The Justice League. The greatest team of heroes on the face of the Earth. But their lineup has shifted dramatically throughout the ages, and I'm here to pick and choose the best lineups and eras from their long and storied careers. So from the heights of space to the streets of Detroit, from the guardianship of Happy Harbor to that of the entire world, both National and International, here they are, The Justice League.
10. Justice League United
Justice League Canada!!!!!!!!!
Okay, they aren't called that, but they should be, and they were supposed to be. But someone decided that they needed to be the Justice League United, so that’s what they became. The team was at least partially composed of holdovers from Steve Trevor's government action squad version of the Justice League of America. Specifically Stargirl, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, and Green Arrow.
They picked the best team members. Like, that team also had Katana and Catwoman. But who needs them when you have Ollie Queen and friggin' Stargirl? Stargirl is my favoritest ever. She is the double best.
The new team members included Adam Strange, Animal Man, Mera, Supergirl, Poison Ivy, and Swamp Thing. That’s one hell of a lineup. Seriously, Swamp Thing! Like if your League has Swamp Thing and Green Arrow, you’re not just doing something right, you’re doing EVERYTHING right.
9. Justice League America
After Justice League International split up, half of the book moved to Europe and the other half became the article-less Justice League America.
But since their lineup was fairly fluctuate-y, I’ll pick the Issue Number 0 team specifically. This lineup includes Wonder Woman, one of the mainstays; Flash (the superior Wally West version); Nuklon, who would eventually become Atom Smasher; his Infinity Inc. cohort Obsidian; Hawkman/Katar Hol; JLI-er Fire; JL Europeans Metamorpho and Crimson Fox; and underrated absorber Amazing Man.
The lineup is really great, mostly because it balances old classics with new faces. I've always loved Metamorpho on the League. And Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and Flash (even if it isn't the SAME Flash and Hawkman) allow you to through interesting newbies like Nuklon and Obsidian on the squad. Oh, and Fire! Fire's great! She doesn't get the kind of credit she deserves for being awesome.
It's a team I haven't read about as much as I'd like, but it's a great lineup, for sure.
8. Justice League Europe
Look, sometimes places that aren't America need defending by some sort of league of justice or something.
And so, when the Justice League International split into two teams, the second squad was assigned to protect the wonderful EU (sorry for your loss, England).
The team included (at first) Captain Atom, Elongated Man, Power Girl, Flash (Wally West), Rocket Red, Animal Man, and Metamorpho. It's a really solid list of the type of characters who worked really well in the JLI, but never got a ton of playtime. Plus, Wally West and Animal Man are crazy fun characters who belong on a Justice League team. And this was a great team! Their first crossover with the International team is really wonderful.
They started collecting the JLE run alongside the JLI book some time ago, but sadly, it doesn't appear that DC will continue doing those. Sad face. Please, DC, please get me more JLI collections. I'll love you forever.
7. Justice League Detroit
The single most underrated Justice League team of all time. They never get the credit they deserve.
Aquaman felt that the League was too preoccupied with their own affairs, and he decided to formally disband the team and seek out brand new heroes to take their place. The team was as follows: Aquaman himself, King of the Seven Seas; Martian Manhunter, the last of the green Martians; Elongated Man, the world's stretchiest detective; Vixen, master of animal abilities; Zatanna, the backward-speaking witch; Vibe, the world shaking master of the pop and lock; Gypsy, the troublingly named invisible runaway; and Steel, second generation super-strong superhero. The team fought through Crisis on Infinite Earths, and even appeared in DC's recent Convergence event.
The team may have had less than forty appearances to date, but they’re an important part of Justice League mythology. If only because of that time Aquaman hid in the pool to punch Steel in the stomach.
That time is legendary.
6. Post-Rebirth Team
Hey, I like the current Justice League team a lot! Sadly, not the current Justice League of America team so much because, while they have The Ray (who is the beeeeeeeeest), they also have Lobo, and Lobo is terrible.
But the Justice League team is totally solid. It includes Superman (the pre-Flashpoint one), Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash (Barry Allen), Cyborg, Aquaman, and the Green Lantern duo Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz.
A: Simon and Jessica are both really great characters who totally deserve League membership, and B: Cyborg is actually a good addition to the founding Leaguer lineup. I may miss the Martian Manhunter, but that doesn’t mean I don't love me some Vic Stone. Plus, Barry is great, and pre-Flashpoint Superman is infinity plus one time better than New 52 Superman.
