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Big Leagues: The 15 Strongest Justice Leaguers Ever

by  in Lists, Comic News Comment
Big Leagues: The 15 Strongest Justice Leaguers Ever

If the current state of the DC Extended Universe is any indication, the upcoming “Justice League” movie is bound to feature some battling between members. So, we might as well start researching now! An update of the Justice Society of America commissioned by DC editor Julius Schwartz, the newly christened Justice League was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky, who launched the team in the pages of “The Brave and the Bold” #28 in 1960.

RELATED: Earth’s Mightiest: The 15 Strongest Avengers Ever

Since then, the team’s ranks have grown into one of the greatest in comics history, but… who is the League’s strongest champion of all? Here at CBR, we’ve done our best to find out. Now, to clarify, we’re talking physical strength, like the kind used in a brawl, so we can’t just say Batman can outsmart everyone and call it a day. With that in mind and without further ado, here are the 15 strongest Leaguers of all time!

 

15. Aquaman

aquaman-2

Outside comics circles, Aquaman may be best known for his admittedly goofy ability to talk to fish. Look deeper into the depths, though, and you’ll find one of the Justice League’s strongest members, and one of the oldest! Arthur Curry made his debut in issue 73 of “More Fun Comics,” all the way back in 1941! Since then, he’s been through many different incarnations, from the campy, green and orange-costumed member of “Super Friends” to the edgier, one-armed, hook-handed, mullet-rocking brooder of the ’90s, to the well-meaning oaf of “Batman: The Brave and The Bold”

Whatever the take is, his physical strength remains the same. As the king of Atlantis, Aquaman’s body has the fortitude required to comfortably exist deep underwater, which means having lungs able to work unaffected by the extreme water pressure and freezing cold temperatures found at the bottom of the ocean. With that physique comes, naturally, enough super strength to swim at fantastic speeds, shimmy aquatically up waterfalls and lift boats of over a hundred tons to use as weapons. Talk about tough, his skin is also tempered enough that it can actually resist machine gun fire! All of this makes Aquaman much stronger than the joke he’s sometimes made out to be.

14. Red Tornado

red-tornado

The JLA’s counterpart to the Avengers’ Vision, Red Tornado has a similarly long and complicated history. Original. The original Red Tornado, Ma Hunkel, first appeared in costume in “All-American Comics” #20 in 1940, in humorous adventures that made her one of the first female superheroes and first superhero parodies. The better known Red Tornado is an android created in an alternate universe by the villain T.O. Morrow, who quickly turns to the side of good and joins the JLA. At one point, it has Hunkel’s memories implanted, and later is retconned as a robot body inhabited by an air elemental. Like we said, it’s all very confusing.

Less confusing is the key superpower each android version of Red Tornado has in common: the ability to control wind. The ‘bot can channel cyclone-force gusts through its limbs, and is often seen traveling the skies propelled by legs that appear to be a tornado themselves. In addition to projecting these 350 mile per hour whirlwinds, which can level buildings in seconds, Red Tornado also possesses cybernetically enhanced super strength… though not enough to save itself from getting retconned out of existence by the New 52.

13. Cyborg

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Introduced to a generation in Cartoon Network’s hit animated “Teen Titans” series, Cyborg has also spent his fair share of time in the JLA. Compared to most of its Golden Age and Silver Age core, Victor Stone is a relatively new addition to the DC pantheon, having begun his superhero career in 1980. The son of scientists who unethically perform experiments that give him genius level IQ, Stone loses much of his body in an accident, and is rebuilt as the accurately-named cyborg superhero, Cyborg. While struggling with his new form, he eventually joins the Teen Titans, and later, the Justice League, where his technologically-enhanced skills make him one of its most formidable members.

Cyborg can interface with and control almost any piece of technology through his “technopathy,” which, coupled with his super strength, stamina and speed, gives him the edge in many modern battles. Oh, and he can turn his arm into a massively powerful sound cannon, which can shatter everything from steel to entire demons. And speaking of canon, the New 52 made him one of JLA’s founders — and his appearance in the the upcoming JLA movie will only make him bigger, and presumably stronger.

