The Justice League has had an interesting history throughout the years. In what started out as a union between DC Comics’ greatest superheroes to face down threats that individual heroes couldn’t beat alone, some interesting heroes (and villains) have joined the ranks of the Justice League throughout the years. While inclusion into the main Justice League is very strict, there have been moments where some very questionable members signed on, as evidenced when Aquaman fired the entire Justice League after they bungled a mission!
There have also been side groups over the years such as Justice League Unlimited, Justice League Europe, Justice League Dark and the always ridiculed and best forgotten Justice League Detroit. Thanks to some of these off-shoots of the original Justice League, the qualifications for membership were somewhat relaxed. Over the years, there have been some amazing and legendary heroes serving as members of the most significant DC Comics team in history, but there have also been members better left forgotten. Here is a look at the 10 most embarrassing Justice League members and 10 of the best.
20. EMBARRASSING – VIBE
Both the Flash television series and the Sterling Gates comic books based on the character have gone a long way to legitimize Vibe in at least the DC Comics television world. However, the fan-favorite character of Cisco Ramon bears little similarity to the superhero that was, at one time, a member of the Justice League, albeit one of the versions that fans have derided for years.
Vibe became a member of the ill-fated Justice League Detroit, and it was his membership in the group that caused not only fans but Aquaman and Martian Manhunter vicariously to doubt the validity of the team (Justice League of America #233). The problem with Vibe was that his stereotypical Latino character remained involved in gang stories. Vibe ended up as the first Justice League member to die while protecting the planet, a nice sendoff for a character that most fans never missed.
19. BEST – ZATANNA
While everyone talks about Wonder Woman and recent TV appearances have made Supergirl a household name once again, Zatanna deserves her place in the spotlight when it comes to powerful and vital female superheroes. The daughter of a powerful magician, Zatanna became a hero after her father disappeared and a member of the Justice League when Batman took an interest in helping her.
Zatanna is a hugely prominent member of the Justice League, and later, the Justice League Dark, as one of the most powerful mystics in DC Comics. During her time in the Justice League, her powers have magnified as well making her a valuable member when the Justice League has to battle otherworldly enemies.
18. EMBARRASSING – GYPSY
It seems like a list of the worst Justice League members always seems to drift back to Justice League Detroit. In this case, it is Gypsy, an opportunity for the DC Comics team to bring a young girl into the fold. While her name hints at being of Romani descent, she was not, and the name was merely an offensive title that was only part of the problem with this minor-league Justice League member.
Gypsy’s powers involved casting illusions, camouflaging herself and possibly projecting images into other people’s minds. That final power is the only one that could stand up in a fight against actual Justice League villains. She survived to the end of Justice League Detroit and got another chance when she joined Justice League Task, but she served no higher purpose other than to take up space.
17. BEST – HAWKGIRL
While Hawkgirl in the comic books spent most of her career as the significant other of Hawkman, the Justice League animated series showed how great this hero could be when separated from her slightly overrated husband. Hawkgirl was one of the founding members of the Justice League in the animated universe and is one of the greatest members of that team.
Throughout the series, Hawkgirl was one of the most powerful members, both in physical prowess and in her strength of will. A member of the alien Thanagarian military and brought her military genius to the Justice League when she stopped her people from invading Earth. Her storyline through Justice League concerning her loyalty to her homeworld and the Justice League was one of the best of the entire series.
16. EMBARRASSING – AMBUSH BUG
Ambush Bug is a fun hero, although very much based towards younger audiences. Keith Griffin created the character as a spoof, a ridiculous character that Griffin never intended to be a serious superhero. His annoying attributes were funny in small doses, but when given more significant roles, Ambush Bug wore on readers’ nerves fast, partially since he talks to the audience like Deadpool.
Ambush Bug had a ridiculous origin: clothes rocketed to Earth to avoid their destruction on a doomed planet (like Superman) only to have Irwin Schwab find them, put them on, and become Ambush Bug. His power is teleportation, and that is about it. Ambush Bug has been a member of Justice League of Anarchy and was part of the main JLA in 52 #24 (Firestorm’s team).
15. BEST – AQUAMAN
A lot of people laugh at Aquaman, mostly because of his early appearances in the television cartoon Super Friends, where he was just a guy in green tights who talked to fish. In reality, Aquaman’s powers have nothing to do with talking to fish, and he instead controls sealife to do his bidding. However, the most prominent trait for Aquaman is that he is the King of Atlantis.
Aquaman joining the Justice League is enormous because that puts a country’s official leader on the team meant to protect the world. While seen as a joke, Aquaman is a very self-assured warrior, one of the most powerful members of the Justice League and someone that they can count on to keep them in line. Aquaman even fired every Justice League member when he felt they were not worthy of the team name after the War of the Worlds (Justice League #230).
