Having successfully reintroduced a number of their Golden Age superhero characters (Flash, Green Lantern, etc.) during the late 1950s, DC Comics asked writer Gardner Fox to reintroduce the Justice Society of America. Fox, influenced by the popularity of the National Football League and Major League Baseball, decided to change the name of the team from Justice Society to Justice League. The Justice League of America debuted in The Brave and the Bold #28 (1960), and quickly became one of the company's best-selling titles. Fox wrote virtually all of the League's adventures during the 1960s, and artist Mike Sekowsky pencilled the first five years.
As with the Justice Society, the concept of the Justice League was simple: to include all of DC's most popular characters in one book (hence the original lineup included Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, , , and ). Three of DC's other surviving or revived characters, , , and were quickly added to the roster, the latter two having been reintroduced by Gardner Fox himself. JLA's early success was indirectly responsible for the creation of the Fantastic Four. In his autobiography Stan Lee relates how, during a round of golf, DC publisher Jack Liebowitz mentioned to Marvel-Timely owner Martin Goodman how well DC's new book (Justice League) was selling. Later that day Goodman told Lee to come up with a team of superheroes for Marvel; Lee and Jack Kirby produced the Fantastic Four.
The Justice League operated from a secret cave outside of the small town of Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. Teenager Snapper Carr tagged along on missions, and was both the team's mascot and an official member. Snapper, noted for speaking in beatnik dialect and snapping his fingers, helped the League to defeat giant space starfish Starro the Conqueror in the team's first appearance. In Justice League of America #77 (December 1969), Snapper was tricked into betraying the cave headquarters' secret location to the Joker, resulting in his resignation from the team. His resignation followed the resignations of two of the league's original members, Wonder Woman (in Justice League of America #69) and (in Justice League of America #71).=== Satellite years ===
In need of a new secure headquarters, the Justice League moved into an orbiting satellite headquarters in Justice League of America #78 (February 1970). Through this period, the membership was limited to the remaining founders along with Green Arrow, Atom, and Hawkman, who were joined by , Phantom Stranger, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, and, eventually, the return of Wonder Woman. The League's twelve-member limit (sometimes explained as a "no duplication of powers" policy) was conceded (in Justice League of America #161) to have been simply a charter provision about numbers, once the League had formally removed the limitation and admitted Hawkwoman and hoped to admit more members (indeed, through this period, several League members challenged and joked about the notion that they shared skills and talents, for example, with speed races between Superman and Flash, and Hawkman's use of archery in combat). The policy change allowed Zatanna and Firestorm to be admitted as well.
In 1984, in an attempt to emulate the success of DC's most popular comic at that time, The New Teen Titans, DC editorial had most of the regular members replaced by newer, younger characters. DC also moved the team from its satellite headquarters into a base in Detroit, Michigan. This move was highly unpopular with readers, who dubbed this period of time the "Justice League Detroit" era. The major criticism was that this Justice League was filled with second-rate heroes. Created by Conway and artist Chuck Patton, the team was initially led by Aquaman and featured Justice League veterans Zatanna, Martian Manhunter, and the Elongated Man, but the majority of the stories focused on newly recruited heroes Vixen, Gypsy, Steel, and Vibe. Aquaman left the new team after only a few issues, and was replaced as leader by the Martian Manhunter. Even the return of Batman to the team in Justice League of America #250 could not halt the decline of the series. The final issue of the original Justice League of America series, issue #261 by Writer J. M. DeMatteis and artist Luke McDonnell, culminated a story arc involving long-time Justice League enemy Professor Ivo's murders of Vibe and Steel at the onset of DC's Legends miniseries.
