Captain Comics: 20 Fun Facts to Know and Tell about the Justice League

Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

 

Justice League premieres Nov. 17! Here are 20 Fun Facts to Know and Tell about DC Comics’ premier super-team:

 

1. The Justice League of America was created in 1960, but was based on the Justice Society of America. The JSA, which ran in All-Star Comics from 1940 to 1951, was the first superhero team in comic books. (“Society” was changed to “League,” because baseball.)

 

2. The members of the JLA in its 1960 debut were Aquaman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman and Wonder Woman. (Cyborg didn’t exist yet.)

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & © DC Comics

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2017 Justice League: Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Will Superman and/or Green Lantern join them?

 

3. The Justice League has had three origins. The 1962 origin brought the team together to battle an invasion from the planet Appelax. The 1977 origin brought the team together to battle an invasion from Mars. The 2011 origin brought the team together to battle an invasion from Apokolips. (The second was adapted for the Justice League animated TV show, the third is being adapted in the movie.)

 

4. The first Justice League story depicted the team battling Starro, a giant starfish from outer space. (Who knew kids in 1960 were so into echinoderms!)

 

5. Justice League of America may have created Marvel Comics. A much-repeated story, possibly apocryphal, recounts Jack Liebowitz, who published Justice League of America, bragging in 1961 about its sales to Martin Goodman, publisher of Timely Comics, over a game of golf. That inspired Goodman to order his editor, Stan Lee, to come up with a comparable book. Having no existing superheroes to draw upon, Lee and Jack Kirby invented Fantastic Four out of whole cloth, beginning the deluge of new characters like Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, X-Men and Hulk for what would soon be called Marvel Comics.

 

6. Joss Whedon (Avengers) was brought on to finish Justice League after original director Zack Snyder resigned to deal with a family emergency. We don’t know yet what changes Whedon made, except that he reduced the movie’s running time from 170 minutes to 121 minutes. (Maybe he just removed all painful references to Batman v. Superman.)

 

7. Despite having been intermittently in print since 1941, Green Arrow was omitted from the first six Justice League stories. Editor Julie Schwartz said it was an oversight. (Some speculate it was on purpose, because Schwartz didn’t get along with Green Arrow editor and co-creator Mort Weisinger.)

 

 8. In 2003, the Justice League met Marvel’s Avengers in a crossover that involved The Grandmaster, who appeared in “Thor: Ragnarok,” played by Jeff Goldblum. (Don’t hold your breath for Marvel and DC to get along well enough for JLA/Avengers to become a movie.)

 

9. The late writer/editor Darwyn Cooke wrote a non-canon, 1950s-style origin for the Justice League that involved the Blackhawks, the Challengers of the Unknown and a flying island that sweated dinosaurs. His retro, “Space Age” art style made Justice League: The New Frontier so popular that it was adapted into an animated movie. (Yes, an island that sweated dinosaurs. And you thought a giant starfish was silly.)

 

10. A 1988 story established Black Canary as a founding member of the Justice League in place of Wonder Woman. (This terrible idea was quickly dropped.)

 

11. Cyborg first appeared in 1980 as a member of the Teen Titans. His history was re-written in 2011, erasing his Titans tenure in favor of being a founding member of the Justice League, instead of Martian Manhunter. (It’s not easy being green.)

 

12. When Wonder Woman lost her powers in the ‘70s, she resigned from the Justice League. When her powers were restored, she demanded the League monitor her during 12 labors, like Hercules,  to ascertain her worthiness to return. (Yes, it was her request, but it still feels sexist.)

 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & © DC Comics

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) hasn’t always been the star in Justice League comics, but she will be in the movie, thanks to her successful solo movie. 

13. In the mid-1980s, the League was headquartered in Michigan. “Justice League Detroit” consisted of Aquaman, Elongated Man, Martian Manhunter, Vixen and Zatanna, plus new characters Gypsy, Steel and Vibe. (It didn’t last long.)

 

14. Both the Vibe of Justice League of America comics and the Vibe of the Flash TV show are both named Francisco Ramone, although one goes by Paco and the other by Cisco. Their powers differ as well, although both are vibration-based. (Another difference: Unlike Cisco, Paco likes to break-dance.)

 

15. The JLA met in their “Secret Sanctuary” in the 1960s, a cave in a mountain near Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. They graduated to a geosynchronous satellite headquarters in 1970, which is how they are usually depicted. (This is where my generation learned the term “geosynchronous.”)  

 

16. Black Canary was created in 1947, so by 1983 DC was having trouble explaining why she still looked to be in her early 20s. So Justice League of America #220 revealed that the then-current Black Canary was actually the daughter of the original, kept in unconscious stasis due to her uncontrollable sonic scream while she grew up, and with her dead mother’s memories downloaded into her blank brain. (It’s considered polite to pretend this story never happened.)