12. Starfire

starfire

Also known mainly as a Teen Titan, Koriand’r is the fourth DC character to go by the name Starfire, and the most prominent. Created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, in 1980, Starfire is a princess of the planet Tamaran, which she’s forced to leave after an invasion. Thereafter,  she lands on Earth and joins the Titans (and later, the Justice League).

As a Tamaranean, her body can absorb ultraviolet radiation, which it converts into the pure energy that fuels her superpowers. With her supersonic flight, she’s been able to travel across entire solar systems in seconds. More importantly for the purposes of this list, her super strength has been shown to match Wonder Woman’s, at least for short periods of time. With combat training from the Warlords of Okaara, the capability to assimilate languages through physical contact and, in what must be very convenient, a body that doesn’t need to eat, drink, sleep or breathe, Starfire is one of the strongest members of two of DC’s most prominent superteams.

11. Power Girl

powergirl

While not everyone finds Power Girl’s strength to be her most defining quality, she certainly lives up to her name. Originally the Earth-Two version of Supergirl, Kara Zor-L is the first cousin of Earth-Two’s Superman. While not quite as strong as her famous relative, or Earth-One counterparts, Power Girl is still a Kryptonian — or at least most of the time, since after “Crisis on Infinite Earths” she was retconned to be Atlantean until that was undone by “Infinite Crisis” — and thus possesses the sane incredible strength, speed and flying ability as the other Earthbound members of her race.

Even if she doesn’t have quite as much sheer physical strength, what sets her apart from Supergirl is her age and experience. She is older, more mature and more level-headed; as a result, she is a more skilled and patient fighter, which makes up for the gap in most situations. And, fine, we’ll talk about it: supposedly, artist and character co-creator Wally Wood was convinced DC’s editors weren’t paying attention to anything he did, so each issue he enlarged Power Girl’s chest until they finally told him to stop, seven issues later. Luckily, it’s her strength of character and arm, rather than her other attributes, that make her a long-lasting and endearing presence in the hallowed annals of League membership.

10. Supergirl

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Created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino in 1959, Kara Zor-El has easily become one of DC’s most iconic characters. But for nearly two decades, she was barely in comics at all, having died in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” in 1985, which meant other characters filled the Supergirl role until her 2004 return. Like more than a few DC characters, she’s had many different contradictory backstories over the years, but things have finally simplified back to her simply being Superman’s cousin.

As a fellow surviving Kryptonian, Supergirl has similar strength, speed and flying ability to the rest of the house of El, and while, just like nearly everyone else in the DCU, she can’t quite match Superman at his peak, she can still regularly pull off pretty impressive feats, such as destroying an entire moon with her speed. On average, she may appear even stronger: while Superman has been around Earth long enough to have subconsciously repressed the full extent of his powers, the younger Kara has a much greater vim, not to mention youthful exuberance.

9. Etrigan

etrigan

One of the few demonic members of the Justice League, Etrigan the Demon has an origin befitting his nature. Created by Jack Kirby in 1972 when DC demanded a horror character, the comic was so successful that Kirby was forced to keep writing it despite his lack of interest. A “rhyming demon” who tried to rebel against Lucifer, he is bonded by Merlin to the human Jason Blood, who has worked as both a magical consultant and occasional member of the JLA.

Etrigan’s powers are formidable even among demons, with mystically enhanced superhuman strength that, in his villainous days, let him manage against Superman and Wonder Woman in combat. He also possess an array of skills that include telepathy, precognition and the ability to shoot hellfire from his mouth (both literally and in the form of rhymes). Most unique, though, is how his sadomasochistic nature means he can enjoy pain, giving him a fearless, psychological edge in combat — though his powerful healing factor doesn’t hurt either.