Modern Age/ JLA Edit
The 1986 company-wide crossover Legends featured the formation of a new Justice League. The new team was dubbed "Justice League" then "Justice League International" (JLI) and was given a mandate with less of an American focus. The new series, written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with art by Kevin Maguire (and later Adam Hughes), added quirky humor to the team's stories. In this incarnation, the membership consisted partly of heroes from Earths that, prior to their merging in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, were separate. The initial team included , , Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel, Doctor Light (a new Japanese female character, emerging from the Crisis of Infinite Earths, not the supervillain who had appeared previously), Doctor Fate, , Mister Miracle, and Guy Gardner; and soon after inception, added Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Fire (formerly known as the Global Guardians' Green Flame), Ice (formerly known as the Global Guardians' Ice Maiden), and two Rocket Reds (one was a Manhunter spy, and one was Dimitri Pushkin). The series' humorous tone and high level of characterization proved very popular initially, but writers following Giffen and DeMatteis were unable to maintain the same balance of humor and heroics, resulting in the decline of the series' popularity. New writers gave the storylines a more serious tone. By the mid- to late-1990s, with the series' commercial success fading, it was eventually canceled, along with spinoffs Justice League Europe, Extreme Justice, and Justice League Task Force.
The low sales of the various Justice League spinoff books prompted DC to revamp the League as a single team (all the various branch teams were disbanded) on a single title. A Justice League of America formed in the September 1996 limited series Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare by Mark Waid and Fabian Nicieza. In 1997, DC Comics launched a new Justice League series titled JLA, written by Grant Morrison with art by Howard Porter and inker John Dell.
This series, in an attempt at a "back-to-basics" approach, used as its core the team's original and most famous seven members (or their successors): Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash (), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), and the Martian Manhunter. Additionally, the team received a new headquarters, the "Watchtower", based on the Moon. Morrison introduced the idea of the JLA allegorically representing a pantheon of gods, with their different powers and personalities, incorporating such characters as Barbara Gordon (Oracle), Steel (John Henry Irons), and Plastic Man.
Since this new league included most of DC's most powerful heroes, the focus of the stories changed. The League now dealt only with Earth-shattering, highest-priority threats which could challenge their tremendous combined power. Enemies faced by this new JLA included an invading army of aliens, a malfunctioning war machine from the future, a horde of renegade angels, a newly reformed coalition of villains as a counter-league, mercenaries armed with individualized take-down strategies for each superhero, various cosmic threats, and the enraged spirit of the Earth itself. In addition, because almost all of the members had their own comics, the stories were almost always self-contained, with all chapters occurring within JLA itself and very rarely affecting events outside of that series. Developments from a hero's own title (such as the new costume temporarily adopted by Superman) were reflected in the League's comic book, however.
The new approach worked, and JLA quickly became DC's best-selling title, a position it enjoyed off and on for several years. Despite this, DC did not create continuing spinoff series as it had done before. Instead, a large number of miniseries and one-shots featuring the team were released. One spin-off team, the Justice League Elite was created following the events of JLA #100, but their series was limited to 12 issues, and the team appeared only once after the title ended its allotted run. JLA's popularity was also able to launch the critically acclaimed JSA series, which was relaunched as Justice Society of America to coincide with the new Justice League of America book.
In 2007, a story arc by Geoff Johns and Alan Heinberg called "Crisis of Conscience" (JLA #115-119) depicts the dissolution of the Justice League of America as the breakdown of trust shown in the 2004 limited series Identity Crisis reaches its zenith. At the end of the arc, Superboy-Prime destroys the Justice League Watchtower. JLA, one of several titles to be cancelled at the conclusion of the Infinite Crisis storyline, ended with issue #125.
In 52 Week 24, Firestorm recruits a group to reform the Justice League. It consists of Firehawk, Super-Chief, Bulleteer, and Ambush Bug. They fight a deranged Skeets who takes Super-Chief's powers and kills him as well as numerous people given powers by Lex Luthor's Everyman Project. Afterwards, Firestorm breaks up the team.
Also in the series, Luthor's new Infinity, Inc. was informally referred to as a "Justice League" in solicitations and on covers.
