The Justice League is arguably the most iconic superhero team in comic book history. The team has gone through multiple iterations over the years, through iconic highs and embarrassing lows, but it’s been a near constant in the history of the DC Universe since its debut in the Silver Age. It’s enjoyed several popular animated iterations over the years, and fans are salivating for this November’s much anticipated live-action film that will bring the heroes of the DCEU together to take on Steppenwolf.
Unlike some other company’s superteams, the Justice League is usually composed of DC’s most iconic heroes, generally headlined by the trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. When the team is at its high points, it generates some of the best, most thrilling stories superheroes are capable of delivering.
And then there are the times when it’s been at lower points. Any property that’s existed for over 50 years is bound to have bumps in the road, and the Justice League has suffered some rough ones, notably when D-list characters who have no business hanging out with the likes of Batman and Green Lantern have joined up.
These are the 8 Most Powerful (And 7 Most Worthless) Members Of The Justice League.
15. POWERFUL: Shazam
Billy Batson is a 12-year old orphan who was granted magical abilities by an ancient Wizard when he evoked his magic word, “Shazam.” When the word is spoken, Billy transforms into the adult superhero Shazam, possessing the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Herculus, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of mercury.
Shazam is, in theory, just as powerful as Superman, as he’s essentially invulnerable to anything other than incredibly high-powered magic. But Shazam’s primary weakness comes from the source of some of his greatest storytelling strengths: despite all his amazing abilities, deep down he’s still a 12-year old boy, and his immaturity and wide eyed wonder at the world of superheroics often get him into trouble.
14. WORTHLESS: Triumph
One of the most irritating characters in comic book history, Triumph was a monumentally bad idea of a character. Created in the early ’90s, Triumph, through a massive retcon, was a long-forgotten founding member of the Justice League, who had been trapped in a dimensional limbo and forgotten by the world. When he managed to return, he revealed himself to be a deeply unlikable character; an arrogant, self-righteous jerk who wasn’t particularly good at being a hero.
In Grant Morrison’s much celebrated JLA run in the late ’90s, Triumph was shown to be destitute and a failure, forgotten all over again. His ultimate fate – being turned into an ice statue by the Spectre and left to rot in some corner of Justice League headquarters – is about what he deserved.
13. POWERFUL: Aquaman
The butt of endless “guy who talks to fish” jokes for decades, Aquaman has never gotten the respect he deserves. Arthur Curry is a man of two worlds: born to a simple human fisherman and an Atlantean queen, he never fully fit in either man’s world or the one under the sea. Arthur Curry would eventually take his rightful place as the ruler of Atlantis, through stories full of violence and political machinations worthy of Game of Thrones – fitting since Khal Drogo himself, Jason Momoa, has been cast to portray Aquaman in live action.
Aquaman possessed super strength due to his physiology allowing him to survive in the darkest depths of the ocean, but his most noted superpower is his ability to communicate telepathically with marine life. The Super Friends cartoon famously featured this ability to lighthearted effect, but nobody laughs when he summons massive sharks to take chunks out of Parademons.
12. WORTHLESS: Maxima
Maxima was an unfortunate casualty of a less enlightened era of comics. A member of royalty from the planet Almerac, Maxima possessed super strength, invulnerability, flight, telepathy, and the ability to control minds. She should have been one of the most legitimately powerful forces in the DC Universe. Yet she primarily used those abilities for the purposes of luring myriad men she perceived to be suitable mates.
Originally a lightweight antagonist of Superman, she joined the Justice League in the early ’90s (they were letting pretty much anyone in around then) and she was fixated on the likes of Captain Atom and Amazing Man. Essentially a sexist joke of a character, some later stories would try to overcome that misogynistic DNA, to limited success. Still, she may be probably worthy of a modern day revamp.
11. POWERFUL: Batman
Look, Batman is just a dude. He has lots of cool gadgets and weapons, but no superpowers. He is, as his fellow Justice League member Green Lantern once incredulously noted, “just some guy in a bat costume.”
And yet he’s probably the single most feared member of the Justice League, because he’s simply that much smarter than everyone else.
