Normally, the Justice League stands for everything that’s good in the DC Universe. While they weren’t the first super-team in comics, the League became comics’ ideal super-group with members like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in their ranks. After decades of adventures in comics and on TV shows ranging from Super Friends to Smallville, the Justice League have proven themselves to be the world’s greatest superheroes on countless occasions. But sometimes, the League’s members aren’t very “just” at all. Over the years, several more violent versions of the League have emerged from darker alternate realities or the darker impulses of DC’s heroes. With their brutal, sometimes fatal, methods, these other versions of the team have given the Justice League a bad name.
Now, CBR is counting down the 15 most sadistic versions of the Justice League. In this list, we’ll be scouring DC’s history, alternate universes and multimedia productions to find the most twisted versions of the League. Although we’ll be focusing on their actions as a collective team, we’ll also be taking the actions of their individual members into account. While some of these teams are outright villains, others are antiheroes who use objectionable or highly suspect tactics in their never-ending battles against the forces of evil.
15. DCEU JUSTICE LEAGUE
Even though the DC Extended Universe’s Justice League won’t make their official cinematic debut until November 2017, the stars of Justice League have already done some things that would make their comic book counterparts blush. In Zack Snyder’s 2013 movie Man of Steel, Henry Cavill’s Superman snapped General Zod’s neck in a battle where thousands of Metropolis residents were killed.
In Snyder’s 2016 follow-up, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck’s Batman branded criminals who were later tortured or killed in prison. In that same movie, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman seemed to relish the battle with Doomsday that killed Superman. While Snyder and Joss Whedon’s Justice League will reportedly have a lighter tone than its predecessors, previews have shown Jason Momoa’s Aquaman using an alien Parademon as a living surfboard to crash to Earth. While they could mellow out, the cinematic Justice League is off to a violent start.
14. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF ARKHAM
In 2001, an alien villain called the Advance Man made every Justice League member forget about the team in the “Justice Leagues” storyline. Thanks to a psychic remnant, each Leaguer formed their own JLA, so Wonder Woman formed the Justice League of Amazons, Aquaman formed the Justice League of Atlantis and Batman formed the Justice League of Arkham.
In Paul Grist and Koi Turnbull’s JLA: Justice League of Arkham, Batman and his old partner Nightwing freed Catwoman, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, the Ventriloquist and the Joker from Arkham to fight the Advance Man. While this League didn’t do anything worse than rough up some guards at the Advance Man’s chemical plant, the fact the team made Joker a Justice League member is enough to give them a spot on our list. When these Bat-villains unsurprisingly tried to get away, the Flash’s fun-loving Justice League of Adventure helped Batman re-capture them.
13. JUSTICE LORDS
The DC Multiverse is full of alternate realities and possible timelines where some tragic event turned the Justice League into ruthless dictators. In a version of the DC Animated Universe, that happened in the two-part Justice League saga, “A Better World.” In that Dan Riba-directed 2003 story, Lex Luthor became the President of the United States and killed the Flash. Along with the other Justice Lords, Superman killed Luthor and turned their world into a crimeless dystopia. When they traveled to the DCAU, they used their brutal methods on the villain Doomsday.
With the help of Lex Luthor’s Power Disruptor, the DCAU’s Justice League was able to defeat and de-power the Justice Lords. After seeing how the Lords conquered their world, Amanda Waller used the Lords to justify the DCAU’s Suicide Squad, Task Force X. In 2014, an older version of the Lords returned to comics in Batman Beyond Universe.
12. BIZARRO JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA
Since 1958, Bizarro, the twisted mirror image of Superman, has been one of DC’s most famous villains. Although Bizarro versions of some heroes were introduced over the next few decades, the Bizarro Justice League of America didn’t fully debut until 1983’s Superman #37, by Cary Bates and Curt Swan. From their underwater submarine base, they hid so they couldn’t keep tabs on anything going on in Bizarro’s opposite world, Htrae.
The Bizarro League played a larger, more destructive role in Richard Donner, Geoff Johns and Eric Powell’s 2007 Action Comics story “Escape from Bizarro World.” The League helped Bizarro try to destroy their planet and fought Bizarro Lex Luthor and Bizarro Doomsday. Like the rest of their world, the Bizarro League was made up of opposites of DC’s heroes, so Bizarro Batman was the World’s Worst Detective, the Bizarro Hal Jordan was a Yellow Lantern and the Flash was super-slow.
11. EXTREME JUSTICE
Over the years, some of the Justice League’s members have formed new splinter groups that took more proactive approaches to crime-fighting. After the more comedic Justice League International era ended, several of the JLI’s members formed the more aggressive, muscle-bound team Extreme Justice. Led by Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Maxima, Amazing Man and Firestorm starred in the team’s self-titled series for 19 issues starting in 1995.