New 52 Superman is like if dirt had a baby with paint drying. And then someone dressed that baby in a stupid-looking outfit. But then that stupidly dressed dirt paint baby died and we got Superman back!!! And he's leading a wonderful League.
5. Post-Hawkman Team
Hey, I might have spent a lot of time reading and talking about recent comics, but don't let that fool you, I've read a hell of a lot of old Justice League comics.
Specifically, the first 80 or so issues, plus a bunch of random ones after that point. And one of the best lineups came about once Hawkman joined the team in Justice League of America #31.
Because by then we had the original five: Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, The Atom, and good ol' Hawkman. This team was one of the more solid ones, and lasted a great amount of time, facing numerous villains. Like Brainstorm.
You remember Brainstorm. He had that big phallic beehive helmet? I talked about him in a list of mine at some point? Yeah, you remember Brainstorm. But anyway, this team gave us the friendship between Atom and Hawkman, and started the great Hawkman/Green Arrow rivalry that rages on to this day.
4. The Satellite Era League
After The Joker discovered and raided the League's Happy Harbor headquarters, The League had to relocate. And they did so to a geosynchronous satellite floating 22,300 miles above Earth.
The League included the usual suspects, plus Green Arrow, the Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Red Tornado, Firestorm, and Zatanna. This League has a solid place in my heart, mostly due to team members like Firestorm and Red Tornado, who have been drastically underutilized in present-day comics.
The satellite itself was destroyed once and for all during Crisis on Infinite Earths, but it’s seen several revitalizations since. The League who lived there is one of the most oft-referenced and best-remembered Leagues. And for good reason; those bronze age comic book stories are fantastic. Seriously, pick one or two up for a couple bucks an issue; you won't be disappointed.
A great headquarters and a great League.
3. Year One Team
Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, Black Canary, Martian Manhunter. The original Justice League, according to Justice League: Year One.
Also, JLA Year One is far and away my second favorite Justice League-centric story of all time (Favorite being New Frontier). The Year One team, despite missing Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, is still just as iconic as ever.
I personally really like the retcon of having Black Canary be a founding Leaguer instead of Wonder Woman, partially because I prefer Canary, and partially because it gives the League a tangible connection to the Justice Society of America. The team united to fight the Appelaxians, and held together for a full year before admitting new members.
Batman eventually joined the team after their battle with Fire Eyes, and Hawkman would join after the fight with Wotan and the JSA (All of that is available in the criminally underrated JLA: Incarnations miniseries, by the way). But yeah, I flipping LOVE the Year One team.
2. Justice League International
Of course I had to put these knuckleheads on the list.
The Justice League International spun out of Legends, an underrated DC Comics event in which the team formed to replace the old one. The squad included Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel, Batman, Black Canary, Dr. Fate, and Martian Manhunter, among others.
The series was an amazing balance of superhero action and beautifully written comedy. It's notable for adding humor to superhero comics in earnest, and it’s one of the most lauded comics of all time because of it. Seriously, if you haven't read this perfection in comic book form, you need to. If you're ever wondering why people like me love Blue Beetle and Booster Gold so much, this book is why.
Also, the Guy Gardner Batman "one punch" scene is among the most iconic pages of all time. One of the best comics of all time, and one of the best teams to match.
1. The JLA
After years and years of the Justice League being fun B-listers, it was time to bring it back to basics.
Superman. Batman. Wonder Woman. Kyle Rayner, The Green Lantern, Wally West, The Flash. The Martian Manhunter. Aquaman. The Big Seven.
The team formed for Grant Morrison's legendary run on the book, from the opening chapter of New World Order to the bombshell that is World War III. This is easily the best run of all time, and it cements the JLA team as the greatest Justice League team of all time.
What separates it from other Big Seven-inclusive teams is the eras and incarnations of the characters. We get Wally West Flash and Kyle Rayner Green Lantern, who are easily the best versions of both characters. We get hook-handed Aquaman and (at least temporarily) Electric Superman. Look, we get Rock of Ages with this team. Rock of Ages is crazy excellent. The best JLA book, and the best JLA team to go along with it.
And there you go! The League has always been great, and great it remains. But obviously, there have been numerous teams, so your favorite might not have made the list. If so, let me know (politely), because I'd love to hear about more great JLA teams that I missed out on!