The Justice League of America was originally conceived in 1960 in “The Brave and the Bold” #28, and during the over half a century of time since, the JLA has made quite the name for itself. In fact, one the most notable aspects of the JLA is that while some members have remained for very long periods of time, it tends to have a revolving door of colorful characters on its roster sheet.
But in a world where readers are able to accept an alien with super strength or a woman who is the descendent of the Greek gods, the term strange requires some context. First, these characters are going to have been created for comics, rather than TV or movies. Second, the character’s strangeness is determined by powers, or storylines.
15. TOMORROW WOMAN
Tomorrow Woman was introduced in “JLA” #5, “Woman of Tomorrow” in 1997, and was created by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter. She demonstrated powerful telepathic abilities, even proving to be stronger than the Martian Manhunter in some ways. In fact, one of her major feats was dismantling inborn conditioning that had been making the world’s children into murderers.
She’d be strange enough if her introduction as a four-lobed mutant ended up being true, but in reality she was a hyper-realistic android made by T.O. Morrow and Professor Ivo. Tomorrow Woman’s original purpose was to infiltrate the JLA and release an EMP bomb, effectively erasing the minds of the JLA members. However, her artificial mind was so sophisticated that she recognized the evil in the plan and discovered her capacity for free will. Tomorrow Woman flew into the super-weapon I.F. and detonated the EMP far away from civilians, erasing I.F. and herself. She was a JLA member for less than six weeks.
Zauriel was introduced in “JLA” #6, “Fire in the Sky” and was created by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar. He was introduced as part of Morrison’s plan for a new JLA, but was forbidden from adding Hawkman due to the character’s complex continuity. So, Zauriel was introduced as one of the Four Angel Hosts. He rebelled from Heaven and became mortal because he fell in love with a human. However, he stopped Asmodel, another angel, from using his armies to overthrow the Presence (DC’s substitute for God).
Eventually, Zauriel became Heaven’s designated ambassador on Earth and joined the JLA in missions, as well as being the team’s historian. One of his most notable feats was him pleading humanity’s case while Mageddon raged below, eventually leading a volunteer army of angels to help keep the world together. He’s also a sometime antagonist for Blue Devil in the New 52. Zauriel’s impressive array of powers includes wings, a sonic scream, and a set of armor and weapons of divine origin.
Etrigan was created by Jack Kirby in “Demon #1 in 1972,” but it wasn’t until 2002 that he and his human host Jason Blood joined the JLA. Jason Blood and Etrigan are actually separate entities, a nearly immortal occult expert and prince of Hell respectively. They were bound together as punishment by Merlin in the 6th century, and Jason’s decelerated aging let him live well into the 21st century. Jason is able to transform into Etrigan by reciting a poem and can curb the demon’s more violent tendencies. It should also be noted that Etrigan speaks in rhyme, although not exclusively, in order to show his status within the nobility of Hell.
When he joined the JLA, Jason’s main priority was beefing up Watchtower’s magical defenses, but eventually left when his control over Etrigan was challenged. In his human form, Jason is highly proficient in his use of magic and occultism. When he transforms into Etrigan, he is able to use telepathy, precognition, accelerated healing, super strength and senses, and project hellfire.
12. MAJOR DISASTER
Major Disaster, a.k.a. Paul Booker, was first introduced in “Green Lantern” #43, “The Catastrophic Crimes of Major Disaster,” and was created by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane. In his original story, Booker started out as a petty thief, but recruited a group of scientists to make him a set of weapons to cause natural disasters, but was defeated by the Green Lantern after presumably dying in an explosion of his own making. However, he had a device that prevented him to being killed by his own disaster, which helped his atoms reform over time.
Booker came back to become the leader of the Injustice League, but tended to boomerang between the sides of good and evil, until attempting to go legit by joining the Justice League after the main members go back in time to Atlantis. At the moment, he’s presumed to be deceased after Superboy-Prime killed him during Infinite Crisis.
11. MANITOU RAVEN
Manitou Raven was first introduced in “JLA” #66, “The Destroyers Part 1,” and was created by Joe Kelly and Doug Manhke. Manitou Raven and his wife Dawn come from the Obsidian Age of Atlantis and met the JLA when they went back in time. A powerful necromancer and magic-user, Manitou Raven kills the JLA, but is able to resurrect them because he was able to see the courage and goodness of Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner).