14. EMBARRASSING – BLOODWYND
The best part of Bloodwynd, other than his name, is that sweet costume that he dons to fight crime. However, the biggest problem with this character comes down to his muddled origin story and very confusing background. In all honesty, his origin started out interestingly enough, with Bloodwynd a descendent of slaves before blood curses and demons shook things up even more.
The problem with Bloodwynd is that, outside of his fancy duds, he just is boring. He is a necromancer with death energy powers. That sounds cooler than it is. He is also a pacifist, which makes him a rough addition to the Justice League, a group of heroes who have to battle the strongest villains in the DC Universe. He didn’t last long in the League due to his reluctance to fight.
13. BEST – FLASH
It doesn’t matter if this is Barry Allen or Wally West, both men who took on the role of Flash were fantastic members of the Justice League. Barry Allen was the original Flash, a police criminologist whose mother died when he was a child, pushing him to become one of the greatest heroes in the world. Barry sacrificed himself to save the world, proving his worth as one of the greatest members of the Justice League.
Even when Wally West took his place, the former Kid Flash proved to be up to the task of carrying the Flash mantle. Wally was also very different from Barry, a sarcastic and sometimes juvenile member of the Justice League who was just as heroic as Barry was before him. Regardless of which of the two wears the Flash costume, they are absolutely worthy Justice League members.
12. EMBARRASSING – TRIUMPH
Triumph is an embarrassing Justice League member for a number of reasons. It all started out horribly when DC Comics introduced Triumph in 1994 (Justice League America #91). The issue was set up for the team to bury Ice after her death but it was also a chance to say hello to a new member – Triumph. The problem is that Triumph was one of the founding members of the Justice League.
The way that DC Comics explained it was that Triumph formed the Justice League and led them into battle against an alien menace, but he was knocked out of the timestream and ended up forgotten to all. He returned and took over leadership in Justice League America #92. His arrogance made him an unlikeable character that soon turned evil.
11. BEST – GREEN ARROW
The Green Arrow is an essential member of the Justice League for the very fact that he is so different from the other heroes. Green Arrow is the heart of the team. Batman seems to see the worst in everyone, Superman sees the good in everyone, and Green Arrow sees everything as it is and is not afraid to call BS when the other heroes get a little too sanctimonious.
Oliver Queen is almost too close to Batman in their secret identities, with the one big difference being that Batman is a vigilante and Green Arrow does what he does to make a difference in the world. Whether it is the comic books or the Justice League animated series, Green Arrow is a character that makes sure that no one – regardless of their powers – considers themselves more significant than the world.
10. EMBARRASSING – THE WONDER TWINS
There were a lot of embarrassing moments in the classic Super Friends cartoon from the ’70s. Aquaman was a guy in green tights who just talked to fish. The memes concerning Batman and Robin are endless. Wonderdog was even part of the cartoon. However, the most embarrassing members of the Super Friends were Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins, along with their sidekick Gleek.
While some people understood how ridiculous Zan and Jayna were — Teen Titans Go had a great episode with the two — others seemed to think that comic book fans wanted to see them again. They appeared in Extreme Justice #4 (1995) as aliens who activated their powers when they arrived on Earth. DC Comics fans rejected it immediately, and the duo was gone before you could yell “Wonder Twin Powers Activate.”
9. BEST – MARTIAN MANHUNTER
While he had limited appearances in comics through the ’70s and early ’80s, Martian Manhunter was one of the founding members of the Justice League, and he returned stronger than ever. By the ’90s, when the team ruled animated television, he proved to be the conscience of the group. With powers that rival Superman plus mental abilities, density control and shapeshifting skills, there might not be a stronger member of the entire Justice League.
J’onn J’onzz first appeared all the way back in 1955 in the pages of Detective Comics, the last surviving Martian after a genocide of his people. While the Justice League has had many leaders, none are as impressive as Martian Manhunter, one of the most respected, and powerful, members of the team by far.
8. EMBARRASSING – MAXIMA
For years, writers and fans have worked hard to create serious and respectable female characters, both heroes and villains. With the Wonder Woman movie, it seems the tide is finally swinging for the better. However, there are still those female characters that bring out the worst in comic book writers. One example is the New 52 version of Starfire, and another is the former Justice League member Maxima.
Maxima only wanted to join the Justice League to try to seduce Superman because she believed their offspring could be elite. When he rejected her advances, she joined the Superman Revenge Squad instead. Shen then hooked up with Captain Atom and Amazing-Man. For a character as powerful as Maxima, making her only memorable trait her desire to seduce Justice League members is wrong on many levels.
