As the biggest and best super-team in all of comics, DC has guided the Justice League through multiple eras. They’ve fended off alien invasions, beaten entire pantheons of gods from other worlds, and even repelled invasions from alternate universes. They’ve been their own independent agents and they’ve been under the authority of both the American government as well as the U.N. And even with all that, the roster of the Justice League is forever changing, gaining new members while losing old ones for a variety of reasons, from prior commitments in their own comics to leaving to form their own teams.
With that in mind, we’ve assembled 20 of the best rosters of the Justice League of all time. Now despite the film having just recently hit theaters, this particular list will stay concentrated on the comics themselves, so that means no versions of the team from the cartoons, the new film, or the live-action series. Still, in nearly 60 years the team has been disbanded and reformed more times than Spider-Man’s given up the mask, so there’s more than enough rosters to choose from.Which ones made the cut? Which team is at the very top? Read on to find out!
20. JUSTICE LEAGUE 3000
When DC canceled the Legion of Super-Heroes in 2013, the fans were left with a futuristic gap in their pull lists. Fortunately, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Howard Porter had something else in mind, introducing a futuristic version of the World’s Greatest Heroes. Set in the 31st century, Justice League 3000 follows a team of clones created from Project Cadmus’ flawed genetic copies of the original League.
Since they were imperfect clones, each member often had a different set of memories and experiences than their original selves, and often imperfect copies of their powersets as well, forcing them to frequently find ways to make up for their changed abilities. The book itself stuck around for a little over two years, briefly undergoing a relaunch as Justice League 3001 before finally coming to an end in May of 2016.
19. EXTREME JUSTICE
Extreme Justice was a very short-lived book that came out during the mid-’90s. With a title like “Extreme Justice”, can’t you tell (the team itself was only ever called the Justice League of America, though)? Led by Captain Atom, the group split off from the rest of the Justice League over a disagreement in how the team was led and its connection to the United Nations.
One of the usual “proactive” super-teams, they were led by Captain Atom and featured a mix of nobodies like the Wonder Twins and Amazing Man, and much more well-known former JLI members Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. The series ran just under 20 issues before being canceled in the summer of 1996, with their most noteworthy action being that they single-handedly got all the Justice League teams shut down.
18. JUSTICE LEAGUE DETROIT
In the early ’80s, DC thought the Justice League could do with a major shake-up. So after most of the Satellite Era League were unable to help during a crucial moment defending the Earth, Aquaman dissolves the Justice League altogether, then makes a rule that only full-time heroes would be allowed to be anything more than reserve members going forward.
This version of the League introduced a large number of newer and younger heroes to the team, including Gypsy, Steel, Vibe, and Vixen. Unfortunately, this team didn’t last long — both in terms of its popularity with the fans and in-universe — as the team soon found itself decimated, losing Steel and Vibe to robots created by Professor Ivo and eventually disbanding not long after to make way for what would become the Post-Crisis Justice League International team.
17. NEW 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
As DC pushed its readers headlong into DC Universe with a half-decade of history that none of them were familiar with, they re-introduced one of their oldest, most well-liked concepts of the Justice League International. Made up of a combination of heroes both from the original JLI such as Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, and Guy Gardner, the team also made an effort to include newer creations like the Great Ten’s August General in Iron and the British-born female hero Godiva.
Unfortunately, the book didn’t have very much in the way of a direction or an imperative to exist and so the Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti book only lasted a few issues before being canceled as DC ushered in a new wave of New 52 comic series.
16. JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE
One of a handful of Justice League books being published in the nineties, Justice League Task Force started out with a unique idea. A representative of the U.N. would work with J’onn Jonzz (the Martian Manhunter) to form various specialized teams for individual missions, with the team often varying wildly from one arc to the next.
The team also had a rotating writer/artist teams as well, with major creators such as Mark Waid, David Michelinie, and Denny O’Neil all spending a bit of time getting to tell a story with DC’s major team in the first half of the book. Eventually both the team and creative settled down though, with Christopher Priest writing the majority of the second half while J’onn settled on his own team of Leaguers that could be used more consistently.
15. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF CHINA
Easily the newest team to earn a spot on this list, the Justice League of China is so new they haven’t even gotten their own comic book yet. When young Kenan Kong is offered the chance to become a superhero in Gene Luen Yang and Viktor Bogdanovic’s New Super-Man #1, he winds up in an experiment by the Chinese Ministry of Self-Reliance that grants him a set of powers equivalent to Superman’s.
