Justice League of America (Volume 1). Continues in Justice League Volume 1.
Following three try-out adventures in The Brave and Bold #28, the Justice League of America graduated to its own magazine. The series was to run for 261 issues. The original team consisted of Superman, Batman, Flash (Barry Allen), Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. Many JLA fans refer to this team as the "big 7" or even the "Magnificent 7." As a reward for helping them solve their first case against Starro the Conqueror, Lucas "Snapper" Carr was made an honorary member of the team, and along with the other members had his own JLA signal device. In their early adventures, it was editorial policy to use Superman and Batman sparingly in the JLA, as editor Julius Schwartz believed that the World's Finest duo got enough exposure elsewhere in the DC line.
Author of the early JLA adventures was Gardner Fox, and along with editor Schwartz, Fox was keen to make his adventures both entertaining and educational. To this end, he ensured that his tales were scattered with scientific facts. In their early adventures, the League came up against otherworldly beings like Despero, Starro, Xotan the weapons master and Kanjar Ro. In issue #4, Green Arrow joined the team on an adventure suited to his particular powers. "Doom of the Star Diamond" saw the emerald archer free his colleagues from a huge diamond prism by firing an arrow at its weak spot. Over the next few issues, a number of villains were introduced into JLA folklore. Amos Fortune, Felix Faust, The Lord of Time and Dr Light all made their debuts, while in issue #9, we, at last, discovered the origin of the Justice League.
The Atom was the next hero to join the team in issue #14's "Menace of the Atom - Bomb". The Tiny Titan was the hero of this tale as he averted being used as a human bomb to destroy his new teammates - and again in issue #18's "Journey into the Micro - world." Issue #17 was entitled, "Triumph of the Tornado Tyrant". The Tornado Tyrant was later to become the life force of the Red Tornado.
Issues #21 and #22 featured the groundbreaking first adventure starring both the Justice League of American and the Justice Society of America, in the classic "Crisis on Earth One and Crisis on Earth -2." DC readers had already been introduced to Jay Garrick and Earth -2 in the pages of the Flash, and this paved the way for the rest of the JSA to be introduced. Joining the JLA in these issues were; Hawkman, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Dr Fate, Atom and Hourman. The two-part story proved so popular with the readers that the JSA teamed up with the JLA on an annual basis thereafter. Up to issue #25, each issue of the JLA had featured the entire team. From that point onward it was more often than not 5 or 6 heroes as a larger team proved difficult to both write and draw.
Issues #29 and #30 featured another team up with the Justice Society as the DC Multiverse expanded even further, with an adventure entitled, "Crisis on Earth - 3." On Earth -3, the heroes of the JLA and JSA battled evil counterparts of themselves. Hawkman joined the team in issue #31's "Riddle of the Runaway Room." Hawkgirl didn't feel shunned at all - in fact, she was "pleased for her husband." You can't help but wonder how Wonder Woman felt. That was 9 (10 with Snapper) men and 1 woman in the team! The pattern of 5 or 6 heroes per issue continued and over the next dozen or so issues we were introduced to such villains as; the Key, the Star-bolt warrior and Doctor Destiny. Issue #37 was the first issue not to feature any member of the JLA on the cover. It was a team up with the Justice Society and it was the Earth -2 team who starred on the cover.
Issue #42 saw the first hero to ever turn down membership of the JLA in "Metamorpho says no!" The element man, the newest and perhaps weirdest hero in the DCU decided team membership wasn't for him. That would have been another male in the team! Talking of covers, as I was in the last paragraph, one cannot help but notice that Batman features prominently on each cover from # 43 thru #54. And then issue #55 featured the Earth-2 Robin, who just so happened to have a Batman-like costume! Talk about milking a good thing! This was, of course, the time of the Batman TV series, and DC was milking it for all it was worth. The days of underplaying Superman and Batman in the JLA were long gone and one letter writer complained; " ...I'm fed up of Batman, Superman, Batman, Flash, Batman, Green Lantern, Batman, Hawkman, and oh yes, I almost forgot - Batman hogging all the action!" OUCH!
Inside the pages of said issues, we were introduced to the Royal Flush Gang #43, and the Shaggy Man #45, before Felix Faust and the Time Lord returned in issues #49 and #50 respectively. Issue #50 has Robin as a guest star, while #51 guest stars both Elongated Man and Zatanna, as the JLA helped the maid of magic find her long-lost father. Issue #57 features a nice change of pace human interest story, "Man, Thy name is Brother!" Snapper Carr is feeling sorry for himself until Hawkman, Flash and Green Arrow take him around the world to see how others live.
