With the recent release of another “Justice League Of America #1”, featuring Catwoman, Hawkman, Vibe and other luminaries, debate has resumed at my comic shop about what constitutes a legitimate Justice League.  My friend and erstwhile boss Dusty maintains that the Avengers just aren’t the Avengers without Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, and the sentiment around Gatekeeper Hobbies (Huntoon & Gage, Topeka!  Ask us about whatever the hell it is that you’re into!) is that a League without DC’s iconic Trinity just isn’t a League at all.  For my part, I remember the dog days of the 1990s where several competing Leagues all bounced around, led by the likes of The Martian Manhunter, Captain Atom and Zeep, The Living Sponge, leading me to understand (if not fully share) the expectation that a big-name hero makes the whole thing seem more legitimate.  Of course, I also loved the Detroit-era League, where Aquaman tried to put together a JLA whose only focus was on being the JLA, scouting young heroes and trying to mold them into the Supermen and Wonder Women of tomorrow.  The Detroit League was a valiant attempt at a new kind of super-heroics, even if it didn’t work, and doesn’t deserve the heaping helpings of snark aimed at it in the new millennium…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) is counted as one of the most powerful forces of nerd ever assembled, asking: What does a JLA title absolutely need to have for it to be a “Real” Justice League book for you?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. i think it needs to be animated, with diniverse character designs, and be called Justice League Unlimited.

    it could’ve done with a slightly better theme song without the electric guitar parts though.

  2. Robert Hulshof-Schmidt on

    All I require is a manageable cast of interesting characters. I prefer one or two Big Guns, but I’m not fussy about who. (I agree with Aquaman in Detroit or J’onn as the anchor in the 90s). I also prefer a minimum of new-just-for-the-JL(X) characters. It seems like inclusion in the League should require some previous track record.
    I also demand a commitment to JUSTICE (it’s in the name, folks), which is where the new JLA really falls short for me. It feels way too Suicide Squad and tense-for-tension’s-sake. (Sadly, that seems to be how much of the New 52 is trending.)

  3. I started to say the Big Three, but then I remembered the Giffen/DeMatteis League. I would have to say either the Big Three, or at least of one or two of the Big Seven and a lot of B-rates with the occasional C-rates.
    The current JLA seems to be more of a couple of B+’s and a bunch of D-rates.

  4. The Big Seven, all the way. I love the Timm verse version of team, but even it suffered from distinct lack of Aquaman. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Martain Manhunter, they ARE the League. Personally, I see no reason why it can’t be a JLU situation. That makes sense, all the best DC heroes teamed up together, all of them working to keep the world safe. It gives a writer the ability to tell whichever stories they want, and you don’t have to remove characters from the equation to do it. At the very least, a Satellite Era League should be in evidence, even if you exclude newer editions.

  5. For me, it has to have either Batman or Superman (ideally both) and one of the Green Lanterns (preferably Hal Jordan). Other than that, I like to see odd characters thrown in.

  6. Well, I am a traditionalist. If it doesn’t have Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in it, it isn’t the Justice League. Without them in the book, it’s just like the S.S. Minnow where Gilligan threw the anchor overboard in the storm without attaching the anchor line. Oops.

    Aside from Identity Crisis, I am hard pressed to remember any really good team book stories, and I’ve been reading comics for over five decades. Let’s face it, team books where you have more than two main heroes (such as the Brave and the Bold or Green Lantern/Green Arrow) usually just end up diluting the efforts of the creative team across too many characters, a lot like trying to spread a finite quantity of jam over too many pieces of bread. The end result is rarely satisfying.

    • Aside from Identity Crisis, I am hard pressed to remember any really good team book stories, and I’ve been reading comics for over five decades.

      Wow… I’m a bit stunned, as Identity Crisis isn’t really a team book, and I certainly don’t consider it good. :D

    • Good team book stories:

      Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans
      Legion of Super-Heroes Great Darkness Saga
      The first 24 issues of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League in 1987.
      The Dark Phoenix Saga.
      Kurt Busiek’s Avengers, especially the first four issues and the Kang Wars.
      Great Lakes Avengers: Misassembled.
      Noble Causes.
      Avengers #16.
      The first ten issues of Bendis’ original New Avengers run.
      JLA #200 and the Detroit League.
      The Justice Society’s 1990’s run with the Mike Parobeck art.
      John Ostrander’s Heroes For Hire in the late 90s.
      The Liberty Project, and the first (I think, ten issue) arc of The New Wave.
      Steve Gerber’s run of Defenders in the 70s.
      The Femforce’s war with the Black Spectre circa 1985 or so.

      And that’s just right off the top of my head. Satisfying is often in the eye of the beholder, it would seem…

  7. I also prefer One or two of the Big Seven. Unlike some, I liked the detroit League. I liked the location, the mixture of old and new herosand Aquaman leading the team. I didn’t mind the lack of Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. Sometimes I actually prefer it.
    Even more important is that the League is recognized as the premiere Superhero team. This is mostly due to writing, but if that is believably pulled off, any other sins can be forgiven.

  8. Definitely the big seven plus some of the other classic leaguers (Hawkman, Green Arrow, Red Tornado, Plasticman…wait, did I say classic?) Too many of the team books have adding too many new characters just for the sake of new characters these days (*cough* Avengers *cough*)

  9. It needs to have that mythic parallel. A Zeus figure (Superman/Shazam/Martian Manhunter), an Athena analogue (Wonder Woman/Supergirl/Hawkgirl), Hermes (Flash/Jesse Quick), Apollo (Green Lantern/Dr. Fate), Hephestaus (Batman/Steel/Cyborg), Ares (Aquaman/Guy Gardner/Captain Atom) and Bacchus (Plastic Man/Elongated Man/Gnort).Grant Morrison showed that these heroes are our modern day myths and should be treated as such.
    Epic storylines that cover space/time/dimensions that show how teamwork and heart can overcome the greatest odds. Where an atom and an archer can take down a god. The place that should introduce the highest of concepts and the most dangerous of foes.

  10. For me its all about legacy. Does the new incarnation of the team respect its prior incarnations (admittedly difficult since this ham-fisted continuity reboot) and understand the responsibility and traditions its taking on, to protect humanity. If its willing to join that tradition, then whoever the members are, its a worthy JLA.

    Like a sports team, military unit or great rock band, sometimes the faces change with the passage of time or with casualties taken, but its identity can transcend its membership, if its core values are continued.

  11. I think it needs one or two big guns, but they don’t even have to be full-time members. I like Batman only deciding to help out on a mission reluctantly, possibly at the last minute, because he doesn’t want the team to rely on him but he also wants to make sure the job gets done. I like Superman feeling he needs to guide the team rather than fight their battles for them.

    But the most important thing, I like the variety of folks from very different walks of life who all have a similar goal in mind: To protect all that is right and good, and to do it in a way that doesn’t make them fall to the level of those they fight (unless they absolutely have no other possible choice).

    • There was a nice JLA or Justice League story that explained Supermans reluctamce to be a member. he was afraid of those around him getting hurt and didn’t want to take care of them AND fight the Big Bad.
      Check it out. Ralph Dibny actually saves the Big S.

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