Afterwards, he’s introduced to his compatriots the Bat-Man and Wonder Woman of China, a pair of heroes devoted to keeping their home country safe as the Justice League of China. Since then, this League’s roster has continued to grow, adding young new heroes eager to follow in the footsteps of the original Justice League, and make their legacies go global.
14. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
One of the many titles DC launched during the beginning of the New 52 was a reincarnation of the magic and occult-centered team title Shadowpact, brought back with the far more market-friendly title Justice League Dark. Created by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin, Justice League Dark contained a number of beloved magic based characters, including Deadman, Madame Xanadu, Frankenstein, Zatanna and the recently returned from Vertigo, John Constantine.
Its line-up would shift many times over the run, with heroes often leaving after finding some semblance of a happy ending. Typically working from the shadows, the team generally only made appearances to help out the major heroes during events like “Forever Evil”. A fairly beloved title, the comic ran for 40 issues and four years before finally coming to an end in March of 2015.
13. NEW 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA
Directly after DC’s attempt at the Justice League International ended, they launched a new series that was a lot less global in scope. This new version of the Justice League of America was headed up by Amanda Waller of all people, she of the Squads of Suicides and the Task Forces X. She recruited a group of heroes and morally grey individuals such as Steve Trevor, Catwoman, Hawkman, Katana and more, with the intent of having a team to take down the proper Justice League if it was ever necessary.
This book came to an end in the wake of Forever Evil, after being infiltrated by Earth-3’s version of the Atom, who used her knowledge to help the Crime Syndicate temporarily shut down both versions of the Justice League at once.
12. OBSIDIAN AGE JUSTICE LEAGUE
After Grant Morrison had left his indelible mark on DC’s best and brightest, a number of other writers would go on to do their own takes on what had again become one of the hottest teams in comics, creating their own landmark runs. One such creator was Joe Kelly, who introduced his own, separate version of the Justice League when the original team was believed to have been eradicated.
This newer version of the team was formed as a super secret contingency plan by Batman and only lasted until the original JLA was found alive, but it included a mix of both classic Leaguers as well as newcomers like the reformed villain Major Disaster and the completely new character named Faith, a character that pretty much only existed while Kelly was writing the League.
11. ORIGINAL JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA
The original Super Friends. Created by legendary writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky, this first version of the Justice League of America was formed when a group of aliens called the Apellaxians arrived on Earth and began terrorizing the planet by competing in contests to determine who would become the next leader of their planet.
Each member of the original team managed to fend off an Apellaxian on their own, but when they became overwhelmed by one particularly strong alien, they were forced to team up. Though the “true” founders of the League always seem to change, they also always seem to wind up returning to these seven heroes, and their story of combining their powers in order to defeat enemies too strong for any one hero.
10. JUSTICE LEGION A
During the halcyon days of Grant Morrison’s JLA, fans were treated to an ever-so-brief glimpse at the far future, and the team protecting it. As a part of “DC One Million”, then JLA writer Grant Morrison showed us a future one million months from Action Comics #1, in the 853rd century. While there, we got to meet the Justice Legion A, descendants of the men and women of the greatest generation of heroes, the JLA.
Though the team was only seen for a brief period of about a month, they proved every bit the heroes of their predecessors, fighting crime while trapped in the distant past away from their home environments, and breaking the time barrier to help the JLA in the future deal with the malevolent super-sun Solaris.
9. JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED
Coming out of “Forever Evil”, the landscape of the New 52 universe stood somewhat differently than it did before, and one of the biggest changes was the dissolution of the Amanda Waller-led Justice League. In its place, we were given a different, more hopeful team in Justice League United. Originally called Justice League Canada, the series’ name was quickly changed by the time the first issue by Jeff Lemire and Mike McKone hit the stands, but still featured a new young Canadian hero known as Equinox, a girl whose abilities changed based on the season.
This team also featured Animal Man, Supergirl, Adam Strange and his fiancé Alanna Lewis, and they spent most of their time dealing with threats from outer space and throughout time, but the book only lasted nineteen issues before being canceled at the close of 2015.
8. JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST
Before the beginning of “Infinite Crisis”, DC dropped a bombshell on its readers by revealing that Maxwell Lord, the man behind the formation of the JLI, was in fact a super-villain, purposefully manipulating things to his own ends with the help of the super-spy organization Checkmate. Though Max would be killed by Wonder Woman before he could carry out his plan, he would be revived years later as a result of “Blackest Night”, and used his mind-control powers in order to wipe the world of any memory of him.