When Denny O'Neil takes over the writing chores, he stamps his own mark on the team and the direction of the book. In issue #69, Wonder Woman resigns from the League - since she has lost her powers and is now just plain Diana Prince, the enigmatic Creeper features in #70, and in issue #71, the Martian Manhunter leaves Earth to help repair the damage caused to Mars by a civil war. Then during the annual JLA / JSA team up, Black Canary's husband - Larry Lance - sacrifices his life for the sake of his wife as the heroes battle the threat of Aquarius. At the end of the tale, Black Canary decides to travel to earth -1 and in issue #75 she not only joins the JLA (one token female replacing another?) but also discovers her latent Sonic cry. In issue #77, the Joker tricks Snapper Carr into revealing the whereabouts of the JLA secret headquarters - an act which leads Snapper to resign his membership from the team.
In need of new HQ, the League teleport themselves 22,300 miles above the earth - and thus begins many people's favourite era - the Satellite era. Issues #78 & #79 not only introduce us to the Justice League Satellite but also feature guest star Vigilante in a tale about pollution - a theme that will return in #90 as Aquaman blows his lid about how pollution affects the sea. In the interim, #82 features the Earth -2 Batman for the first time in the SA, Black Canary and Batman share an intimate kiss #84, and in #87, "Batman - King of the World," the JLA come up against some opponents who seem to resemble the Avengers more than a little! #94 features a Deadman guest-shot as Batman becomes a target for the League of Assassins, and #96 - #98 feature the threat of Starbraker, the Cosmic Vampire, who the League eventually overcome with the help of Sargon the Sorceror.
The 100th issue of the JLA not only features the JSA but sets off a 3 part adventure in which the heroes search for the missing 7 Soldiers of Victory. The adventure concludes with the Red Tornado sacrificing himself for the sake of the Earth. Issue #103 saw the Phantom Stranger join the team, but he rarely appeared thereafter, the Elongated Man joined in #105, and a reconstructed Red Tornado joined in #106. Hawkman resigned from the JLA briefly #109, but he was back by #117. In issue #121, the League were witnesses to the wedding of their longtime friend, Adam Strange and his sweetheart, Alanna. Wonder Woman rejoined the League in #128, and the female roster grew even further with the addition of Supergirl in #133.
In issue #137, Superman encounters Captain Marvel; #138 has a guest appearance by Adam strange and then in #147, the JLA and JSA are confronted by a "Crisis in the 30th Century" as they team up with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Ultraa infiltrates the JLA in #153, but ultimately he is exposed as a traitor before the team meet the forgotten heroes in #159 - Jonah Hex, Viking Prince, Enemy Ace among them. In Issue #161 Zatanna (in a short-lived and less visually attractive costume) joins the team. Issue #167 features a prelude to the "Identity Crisis" series before the JLA and JSA suffer the death of Mr. Terrific in #171. Black Lightning guest stars in # 173, Hawkgirl appears in # 176, while Jonn Jonzz features in #178's clash with Despero and Firestorm joins the JLA in #179. Clearly, things were getting too crowded for Green Arrow, and he left the team in #181. Issues #183 - #185 saw the JLA and JSA star in the "Crisis on New Genesis" as the teams met the New Gods and Battled Darkseid and his minions.
Subsequent issues then featured a number of returning Super Villains: Shaggy Man #186, Starro #189 / #190, Amazo #191, and the Secret Society of Super Villains in #195, before Ultraa returned in #200. The Royal flush Gang resurfaced in #203 and the Demons 3 returned in #206. The JLA and JSA then Joined the All-Star Squadron to overcome the "Crisis on Earth Prime, #207 - #209. Big changes were afoot at the end of issue #232, as Aquaman bemoaned the team members' lack of availability and took it upon himself to disband the League and form a new team. This team was far weaker than its predecessor, with a line up of; Aquaman, Elongated Man, Zatanna, Jonn Jonzz, Vixen, Steel, Vibe and Gypsy. Longtime JLA fans were critical of the Detroit based team and did not approve of what author Gerry Conway was trying to do. Many saw this as the beginning of the end of the title, and names like "Justa Lotta Amateurs" and Juvenile League of Adolescents" were somewhat cruelly banded about.
Clearly, DC themselves were not convinced, as issue #237 and then #240 had "untold" tales of the JLA and issue #250 announced, "The return of the Justice League", featuring a more familiar line up. From that issue onward, Batman returned to the team. Despite the Caped Crusaders presence, the book's demise continued, and following the deaths of Vibe, Gypsy and Steel in the company-wide Legends storyline, the book was cancelled with issue #261.
Although the final line up was far from the "World's Greatest Super-Heroes", readers have 232 issues they could look back on with pleasure. It is worth remembering that the early success of the JLA led Marty Goodman to encourage Stan Lee to form his own Superteam. Stan came up with the Fantastic Four and the SA was up and running. However, without the JLA, it is doubtful whether things would have developed as they did.