He’s credibly taken on gods. He’s defeated Superman so many times we’ve lost count. He has contingency plans to disable every member of the Justice League that were proven effective when they were stolen and implemented by Ra’s al Ghul.
10. WORTHLESS: Geo-Force
Brion Markov, the prince of Markovia, was a forgettable member of Batman’s Outsiders for the majority of his existence, but briefly had a bewildering stay in the Justice League.
The owner of one of the worst superhero costumes of all time – the “GF” on his chest strongly suggests he’s Girlfriend Man, which might actually be a cooler name than Geo-Force – Markov has powers that allow him to manipulate gravitational fields in some very boring ways.
The most remarkable thing Geo-Force did was having a sister who was way more interesting than him. Terra Markov was the key character in the Teen Titans story “The Judas Contract”, one of the most defining stories in DC history. Geo-Force has spent the majority of his unremarkable fictional life being angsty about the events of that story. Really though, that costume is wretched.
9. POWERFUL: The Flash
The Flash is another character who is often reduced to his most notable ability and dismissed as a possible heavy hitter, which is a huge mistake. Barry Allen is capable of running at incredible speeds, which is impressive enough, but that really just scratches the surface of his abilities. He can phase through solid objects, create tornados, and absorb knowledge at a massively accelerated rate.
He can also time travel, which has ended up having massive effects on the greater DC Universe, both positive and negative, like in the massive crossover event Flashpoint, which will reportedly be the basis of the upcoming Flash film.
Granted his powers by a mysterious entity known as the Speed Force, Barry is often fulfilling purposes even he doesn’t understand, but he always ends up being a necessary force for good in the universe.
8. WORTHLESS: Bloodwynd
Here we have the owner of one of the very worst names in comic book history. The great Justice League writer Grant Morrison once said of Bloodwynd “he does appear to have based his super identity on some alarming rectal trauma.” Beyond the dopey name, Bloodwynd has one of the worst costumes ever, which is about 80% composed of a white leotard, with a bejeweled bracelet around one thigh. It’s rough.
A member of the Justice League in the early ’90s, Bloodwynd stood out as a character that barely made sense in an era noted for its lack of sense. He was introduced as Martian Manhunter impersonating the real Bloodwynd, who was stuck in a mystical gem Martian Manhunter, as Bloodwynd, was wearing. When the real Bloodwynd finally showed up, he was deeply forgettable, and quickly disappeared into comic book limbo.
7. POWERFUL: Martian Manhunter
J’onn J’onzz, the last survivor of Mars, found himself surprisingly transported to Earth, with no friends or allies. Among his many abilities is shape shifting, which allowed him to take on the persona of John Jones, a human detective, for many years. He would eventually become a founding member of the Justice League, and has been an indispensable member for the majority of the League’s existence.
Martian Manhunter can do essentially everything Superman can, but with a few added abilities as well. In addition to flight and super strength, J’onn can shape shift, turn invisible, and communicate telepathically.
Despite all those amazing abilities, J’onn’s greatest virtue has proved to be his kindness. Still haunted by the end of his people, he strives for connection with his newfound home, and the Justice League has more often than not served as his new surrogate family.
6. WORTHLESS: Congorilla
William “Congo Bill” Glenmorgan was a soldier and adventurer at the turn of the 20th century. When he was mortally wounded, a witch doctor transferred his consciousness into the body of a great golden gorilla, and he became the superhero Congorilla.
The DC universe has never been short on super intelligent gorillas: Gorilla Grodd is one the DCU’s staple villains, and the denizens of Gorilla City have been part of some great stories.
Despite ostensibly possessing the same basic charms, Congorilla manages to commit the cardinal sin of being a super intelligent gorilla superhero who is really, really boring. His tenure in the Justice League was short and unmemorable, as he faded into the background occupied by such B-listers as Jade and one of the lesser-known Starmen.
5. POWERFUL: Wonder Woman
Diana of Themyscira, one of the most iconic superheroes of all time, needs little introduction these days. The beloved child of Hyppolyta, the queen of the Amazons, and the Greek god Zeus, Diana leave the paradise of Themyscira to become her people’s ambassador to man’s world.