Justice League of America (vol.2) Edit
One year after the events of Infinite Crisis, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman reunite in the Batcave to re-form the League in Justice League of America #0, the kick-off for a new series by Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes. The series featured a roster which included Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Black Canary, Red Arrow (Green Arrow's former sidekick), Red Tornado, Vixen, Black Lightning, and Hawkgirl. The first arc of the series focused upon Red Tornado and pitted the team against a new intelligent incarnation of Solomon Grundy and the rebuilt Amazo. The new incarnation of the team has two main headquarters, linked by a transporter. The first site is The Hall, which in mainstream DC Universe is a refurnished version of the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron's former headquarters located in Washington, D.C. Black Canary is elected as the first official Chairperson after the fight against Amazo and Solomon Grundy, and led both the Justice League and Justice Society in a complex quest to reunite timelost members of the pre-Crisis Legion of Super-Heroes, who had been sent back in time to free both Bart Allen and Flash from the other dimensional realm of the Speed Force. Meltzer left the series at the end of issue #12, with one of his subplots (Per Degaton, a pre-nuclear fire mutation version of Despero, and a circa 1948 version of the Ultra-Humanite gathering for an unknown plot) resolved in the pages of Booster Gold.
Dwayne McDuffie took over the writing job with the Justice League Wedding Special and the main book with issue #13. Due to DC Comics seeking to launch a spin-off Justice League book led by Hal Jordan, the character was removed from the main League series and replaced by John Stewart. Firestorm also joined the roster, with the series entering into a series of tie-in storylines towards Countdown to Final Crisis, with the arrest of a large number of supervillains (gathered by Lex Luthor and Deathstroke to attack the League on the eve of the wedding of Black Canary and Green Arrow) setting up the Salvation Run tie-in miniseries. Also, roster members Red Tornado and Geo-Force were written out. McDuffie's run received mixed reviews and negative fan response due to fan favorite Hal Jordan's removal in favor of Stewart. Jordan ended up being restored to the roster by issue #19 of the series, only to be removed once again by issue #31 once Justice League: Cry for Justice was completed and ready to be shipped.
Issue #21 saw the return of Libra and the Human Flame, setting up their appearances in Final Crisis. Later issues would resolve issues involving Vixen's power level increase and see the integration of the Milestone Comics characters the Shadow Cabinet and Icon, who fought the Justice League over the remains of the villainous Doctor Light. The group suffered greater losses during Final Crisis with the deaths of Martian Manhunter and Batman, leading to Green Arrow and Hal Jordan forming their own splinter Justice League group to hunt down the men responsible for arranging Martian Manhunter's death (Black Canary herself has also sent John Stewart and Firestorm after Human Flame, as seen in the Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! miniseries).
Hal's decision to form his own group, combined with the rest of the roster leaving the group due to their own personal issues, has resulted in a new League roster of Black Canary, Firestorm, John Stewart, Zatanna, Vixen, and the heroic female Doctor Light. Later, Black Canary tries to disband the League, believing it to be too weak with its current, shaky roster. It is implied by the comments of Vixen and Firestorm that the team took this more as a resignation on her part. Thus, Vixen has assumed command of the League.
Len Wein wrote a three part fill-in story for Justice League of America #34-36. McDuffie was fired from the title before he could return, after discussion postings to his message board, detailing editorial interference on his run, were republished in the rumor column "Lying In The Gutter". James Robinson has been announced as the new Justice League of America writer.
It has been announced that Batman (Dick Grayson), Donna Troy, and Mon-El will join a version of the Justice League being written by Robinson. How this team relates to the Justice League that features Hal Jordan—which Robinson also writes—is unclear.
Origins of The Justice League of America Edit
In a story told in flashback in 1962's Justice League of America #9, Earth was infiltrated by the Appelaxians. Competing alien warriors were sent to see who could conquer Earth first to determine who will become the new ruler of their home planet. The aliens' attacks drew the attentions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter. While the superheroes individually defeated most of the invaders, the heroes fell prey to a single competitor's attack; only by working together were they able to defeat the competitor. For many years, the heroes heralded this adventure as the event that prompted them to agree to pool resources when confronted with similar menaces.