A couple of additions to supplement the wonderful information previously written. Issue 9 was an origin issue and issue 97 saw the JLA revisit their origin as motivation after being defeated by the Starbreaker. In issue 144 Superman and Green Lantern disclose the JLA's first case when Green Arrow confronts them that the Origin Story couldn't be the correct beginning to the JLA. Batman and Black Canary kissed again in issue 88. Issue 122 dealt with Secret Identities from a story from the JLA Casebook. Dr. Light confused the identity of GA, Batman, GL, Flash, and The Atom. Aquaman was the star of the issue and in the end, the JLA decided to reveal their identities to one another. In issue 129, with Nekron's fear gas disabling the JLA, Red Tornado sacrificed himself for a 2nd time, saving Mid-Way City. The Atom is married at the end of issue 157 as Supergirl and Solovar guest star. Zatara and Sindella (Zatanna's) parents are in the Storyline of issues 163-165 with ends with Sandella's death in order to save her daughter. It was mentioned above that Green Arrow quit after issues 181-182 but the seeds were planted when Black Lightning turned down membership in issue 173 because he wanted to focus on day to day crises with people in his city. (Thus striking a nerve and a point that GA tried to convince the JLA of many times.) For GA fans, he still made appearances in issues 186, 194 and 195 before -rejoining in 200. Snapper Carr made appearances in issues 100, 114, 149 (as the Star-Tsar), 150, 181 and 200. Issue 200 was a 72-page Spectacular that had guest appearances by Phantom Stranger, Adam Strange and Alanna, Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter, who turns down membership but admits that the team is stronger than ever. A new Royal Flush Gang was formed in issue 203 with Ace being revealed as a robot and Hector Hammond revealed as the brains behind the operation. The dormant persona of Firestorm, Professor Martin Stein, had a major role in issue 205 defeating Hector Hammond. Issue 217 stars Aquaman, brings back Arion's brother Garn Danuuth and ancient Atlantis. Professor Ivo returns in 218 and Elongated gets to strut his detective ability. Issue 219-220 was a major Crossover event with the JSA as we see the Earth-1 Johnny Thunder as a villain controlling Thunderbolt and the T-Bolt Dimension. When Black Canary and Starman travel to the T-Bolt dimension, it is revealed that Black Canary and Larry Lance are in glass coffin cases. Issue 220 reveals the origin of B.C. She didn't cross over from Earth-2 in issue 75 but it was her mother. She was cursed by the Wizard with a sonic cry and was taken to the T-Bolt dimension for safety living in a state of suspended animation. The original BC asked Superman and the Spectre if she could take her daughters place and they made it happen. They kept it from Dinal Laurel Lance in an effort to protect her but admitted that was a mistake.
Issues 221-223 featured Maximus Rex and the Ani-men against the JLA. In 224 Paragon battled the JLA and we saw a night out with Hal Jordan, Clark Kent and Oliver Queen. The Atom (after being away from issue 216) returned for the story arc of issues 225-227. The Earth/Mars War occurred in issues 228-230 where MM remained on Earth and led Aquaman to disband the JLA in JLA Annual 2 before reforming with JLA Detroit later in the Issue. Issues 231-232 was a crossover with the JSA and explains where Superman, Flash and Wonder Woman were during the Earth/Mars War. When they returned to Earth-1 (caught in some sort of time flux) they see that the Satellite is destroyed and that there is a new JLA which they give their blessings to in issue 239. Aquaman who realizes that Mera left in JLA Annual 2 searches for her in the JLA/Amazo storyline of 241-243. They reunite and Aquaman resigns from the team in issue 243. MM takes over but with issue 250 (which guest stars Batman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Superman) the Dark Knight takes over as leader. John Stewart (Earth's alternate GL) was a guest in issue 110 and JLA annual 1 which included a guest by Sandman and an offer of membership. Issues 244-245 were Crisis Crossovers and 244 guest starred Infinity Inc and the JSA plus a Showdown between Commander Steel and his grandson, Steel. The Third Annual, also a Crisis Crossover, guest starred Batman and the Outsider, Superman, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and revolved around the future of the Red Tornado, who is an elemental and as the wind wants to reform the Earth. He leaves telling the JLA to defeat the Anti-Monitor if they can but promises a reckoning. Issues 258-261 is the final story arc "The End of the Justice League" which were all crossovers with the Epic LEGENDS event. This story arc saw the deaths of Vibe and Steel and the Reuniting of Gypsy and her family. This version of the Justice League was officially disbanded in light of the Presidential Order.
The Justice League of America annuals can be found here.
Non-U.S. Collected Editions