8. Big Barda

big-barda

Another Kirby creation, Big Barda is one of the many characters from the artist’s “Fourth World” comics that went on to become key parts of the greater DCU. A member of a hyper advanced race of New Gods, Big Barda was born on Apokolips, where she was raised by Granny Goodness to serve Darkseid. She was dutiful until she met Scott Free (aka, Miracle Man), Darskseid’s rebel adopted son, and fell in love. Eventually, they escape to Earth, where they both attempt to live as humans, and fight alongside the JLA.

Unlike what is often perceived as the comics norm, Big Barda is much stronger than her husband, and protective of him, with a repartee that was based partially on that of Kirby and his wife Roz. Of course, Roz probably wasn’t quite as all-powerful as Big Barda, who, being a New God, possesses strength in the same tier as Superman and Wonder Woman. Add her body’s immunity to aging and disease, top-level mastery of combat technique and her trusty “Mega-Rod,” an Apokoliptan weapon that can produce bolts strong enough to knock out Superman, and you have one of the Justice League’s strongest members ever.

7. Captain Atom

captain-atom

One of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe, Captain Atom was actually created by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko for Charlton Comics in 1960. One of the characters whose rights DC acquired from the defunct company, he appeared in his original guise in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” before being incorporated into DC. Nathaniel Christopher Adam, a United States Air Force officer and Vietnam veteran is falsely accused of a crime, and sentenced to death, which he escapes by participating in a dangerous military experiment involving an alien ship and nuclear bomb. In the New 52, it’s voluntary, but the result is the same: Captain Atom becomes an energy-based being with near limitless power.

With his atoms in a constant state of splitting and reforming, Captain Atom possesses a surplus of nuclear energy that enables him to do everything from fly to transforming lava into snow. Pre-New 52, he was connected to the Quantum Field, which let him absorb and manipulate potentially infinite amounts of energy, an ability he seems to retain with or without the field. With that, he is also able to conjure incredible physical strength that is often more than a match for any DC character. With that in mind, it may not be surprising to learn that he’s the basis for Doctor Manhattan.

6. Maxima

maxima

Originally a morally ambiguous alien, Maxima had one of the more unique motivations in the DC universe: find a suitable super-powered mate with strength to match hers and rule the world. The oldest child of the royal family of a planet called Almerac, where selective breeding is used to create powerful warriors, Maxima traveled to Earth, where she decides Superman is her match. As you might imagine in someone so wilful, she becomes infuriated when he politely declines. While aiding villains at first, she eventually turns it around and joins the Justice League, and gives her life in a battle to stop Braniac 13’s Warworld.

The reason Maxima has such a hard time finding someone strong enough is because she’s one of the strongest JLA members herself. Her psionic powers give her psychokinesis, mind control and the ability to teleport, as well as extremely powerful eye beams. But most of all, it manifests as physical strength that makes her the only member of the Justice League besides Superman able to stand up to Doomsday in his first appearance. With the New 52 drastically altering her character to be both more initially heroic, and queer, she’s now one of the strongest LGBT characters in DC, too.

5. Shazam

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The subject of a series of lawsuits that would take longer than this whole list combined to explain, Shazam was known as Captain Marvel until DC used The New 52 reboot to change his name in 2011. The fact that he’s one of the most confusingly named superheroes in comics history shouldn’t overshadow his history though. Created by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker in 1939 for Fawcett comics, he was actually the most popular superhero of the 1940s, outselling even Superman.

DC eventually acquired the character, and introduced him to the DCU in 1972, when he became one of the Justice League’s youngest members. Probably the only high-ranking child member of the JLA , Billy Batson is a boy who, around age nine, is given powers by a wizard that let him transform into a Superman-esque hero whenever he says the word “Shazam.” Originally an acronym invoking the powers of figures from Ancient Greek myth, Shazam possesses flight, speed and strength not just similar to Superman’s, but potentially matching it, as shown in their battles over the years. Of course, the “H” in his name literally stands for “Hercules,” from whom he derives that particular power, so it makes sense that he would be able to throw down with the best of them.

