The Justice League is the premier superhero team in the DC Universe. It may not be the first, but a lot of people would call it the best. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter (or Cyborg, if you only started reading comics in the past seven years/have only seen the movies); these iconic heroes joined together to face threats too big for any one of them. Throughout the Leagues 58-year history, hundreds of heroes have joined the team. Of course, get enough superheroes together and eventually you’re bound to run into some weirdos.
From the near future to the far-flung years of tomorrow, into the multiverse and beyond, to the depths of hell and even Detroit, a Justice League has sprung up in downright bizarre locations, wherever injustice and evil that needs fighting might appear. From clones, to magicians, to teenagers, to Nazis, the Justice League has appeared in just as many forms as places, with some wildly varying moralities. With the upcoming Justice League-centered event No Justice bringing its own pretty oddball rosters, we thought we’d take a look back as some of the stranger Leagues from DC’s past. While these Leagues aren’t necessarily the most powerful, or the most iconic, they’re certainly some of the most memorably different.
15. JUSTICE LEAGUE POST-FOREVER EVIL
The 2013 event Forever Evil saw the mirror universe Justice League, the Crime Syndicate, arriving and conquering Earth by incapacitating the Justice League. This led to the creation of an Injustice Gang of sorts led by Lex Luthor, stepping forth to oppose the Crime Syndicate, following the logic that only Prime Earth criminals were allowed to conquer Earth. After the Syndicate’s defeat, Luthor used his newfound goodwill to join the Justice League.
In addition to the standard seven, Cyborg edition, there was Lex, Captain Cold acting as his bodyguard, Captain Marvel (going by Shazam in the New 52), and newcomer Jessica Cruz, wielding Crime Syndicate member Power Ring’s… power ring. This team would only last a few arcs, culminating in “Darkseid War,” a battle against the Anti-Monitor which saw the League infused with the powers of various New Gods.
14. THE NEW REICHSMEN
In 1973, we were introduced to Earth-X, a world in the DC multiverse where the Nazis won World War 2. Although we don’t see a Justice League there, we are introduced to the Freedom Fighters, the last heroes standing against the Nazis. In Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis, we meet Overman, the Nazi Superman of Earth-X, reformed into Earth-10 in Infinite Crisis. Later still, in Morrison’s Multiversity, we meet the rest of the Nazi Justice League, the New Reichsmen.
Led by Overman, the team is a fairly standard Justice League, only they’re all Nazis. Consisting of more hardline Nazi Leatherwing (Batman), actual Valkyrie Brunhilde (Wonder Woman), Blitzen (Flash, who is also a girl), Martian (guess), and the cleverly named UNDERWATERMANN (Yes, Aquaman), the New Reichsmen fight the Freedom Fighters, the last vestige of those oppressed and exterminated by the Nazis. However, Overman, overcome by guilt over his part in the Reich’s atrocities, aids the Freedom Fighters in sabotaging the Reichsmen’s satellite headquarters, sending it crashing to Earth and destroying Metropolis in the process.
13. THE DARK KNIGHTS
DC’s recent Dark Nights: Metal event asked the question on everyone’s mind: what if the Justice League was made up of all evil Batmen? A twisted mockery of the Justice League, the Dark Knights are a collection of Bruce Waynes from the Dark Multiverse, a dark reflection of the Prime Multiverse where worlds are constantly destroyed and remade. Each of the Dark Knights was snatched from their homeworlds’ moments from destruction.
Led by the Batman-Who-Laughs, the team consists of Devastator (Superman), the Drowned (Aquaman), Dawnbreaker (Green Lantern), Red Death (Flash), Merciless (Wonder Woman), and Murder Machine (Cyborg). The Dark Knights prove to be the League’s equals, devastating their home cities in the service of the Batman-Who-Laughs and his dark master, Barbatos. The Knights’ final fate will be revealed in the upcoming final issue of Dark Nights: Metal, set to release in March.
12. THE JUST
Again in Multiversity, we are taken to Earth-16, a world where the superheroes we know and love have retired and been replaced by their children and other various successors. Damian Wayne is Batman, Chris Kent (of Superman: Last Son) is Superman, and Lex Luthor is now Alexis Luthor, secret supervillain and also Batman’s secret girlfriend.
