Of all the iconic superheroes defending the DC Universe, the most prominent have served on the Justice League. Created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky in 1960's The Brave and the Bold #28, the world's greatest superheroes assembled to take on the threats that none of them individually could. The ensemble has been a DCU staple ever since, changing its roster and scope to match the times and the ever-evolving nature of its comic continuity.
Since the team has such an extensive history, we're taking a closer look at some of the absolute best Justice League stories from the team's major eras. While we'll be sticking the DC's main version of the team and won't be looking at every single incarnation of the team, we'll be looking at tales from the team's inception during the Silver Age of Comic Books to its current iteration as part of DC Rebirth.
The Silver Age: Crisis on Earth-One
For over a decade, DC Comics' original super-team the Justice Society of America had remained dormant as the publisher reimagined and updated its library of superheroes in the 1950s. Shortly after Barry Allen encountered his Golden Age counterpart Jay Garrick in 1961's The Flash #123 by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, DC decided to double down on the concept by bringing back the entire JSA in a team-up with its new flagship superhero team the Justice League of America.
Taking place in 1963's Justice League of America #21-22 by Fox and Sekowsky, the teams united to pursue a team of villains that learned how to travel between the two worlds. The popular storyline would lead the two groups to team up at least once a year while steadily expanding the DC Multiverse to include new realities as the scope continued to grow.
Satellite Era: A League Divided
One of the greatest classic Justice League stories saw the team gripped in an internal conflict in 1982's "A League Divided" by Gerry Conway and a whole host of superstar comic artists. The oversized Justice League of America #200 pit the seven founding members of the team against their contemporary counterparts who had since set up headquarters in a satellite orbiting the Earth.
An extraterrestrial threat that had plagued the League in its earliest days resurfaced years later, with strange meteorites creating a powerful hypnotic suggestion for the two teams to fight in one of the greatest DC superhero battle royales of all time.
Justice League International: New Beginnings
As the DCU rebooted following Crisis on Infinite Earths, many of the usual members of the Justice League were tied up in their own relaunches. As such, Justice League International, launched in 1987 by J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire, featured an offbeat collection of heroes. Joining Batman and the Martian Manhunter were Captain Marvel, Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle, Black Canary, Doctor Fate, Doctor Light and Mister Miracle in the initial lineup, with heroes like Booster Gold, Fire and Ice joining shortly thereafter.
Reflecting its unorthodox roster, the series had a more comedic tone than most superhero books at the time, with the series' opening storyline, "New Beginnings," showing its formation and early growing pains between its members.
Post-Crisis: JLA: New World Order
Grant Morrison and Howard Porter had an acclaimed run relaunching the Justice League as JLA, starting in 1997. The creative team's approach positioned its members as a modern pantheon of demigods, with each superhero fulfilling an archetypal role while reflecting contemporary changes within the DCU, such as Superman temporarily gaining electric superpowers.
The relaunch's first storyline "New World Order," juxtaposed the team against a new group of superheroes mysteriously appearing on Earth who were eventually revealed to be not what they initially seemed, with each member given a moment to show their worth among the planet's mightiest heroes.
The '00s: Infinite Crisis
By the start of Infinite Crisis, Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez and George Perez's 2005 sequel to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, the core trinity of superheroes within the DCU were completely at odds. Superman was perceived as being ineffectual as the world lost hope, Batman had become obsessively controlling and installed a surveillance system that went rogue, and Wonder Woman had killed the manipulative telepath Maxwell Lord to save the world on live TV.
With the heroes divided, the villains of the DCU rallied behind Alexander Luthor from Earth-3 and Superboy-Prime in an epic plot to reshape reality, putting worlds at risk. Along the way, the heroes remembered their own worth as they battled against overwhelming odds and reinforce the trinity's foundation.
New 52: The Darkseid War
The inaugural comic book series during the New 52 relaunch of the entire DCU was Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's Justice League in 2011. As a fitting parallel, it was an epic Justice League storyline, by Johns and Jason Fabok, that would close out the publishing initiative, as the expanded cast found themselves caught in the middle of a war between Darkseid's Apokalips and the Anti-Monitor.
"Darkseid War," introduced a secret, long-lost daughter of Darkseid, the half-Amazonian Grail, kickstarting the New God's renewed war against the omnipotent ruler of the Anti-Matter Universe. The League would take on ambitious new roles as the conflict intensified, from Batman taking control of Metron's throne to Superman being corrupted by the dark energies of Apokalips in one last New 52 tale.
DC Rebirth: Dark Nights -- Metal
One of the first major crossover events during DC Rebirth was Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Dark Nights: Metal. The event revealed the existence of the Dark Multiverse populated by realities full of twisted incarnations of the iconic DC superheroes. After several mythical metals open a portal from the DCU to the Dark Multiverse, a team of dark alternate reality versions of Batman and other Justice Leaguers, led by the Joker-esque Batman Who Laughs, invade as part of their bloody multiversal rampage.
The ambitious storyline would pit the Justice League against sinister doppelgängers of themselves while reintroducing Sandman's Dream, Hawkgirl and Hawkman into the Rebirth era. In the aftermath, the DCU's Justice League would reform, bigger and better than before, with Metal informing Snyder's epic run on the relaunched title.