The Justice League is a fictional superhero team appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The Justice League was conceived by writer Gardner Fox and first appeared as a team in The Brave and the Bold #28 (March 1960).
The team is an assemblage of superheroes who join together as the Justice League. The seven original members were Superman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The team roster has rotated throughout the years, consisting of many superheroes from the DC Universe, such as Atom, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Plastic Man, Stargirl, Shazam, Cyborg, and Zatanna, among others.
The Justice League received its own comic book title called Justice League of America in November 1960. With the 2011 relaunch, DC Comics released a second volume of Justice League. In July 2016, the DC Rebirth initiative again relaunched the Justice League comic book titles with the third volume of Justice League. Since its inception, the team has been featured in various television programs, video games and the live action film of the same name.
The seven original members of the Justice League pictured from left to right: Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter. Art by Alex Ross.
Various comic book series featuring the Justice League have remained generally popular with fans since inception and, in most incarnations, its roster includes DC’s most popular characters. The Justice League concept has also been adapted into various other entertainment media, including various forms of television from the classic Saturday morning Super Friends animated series (1973–1986), an live action series of specials Legends of the Superheroes (1979), an unproduced Justice League of America live-action series (for which the pilot film exists), the acclaimed Justice League animated series (2001–2004), its sequel Justice League Unlimited (2004–2006), and the current Justice League Action (2016–present).
A live-action film was also in the works around 2008 before being shelved. On June 6, 2012, Warner Bros. announced a new live action Justice League film was in development with Will Beall hired as screenwriter. However, the project was scrapped again. After the success of the Superman reboot Man of Steel, a film titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released in March 2016, directed by Zack Snyder. Batman v Superman script writer Chris Terrio has also penned the script for Justice League.
Various origins of the Justice League
In a story told in flashback in Justice League of America #9 (February 1962), the Appelaxians infiltrated Earth. Competing alien warriors were sent to see who could conquer Earth first, to determine who will become the new ruler of their home planet. The aliens’ attacks drew the attentions of Aquaman, Batman, Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Martian Manhunter, Superman, and Wonder Woman. While the superheroes individually defeated most of the invaders, the heroes fell prey to a single competitor’s attack; only by working together were they able to defeat the competitor. For many years, the heroes heralded this adventure as the event that prompted them to agree to pool resources when confronted with similar menaces.
In Justice League of America #144 (July 1977), Green Arrow uncovered inconsistencies in the team’s records and extracted admissions from his colleagues that the seven founders had actually formed the League after Martian Manhunter was rescued from Martian forces by the other six founders, along with several other heroes including Robin, Robotman, Congorilla, Rex the Wonder Dog, and even Lois Lane.
The team’s expansion in numbers. Pictured from left to right: Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, the Atom, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Flash, Aquaman, Zatanna, and Red Tornado. Art by Alex Ross.
Green Lantern participated in this first adventure solely as Hal Jordan, as he had yet to become the costumed hero, the biggest inconsistency Arrow found, as they celebrated the earlier incident’s date, while recounting only the later one’s events. When the group formalized their agreement, they suppressed news of it because of anti-Martian hysteria. Because the heroes had not revealed their identities to each other at the time, they did not realize that Jordan and Green Lantern were one and the same when he turned up in costume during the event described in #9. While most subsequent accounts of the League have made little mention of this first adventure, the animated Justice League series adapted this tale as the origin of the Justice League as well.
Secret Origins vol. 2, #32 (Nov. 1988) updated Justice League of America #9’s origin for post-Crisis continuity. Differences included the inclusion of the Silver Age Black Canary as a founding member and the absence of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman. The JLA: Year One limited series, by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn and Barry Kitson, further expanded the Secret Origins depiction.
In Justice League Task Force #16 (Sept. 1994), during Zero Hour, a then unknown superhuman named Triumph appeared. Triumph was revealed to have been a founding member of the Justice League and was their leader. On his first mission with the Justice League, Triumph seemingly “saved the world” but was teleported into a dimensional limbo that also affected the timestream, erasing all memory of him.
In Infinite Crisis #7 (June 2006), the formation of “New Earth” (the new name for the post-Crisis Earth) restored Wonder Woman as a founding member of the Justice League. In Brad Meltzer’s Justice League of America (vol. 2) #0 (September 2006), it was revealed that Superman and Batman were again founding members as well. 52 #51 (June 2007) confirmed that the 1989 Secret Origins and JLA: Year One origins were still in continuity at that time, with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman joining the team with founding members’ status shortly after the group’s formation with Aquaman, Black Canary, Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter. In Justice League of America #12 (October 2007), the founding members of the Justice League were shown to be Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Flash (Barry Allen), Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter.
With DC’s history rewritten due to the Flashpoint limited series, an entirely new origin for the Justice League appeared in the subsequent Justice League series which debuted with an October 2011 cover date as part of the company-wide event, The New 52. Issue #1 portrayed the first meeting between Batman and Hal Jordan, with the two encountering each other during a battle against a Parademon in Gotham City. After realizing the creature is extraterrestrial in origin, the two heroes head to Metropolis to seek out Superman only to be attacked by him. Later, after a brief fight in which the Flash arrives and Batman convinces Superman they are on the same side, they move to an abandoned building to work on analyzing a mysterious alien box, when it suddenly activates and more Parademons arrive. While fighting the Parademons, Aquaman and Wonder Woman appear and join forces with the other heroes. The mysterious box leads to Darkseid’s arrival on Earth, and the heroes come together, along with the newcomer Cyborg, to defeat him. The public becomes enamored with the heroes, and a writer dubs the group the “Justice League”, following the Flash’s suggestion of “Super Seven”.