In this universe, superheroing is essentially reduced to reality television, and the Justice League is no exception. While Batman and Superman avoid the League, counted among its members are Connor Hawke (Green Arrow), Kyle Rayner, Wally West, Artemis (Wonder Woman), Natasha Irons (Steel), Ray Palmer, Garth of Atlantis (Aquaman), and Bloodwynd. Due to the lack of supervillains, the League is reduced to running training exercises in order to stay sharp.
11. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA REBIRTH
A recent team, the Justice League of America is an offshoot of the main Justice League. Founded by Batman after a clash between the League and Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad, the team was designed to give heroes new and old a fresh start, and also offer a few villains a chance at redemption, away from the Squad.
First led by Batman, who then passes leadership to Black Canary, the team consists of Vixen, the Ray, the Atom, Killer Frost, and Lobo. While Killer Frost (now going by Frost) is using the League as a chance at redemption, Lobo stays on the team because Batman hired him as a heavy hitter. The team generally deals with the weirder side of the DC Universe, most recently getting embroiled in a crossover with the Doom Patrol, DC’s center for the weird and strange.
10. JUSTICE LEAGUE DETROIT
In the aftermath of the destruction of the Justice League’s satellite headquarters during the Martian invasion of Earth, Aquaman disbands the Justice League. In an effort to create a more committed team, he only calls for members that can be 100% committed to the League. Joining him in this endeavor is League mainstay Martian Manhunter, along with veterans Zatanna and the Elongated Man.
Along with the veterans, a handful of new creations joined up, including Steel (not John Henry Irons), Vibe, and Gypsy, along with established character but League newcomer Vixen. The team met with a few victories, but would ultimately disband after the deaths of Vibe and Steel, and the near-death of Gypsy. The last remaining member, Martian Manhunter, would go on to join the team’s successor, Justice League International.
9. EXTREME JUSTICE
The 1990s were a weird time for everyone. For the Justice League, they were just coming off the popular series Justice League International (more on them later), and split off into three books. Justice League America, a fairly standard team led by Wonder Woman, Justice League Task Force, a more anthologized team led by Martian Manhunter, and one of the most ’90s comics to ever be published, Extreme Justice.
Led by Captain Atom, the team consisted of Maxima, Amazing-Man, a woefully ’90s-ized Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, and later Firestorm, explosive villain Plastique, and the Wonder Twins. Yes, those Wonder Twins. Formed out of a dissatisfaction with the League’s association with the United Nations, the team did little of note for much of their tenure, until the end. After illegally invading Bialya and taking out a large portion of its military, all Justice Leagues were disbanded and their books cancelled, to be replaced by Grant Morrison’s legendary JLA.
8. JUSTICE LEGION ALPHA
The massive crossover arc DC One Million saw the Justice League of the 853rd century visiting the 20th century to meet Superman’s original teammates. The main plot of the event followed the present-day Justice League teaming up with Justice Legion Alpha, a collection of far-future analogues of the Justice League, to stop immortal supervillain Vandal Savage from devastating both the present and the future.
The Justice Legion traces its origins to both the Justice League and the Legion of Superheroes of the 31st century. In addition to future versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Flash, all with hyper-advanced powers and abilities far beyond those of the 20th century League, they are joined by Owlwoman, an anti-matter/matter hybrid, a future Atom, able to turn every atom of his body into a clone of himself, and Resurrection Man, immortal superhero from the 20th century.
7. JUSTICE LEAGUE 3000
Another future Justice League, this one is a little more out there. Introduced into a galaxy controlled by five immensely powerful villains creatively called the Five, the Justice League of the year 3000 is a group of clones. Unfortunately, the cloning process is imperfect, leaving the heroes with incomplete memories, flawed powers, and warped personalities.
Superman is a jerk who can’t fly, Wonder Woman is hyper-aggressive, Flash is a coward who can’t run fast without proper equipment, and Green Lantern explodes if he uses his powers too much. Batman is the only clone that is considered a success, due to the lack of powers to improperly duplicate. A cloned Firestorm later joins the team, but he turns out to be a traitor working for the Five.
6. JUSTICE LEAGUE BEYOND
The DC Animated Universe remains one of the most beloved supehero adaptations in existence. Spinning off from the stellar Batman and Superman animated series was Batman Beyond, a look at the near future of the DC Universe, starring Terry McGinnis as Bruce Wayne’s successor. A new Justice League would also be introduced in this series, and would later appear in the Justice League animated series.
