Teamwork is a wonderful thing. We teach this to our children early in life. We see it in our work lives as adults. We even see it in our comic books, where superheroes team-up to face those threats they could never overcome alone!
In reality, the first superhero teams were created for less altruistic reasons. Publishers guessed that a superhero-loving child would be more likely to spend their shiny dime on a comic book where they got to see all their favorite heroes in action rather than just one. Of course, all the most popular superheroes still sported their own solo series but the vast majority shared anthology books like All-Star Comics, where the Justice Society of America - the first superhero team in history - debuted.
Superhero team books also allowed writers a chance to push new character ideas that they couldn't convince their bosses would work on their own. This is why, despite being founded to unite the most powerful and highly-trained costumed crime-fighters on Earth to face crises of world-shaking importance, the Justice League's membership has included some crazy characters that most would consider unworthy of the label "World's Finest".
Here are the 15 Craziest Justice League Members!
At a time when most comic companies were creating superheroes born of pacts with demonic forces, writer Grant Morrison sent us an angel. First appearing in JLA #6 (June 1997), Zauriel was a guardian angel who renounced his immortality so he could romantically pursue the woman he was assigned to protect.
Unfortunately, on the way out of Heaven, Zauriel stumbled across a plot by the angel-king Asmodel to overthrow God. This led to Asmodel’s minions chasing him to Earth, and a battle in which the Justice League became involved.
The bad news is Zauriel’s would-be lover rejected him. The good news is that he was offered JLA membership, and Heaven named him their Ambassador on Earth, giving him divine armor and a floating base over Los Angeles.
Zauriel wasn’t a bad character but his existence did raise uncomfortable questions about the nature of God in the DC Universe. Chiefly why, when there were numerous demons running around on Earth, did God only task one angel with fighting them directly?
The only thing saving G'nort Esplanade Gneesmacher from being listed in The Book Of Oa as the most disgraceful Green Lantern of all time is the fact G'nort, while utterly incompetent, never went mad with power like Sinestro. Even then, some think it's a close call.
G'nort was originally given a fake power ring by a group of aliens posing as The Guardians of the Universe, who were trying to undermine faith in the Green Lantern Corps by giving phenomenal cosmic power to total idiots. After the plot was uncovered, G'nort was given a real power ring since the Guardians sensed that he was "honest and fearless." This was true... by virtue of G'nort being too stupid to lie or be aware of danger.
G'nort made his way to Earth and somehow earned a place in the Justice League as well. Life on Earth was not good to G'nort, however, and the dog-man was last seen living in the dumpster behind Guy Gardner's restaurant in Green Lantern 80-Page Giant #1 (December 1998).
It doesn't bode well when a character makes their premiere appearance playing second-fiddle to Elongated Man. It's even worse when they are an obvious rip-off of another heroine from The Inhumans. Such was the unfortunate status of Dorcas "Godiva" Leigh when she made her premiere appearance in Super Friends #7 (October 1977).
Armed with the power of prehensile hair, Godiva started her career as part of the Global Guardians - a United Nations sponsored superhero team. She was granted League membership after impressing Wonder Woman, following a battle where the two teamed against the villainous Queen Bee.
While she appeared several times before Crisis on Infinite Earths, no writer felt the need to use Godiva post-Crisis until JSA Classified #19 (January 2007). This story saw Godiva become the victim of metahuman organ theft, left scalped, powerless and forgotten again until she was brought back as a member of The New 52 Justice League International.
With a flirtatious new personality and an infatuation with Booster Gold, she was probably better off forgotten!
Originally one of the many Great White Hunters who flourished in pulp comics in the Golden Age, the superheroic Silver Age would bring big changes for William "Congo Bill" Glenmorgan. Bill was given a magic ring that would allow him to swap minds with the legendary giant Golden Gorilla.
The ring worked, as Bill discovered when he was caught in a cave-in and used his connection to the creature to clear the way out. Calling himself Congorilla, Bill would devote himself to fighting crime in Africa with the assistance of his young ward, Janu The Jungle Boy.
Writer James Robinson had great success reviving many obscure characters in his cult series Starman. Unfortunately, his attempt to bring new prominence to Congorilla was doomed to failure. Briefly joining the team during Robinson's run on Justice League following the Cry For Justice mini-series, Bill eventually left the Justice League to focus on creating an Africa-focused superhero team.