After rooting out corruption in Atlantis, Manitou Raven and Dawn traveled to the present day in order to join the JLA, especially Justice League Elite. Shortly after, Manitou was in the process of finding a traitor in the midst of Justice League Elite, but before he finds it, he sacrificed himself on a mission with the rest of the team. Manitou Raven made a post-mortem appearance to Major Disaster to help with his alcoholism, but since then his wife Dawn uses his magical possession as Manitou Dawn.
Super-Chief, or Jon Standing-Bear, is actually the second hero to bear the name. The original Super-Chief was Flying Stag, an ancient Iroquois warrior who time-traveled to the future to help the JLA, but eventually returned to his own time. Jon is his descendent, a Native American veteran and ex-con who initially rejected his grandfather’s stories about their ancestor.
However, he inherited the Moon Stone amulet that gave Flying Stag his super strength and super-sensory abilities for one hour in a 24-hour period. He joined the newly-formed JLA under Firestorm, but was killed very early into his career by Skeets, a futuristic security robot affiliated with Booster Gold. In the afterlife, Flying Stag took back the amulet and rebuked Jon for his ignorance for the price of magic, marking Jon a failure. Super-Chief is most distinctive because of his look, which mirrors the original Super-Chief’s use of a hollowed-out buffalo head as a mask.
Bulleteer, or Alix Harroway, was first introduced in “Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer” #1 and was created by Grant Morrison. Alix Harroway was originally an educator who worked with special needs children (particularly autistic children), but her husband Dr. Lance Harroway had an obsession with the perfection of superhuman bodies. He developed the idea of “smart-skin” to preserve the body under indestructible material, and died after testing the invention on himself. When Alix attempted to save him, the smart-skin attached to her as well and she survived.
At first, Alix was suicidal in her grief, but she eventually got into super-hero circles when discovered how her abilities of indestructibility and flight could help others. One of her most notable stories centered around the discovery that Alix was the direct descendent of Aurakles, the first ever superhero. She becomes “Spear That Was Never Thrown,” and is able to stop the Sheeda invasion of Manhattan. She joins the JLA under Firestorm and was last seen fighting in the resistance after “Final Crisis.”
8. AMBUSH BUG
Ambush Bug is a character who suffers from multiple origins over the years, but his most obvious alias is Irwin Schwab. He was introduced in “DC Comics Presents” #52, “Negative Woman Goes Berserk,” and was created by Paul Krupperberg and Keith Giffen. Ambush Bug is mainly used as comic relief, and his traditional powers center around some minor teleportation abilities. However, he is most noteworthy because he’s one of the few comic book characters who constantly breaks the fourth wall.
In fact, Ambush Bug’s miniseries, “Son of Ambush Bug,” is almost entirely centered around this idea as Ambush Bug goes to court for “contempt of comics.” As a JLA member, he doesn’t have any really notable accomplishments, since he’s not really able to be around other people for extended periods of time, and his only constant companion is a stuffed rabbit he believes can talk to him. Ambush Bug idolizes Superman, and tries to do the right thing for his sake.
Starman is another comic book character title that has become well-used over the decades, but the only one with official ties to the JLA is Mikaal Tomas, a Talokite who was originally part of an invading force before making Earth his permanent home. He took the moniker “Starman” not because he had any relation to Jack and Ted Knight (although he would meet them later on), but rather taking the name from the David Bowie song.
His powers range from abilities based on Talokite physiology and flying, to a sonic crystal that becomes embedded in his chest and lets him shoot bolts of energy in battle. Mikaal became a close ally of Congorilla after his lover, Tony, was killed by a mystery assassin. They joined forces to get revenge, and end up joining the JLA at the same time. However, after being injured in a battle with Doomsday, his team disbanded and Mikaal returned to Opal City to operate as a solo hero.
Congorilla was first introduced in “More Fun Comics” #56, and was created by Whitney Ellsworth and George Papp. William “Congo Bill” Glenmorgan was born in 1898 and served in WWI before relocating to Africa to become a well-respected naturalist. While he attempted to save the life of his friend, a dying chieftain, the chieftain gave Congo Bill a magic ring that would allow him to enter the body of the village god, the Golden Gorilla.