In action-focused adventures by creators like Dan Vado, Ivan Velez Jr. and Robert Washington III, Extreme Justice notably dealt with geo-political situations like attempted government takeovers. While leading a pre-emptive strike on the fictional country Bialya, the team battled an army of robots. When it was revealed that these were people who had been given cybernetic enhancements, Captain Atom destroyed the country’s factories and military instillations. This caused a minor international incident, and the United Nations ordered Extreme Justice to disband.
10. JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS
Justice League: Gods and Monsters was one of the more unexpected DC Universe Animated Original Movies. While that line of direct-to-DVD films has been wildly successful, the Sam Liu-directed 2015 feature didn’t feature any recognizable DC heroes. Instead, the well-reviewed film took place in a world with far darker versions of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
In a story by DCAU veterans Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, General Zod’s son was raised by an immigrant family to become Superman. Kirk Langstrom, who’s usually Man-Bat, became a vampiric Batman and the alien New God Bekka became Wonder Woman. In prequel shorts that set up the film’s vicious world, Batman killed Harley Quinn, and Superman killed Brainiac. In the actual film, President Amanda Waller and Dr. Will Magnus turned several of that world’s top scientists against the team and framed the League for their murders.
9. STORMWATCH ZERO
Outside of DC Comics, plenty of other comic universes have introduced their own dark reflections of the Justice League, usually with a healthy dose of commentary on DC’s most famous heroes. In the WildStorm Universe, Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch introduced their violent version of the Justice League with StormWatch Zero in 1998’s StormWatch #6.
StormWatch Zero was a super-powered black-ops team that answered to StormWatch’s nefarious leader, Henry Bendix. Each member of the team was a loose take on a famous Justice League member, so Apollo was the team’s Superman, Midnighter was the team’s Batman, Impetus was the team’s Flash and so on. Despite their violent tactics, most of the team was brutally slaughtered on their first mission. In the early 2000s, Midnighter and Apollo went on to star in the era-defining The Authority. Ironically, StormWatch, Midnighter and Apollo all became part of the main DC Universe in 2011.
8. JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE
As a response to violent comics like The Authority, Joe Kelly, Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo created the Elite in 2001’s Action Comics #775. In that story, Superman confronted the antiheroic group about their brutality and often deadly methods. A few years later, the remnants of that teamed joined the Justice League Elite, a covert ops team that privately dealt with super-powered threats before they went public.
Created by Kelly and Mahnke in 2004’s JLA #100, this offshoot group starred in their own series for 12 issues. Led by Sister Superior, the team featured several former Justice League members and allies like the Flash, Green Arrow, Manitou Raven, Major Disaster and ex-Batgirl Cassandra Cain. These heroes wore new dark costumes for their secret missions, and helped enforce the team’s strict no-killing policy. After the shape-shifting Menagerie betrayed the team, the group disbanded and its newly-created members faded into obscurity.
7. THE JUSTICE BATTALION
In one of DC’s most famous alternate universe tales, Kingdom Come, a new generation of heroes with brutal tactics replaced DC aging icons. In the world of Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ award-winning 1994 miniseries, the metallic anti-hero Magog led the Justice Battalion, which included Captain Atom, Nightshade and Alloy, a combination of all of the Metal Men. The Battalion’s extreme methods were partially constructed to be a commentary on Cable and the other popular antiheroes of the 1990s.
When the Battalion relentlessly attacked the Superman villain Parasite, Captain Atom was killed, and his detonation irradiated the American Midwest. Other than Magog and Alloy, every member of the Battalion was killed in the nuclear incident, and many other younger heroes were killed in the story’s finale. This event also spurred Superman to come out of retirement and form a new Justice League, which resulted in more warring factions of superheroes.
6. TANGENT JUSTICE LEAGUE
When they were first introduced, the heroes who made up the Justice League of the Tangent Universe weren’t that bad. Based on ideas from Dan Jurgens, DC created the Tangent Universe with a line of special issues in 1997 and 1998. In that world, strange heroes with familiar names like Batman and Flash dramatically altered the course of history. Tangent’s first Justice League was a group of assassins that hunted these heroes, and then that world’s Green Lantern and Superman helped form a more heroic League.
In 2008, DC revisited the Tangent Universe in Jurgens and Jamal Igle’s Tangent: Superman’s Reign. In that miniseries, a telepathic Superman broke bad and took over the world with some of his fellow Leaguers like Powergirl. In a story that predicted the plot of Injustice: Gods Among Us, Tangent’s surviving heroes called on the DC Universe’s Justice League to help topple their former teammate.