Everything about Bloodwynd screams 1990s, from his overly dramatic costume to a name that features both an intentional "kewl" misspelling and the word "blood." His origin also speaks to the era in which he was created, being the bearer of a mystic "blood gem" that grants him various necromantic powers. The gem was originally created by a group of slaves in order to strike back against their cruel owner. The gem became cursed, however, with a demon called Rott feeding on the souls of those killed by the gem!
Somehow, Bloodwynd's complicated origin story became even more complicated after it was revealed that he was a mind-controlled Martian Manhunter pretending to be Bloodwynd!
Eventually, the real Bloodwynd showed up to reclaim his identity. He was allowed to stay in the Justice League but - being a pacifist who feared using his powers - he was utterly useless and quickly disappeared into limbo outside of the occasional appearance during crossovers.
Perhaps the only superheroine more likely to appear on an episode of The Real Housewives of Dallas than the local evening news, Goldrush's time in the Justice League was mercifully brief. In fact, her tenure on the team was so short that we never learned anything about her origins or even what her real name is. Given what little we did learn and see of her in action, it's probably just as well.
Boasting a golden cover that she called "my hard candy shell," Goldrush reportedly had super-strength and invulnerability, and claimed to have won her super-powers from her ex-husband following her second divorce. Her flirtatious manner did little to win over the Flash, who called her "Gold Digger."
Despite single-handedly stopping the villain Brimstone (a feat that impressed even Wonder Woman), Goldrush proved to have something of a glass jaw, getting knocked out by the enraged Metal Man, Platinum. Nonetheless, Goldrush was granted reserve membership in the League, but hasn’t been seen since.
On paper, Maxima sounds like a worthy addition to the JLA. She has strength and speed on-par with Superman, plus telepathy and telekinesis. She's also the warrior queen of the planet Almerac and possesses fighting skills that might give Wonder Woman a decent workout.
What makes Maxima so crazy is her reason for joining the Justice League in the first place - to prove her worth as a mate for Superman!
The royal family of Almerac was built on a foundation of eugenics and breeding with the strongest warriors of other worlds. When word of Superman's victory over Mongul of Warworld reached Maxima's ear, she knew she had found her perfect man. She journeyed to Earth determined to win Superman's heart or kill him trying.
Fortunately, Maxima began to look for other worthy prospects on Earth. Unfortunately, she still had the personality of a boy-crazy teenage girl and would turn on the Man of Steel and her Justice League teammates more than once.
Mystek not only has one of the shortest tenures of any Justice League member - she has one of the shortest life-spans of any character in comic book history!
First appearing as a villain in The Ray #12 (May 1995), Mystek was a young Korean woman who fought crime in sculpted armor that gave her a man's physique, while working out of an electronics store in Philadelphia. She fought The Ray and the Justice League in a classic case of mistaken identity and impressed Martian Manhunter enough to offer her membership on the team.
Unfortunately, Mystek was severely claustrophobic and an extended trip on a spaceship proved too much for her to cope with. She blasted her way into space and died of suffocation in Justice League Task Force #32.
The craziest aspect of this is Mystek was only added to the Justice League roster to promote her upcoming solo mini-series. When the deal for the mini-series fell through, creator Christopher Priest elected to kill her off outright.
7 Super Chief
Astonishingly, there have been several heroes and villains who used the name Super Chief and none of them had anything to do with the famous "Train Of The Stars." Instead, they were Native Americans armed with a meteorite amulet that temporarily granted them the powers of super-strength, super-speed, and flight for one hour.
The third Super Chief was a veteran and ex-con named Jon Standing Bear. Recruited by Firestorm into a new Justice League formed in the wake of the team's dissolution following Infinite Crisis, Jon failed to survive their first mission. His ghost was last seen being chastised by the ghost of Flying Stag - the first Super Chief.
To add insult to injury, creator Grant Morrison apparently had plans for Jon Standing Bear but never got around to following through on them after 52.
The term "Mary Sue" comes from the the heroine of a famous parody of bad Star Trek fan-fiction. It's applied to any character who seems utterly perfect and exists only as a representation of the writer's ideal mate or a self-insert for the writer themselves.
Faith - who first appeared in JLA #69 (October 2002) - is a prime example of a "Mary Sue" in action.
Plucked from obscurity by Batman to join a back-up Justice League during The Obsidian Age storyline, Faith was never given a backstory or a full name. She possessed some sort of psychic power that made people trust her (presumably the only reason the notoriously paranoid Batman would ever work with an untested rookie) and was also a powerful telekinetic who was strong enough to wreck entire fleets of spaceships!