4. Orion

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Orion is both one of DC’s most powerful heroes, and the son of one of its most powerful villains: Darkseid. Another creation from Jack Kirby’s “New Gods,” Orion may look more human than some of his relatives, but don’t let it fool you — he could be the strongest New God of all. As a child, Orion was part of a trade between New Genesis and Apokolips that had him raised by Highfather, who taught him to control his inborn rage and fight for good, which he’s done both on his own and during multiple stints with the Justice League.

Orion has the same superhuman speed, strength and durability as the rest of the New Gods at a level on par with those of Darkseid, meaning he can lift over 100 tons, and run at supersonic speeds. His training, combined with his near psychotic outbreaks of rage, and a Mother Box computer than can control them, make him the New Gods’ greatest warrior of all. After all, who else could kill Darkseid by literally ripping out his heart? That takes some serious pipes!

3. Martian Manhunter

martian-manhunter

Welcome to the top three! While he may not be the best known outside of comics fandom, J’onn J’onzz is a quintessential member of the DC universe. One of the Justice League’s seven original members, the Martian Manhunter was created by Joseph Samachson and Joe Certa and debuted in “Detective Comics” #225 back in 1955. A green-skinned alien from Mars, Martian Manhunter is the last surviving member of his race, psychically-connected martians whose extinction leaves him tragically, mentally alone.

However, through his time as a hero on Earth, J’onn finds some peace. A shapeshifter who can grow, shrink and alter his molecular density a la the Vision, a telepath who can connect his mind to the entirety of humanity, a skilled detective and a super strong fighter, Martian Manhunter has practically every power you could need. Even Superman himself once described him as “the most powerful being on the face of the Earth,” which may be true, except that his weakness to regular ol’ fire leaves him a too vulnerable to rank any higher. Still, his strength is stuff of legend, and is only very slightly debatable when compared against our top two.

2. Wonder Woman

wonder-woman

The best-known Amazonian superhero was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who helped invent the polygraph, and fist appeared in “All Star Comics” #8 in 1941. Princess Diana of Themyscscira has since become an icon not just in the DC universe, but in the real world, in a way few characters can rival. Raised on the secluded island by Amazons, the millennia-old Diana eventually journeys to human civilization in order to fight for good, and becomes a a founding member of the Justice League

A demigodess with connections to various mythological Greek gods, Wonder Woman wields magical, ultra strong armor bracelets, as well as her famous golden lasso, which forces anyone caught in it to tell the truth. Ultimately, though, Diana’s fighting power comes from her combination of godlike physical strength and top tier Amazonian training. She’s knocked out gods, has durability that may surpass Superman’s, possesses no real weakness, and has been described by Batman as “the best melee fighter int he world.” As of this year, she’s also DC’s strongest LGBT superhero, if not that of comics as a whole. In short, she is the strongest Justice Leaguer… save for one.

1. Superman

superman

Look, up in the number one spot of the list! The one that started it all, Superman’s 1933 birth at the hands of writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster didn’t just introduce one of the best known characters in the world, but started the rise of the modern superhero itself. Considering the retcons many of DC’s characters have gone through, Superman’s story has remained fairly stable: sent by his parents from the dying planet Krypton to Earth, Kal-El is adopted by Kansas farmers, who raise him to be, essentially, the best person in the world.

Powered by the rays of the sun, Superman originally couldn’t even fly, instead merely jumping to get around. But once the Fleischer Brothers requested DC change the leaping to flight in order to save time in their 1940s cartoons (cutting out his running starts), the founding member of the Justice League was well on his way to becoming the strongest. You don’t need us to run down his powers, but he’s survived nuclear blasts, destroyed planets and even saved the universe by singing. He’s the benchmark for strength in the DCU for a reason, and there’s no one its inhabitants trust more because of it.

Is there any other member of the Justice League stronger than Superman? Let us know in the comments!

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