5. THE BLOOD LEAGUE
Back in 1991, Doug Moench and Kelley Jones had the so-obvious-it’s-brilliant idea to turn Batman into a vampire in the alternate reality tale Batman: Red Rain. While he was still heroic in that story, the Dark Knight transformed into a bloodthirsty creature of the night over the course of its two sequels. As Grant Morrison’s 2014 Multiversity Guidebook revealed, Batman eventually turned all of that world’s Justice League into vampires.
While the Marvel Zombies have starred in several of their own series, the Blood League has only made a few very minor appearances. These vampiric versions of Batman, Ultraman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Cyborg and Robin all have supernatural powers on top of their already formidable regular powers. They even started an intergalactic war against Adam Strange’s adopted home, Rann, in their never-ending quest for fresh meat.
4. JUSTICE LEAGUE: DESTINY’S HAND
Around the time he killed off Superman, Dan Jurgens also had a slightly underrated run writing and penciling the preposition-free Justice League America. The highlight of that run was the alternate reality tale “Destiny’s Hand,” which had additional art from Rick Burchett, Bob Smith and Romeo Tanghal. In that 1993 story, the dream-manipulating Dr. Destiny created an alternate dimension where the world’s leaders asked the League to take on a bigger role in policing the world.
With their newfound influence, the League quickly became full-on fascists. While Green Lantern became the President of the United States, Martian Manhunter killed Star Sapphire and ripped off Sinestro’s arms. After China threatened the League, the Flash sabotaged a nuclear bomb that turned parts of China into a radioactive wasteland. Hawkman even killed his longtime rival Green Arrow and the now-armless Sinestro. That dimension seemingly dissolved when the real League defeated Dr. Destiny.
3. SQUADRON SUPREME
Throughout the Marvel Comics Multiverse, various versions of the Squadron Supreme have been Marvel’s primary Justice League analogues since 1969’s Avengers #69, by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema. Originally introduced as the Squadron Sinister, Hyperion, Nighthawk, Doctor Spectrum and the Whizzer were created by the Grandmaster to fight the Avengers. In 1971, the Avengers met the Squadron Supreme, the more heroic team those villains were based on.
In 1985, the Squadron Supreme starred in a miniseries that’s regarded as an underrated masterpiece. In Thomas and John Buscema’s series, the Squad compromised their morals to make their world a theoretical paradise while the Batman analogue Nighthawk looked on in disgust. After that, the team continued to appear irregularly across Marvel’s titles. In 2003, J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank rebooted the concept as the mature-readers series Supreme Power. More recently, members from every Squadron came together in the short-lived Squadron Supreme.
2. INJUSTICE: SUPERMAN’S REGIME
In 2013, NetherRealm Studios finally gave DC’s heroes the fighting game they deserved with Injustice: Gods Among Us. In that game’s surprisingly rich backstory, the Joker killed Lois Lane and nuked Metropolis. All of this pushed Superman over the edge, so he murdered the Joker and took over the world with the Justice League. While some heroes like Batman and Green Arrow stood against him, Superman filled his new Regime with villains like Sinestro and Bane.
In the game’s long-running digital comic adaption, Tom Taylor, Brian Buccellato and other creators have expanded on the excruciating details of the Regime’s misdeeds. From butchering their enemies to killing old allies like Green Arrow and Dick Grayson, the Regime committed some of the worst atrocities in DC’s history. Although Batman and another world’s Justice League defeated Superman and the Regime, the events of 2017’s Injustice 2 put that world in peril once again.
1. CRIME SYNDICATE OF AMERICA
Created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky, the Crime Syndicate of America has menaced the Justice League since 1964’s Justice League of America #29. While their origins have changed some through DC’s various reboots, the CSA hail from a parallel world, usually Earth-3, where heroes are villains and villains like Lex Luthor are heroic.
The Syndicate’s core members are dark, brutal reflections of the Justice League’s heroes. Ultraman, the Syndicate’s Superman, needs Kryptonite to fuel his powers, and Superwoman killed all of her world’s Amazons. Owlman, Johnny Quick and Power Ring also all have warped versions of Batman, Flash and Green Lantern’s respective origins. When they’ve grown tired of running their vast criminal empire on their own world, the Syndicate has caused all kinds of trouble in other universes. Most recently, the Syndicate took center stage in the blockbuster 2013 crossover Forever Evil, where most of the team perished.
Keep it locked to CBR for all the latest on the Justice League and your favorite other superheroes. Let us know which twisted Justice League is your favorite in the comments!
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!