WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Justice League #37 by Christopher Priest, Philippe Briones, Gabe Eltaeb and Willie Schu, on sale now.
Fandom can be a tricky thing, depending on how deeply a person dives into the subculture. For the majority of people, they find happiness and a sense of community while becoming fully invested in the hobby they love. On the other hand, that love can also become an unhealthy obsession, complete with a warped sense of reality and delusions of grandeur.
A prime example of the latter has played out online over the last few months in the the reaction to Warner Bros' Justice League film, with fans being split between directors Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon. Some, unhappy with Whedon stepping in to replace Snyder have taken their fandom to a whole new level, with calls fora Snyder-cut of the superhero movie be released, culminating in the creation of an online petition literally demanding it from the studio.
Interestingly, the comic book equivalent of this type of overzealousness surfaces in Justice League #37. But instead of sending threatening messages over social media, this obsessed superfan goes one step further, dressing up as his favorite superheroes to commit acts of murder.
Origin Of A Superfan
Last issue, our crazed fan chose Batman (the Justice League's most controversial member in the eyes of the public) to mimic, resulting in the capture of Simon Baz. With the Green Lantern now his prisoner, the copycat starts to reminisce about a previous run-in with the Justice League when he was a teenager. Even back then, the kid proudly displays his adoration for these larger-than-life figures with a Green Lantern ring on his hand, along with what's becoming his signature cigarette.
The team's fight left a city block destroyed, and the wanna-be Green Lantern under a pile of rubble. He survived the accident, and due to the inspiration of the Justice League, went on to serve in the army, where he developed the combat expertise he's been displaying.
Just like many DCEU fans, the copycat started his obsession with the Justice League at a very early age. Both found themselves attached to what they consider the "original" versions of their idols -- the heroes who were around when they first became a fan. For the copycat, that means Hal Jordan, not Simon Baz or Jessica Cruz, is the true Green Lantern. He even goes on to say that having black, blue and white lanterns dilutes the brand, a comment not unlike those you might find on social media from Snyder loyalists who say Whedon, or Warner Bros. or reviewers are to blame for all of Justice League's faults. This group of people often sees the world solely from their narrow viewpoint, and tends to think the world is out to get them. Of course, this being comics, the League's superfan amps things up to the level of murder, believing that killing anyone who disagrees with the Justice League's tactics is helping them.
Comics Mirror Real Life
Joshua A. Christian is the name of the fan who has infiltrated the Justice League. He was able to gain his unprecedented access as a technician who worked on the assembly of the Watchtower, thereby penetrating the team's security system and learning some of their identities in the process. How far Joshua decides to take this knowledge for his own gain remains to be seen.
What's also unknown is whether Priest developed this story arc as a case study for the Justice League director cut fallout. More than likely, it's all a stunning coincidence, but there might be some meta commentary from Priest in these pages. You could certainly argue that even if it wasn't the author's intent, it still reads as commentary on a specific subset of online fandom.
The superfan plot is also feeding into the series' larger story of the public beginning to question the Justice League. Given what we know about the state of the DCU when Doomsday Clock enters continuity roughly a year from now, Justice League is turning into a title that may have lasting repercussions throughout the DC Universe.