The Justice League is a DC Comics superhero team. In most incarnations, its roster includes DC’s most popular characters and thus many of the most recognizable superheroes in pop culture.
The original, and arguably most popular, line-up is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and The Martian Manhunter. The League has also included Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, Green Arrow, Hawkman, The Atom, Elongated Man, Black Canary, Firestorm, Zatanna and dozens of others.
The team first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #28 (1960). Although series featuring the League have occasionally gone stale and been subjected to ill-fated experiments, the team has been fairly popular since inception.
The team’s concept was loosely adapted into the cartoon series Super Friends (1972-85) and more properly into the Cartoon Network’s Justice League (2001-04) and Justice League Unlimited (2004-present).
The team has also gone by the names Justice League of America, Justice League America, JLA and Justice League International.
The original team first appeared in The Brave and The Bold #28 (1960) as a revival of the Justice Society of America (or "JSA") under a new, more dynamic name of "League" and soon gained its own title that same year. The creator was a writer named Gardner Fox, who was inspired by the Justice Society to create a similar, contemporary concept, and who decided upon the word "league" influenced by the National Football League and Major League Baseball. The artist for the first five years of the comic was Mike Sekowsky.
This comic was initially amongst the most popular of DC Comics' publications, but by the 1970s it had become overshadowed by Marvel Comics' equivalent super-team The Avengers series in sales and quality. Various writers and artists tried to include more complex characterization into the JLA comic, but it proved to be an uneasy fit. Other efforts to improve the sales of the title included swelling the ranks of the team's membership, and moving the team from their cave headquarters to an orbiting satellite. Creators during this period included writers Cary Bates, E. Nelson Bridwell, Steve Englehart and (longest of them all) Gerry Conway, while the art chores were primarily handled by Dick Dillin. The JLA comic had a brief spike in popularity in 1982 when artist George Pérez stepped in following Dillin's death, but the commercial success was short-lived.
In 1984, in an attempt to emulate the success of DC's most successful comic, The New Teen Titans, an editorial decision was made to have most of the regular members leave the team, to be replaced by young unknowns. This move was highly unpopular with readers, who dubbed this period of time the "Justice League Detroit" era. Created by Conway and artist Chuck Patton, the team was eventually disbanded by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Luke McDonnell. The final issue of the original Justice League of America series was #261.
The team was rebuilt in the 1986 company wide crossover mini series, Legends. This new team was given a less America-centric mandate than before and was dubbed Justice League International (or JLI, originally simply Justice League), written by Keith Giffen and DeMatteis with art by Kevin Maguire. This new and very popular series added a quirky sense of tongue-in-cheek humour to the stories, although often edging into silliness reminiscent of the 1960s Batman TV series, slapstick often being Giffen's humor of choice. The titles expanded to a total of five by the early 1990s: Justice League America (formerly JLI), Justice League Europe, Justice League Task Force, Justice League Quarterly, and Extreme Justice. By the mid-1990s, however, with the departure of Giffen as writer, the humor prevalent in the early JLI-era had disappeared in favor of more serious stories, and as the commercial success of the series faded each of the titles were cancelled.
In 1995, a new Justice League was announced to be developed by writer Grant Morrison with art by Howard Porter. (though the team first appeared in the series JLA: A Midsummer's Nightmare written by Mark Waid). Morrison was instrumental in returning the JLA to much of its former glory with a new series titled simply JLA. This series used as its core the original seven members (or their character successors) of the team: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter, and to a lesser extent, Plastic Man, with various another set of less well known characters brought in at different times. Morrison introduced the idea of the JLA allegorically representing a pantheon of gods, with their different powers and personalities. Morrison left the title, other writers and artists have taken over though none with the success of Morrison's League. In 2003, Keith Giffen returned with a separate miniseries called Formerly Known as Justice League with the humour of his Justice League run and featuring some of the same characters in a team called the "Super Buddies" (which parodies the Super Friends). A follow-up miniseries entitled I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League! was in preparation as of February 2004, though it was delayed by the tragic events shown in the Identity Crisis limited series.
Its origin (according to Justice League of America #9) begins when Earth is infiltrated by various competing alien warriors sent to the planet to see who can conquer it first. While most of the invaders are defeated by the superheroes individually, the heroes are at the last enslaved by one competitor and only by working together do they manage to defeat him. The group decides that they should form a permanent organization to confront menaces that require similar pooling of resources and dub themselves the Justice League of America.
This team protects the world fighting various menaces, often working with its precursor, the JSA. A team originally formed by the teen sidekicks of a few Justice League members (and thus known as a "Junior Justice League" of sorts) is called the Teen Titans.
The comic has been adapted for television numerous times. The first was as a segment in The Superman/Aquaman Adventure Hour animated series. The longest running version was a heavily toned down animated series called Super Friends which ran in various incarnations from 1972 to 1985. There was also a live action television series pilot in the mid-1990s which failed to sell, possibly due to multiple licensing issues with having the 'Big Three' of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in the same series, so the live action series opted instead for the lesser known characters, and even then most of these were quite contrary to the characters as written in the comics. Finally, Cartoon Network's Justice League animated series debuted in 2001 and went on for two seasons. In July 2004 the original series was replaced by a follow-up: Justice League Unlimited.
- Justice League Resource (http://justice.aifandom.com)
- Justice League: The Animated Series at toonzone.net (http://wf.toonzone.net/WF/jlau/)
- The Captain's Unofficial Justice League Homepage (http://captain.custard.org/league/index.php/)