, all the computers and security systems for both the Hall of Justice and the JLA space station, he basically designed all that. And paid for it. Which gets a little into my ultimate misgivings about Bats: He’s an arms dealer. Ok, defense contractor, if you want to call it that, but Wayne Industries made its fortune primarily on weapons technologies, and I’m not sure a little philanthropy can really wash all that away. Of course, Bats has saved the world a couple dozen times. So I’m willing to overlook his access to any bit of info about anybody, including the secret email you use for porn. He even set up a wifi connection for Aquaman down in Atlantis somehow.
The one thing I can’t decide about Bats is if his no-killing policy is always viable. Case in point: The Joker. There are just so many times you can lock that motherfucker up in Arkham Asylum, and he breaks out again and kills someone else, before you start to think true justice might just be an arrow in the eye. I don’t think I’d have that careful of a policy if I was up against him in a dark alley, and sometimes I wish someone in Gotham City with a little less morals, like Catwoman, would help Bats out. By the way, Catwoman and Batman? Totally a thing.
Ok, you want to hear my theory? Supes is gay. Not in a South Park insult kind of way, not in the sense of, ‘Dude, Superman is so gay.’ No, I mean, he really is gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just don’t think anyone should live in denial about their sexuality. I mean, ok, I have a hosiery fetish, I’ll just put that out there. But Supes—here’s my argument: One, Diana. I’ve had this conversation with about every member of the JLA, current and former, at some point: ‘Are Clark and Diana a thing?’ ‘No, they’re not.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Really.’ Diana’s the one woman who could really handle him. Everyone knows that, including them. And they like each other. I’d swear she’d go for it if he’d just make a move, but no. It just doesn’t make sense: Lois Lane? Sure she’s pretty, in a nerdy boring kind of way, but if Supes ever had sex with her, I mean real sex, fucking, he’d tear her apart. Diana’s the only woman who could take a super-fucking. Ok, maybe Power Girl, but that just proves my point, Supes never banged her either, though I think he always considered PG as a kind of a surrogate daughter, but that too seems to prove my point. Have you seen PG’s rack? How could anyone think innocent thoughts after seeing that? (I’m kidding, mostly, and I was as sad as anyone when she died.)
Exhibit B on the Supes/gay thing is Bats. I know, you’re going to say they are just really good friends. Maybe. Me, I think Supes loves Bats, but could never say how he really feels. I mean, that would just mess up everything, the bond of trust they have. Not that Bats is a homophobe, not at all, but he’s definitely got trust issues, and doesn’t have that many friends. Hell, he’d say he doesn’t have any, doesn’t need any, but I’d argue he desperately needs Supes and Diana. Bats is the loneliest guy I know. So, Supes coming out would mean Bats losing a friend. I know that’s fucked up to say, and they would still work together, but it would just be weird.
I loved Dinah madly. More than I even knew at the time. I blew it. I was a dick. I didn’t treat her well. God, those fishnet tights. I was a goner the first time I saw them. And then her lovely smile. Truth is, I think I thought I didn’t deserve her. She was kind of one of the gods. Not like Sups or Diana exactly, but her canary cry could immobilize a mob the size of a city block. Also the competition. I mean, talk about performance anxiety. How was I supposed to feel with all those super-dudes around? I’m not strong. Not smart. Not rich. Not exotically from another planet. I know, I know. Later, after, I was telling all this to Shayera Hol—Hawkgirl—of all people, and she said that, of a League of maybe twenty super-dude members, Dinah chose me. That should have made me proud. Instead, I let doubt ruin everything.
I also couldn’t communicate. One night, not that this was unique, Dinah and I were doing it, fucking, making love (I hate that term!) and I was fantasizing about someone else. I mean, I had fucking Black Canary, one of the hottest babes around, right there, and yet I had my eyes closed imagining….I don’t know, fucking Poison Ivy, or Diana even, and Dinah stopped and made me look at her and said, ‘You’re not here, are you?’ She totally knew. I mean, I don’t think fantasizing is bad, nor that we can choose our fantasies, nor that any one person can be everything to another person, and in fact I think exploring fantasies with another person is healthy, but Dinah and I never talked about our interests with each other. That’s what you never see in comic books, or in real life, really: People communicating at that intimate a level. But, that said, I don’t know. Maybe Dinah was perfectly fine with how things were, how our sex life was. So if I’d tried to talk about fantasies, especially people we worked with, that might have just hurt her—which is why I never said anything. But then again, if I’d actually said something, and she’d said she had fantasies too, would I have been able to handle that? I mean, would I have been happy if she said she had thoughts about Atom, or Elongated Man, or Bats? Because, I mean, I think all women kinda have a thing for Batman. Even Batwoman, who’s supposedly a lesbian and married her partner and everything. So could I handle all that? Probably not. Which isn’t fair, I know. Which is why she left. I guess. I don’t know. With sex, sometimes total communication just doesn’t seem the best thing.
But what she told me was that I never took her seriously. And, I guess there’s some truth to that. I mean, I never thought she’d end up as Chair of the JLA, involving both a kind of Incident Commander position and being in charge of finances. I just never thought she’d be interested in that. Meaning, I never saw her as a leader, period. In my defense, I never doubted Diana’s power to lead, so please don’t say I was a total chauvinist pig. But, I guess Dinah’s real complaint is, again, about communication, that I just never talked with her about her goals, her dreams. Never occurred to me that she had any. I didn’t. I’d achieved all mine. And then I lost them.
Born in Puerto Rico, John Yohe grew up in Michigan, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. He has worked as a wildland firefighter, deckhand/oiler, runner/busboy, bike messenger, wilderness ranger, and fire lookout, as well as a teacher of writing. A complete list of his publications, and poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing samples, can be found at his website: www.johnyohe.com