The Justice League of America. For decades, they have been the comic book super-team, a terrific collection of heroes who gather together to help the world. They’re famous to generations of kids from cartoons ranging from Super-Friends to the acclaimed Justice League Unlimited and bringing young fans into comics. They’ve gone through a lot of changes over the years and not just in membership. They’ve been everything from the big guns of the DCU to a whacky comedy to a third-string team to back being the tops. That’s shifted a lot with DC doing various retcons but the basic idea is still strong with the biggest heroes gathering to face deadly threats.
With Warner Bros preparing to bring them to the big screen, the JLA is rising higher in prominence and many newbie comic book fans are naturally eager to check out their past adventures. Needless to say, there’s a lot of history in 50 years and some of it rather complicated thanks to how DC has altered so much. While some comic book buffs may know these, newcomers may not realize there’s a lot more to know about the JLA than you think. Here are 10 things about DC’s super-team you may not have realized before now and showcasing their wild legacy.
10 They’re Not the First Superteam
9 Their First Enemy Was a Starfish
8 They Helped Create Marvel Comics
7 Their First TV Appearances
Most know the JLA thanks to the fantastic Cartoon Network series but they had a shot at live action before… although it’s not best to remember. Legends of the Super-Heroes had the JLA fighting the Legion of Doom with cheap FX, Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, shot on videotape and even laugh track. That was followed by another special which was a “roast” of heroes. To say it’s cheesy is to cut it a break as it’s almost painful to watch for its campy aspects and cheap-looking costumes that show how some comic book outfits really don’t work that well off the page.
6 They Had An Annoying Mascot
5 Their Origins Keep Changing
Given DC’s history for retcons, it’s no surprise the JLA has endured some changes. The original story was the core Leaguers (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman) coming together to stop an alien invasion and forming the League afterward. When DC first revised their history after Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wonder Woman was said to have arrived years after the first wave of modern heroes. Thus, her place was taken by Black Canary in any League histories. In 1994, DC introduced the idea that Triumph, a newbie hero, had actually gotten the JLA together but fell into a portal that erased it from everyone’s memories, eventually returning himself but the whole thing didn’t take with readers.
4 They Were Basically a Sitcom
3 They’re In the Marvel Universe… Sort Of
Back in the 1970s, Marvel decided to poke some fun at their competition by having the Avengers take a trip leading to an alternate Earth. There, they encountered that world’s heroes, the Squadron Supreme, every one of whom was a not-so-subtle expy of a Justice Leaguer. You had Hyperion, the sole survivor of a dying world with amazing powers; Power Princess who hailed from an island of female warriors; Doctor Spectrum whose alien gem could create energy constructs; super-speedster the Whizzer…you get the point. They popped up numerous other times in various ways to send up the comparisons even more.
2 The Franchises
You think there’s only been one Justice League? Think again. When the JLI thing took off, they soon got a spin-off book of a team set in Europe so you’d have the JLA and JLE working together or separate missions. In 1994, DC decided to expand that with Justice League Task Force as Martian Manhunter led missions of low-level Leaguers across the world on behalf of the United Nations. Meanwhile, was one of the many “get the bad guys first” teams that abounded in the ‘90’s with more “edgy” missions. All three books competed for attention that withered and all were cancelled for the “big guns” return of JLA in 1996.
1 Justice League… Detroit?
In 1984, DC made a controversial move to try and “liven up” the book by having Aquaman (upset that major heroes didn’t aid against an alien invasion) disband the team and reform it only with those willing to give it their full attention. That meant himself, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man and four new heroes: invisible Gypsy, super-strong Steel, animal avatar Vixen and…Vibe. Considered to be the worst Leaguer of all time, Vibe was an arrogant jerk who was a walking stereotype of Latino culture and whose skills included vibrational powers and breakdancing. Seriously.
Instead of an orbital base or big HQ, this League worked out of a bunker in Detroit, trying to be a more “common man” approach and basically just didn’t get along very well. Even in the book, it was pointed out how much of a joke the public considered them so it was little surprise their tenure ended with Vibe and Steel killed and the team disbanded. Still considered probably the low point of the book’s history as it’s hard to be “common” with the JLA.
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