The world of Beyond would be introduced to official comics canon as Earth-12, and the Justice League came along with it. In addition to McGinnis, the League consisted of an older Superman, New Gods Big Barda and Mr. Miracle, a new female Flash, Aquagirl, daughter of Aquaman, the now-adult Captain Marvel, a Buddhist monk Green Lantern, shrinking hero Micron, and Warhawk, son of John Stewart and Hawkgirl.
5. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
The supernatural side of the DC Universe is often neglected by the main heroes, including the Justice League. In order to combat these more mysterious threats, Madame Xanadu assembled a team of mystical heroes to stop a rampaging Enchantress. The team would later go on to face a vampire plague, and various other magical foes.
Led by Zatanna, the team included John Constantine of Hellblazer, Shade the Changing Man, Deadman, Madame Xanadu, and new character Mindwarp. The roster would later expand to include Andrew Bennett of I, Vampire, Swamp Thing, Zauriel, Phantom Stranger, Black Orchid, and Frankenstein. Although the team would receive its own animated movie, there was talk of Guillermo Del Toro directing a live-action adaptation. Unfortunately, Del Toro had to step away from directing duties, and the film continues to languish in development hell, although plans are still supposedly moving forward as of July 2017.
4. JUSTICE LEAGUE 3001
With the cancellation of Justice League 3000, the series was relaunched as Justice League 3001. With the relaunch came some big roster shakeups. Supeman, Batman, and Green Lantern were killed, with Flash having died repeatedly in 3000. Wonder Woman remained on the team, to be joined by a new female Flash, formerly one of the JL3000’s handlers.
Along with Wonder Woman and Flash came a new clone, Guy Gardner, who was cloned so imperfectly that he ended up in a woman’s body. Also joining the team was Supergirl, freshly awoken from a thousand year stasis, 20th century superhero duo Fire and Ice, formerly a queen of Hell and an immortal ice queen, respectively. There was also a new Batgirl, using tech stolen from Booster Gold and Blue Beetle (also present in the 31st century, freshly awoken from stasis themselves).
3. SUPER BUDDIES
Like Extreme Justice, the Super Buddies were a successor to the Justice League International, but much further down the line. First appearing in Formerly Known As the Justice League, the team took the same comedic slant as Justice League International. Put together by Maxwell Lord only a few years before his villainous turn in Infinite Crisis, the Super Buddies were an attempt at a more people friendly, down to earth super team.
Consisting of Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Ralph Dibny the Elongated Man, Fire, and Mary Marvel, the team was an exercise in dysfunction. Former friends Booster and Beetle find themselves constantly arguing over who is more mature, no one takes Ralph or Booster seriously, and Fire runs a cam site and clashes with the innocent Mary Marvel. The team would stumble along into a second miniseries, I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, published right before the infamous Identity Crisis.
2. JUSTICE INCARNATE
Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity took the reader on a journey across a new DC multiverse, seeing how a massively-scaled threat was affecting multiple worlds. Featuring Marvel knockoffs, Nazi Earths, a Watchmen homage, and even our very Earth, the series spanned the multiverse before looping back around to revisit a few characters from Morrison’s Final Crisis.
At the end of the series, the threat is defeated, or at the very least scared off. Heroes from various Earths decide to band together to face multiversal threats. Lead by the Superman of Earth-23, the team consists of Captain Carrot, rabbit-Superman of Earth-26, Red Racer, the Flash of Earth-36, Abin Sur, the Green Lantern of Earth-20, Aquawoman of Earth-11, Mary Marvel of Earth-5, Thor stand-in Thunderer of Earth-7, Iron Man stand-in Machinehead of Earth-8, and the Atomic Knight Batman of Earth-17.
1. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
This is it: the most insane Justice League of all time. It may not necessarily be the weirdest, and not even the first, but definitely the game-changer that shaped all future nutty Justice League teams. A number of teams already listed are direct or spiritual successors to this team. Created by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Howard Porter, the Justice League International saw the Justice League working directly for the United Nations.
Formed and led by Batman initially, later passing leadership to Martian Manhunter and Black Canary, the team initially consisted of Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle, Mister Miracle, Doctor Fate, and the female Doctor Light, with Booster Gold, Rocket Red, Captain Atom, and Fire and Ice joining shortly thereafter. Giffen and DeMatteis’s run on Justice League would become legendary, and the pair would return to the League multiple times over the following 30 years.
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