Thankfully, her ability to develop new powers as needed did not save her from a vampire bite and she elected to join the Doom Patrol, where a vampiric deus ex machina would fit right in.
5 Moon Maiden
The girl who would become Moon Maiden was discovered in a lost city on the moon by her adoptive father, an American astronaut. The ghosts of The Hundred - a group of scholars who fled to the moon following the fall of Rome - explained that the girl was the result of alchemical experiments to create the perfect being and would have to stand against their first failed attempt at this, an evil being called The Centurion.
With a background involving space-travel, ancient Rome, ghosts, and alchemy, you might think Moon Maiden's story couldn't get crazier or more complicated. But you'd be wrong, as Moon Maiden also helped start the Justice League!
So why has no one heard of her? The Centurion developed a weapon capable of erasing the target from history and Moon Maiden sacrificed herself to stop her arch-enemy once and for all. Ironically, Moon Maiden would be forgotten after her only appearance in JLA Giant Size Special #3 (October 2000) and never be seen again apart from a cameo in JLA/Avengers.
Created by Grant Morrison, Aztek was one of a number of heroes in 1990s DC Comics who were the last scions of religious organizations who fought secret wars against some prophesied rising darkness. The boy called Uno was raised from birth by the secretive Q Society to be the champion of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl and destroy the dark god Tezcatipoca. He was granted phenomenal powers by a magical set of armor, which was powered by a fourth-dimensional mirror.
Unlike most heroes of his ilk, Aztek did get a chance to fulfill his destiny, despite his solo-series being canceled after ten issues. Unfortunately, his destiny involved a suicide mission to facilitate some other superhero saving the day!
In the final arc on his legendary JLA run, Grant Morrison had every superhero on Earth united against Mageddon - a living weapon forged by the Old Gods of The Third World. Aztek triggered the self-destruct on his suit to free a captive Superman, enabling him to go on to defeat Mageddon.
3 Manitou Raven
Created by Joe Kelly as the ultimate Apache Chief call-out, it's a hard call deciding what aspect of Manitou Raven is the most troubling. The fact that "Manitou" is an Algonquian word is only the start of it.
An Apache shaman from the year 1000 BC, Manitou Raven originally stood against the Justice League during The Obsidian Age storyline. In time, he would come to realize their good nature and would return with them to the present with his wife, Dawn, whom he offered sexually to any interested male League member, in the custom of his people. Note: The real Apaches never had such a custom.
Strangely, Raven got upset when Green Arrow took him up on this. Granted, it might have been because Manitou Raven had become obsessed with his work, neglecting his duties as a husband and Dawn approached Oliver Queen seeking love, not sex. Either way, Manitou Raven didn't hesitate in sacrificing himself to save his allies or bequeathing his powers to his wife.
2 Blue Jay
Hailing from the alien world of Angor, Jay Abrams combines two of the most limited power-sets in superhero comics to ill effect. He has the power to shrink but can only shrink to the size of a small bird. He can fly but only as fast as a small bird. This isn't much as far as superpowers go, but hey! He also has the enhanced vision... of a small bird.
At least The Atom and Hawkman had their skills as a physicist and an archaeologist respectively to make themselves useful. Blue Jay, by contrast, lacked the intelligence and imagination to come up with a superhero code name that didn't make use of his actual first name.
Nothing speaks to Blue Jay's incompetence more than the fact that he was appointed leader of Justice League Europe as part of a convoluted plot by the villain Queen Bee to sabotage the team. Apparently she couldn't think of anything that would destroy the Justice League faster than putting a half-hearted Yellowjacket rip-off in charge.
1 Tasmanian Devil
Like Godiva, The Tasmanian Devil was originally created for the Super Friends comic book. Unlike Godiva, Hugh Dawkins would have been prime material for a copyright infringement suit if Warner Bros. didn't already own the other, more famous Tasmanian Devil.
You know a superhero concept is trouble when it brings a Looney Tunes character to mind. Still, your options for a code name are limited when you're Australian and your power is literally turning into a half-man/half-Tasmanian Devil monster - like a werewolf, only more Australian. Those options are further limited when a big white "T" grows in your chest fur whenever you transform.
Small wonder that the Tasmanian Devil died as he lived - off-panel and played for laughs. It was revealed in Justice League: Cry For Justice #3 that the villain Prometheus had turned him into a rug for his lair. Writer James Robinson would later resurrect the Tasmanian Devil during his run on Justice League, but it's safe to say that few readers cared.
Who do you think is the craziest Justice League member? Let us know in the comments!