Congo Bill was initially skeptical, but discovers the ring’s abilities in a moment of crisis. The magic tethering his to the Golden Gorilla extended Congo Bill’s lifespan, allowing him to live into the 21st century. However, his human body died while Congo Bill was possessing the Golden Gorilla, trapping him inside. With his new body, Congorilla attempted to track down a group of hunters that savagely killed a band of gorillas under his protection and met Starman. However, he resigned from the JLA in order to help organize Africa’s superheroes into a more cohesive unit.
5. ELEMENT WOMAN
Element Woman, or Emily Sung was first introduced in “Flashpoint” #1 and was created by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. She has the ability to transmute any part of her anatomy into any material she touches, except flesh. Her exact origins are unknown, and her mental state leaves something to be desired, but Emily is a very enthusiastic superhero. She was initially recruited by Cyborg during Flashpoint, but crossed over into Trinity War, and even helped save Superman.
However, Emily was imprisoned in the Firestorm matrix during the Crime Syndicate invasion and never fully recovered. She left the JLA for a time after the ordeal, and was convinced by Niles Caulder that she belonged in the Doom Patrol because nobody else would ever love her with her “monstrous” appearance. Emily eventually turned on her teammates in Portland over who got to investigate the matter of Power Ring attaching itself to Jessica Cruz.
Atomica, or Rhonda Pineda was first introduced in “DC Comics – The New 52 FCBD Special Edition” #1 and was created by Geoff Johns and Jesus Saiz. Rhonda had the ability to manipulate her size to be smaller, and answered the call for heroes when the Atlanteans, led by Ocean Master, invaded the surface world. She proved her worth by disarming bombs and was invited to join the League.
However, she’s left a black mark on her record because it was revealed during Trinity War that Atomica was actually from Earth-3 and working as a spy for Amanda Waller to find out Element Woman and Firestorm’s weaknesses. She continued to fight on the side of the Crime Syndicate alongside her boyfriend, Johnny Quick. Before long, she ran into Lex Luthor’s Injustice League and the belt that controls her size shorts out, keeping her at her smaller size. Despite her protests, Lex Luthor crushed her with a single step.
3. POWER RING
The only hero to bear the name Power Ring is Jessica Cruz, a young woman who survived the massacre of her friends when they discover two men burying a body. The Ring of Volthoom locates her because of her trauma and Jessica is forced to accept the ring, which feeds off fear. However, Batman and Hal Jordan help Jessica face her fears and use the ring’s powers despite its evil nature.
During battle with the Crime Syndicate, the Ring possessed Jessica completely, forcing her body to fight her teammates. However, when Darkseid’s daughter Grail separated the Black Racer from the Flash, she’s able to gain just enough control to put her body in front of the Black Racer, killing Volthoom instead of Jessica. This destroys the Ring and gives Jessica back the use of her body. Thereafter, a Green Lantern ring descended and made her a new Green Lantern.
2. LEX LUTHOR
Lex Luthor is hardly a character who needs an introduction, but he’ll get one anyway. He was first introduced in “Action Comics” #23 and was created by Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster. In terms of his JLA membership, he qualified during his time as the founder and leader of the New 52 Injustice League, which helped defeat the Crime Syndicate invasion. He even saves Superman’s life.
In the wake of this storyline, Lex found that he rather enjoyed the public’s favorable opinion of him and wanted to continue being a hero. He initially tried to talk his way into the JLA but was shut down pretty quickly. However, the JLA is shaken by the now-real threats of invasions from alternate universes and wants to put safeguards in place to make sure that didn’t happen again. The JLA decided that Lex would continue his mission with or without them and it was safer to know everything he was up to, much to Superman’s chagrin.
This is another two people in the same body scenario. L-Ron was first introduced in “Justice League International” #14 and was created by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Steve Leialoha, and Al Gordon. Despero was first introduced in “Justice League of America” #1 and was created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky. L-Ron was originally a robot companion to Magna Khan, but became a member of Justice League International under Maxwell Lord when L-Ron was traded to Lord.
Despero, on the other hand, is an alien who is one of the JLA’s oldest enemies. In an attempt to defeat Despero in one of their many battles, Green Lantern Kilowog and L-Ron used the slave collar Despero wore to switch L-Ron’s robot consciousness into Despero’s body. L-Ron usually remained in control, but Despero sometimes got in the driver’s seat before he’s able to possess other villain’s bodies. As Despero, L-Ron was able to use his super strength, speed and agility.
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