7. BEST – GREEN LANTERN
The Green Lanterns from Earth have all played an influential role in the Justice League, and it always helps to have a member that also serves as part of the top intergalactic police force. Hal Jordan was the first and arguably strongest Green Lantern to work with the Justice League, but that doesn’t make him the only valuable member.
Kyle Rayner and John Stewart also both served a substantial role in the Justice League with Rayner a favorite from the comic books and Stewart the favorite of fans who loved the animated Justice League series. Regardless of who wore the ring at the time, and even when there was more than one, Green Lantern has always been a critical member of the greatest team in DC Comics.
6. EMBARRASSING – L-RON
Raise your hands if you remember L-Ron. Apologies if it brings back bad memories. Named quite possibly after the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, L-Ron was a robot designed by Manga Khan, a being who trades anything — and anyone — to customers across the galaxy. Sadly, the two parted ways when Manga Khan traded him to the Justice League. While he was just a sidekick similar to Herbie in the Fantastic Four, things grew dire for the quality of the Justice League.
L-Ron merged with Justice League villain Despero, and it made both characters worse. Then, L-Ron became an actual member of the Justice League Task Force, a unit that also included members of the Hall of Shame like Maxima, Gypsy and Triumph. Luckily, L-Ron reverted to his robot form over time and started dating another robot called J-Lo.
5. BEST – WONDER WOMAN
While there are many contenders, Wonder Woman stands at the top of the mountain when it comes to female superheroes. Honestly, she stands above most men as well, possibly the best of the best alongside Superman himself. The Justice League membership includes excellent female characters, from Black Canary and Hawkgirl to Zatanna and more, but Wonder Woman remains the bar others hope to reach, regardless of gender.
Over her time in the Justice League, Wonder Woman has undergone many changes, but she remains a strong, loyal and fierce fighter who will battle any enemy and put her life on the line to protect all — innocents and friends. She is also deadly and proved that she would take the necessary steps to save the world — even if it is at the behest of her sword.
4. EMBARRASSING – CONGORILLA
There are some unusual members of the Justice League, but none fits the description of Congorilla. Maybe the DC writers thought that the Justice League should have its very own version of Gorilla Grodd. Whatever the reason, James Robinson thought it would be a good idea to bring Congorilla into the Justice League as an official member.
Congorilla wasn’t a new character, initially introduced in a side story back in Action Comics #248, he began life as a man named Congo Bill who eventually gets a ring that allows him to transform into a gorilla. By the time he joined Green Lantern’s Justice League group, he no longer could change back to a human, and now the only debate is whether he is Congorilla, Gorilla Grodd or Ultra-Humanite. Of course, the answer is that he is the least important of any of those beastly characters.
3. BEST – BATMAN
The truth is that the Justice League, when first formed, consisted of superheroes that aligned with the Greek Gods. Flash was Hermes, Superman was Zeus, Wonder Woman was Hera, Aquaman was Poseidon and Batman was Hades, the God of the Underworld. Interestingly, of all those characters, Batman was the least God-like, as Batman was the only one without true superpowers.
However, the fact that Batman has no superpowers makes him almost more important than any other member of the Justice League. Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman can all rely on the fact that they are practically invulnerable when fighting while Batman has to think two, three and four steps ahead to pull out a victory. As the master tactician, Batman keeps the Justice League from getting sloppy and lazy and keeps only the best members in the lineup.
2. EMBARRASSING – MYSTEK
Some Justice League members are an embarrassment because of their personality or traits, like Maxima or Triumph. Other Justice League members are an embarrassment because they are almost worthless when it comes to fighting, such as Gypsy and L-Ron. However, when it comes to Mystek, this is one member of the Justice League that took embarrassment to new heights.
There are a ton of problems with Mystek, the biggest of which is that after Martian Manhunter invited her to join Justice League Task Force, she committed one act that makes her easily the most embarrassing Justice League member ever. While flying into space with the team, she freaked out because she is claustrophobic. As a result, she blew a hole in the ship to get out and then suffocated and died in outer space. Mystek was so bad she didn’t even get killed by an actual villain.
1. BEST – SUPERMAN
So, the best Justice League member of them all is the man considered the greatest hero ever to live in the DC universe. A lot of people like to give Superman some flak. Some call him overly powerful while others make fun of the fact he is nothing more than a Big Blue Boy Scout. However, at the end of the day, when it comes to being a hero, none are better than Superman.
Superman looks for the good in everyone. Superman helps everyone, from those in danger from super villains to those who just need someone to listen. A perfect example is Superman #701 when he saves a suicidal girl. Examples like this are why Justice League needs Superman as a member and why he makes the team so much better with just his presence. Superman is the greatest Justice League member because he is the greatest hero, period.
Who is your favorite (or least favorite) JL member? Let us know in the comments!
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