Years later, however (as revealed in Justice League of America #144), Green Arrow uncovered inconsistencies in League records and extracted admissions from his colleagues that the seven founders had actually formed the League after the Martian Manhunter was rescued from Martian forces by the other six founders, along with several other heroes including Robin, Robotman, Congo Bill/Congorilla, Rex the Wonder Dog, and even Lois Lane. Green Lantern participated in this first adventure solely as Hal Jordan, due to the fact that he had yet to become the costumed hero at that time (the biggest inconsistency Arrow found, as they celebrated the earlier incident's date, while recounting only the later one's events). When the group formalized their agreement, they suppressed news of it because of anti-Martian hysteria (mirroring the real-world backdrop of Martian scares and anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s). Because the League members had not revealed their identities to each other at the time, they did not realize that Jordan and Green Lantern were one and the same when he turned up in costume during the event described in #9. While most subsequent accounts of the League have made little mention of this first adventure, the animated Justice League series adapted this tale as the origin of the League as well.
1989's Secret Origins #32 updated Justice League of America #9's origin for Post-Crisis continuity. Differences included the inclusion of the original Black Canary as a founding member and the absence of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman (the 1960s time frame was retained, but the post-Crisis versions of DC's three biggest stars were young and early in their careers in the late 1980s). Additionally, while Hal Jordan served as the public face of the Justice League, this iteration of the League's origin cast the Flash as the team's unofficial leader, since it was Allen who usually came up with the plans that best utilized everyone's powers. 1998's JLA: Year One limited series, by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, and Barry Kitson, further expanded upon the Secret Origins depiction, with the revelation that the group was secretly financed by Oliver Queen, aka the superhero Green Arrow. It also stated that Superman rejected membership into the group, leading to much animus between him and the other "founders" during the early years of the group.
In 1994's Justice League Task Force #16, during Zero Hour, an unknown superhuman named Triumph appeared. It was revealed that, in a plotline never explored before, Triumph was revealed to have been a founding member of the Justice League, serving as their leader. On his first mission with the fledgling Justice League, Triumph seemingly "saved the world", but was teleported into a dimensional limbo that also affected the timestream, resulting in no one having any memory of him. This was to explain how all the heroes ended up in Washington for their first meeting.
Further convolutions came with the issue of Batman's involvement with the League; during the 1990s, the editors of Batman sought to distance Batman from the Justice League, to the point of demanding that Batman's entire Justice League membership be removed from the group's canon. According to Christopher Priest, this "Batman was never in the Justice League" edict came down ironically after DC published Justice League America Annual #9, which featured Batman as a member of the League during it's early days. The edict itself was largely haphazardly enforced; while Mark Waid had Batman proclaim to have never been a member of the League in Justice League Incarnations #7, other writers such as Grant Morrison and Keith Giffen took the stance that Batman had simply never joined the team until the Justice League International era. This edict was ultimately dropped by the early 2000s, as Batman's involvement with the League is now referenced heavily by later writers such as Brad Meltzer.
The convoluted change made to Hawkman's background in the wake of the launching of the Hawkworld ongoing series, in 1990, resulted in a retcon where the the original Golden Age/Justice Society Golden Age Hawkman, Carter Hall was now a member of the team as opposed to Katar Hol (who would now not join the group until 1994's Justice League America #0). The details of how Carter Hall joined the team, would be revealed in the 2001 "Justice League Incarnations #1, with the revelation that Carter joined the team to serve as a mentor for then-young heroes.
In 2006's Infinite Crisis #7, the formation of "New Earth" (the new name for the Post-Crisis Earth) resulted in the retcon that Wonder Woman was a founding member of the Justice League in the early days. In Brad Meltzer's Justice League of America (vol. 2) #0 (2006), it was also revealed that both Superman and Batman were founding members as well. 52 - Week 51 confirmed that the 1989 Secret Origins and JLA: Year One origins were still in canon at that time, with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman joining the team (consisting of Aquaman, Black Canary, Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter) with founding members' status shortly after the group's formation. However, in various issues (particularly issue 12) of the current Justice League series, the founding members of the Justice League are shown to be: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Flash (Barry Allen), Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter.
JLA spin-off teams Edit
Justice League Detroit
Justice League Antarctica
Justice League Elite
Other Media Edit
Justice League animated movies
Justice League: Mortal