As a demi-god, Wonder Woman possesses amazing strength and, due to her training with the likes of Antiope and Artemis, is one of the most skilled fighters on Earth. She can deflect bullets with her bracelets, and compel people to give her information with the lasso of truth.
Diana’s greatest strength is likely her ability to inspire. This is not a power limited to fiction – afterstarring in the biggest movie of the summer, Wonder Woman has come to embody not only a progressive feminist movement within the DC Universe, but has become a significant symbol for a similar movement in 2017 America.
4. WORTHLESS: Gypsy
Created as something of a poor man’s version of the X-Men’s Kitty Pryde, Gypsy (real name Cindy Reynolds) was a teen girl who could camouflage herself into her surroundings and project images into people’s minds. A member of the infamously lousy Justice League Detroit, Gypsy’s costume was a borderline offensive interpretation of generic “gypsy” clothing.
In a surprisingly dark twist, Gypsy’s parents were murdered by the villain Despero, and she would briefly become something of a surrogate daughter to Martian Manhunter. Never really able to stand on her own as a character, she drifted between D-list Justice League offshoots like the Conglomerate and Justice League Task Force before largely being forgotten.
The Flash TV series recently introduced a fairly interesting version of the character, but it’s probably no mistake that version of Gypsy has virtually nothing in common with the deeply forgettable comic version.
3. POWERFUL: Green Lantern
Green Lantern can do anything. Well, almost anything.
Each member of the Green Lantern Corps is granted a power ring that not only grants them flight and defensive capabilities, it allows them to conjure constructs that are limited only by their imagination and willpower.
Hal Jordan, a cocky test pilot with a crumbling personal life, has generally been Earth’s primary Green Lantern, and has proved to be one of the Corps’ most accomplished members. Hal’s ability to overcome fear and channel his considerable willpower into the ring has made him arguably the most powerful Green Lantern ever, and when he’s acting with purpose, there is essentially nothing that can stop him.
His only weaknesses tend to be emotional, like his feelings for Carol Ferris – his on-again/off-again love interest who is also part of the Star Sapphire Corps – and his complicated relationship with Sinestro – his one-time mentor who has harnessed the power of fear into a yellow power ring. When he’s not being ruled by his emotions, Hal is the Justice League’s most reliable powerhouse.
2. WORTHLESS: Vibe
For decades, Vibe has been the undisputed champion of the “lamest Justice League” member competition, and with good reason. A former street gangster with vibrational powers, Cisco Ramon was yet another member of the reviled Justice League Detroit lineup.
Vibe was such a demonstrably lousy character that team members Aquaman and Martian Manhunter openly acknowledged it with essentially no hint of irony. He is the proud owner of one of the very worst superhero costumes of all time, and was rightly killed off with very little fanfare in the late 80’s.
There have been modern efforts to revamp the character, both in the pages of the New 52 and in The Flash television series, where Cisco Ramon is one of Barry Allen’s most charismatic and trusted allies. Those versions are commendable, but they still have their origins in the lamest hero to ever join the Justice League.
1. POWERFUL: Superman
It’s possible you’ve heard of Superman. The original superhero, Clark Kent is the last survivor of Krypton, sent to Earth by his doomed parents to redeem their shortsighted race. Raised in Smallville, Kansas by Jonathan and Martha Kent, Clark was imbued with decidedly idealistic American values, believing he was sent to Earth to help those who couldn’t help themselves.
And oh, can he help them. His superhuman abilities are part of the American lexicon at this point – flight, super strength, super speed, heat vision, etc. Plenty of superheroes – plenty of this list – share a similar set of powers, yet even those characters look up to Superman, and for good reason.
Superman is the ultimate immigrant story. Sent to a foreign land out of desperation, he internalized the highest ideals of his new homeland, and ended improving his new world in ways that only he could. He’s a proud servant to a world that rightly loves him (Lex Luthor excepted). He’s the Justice League’s north star, the hero they all aspire to live up to.
Who do you think are the most powerful and worthless members of the Justice League? Let us know in the comments!
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