 

17. A late 1960s crackdown on Saturday morning violence had virtually eliminated superhero cartoons by 1970. The first Super Friends (beginning 1973) is what you get when you try to adapt Justice League to a media where they can’t hit anybody. (And, for some reason, you include Robin, who isn’t in the Justice League.)

 

18. Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, El Dorado and Samurai were created for the Super Friends cartoon, and did not pre-exist in DC Comics. Ditto for Wendy, Marvin, Wonder Dog, Jan, Zayna and Gleek. (Some have appeared in the comics since.)

 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & © DC Comics

Aquaman’s squeeze Mera (Amber Heard) appears briefly in Justice League, but she’s a full member in the comic book.

19. Currently, the Justice League consists of Batman, Cyborg, Flash, two Green Lanterns, Mera (Aquaman’s fiancé), Superman and Wonder Woman. (I’d settle for even one Green Lantern in the movie.)

 

20. In 1994, a character named Triumph was revealed to have been a founding member of the Justice League, but on his first mission was teleported into a dimensional limbo that also affected the timestream, erasing all memory of him. (Got that? OK, now go back to forgetting him.)

 

Find Captain Comics by email (capncomics@aol.com), on his website (captaincomics.ning.com), on Facebook (Captain Comics Round Table) or on Twitter (@CaptainComics).

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Every time I see a picture of the movie cast (every time) the first thought that pops into my head is, "Why is Vandal Savage a member?"

Something I always thought was interesting was the "mandate" that all Silver Age JLAers had to have their own on-going feature/book. Even though the Silver Age Hawkman was created by JLA #4, he had to wait until JLA #31 to join. That meant that both the Golden Age Hawkman (#21-22) and one of his villains, the Matter Master (#28) appeared in the book before him!

Schwartz and Weisinger met in their teens: they were both in SF fandom. They co-founded a literary agency for SF writers. They became DC editors by different routes, but I've never heard there was animosity between them.

The story was that Weisinger didn't want Schwartz using Superman in  Justice League of America because of over-exposure despite being in eight other titles! And that Jack Schiff felt the same about Batman. It was only when Schwartz went to DC's publisher that he was able to regularly use the World's Finest Duo, starting around #25.

OTOH, Aquaman was co-created by Weisinger and was there from Day One!

Luke Blanchard said:

Schwartz and Weisinger met in their teens: they were both in SF fandom. They co-founded a literary agency for SF writers. They became DC editors by different routes, but I've never heard there was animosity between them.

The JLA's first appearance coincided with the end of GA's series in Adventure Comics. (The next month Action Comics went from a three feature to a two feature format and Congorilla's feature was moved to Adventure Comics, where it replaced GA's.)

GA's feature subsequently only appeared in World's Finest Comics, where it had long had a slot, edited by Schiff. I don't know how the work was divided between Schiff and his assistants George Kashdan and Murray Boltinoff.

Philip Portelli said:

It was only when Schwartz went to DC's publisher that he was able to regularly use the World's Finest Duo, starting around #25.

I heard that Schwartz accepted that he couldn't use Supes and Bats. The publisher asked Schwartz why they weren't being used. When told why, he told Weisinger and Schiff that they belonged to DC, not them, and that Schwartz would be using them.

Richard Willis said:

Philip Portelli said:

It was only when Schwartz went to DC's publisher that he was able to regularly use the World's Finest Duo, starting around #25.

I heard that Schwartz accepted that he couldn't use Supes and Bats. The publisher asked Schwartz why they weren't being used. When told why, he told Weisinger and Schiff that they belonged to DC, not them, and that Schwartz would be using them.

From my Deck Log entry, "But I Thought . . . ." the Justice League of America (https://captaincomics.ning.com/profiles/blogs/from-the-archives-dec...):

Initially, Superman and Batman’s participation in JLA stories was severely curtailed.  Often, in the early days, they appeared in only a few panels of a given story, and sometimes, not at all.  Fox explained the reason for this in an interview published in the fanzine Batmania # 22 (Mar., 1977):  “I didn’t use Superman or Batman very much in the first few years of the Justice League.  [Superman editor] Mort Weisinger and [Batman editor] Jack Schiff didn’t want us to.  They thought I’d overexpose the characters.”

By early 1962, the initially high sales of JLA had begun to sag.  According to his autobiography, JLA editor Julius Schwartz met with DC publisher Jack Liebowitz over the slumping circulation, and he informed the publisher of Weisinger’s and Schiff’s territorial prohibitions against using their heroes in JLA.  Schwartz and Liebowitz agreed that the best way to restore JLA’s rating was to utilise DC’s two most popular characters.  According to Schwartz, Liebowitz instructed him to go back to his fellow editors and tell them, “Superman and Batman belong to DC Comics and not to Mort Weisinger and Jack Schiff!”

 

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