If you're a superhero who operates in the DC Universe, and if they want to be on a team, everyone aims to have a seat at the Justice League’s table. Significant perks of being a member of the JLA, such as having access to the Batcave, a premier fitness training ground, infinite databases, and transportation to exotic destinations such as Atlantis, Oa, Rann, and Thanagar. But being in the Justice League has numerous responsibilities such as the isolating task known as monitor duty and being the first responders to an Injustice Gang sighting. More often, the Justice League members would also be the first heroes facing world-shattering threats such as the Anti-Monitor or Darkseid.
Sadly, many members of the general public only know that DC’s trinity of heroes: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman as the primary heroes that make up the nucleus of the team. Over the past five decades, many superheroes (and even a few villains) have been a member of this incredible superhero team. In fact, several Justice League members even took the spotlight away from DC’s big three and catapulted themselves into the pop culture lexicon. CBR reveals the 15 DC Comics characters that you never knew were card-carrying members of the Justice League.
The seductive Selina Kyle has always walked the tightrope between the lines of good and evil throughout her multi-decade career. Despite being either a rose or thorn in Batman’s side, Catwoman crossed paths with the Justice League several times. In JLA issues #16 and #17, Gotham’s favorite cat burglar snuck onto the Justice League Watchtower disguised as Cat Grant. However, the feline thief saved the day when Prometheus nearly defeated the enlarged league.
While Catwoman was awarded an honorary membership, it was not until Justice League of America, vol. 3 where Gotham City’s favorite anti-heroine became a member. Both Amanda Waller and Captain Steve Trevor recruited Catwoman to counter Batman if their Justice Leagues ever went to war. While Catwoman’s time in the league was short, she was instrumental in helping Batman and Luthor’s stitched-up Injustice League defeat the Crime Syndicate in “Forever Evil.”
14 DOCTOR FATE
Doctor Fate is the most powerful sorcerers in the DC Comics universe. The character is known to be one of the founding members of the JLA’s forbearers: Justice Society of America. After the DC Comics’ line altering “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” a new generation of fans knew him as one of the founding members of Justice League International. Doctor Fate assisted the team in foiling Darkseid when the God of Evil tried to discredit the superheroes during the “Legends” story arc.
Sadly, Doctor Fate’s final adventure with the Justice League International happened when they faced off against the Gray Man. After Doctor Fate’s time with the Justice League, he spent a lot more time with the reincarnated Justice Society of America and has not been seen in the DC Universe since “Flashpoint.” Hopefully, DC Rebirth will bring this magician back to Justice League.
13 BLUE BEETLE (JAIME REYES)
Jaime Reyes had big shoes to fill when Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)’s Scarab attached itself to him in “Infinite Crisis.” Both Batman and Booster Gold kept a close eye on Jaime, and the new Blue Beetle assisted them in taking down the Brother Eye satellite. Both heroes also recommended that Jaime joined the Teen Titans, who helped him hone his superhero skills. Blue Beetle became the youngest member of the Justice League when the legendary Justice League International line-up reunited to hunt down Ted Kord’s killer: the recently resurrected Maxwell Lord.
In “Justice League: Generation Lost,” Blue Beetle proved that he was a real hero when he faced off against not only Lord but also the Creature Commandos and OMAC Prime. Hopefully, the Justice League will offer membership to Jaime Reyes in the future.
Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, returned to the DC Comics Universe in Superman/Batman #8: “The Supergirl from Krypton.” When she immediately arrived on Earth, Supergirl caught the attention of her cousin, Batman, and Wonder Woman, who even trained her on Themyscira. Despite proving herself worthy in Wonder Woman’s eyes, both Superman and Batman stated that she needed more time before Supergirl joined the JLA.
In Justice League: Cry for Justice, Supergirl joined Hal Jordan’s proactive Justice League and remained a part of the team near the end of Justice League of America, vol. 2, “Prelude to The Dark Things.” Despite being controlled by outside influences such as Omega Man and Eclipso, Supergirl did play a significant role in defeating the Crime Syndicate. During The New 52, Supergirl only spent ten issues as a member of Justice League United.