The only heroes left with a recollection of him? A mish-mash of the classic Justice League International and legacy hero Jaime Reyes. Together, they traveled the globe trying to both discover what Max’s new goals were, and how to shut him down while trying to convince the rest of the world they weren’t crazy for chasing someone that “never existed”.
7. NEW 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE
When DC decided to do their “reboot that wasn’t a reboot” of their universe with the New 52, that came with a complete reset of their greatest team of heroes as well. Gone were the days of Happy Harbor, with the team forming after an invasion of random aliens from other planets. Instead, the League formed over a shared need to rid the planet of a different kind of invasion, that of Darkseid and his army from Apokolips.
Younger versions of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and their newest member Cyborg would be challenged like never before as they were forced to take on one of their biggest enemies of all time while barely knowing one another. Still, Darkseid never stood a chance, and this version of the team protected Earth for two years.
6. JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE
When Justice League International proved to be a hit, DC capitalized on the series’ success by launching a second, ancillary title by the same super-team of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, this time relying on the artistic talent of Bart Sears to bring the duo’s comic-action series to life. Justice League Europe would see the team place a permanent team in their Parisian embassy, featuring a mix of heavy hitters like Wally West and Wonder Woman alongside lesser-known heroes such as Rocket Red, Animal Man, and the Elongated Man.
This team would fall under the leadership of the novice hero Captain Atom, who would spend most of his time trying to prove that his League was just as valid a team as the one led by Martian Manhunter and directly overseen by the League’s then-benefactor, Maxwell Lord.
5. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
After the crashing failure that was the Justice League’s Detroit Era, DC’s biggest and best super-team was in desperate need of a comeback story. Enter Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire. The trio recast the League as a superhero comedy book, and turned the team into the super-powered protection arm of the United Nations, granting them the authority not only to operate in foreign nations, but to set up embassies across the globe in order to more effectively help out those countries.
This would lead to a sizable expansion in the number of Justice League teams and Justice League books, and the Giffen/DeMatteis partnership would last five years, taking the team from the late ’80s into the early ’90s, making them both one of the most powerful and consistent rosters the League’s ever had.
4. SATELLITE ERA JUSTICE LEAGUE
After the location of the Justice League’s original “Secret Sanctuary” headquarters was betrayed to The Joker thanks to League sidekick Snapper Carr, the team decided to swap to a place significantly more secure for their next HQ. Enter the Justice League Satellite, which orbited thousands of miles above the Earth and monitored things from above.
During this run, the team expanded its ranks, adding the Elongated Man, the Red Tornado, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, and Firestorm to create one of the largest Justice League rosters the team’s ever had. At the same time, this is also one of the most consistent versions of the team, with the Satellite Era lasting nearly 200 issues before coming to an end when Gerry Conway disbanded the team in order to create the Detroit Team.
3. JUSTICE LEAGUE POST-FOREVER EVIL
Coming out of “Forever Evil”, the once tiny roster of the Justice League saw rapid growth in the wake of the New 52 universe’s first major comic event. Writer Geoff Johns really turned up the weirdness for this team, inviting “reformed villains” Captain Cold and Lex Luthor to join while also adding in new heroes like Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz.
The New 52 Justice League built its name off of facing immense threats, and this retooled version coming out of “Forever Evil” was no different. They even managed to overcome the dangers of being elevated to godhood during the three way war between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor during the events of “Darkseid War”, the final story that closed out the New 52 era of the DC Universe.
2. ONE YEAR LATER
Thanks to the events of both “Identity Crisis” as well as “Infinite Crisis”, the Justice League was left in disarray. Their decision to erase their secret identities from their enemies created a rift and a lack of trust that made it hard to believe the team could ever come back. Fortunately, Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes managed to bring the team from the abyss, placing a focus on fostering a sense of community and making the League feel less like a collection of heroes and more like a proper team again.
They also created one of the most diverse teams the League has ever had, balancing women, people of color, and both veteran members and those new to the League, giving the sense that the team and the DC Universe was progressing on the road to recovery, and the future seemed bright.
When DC’s premiere super-team was at its lowest point in the late ’90s, it took a visionary to bring the League back to its proper place. In came Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, and John Dell to be the heroes that would save our superheroes. After years of only allowing the major pillars of the DC Universe to serve in some form of reserve capacity, or placing them on teams away from one another, this version of the League took all the heavy hitters and gathered them into a single team.
Gods and goddesses among men, Morrison matched them up against everything from the forces of heaven and hell to the concept of anti-hope itself, each time bringing the heroes out on top. Though his run was only around forty issues, by the end he had truly brought the team back, reminding us all why they were the World’s Greatest.
What roster do you think should be on this list? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
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