The Justice League is DC’s ultimate team of superheroes and their greatest defense against major threats of all sorts. The team and its members each agree to follow specific guidelines to ensure maximum preservation of life while also preventing future threats. However, that hasn’t stopped certain members from straying from the path or even going all out and betraying the team. As a very old and experienced team with many members, the Justice League has certainly had its fair share of ultimate betrayals. To look back at some of the betrayals that stung greater than others, here is our list of the 10 most vile betrayals ever suffered by the Justice League.
10 Jean Loring
Identity Crisis is a rather controversial story focusing on a very dark mystery involving the Justice League. After the death of Sue Dibney, the team uncovers some dark secrets from the past to try and shed some light on the situation. Though the story is full of several twists and turns, the ultimate betrayer turns out to be none other than Ray Palmer’s ex-wife, Jean Loring.
By the end of the story, it is revealed that Jean had accidentally murdered one of her friends and set the team on a wild goose chase for the wrong killer. Part of what made this betrayal so devastating was due to the motivations of Jean, as well as the repercussions to all the secrets that were uncovered.
Atomica began her career as a betrayer to the Justice League. When Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor first formed their version of the team to help keep the main League in check during the New 52, Atomica served as the mole on both teams. As a member of the main Justice League, Atomica would report back to Trevor on their actions, plans, etc.
However, during the Forever Evil event, it was revealed that Atomica had actually been playing both teams and was actually a member of the Crime Syndicate from Earth 3. This means that Atomica had always been an evil, twisted person who had managed to hide her true nature from two major superhero teams.
8 Maxwell Lord
Many major events occurred in the days leading up to Infinite Crisis. One of those major events was Maxwell Lord’s betrayal of the Justice League. The powerful psychic was initially believed to be an ally of the team, assisting them as needed. However, Lord would eventually enact his plan against the League even going so far as to kill Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle.
Lord’s betrayal left great repercussions, especially throughout and after Infinite Crisis. His betrayal left a lot for the League to consider when going forward, especially following such a devastating attack. Though Lord would shortly meet his demise following his initial attack, the damage he had done on the League was immense and required a lot of time for them to recover.
Triumph is a tragic character who just wanted some recognition for the good deeds he had accomplished. Following a blunder from the time stream, Triumph reemerged to find that everyone had forgotten all of his accomplishments. While heroism is typically a thankless act, it is understandable that Triumph would come to feel this way.
While he tried to work with the Justice League once more, Triumph often made careless and reckless decisions to put himself back in the spotlight. This often led to altercations with other members and even led Triumph to disobey direct orders. Triumph would eventually sell his soul in exchange for restoring the timeline, making the ultimate betrayal to both his team and himself.
6 Red Tornado
In Red Tornado’s defense, he only betrays the Justice League as a result of his programming. On several occasions, Red Tornado has set out to do harm against the League, making it all the more heartbreaking to see them have to fight back. T.O. Morrow is the evil genius behind Red Tornado who is also obsessed with the future and the demise of the Justice League.
Morrow’s brilliance has led Red Tornado astray several times in several different ways. Sometimes, Red Tornado himself is attacking the League, and sometimes it is his “siblings” or variations on the Red Tornado design. Sometimes, it has even been an army of Red Tornadoes vs the Justice League. His betrayals have been so major that they have even made their way into an episode of the popular Young Justice TV series. While it may not be his fault, Red Tornado has undeniably dealt a significant amount of damage to the League.
Circling back to Identity Crisis, Zatanna dealt a massive blow to the Justice League, focusing on Batman in particular. After forcing a magical lobotomy on Doctor Light, Batman walks in on the procedure. Zatanna then uses her abilities to wipe Batman’s memory of the event. As you can imagine, things did not bode well when Bruce learned of this event.
Zatanna’s betrayal certainly stung in more ways than one. While worse things had been done against the Justice League, Zatanna went against one of the team’s moral codes and acted directly against another team member. Two major injustices committed at the same time are definitely enough to secure her spot as one of the League’s biggest betrayers.
Unfortunately, a lot of Aquaman’s priorities go to the people of Atlantis, as Arthur’s first responsibility is as King. His duty to his people has led him into altercations with the Justice League from time to time, especially recently.
The popular Throne of Atlantis storyline saw Aquaman try to thwart a plot to pit Atlantis against the surface world. As a result, Arthur also found himself at odds with the rest of the Justice League, forcing him to make a move against them. Though Arthur was technically betrayed by the League in this case, the fact that he made such an incredible display of power against them makes the damage all the more memorable.
3 Wonder Woman
While Wonder Woman has gone against the League on several occasions, no betrayal has likely had a greater impact than in Justice League: A League of One. Though it is a lesser known Justice League story, it really focuses on Wonder Woman and her place as a member of the Amazons and the Justice League.
After a mysterious force shows up, Wonder Woman realizes that it is a threat that she must face alone. Being of magical origin, Diana makes a move against the Justice League, as she believes their involvement with something they don’t understand will only cause more damage in the long run. This story is a great example of just how devastating Wonder Woman’s powers can be, as she swiftly takes out each member with incredible ease.
Superman will always be DC’s ultimate beacon of hope for humanity. Therefore, imagining him on the wrong side can be a very scary thing. As such, many non-canon Superman stories have explored what an evil Superman would lead to, which has thus led to some very dark moments in the character’s history.
A less extreme example of this can be found in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Many years into a possible future, it is revealed that Superman now works as a government agent and was responsible for the absence/termination of various other Justice League members. This theory is evidenced by Oliver Queen only having one arm and presumably no longer being able to shoot a bow and arrow. While Superman believes that his actions continue to be necessary, his actions here show just how devastating his betrayal to the Justice League could potentially be.
Specifically, Tower of Babel features one of the biggest betrayals committed by a single Justice Leaguer. After a devastating attack on each individual member of the League, it is revealed that Batman himself designed the plans that took each member off the playing field.
Considering that Batman gathered information in secret and without anyone else’s knowledge, it is easy to see how this betrayal would deliver such a large blow to the team. Immediately following the events of Tower of Babel, Batman was asked to leave the Justice League. Despite having files on himself, Tower of Babel remains one of the biggest betrayals in Justice League history to the incredibly personal nature of the attacks.