11 ANIMAL MAN
Buddy Baker can gain the powers of any animal that exists or existed via access to a supernatural force known as the Red. Known to fans as Animal Man, Buddy Baker has balanced his superhero career with raising his family with his wife, Ellen, and as a semi-successful actor. However, it took Animal Man until the '90s to get involved with the Justice League. Despite his brief time with Justice League Europe, Buddy Baker remained on numerous teams’ reserve lists. However, Animal Man was thrown into the spotlight during Justice League United.
With a plethora of veterans and newbies, Animal Man slowly became the heartbeat of the team as he helped the league find Adam Strange’s missing girlfriend, Alanna in space and even faced off against the Legion of Super-Heroes in “The Infinitus Saga.”
10 RED TORNADO
Long before it became fashionable to have an android on your team, the Justice League first encountered Red Tornado during the Silver Age, and it was league veteran Elongated Man who found the robot. The league put him back together again, and throughout the '70s and '80s, he became one of the team’s most valuable members. Some of Red Tornado’s legendary escapades with the Justice League included venturing to Earth X to help the Freedom Fighters defeat the Nazis and even participated in the maxi-series: “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
However, throughout the '90s and the '00s, Red Tornado was placed on reserve status. But after DC Comics kickstarted its continuity through “One Year Later,” Red Tornado was front and center during Justice League of America, vol. 2.'s first story arc: "The Tornado's Path."
9 GREEN LANTERN (JOHN STEWART)
Hal Jordan, Simon Baz, and Jessica Cruz may be the top Green Lanterns that the Justice League has typically on speed dial. But for several periods of time, the League turned to John Stewart to be their resident, Emerald Warrior. John joined the team in JLA #76, “Picking Up the Pieces,” after then Green Lantern Kyle Rayner took an extended absence.
John immediately got to work with the team as he tackled veteran threats such as Kanjar Ro and Vandal Savage, plus faced new enemies such as Axis America, Burning Martians, and the vampire cult known as the Tenth Circle. While he left the team after the conclusion of “Syndicate Rules,” he returned to Justice League of America, vol. 2 to face off against the Tangent Universe’s Atom.
8 MAJOR DISASTER
For many years, Major Disaster was one of Green Lantern’s deadliest adversaries when he made his debut in March 1966’s Green Lantern, vol. 1 #43. He also battled insanity numerous times throughout his career. Eventually, he started his journey to redemption when his Injustice League decided to reform; Maxwell Lord sent the team to Antarctica to form the South Pole’s Justice League.
While the team fell after they assisted Justice Leagues America and Europe in defeating Despero, Major Disaster struggled to continue to stay true to his new hero roots. Thankfully, Batman stepped in and recruited him to join the JLA during “The Obsidian Age.” Major Disaster shined throughout his time on with both the Justice League and the Justice League Elite. Unfortunately, Superboy Prime murdered Major Disaster during the Battle of Metropolis in “Infinite Crisis.”
7 STEEL (JOHN HENRY IRONS)
Dr. John Henry Irons’ life was changed forever the day Superman saved his life during his first day in Metropolis. The inventor asked the Man of Steel how he could show his gratitude; Superman told him to: “live a life worth saving.” Dr. Irons was an eyewitness during Superman’s epic battle with Doomsday, where the alien monstrosity brutally murdered the Man of Steel in the pages of Superman, vol. 2 #75.
With Superman dead and Metropolis’ gangs unchallenged, Dr. Irons decided to save his neighborhood by building a powerful armor that granted him superhuman strength and flight. Later, both Superman and Batman rewarded him with a spot on the JLA. Steel became the team’s go-to inventor as he helped the team face off against Prometheus and Mageddon. He even used the whole Justice League Watchtower as his suit when Triumph tried to discredit the group in "Crisis Times Five."
Millennials grew up watching Barbara Gordon as Oracle. While The Joker crippled the former Batgirl in The Killing Joke, Barbara had the last laugh as she became the DC Universe’s greatest data broker. In addition to her work with both the Batman Family and the Birds of Prey, Oracle became an official member of the JLA when Batman vouched for her during the JLA’s membership drive. She ultimately served as the team’s eyes and ears during their battles with Prometheus, Dr. Julian September, Triumph, and Qwsp.
