The Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 has some layered character writing that shows internal struggle. I’ve written a brief recap of key moments for three characters: The Ray, Lobo, and Killer Frost.
The Ray is a new super hero, protecting Vanity City, Oregon, but two sentences of conversation set him up as an outsider.
Two parents on the street see him flying overhead, and acknowledge he saves lives, but admonish his possibly dangerous light powers. When offered JLA membership, listening to the mission of the JLA, which is human heroes and not gods, Ray says
“I don’t know if I’m human…and I’ve never been part of anything”.
-The Ray, JLA Rebirth #1
People see Ray as an outsider, and he views himself as something other than a human. Othering the Ray is one way to present an LGBTIQ character in a comic script. The Ray’s struggle of being left out plays out later in a scene with the entire team assembled. He tries to enter the conversation, but is quickly silenced by Lobo (“Adults are talkin’ kid”).
It’s no surprise that one of the teaser panels for later JLA issues is the Ray attacking Lobo. The conflict Ray feels of being an outsider, an other, silenced by Lobo, informs his actions.
Lobo presents as a harder, tougher, and unstoppable force of masculinity, which expertly covers interests that would not been seen as masculine- intelligence for complex science, and attention to detail.
He’s violent, loud, and takes any oppurtunity to put down his team mates. Intelligence and attention to detail are not typically masculine behaviours. Yet, when Lobo sees the skill in quantum physics from the Atom, Ryan Choi, he shows interest and respect, clashing with his careless, aggressive persona. His word choice softens slightly when talking to the Atom. It’s an example of character showing layers that conflict and clash.
Killer Frost also shows layers. Her name and appearance implies something frozen, emotionally locked, with cold affect. She attempts to be a warmer, more heroic person overall, despite her Killer Frost history.
While powered up with the ability to freeze water in the air, sculpting ice at will, Killer Frost craves heat. She tries to warm up to her team mates, but is judged as dangerous because of her struggles with heat addiction. She is a character facing a tough, self-improvement challenge. Showing restraint when judged for her past, and warmth despite being treated coldly by others. There are some layers here, and a comment about the judgment of others by their presentation, and their past.
In a team book, where space for development is constrained, JLA: Rebirth #1 character writing is a good example of showing inner conflict where space is limited.