Out of their league? The 10 unlikeliest JLA members
After presenting my list of the 10 most unlikely Avengers last month, in the interest of providing equal time, here’s a list of the most unexpected Justice Leaguers.
As with my Avengers list, I’ve tried to weed out folks who were written specifically to become team members (like Triumph) or made the cut because a writer had a particular affinity for them. These are folks whose inclusion – no matter how, well, justified – made me, and I presume others, do double or triple takes when they made it onto the roster.
10. Major Disaster
To paraphrase Tom Jones, it’s not unusual to see reformed villains join superhero teams. But Major Disaster’s power to cause natural disasters doesn’t translate easily to the side of the angels. After stints with a Justice League team in Antarctica and the Suicide Squad, he was finally drafted into the main JLA by Batman himself.
9. Ambush Bug
With the League disbanded between “Infinite Crisis” and “One Year Later,” Firehawk, Firestorm, the Bulleteer and Super Chief tried to fill the void, along with this character who had primarily served as comic relief, parodying other characters’ origins and occasionally breaking the fourth wall. They did not fare well.
It wasn’t that former Batgirl Barbara Gordon lacked the skills and smarts to join the League. But her role as an information broker for heroes – primarily the street-level vigilantes of Gotham – seemed a bit mundane compared to the JLA’s caseload of alternate realities and demigods. But if Batman vouches for you, you’re in, and Oracle more than proved she belonged.
7. Phantom Stranger
His origins shrouded in mystery (Fallen angel? Survivor of a previous universe? Judas Iscariot?), the Phantom Stranger has often been more of a supernatural string-puller than a straight superhero. But he was inducted into the League after helping them fend off a curse cast by Felix Faust.
A solder of fortune turned naturalist and explorer, “Congo Bill” Glenmorgan was a hero from a different era. James Robinson plucked him from obscurity and he became a key member of the League before the New 52 not-quite-reboot.
5. Resurrection Man
Introduced as an amnesiac who came back to life with a new power every time he died, Mitch Shelley went from offbeat drifter to Justice League stalwart in the “DC One Million” future. There, he used a device that could instantly kill him and grant him a custom-selected power when he came back.
As a parody of ultraviolent ’90s characters, Lobo was usually an antihero at best. But when Batman formed his own League in the wake of “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad,” he drafted the Main Man onto the team.
In the “No Justice” limited series, Brainiac crafted a new League of mainstays, Teen Titans and villains to battle the apocalyptic Omega Titans. The strangest addition was Starro, the giant, mind-controlling, starfish-looking alien who was the league’s first foe. After his heroic sacrifice, his offspring Jarro (A little Starro. In a jar.) was seen assisting the League in “Drowned Earth.”
During “Avengers vs. JLA,” Marvel’s Hawkeye was shown having joined the League. A later, in-continuity JLA story by Kurt Busiek referenced that event, so I consider it canon, eleventy-odd continuity reboots and tweaks aside.
1. Lex Luthor
It’s not just that Luthor is a villain – the preeminent one in the DC universe – that lands him at No. 1. It’s the fact that he actually seemed to be sincere in joining the League and trying to do what was right, at least in his twisted mind.
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group.”