However, Oracle’s true test happened during “World War III” when Prometheus invaded her clock tower and nearly killed her. Sadly, Oracle gave up her Justice League membership when they kicked out Batman during “Tower of Babel.” While Barbara Gordon returned to fight crime as Batgirl in The New 52, her past as Oracle is still established.
While Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Simon Baz, and Jessica Cruz are the first Green Lanterns that roll off fans’ tongues, everyone overlooks one memorable Green Lantern. Known as Esplanade G’neesmacher, he made his debut in the pages of Justice League International, vol. 1 #10 “Soul of the Machine.” G’nort was roped into the Justice League International during the DC Comics Crossover, “Millennium.”
Ever since he helped the team tackle the Manhunters, he has been itching for some action! But even some of the Justice League members (and former staff member Maxwell Lord) found him as a nuisance than a real hero. In fact, the future Checkmate leader ordered him to form a team in Antarctica whose line-up consisted of reformed villains. While G’Nort survived Maxwell Lord’s deathtrap, he is still waiting to receive the Justice League’s call.
4 PLASTIC MAN
The elastic Plastic Man is one of DC Comics’ wildest superheroes! Patrick “Eel” O’Brien came on Batman’s radar during JLA’s “Rock of Ages,” where the Caped Crusader assigned Plastic Man to masquerade as The Joker to infiltrate Lex Luthor’s Injustice Gang. After completing his mission, the Dark Knight vouched for Plastic Man when the JLA expanded during “Strength in Numbers.” Throughout his time on the team, Plastic Man served as the team’s comic relief and even helped the team against threats such as Dr. Julian September, Solaris, the General, and the Queen of Fables.
Surprisingly, Plastic Man was also the voice of reason when he voted his sponsor out of the JLA when Ra’s Al Ghul used Batman’s secrets against the League in “Tower of Babel.” By the time, he left the team at the end of “The Obsidian Age,” fans hated to see him depart from the title.
3 QUEEN HIPPOLYTA
In the '90s, the wicked demon known as Neron murdered Diana in the pages of Wonder Woman, vol. 2 #124, “All My Sins Remembered.” As the Greek Gods welcomed Diana into heaven, Queen Hippolyta decided that she would become the third woman to wear the iconic Wonder Woman costume. She was elected to replace her daughter during the JLA’s great expansion storyline: “Strength in Numbers.”
Hippolyta played a role in helping the superhero team face off against some of their deadliest adversaries including Prometheus, Dr. Julian September, and Starro. After Diana returned to the land of the living, Hippolyta continued to be active in the superhero scene by working with the Justice Society of America until her death in Wonder Woman, vol. 2, #172. While Circe resurrected the Amazon Queen during the One Year Later time shift, it has been years since Wonder Woman's mom was a part of the JLA.
Many DC Comics fans who grew up during the new millennium, the perky Courtney Whitmore was a stalwart member of the Justice Society of America (JSA). Fans watched her blossom from annoying sidekick to one of the team’s premier members. When “Flashpoint” rebooted the DC Comics Universe, Stargirl’s ties with the JSA were washed away.
Instead, Stargirl became the public face of Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor’s government-sponsored Justice League of America. Despite being around wildcard members such as Catwoman and Hawkman, Stargirl held her head high and was the team’s moral compass. After the team’s disbanding at the end of “Forever Evil,” she formed Justice League United with Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter and became a mentor figure for both Supergirl and the team’s newest member: Equinox.
1 NIGHTWING (DICK GRAYSON)
Batman’s top protégé became a member of the Justice League during the blockbuster JLA storyline: “The Obsidian Age.” When the JLA traveled back in time to search for Aquaman, the Dark Knight revealed that he handpicked the latest incarnation of the DC Comics superhero group if the JLA ever went missing. Nightwing was the only choice to lead this new team of veteran heroes, newcomers, and former villains.
Dick Grayson correctly handled Faith's antics, Jason Blood's refusal of summoning Etrigan the Demon, and assisted the JLA in defeating Gamemnae. Before the events of "The Tornado's Path," Nightwing was the only acolyte that all three members of DC's trinity thought was ready to join the team. Before "Flashpoint," Dick Grayson did join the team, but as their new Batman.
Which of these characters do you wish was on the team now? Let us know in the comments!