10 of the oddest Justice League members ever
Justice League releases to theaters in a matter of days, and while the lineup featured in the movie may be a fairly traditional one, the League has been home to many an oddball over the years.
Superman and crew have long been the core of the Justice League – DC’s superstar team featuring its A-list heroes – and have been featured in every incarnation of the team in its storied history.
Justice League was founded in the 1960s issue The Brave and the Bold #28 as a successor to the Golden Age team Justice Society of America, and quickly became another fan favorite among comic book collectors. The team remained largely the same over the first seventy-five issues, but would quickly expand to feature some of the weirder heroes in the DCU.
With a new era and a shifting reader-focus to DC’s other team books like Teen Titans – a book that featured younger heroes – the Justice League title got a revamp as well in the mid 80s.
Batman, Superman and most of the existing team were moved off the Justice League book, in favor of heroes who would be seen as operating full time with the league. It’s a move that resulted in new found heroes like Vibe (more on him later) and Steel getting the spotlight.
The roster rotated a bunch from that point on, but has remained fairly stable since 2011’s New 52 reboot, which saw a new origin for the team and Cyborg added as a founding member, which is now the basis for the Justice League film. But don’t overlook surprising returns from any oddball characters just yet.
Whether it be a confusing or limited power set, an unfortunate name, or a less than iconic design, these League members are some of the more outlandish heroes to gain membership in the Justice League. Not everyone can be Batman, right?
Joe Standing Bear, the third Super-Chief, is a Native American man who travels to Metropolis to attend the funeral of his estranged father. While there, he visits his dying grandfather, who tells him that he has neglected his heritage. Standing Bear’s grandfather explains to him that he is the last in his line and that he must take up the mantle of Super-Chief, the minotaur like hero with powers of super strength, speed and limited flight, derived from a meteorite necklace.
If that wasn’t weird enough for you, Super-Chief joins the Firestorm-led Justice League of America, and promptly dies two weeks after joining from Skeets, Booster Gold’s robot worm from the 30th century who was evil at the time.
Joe Standing Bear wouldn’t be seen against until Geoff Johns’ miniseries Blackest Night, where his corpse appeared in the form of a Black Lantern. Since then, the Super-Chief mantle has been passed on to another, leaving Standing Bear in the wind.
Vibe may have gotten a makeover lately, appearing in The CW’s The Flash TV series as Cisco Ramon, but he was originally one of the goofier characters to ever grace the Justice League roster.
A breakdancing gang leader from Detroit, Vibe looks to join the team when Aquaman disbands the League after they fail to stop an alien invasion. He chooses Vibe’s hometown of Detroit to reform the League in. Vibe is (amazingly) admitted, and he promptly gets the League in a fight with a rival street gang.
Vibe proves his worth though, mostly because of his awesome power set that includes manipulating frequencies and resonance, allowing him Terrakinesis, and the ability to warp the fabric of spacetime. Pity about the breakdancing, though.
Vibe was recently updated in the comics as well, being featured in his own series in 2013 and again featured in 2014’s The Flash series, which reshaped his powers, including the ability to disrupt the speed force, which his character on The CW’s The Flash drew inspiration from.
Metamorpho, or The Element Man, was originally created as a send-up of the outlandish comic book characters of the 1960s, and it shows. With the ability to transmute his body into any elemental compound known to man, Metamorpho is near invincible. He’s also able to take the form of a liquid, gas, or solid, and can even transform his limbs into different elements at the same time, leading to his iconic and quite silly look.
Metamorpho gains his powers after he is hired by Simon Stagg to retrieve a rare Egyptian artifact, the Orb of Ra. Metamorpho finds the Orb of Ra, which turns out to be a radioactive meteorite giving him his outlandish powers.
Metamorpho originally declines membership into the league, though he does end up becoming a reserve member, and eventually joins the European branch of Justice League International, before the New 52 reboot.
Aztek, The Ultimate Man, is one of the odder creations from creator Grant Morrison. First appearing in 1996 in his own series, Aztek is the champion of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. He’s a boy called Uno who is trained and raised in the top secret Q society to fulfil his destiny in battling the rival Aztec god Tezcatlipoca’s champion.
Once he reaches age, Aztek is given a magical suit of armor that compliments his already superhuman prowess that gives him flight, X-ray vision, and other powers. He journeys to the United States once his training is completed and eventually joins the Justice League during Morrison’s tenure on the book – but later leaves once it is revealed that Lex Luthor is a benefactor for the Q society.
Unfortunately for Aztek, he hasn’t appeared in comics since his Morrison appearances, thanks in part to his complicated design that mimics both the feathered serpent of Quetzalcoatl and a Sun-like helmet. Aztek has been featured in animated fare such as Justice League Unlimited though, and his appearance in the Rebirth book Justice League of America has been teased at one point, so there’s still hope for his return yet.
Zauriel is another entry from Grant Morrison on this list (sensing a pattern yet?). A literal angel from heaven, Zauriel served The Presence (DC’s version of the Abrahamic God) in heaven for eons before willingly falling to Earth to join the Justice League.
Zauriel is tasked with protecting the souls of women, having done so for millions of years, until he falls in love with one of his assignments. He later learns of plans to overthrow The Presence by fellow angel Asmodel, and attempts to escape heaven by sharing his plight of his search for love with the four King-Angels of the various angel aspects.
The four angel aspects deny his request, and instead send him to Earth stripping him of his immortality, where he was followed by the angels of the Bull aspect in preparation for Asmodel’s invasion of Earth. Zauriel would soon meet up with the JLA, where he would gain membership and help stop the angelic invasion of Earth before parting ways with the team.
Gypsy is the second hero from the Detroit-era JLA to make the list, and appears alongside Vibe in the The Flash TV show as well, albeit with vastly different powers.
In the comics, Gypsy is an illusion caster who can camouflage herself allowing her to appear invisible, as well as being able to project illusions into people’s minds. Originally depicted as a teenager from a broken home, she runs away from home when her powers manifest and buys a ticket to Detroit, where she hones her powers to protect herself, adopting the identity of Gypsy and patterning her dress as that of a gypsy as well.
Eventually, the Justice League reform in a neighboring area to Gypsy and she takes the opportunity to use her powers to test the League headquarters’ defenses. Eventually, Gypsy decides to follow the League on one of their adventures and aids them in a battle. Gypsy is then offered membership into the league, and serves with them for a short time before having a premonition that some her fellow members will die at the hands of Professor Ivo.
Her vision proves true, when Professor Ivo sends an android to destroy the League. The android attacks the league, manages to kill Vibe and returns Gypsy to her parents. Not long after her return, the villain Despero would appear at the family home and murder her parents before Martian Manhunter could intervene, ending her time with the Justice League.
4] Ambush Bug
An intentionally silly character, Ambush Bug was created in the 1980s by Keith Giffen. His real name is thought to be Irwin Schwab, although his personality disorder affects his grasp on reality causing him to be unsure of his real origins.
Ambush Bug’s generally accepted origin though, is that of an alien named Brum-El (a play on Jor-El – Superman’s father), learning of the impending doom of his planet, cast his wardrobe into space in hopes that it would be preserved. By chance, only two articles of clothing would survive, the green, skintight, bug-like Ambush Bug suit found by Schwab, and Argh!Yle! – a living Argyle sock with evil intentions.
Ambush Bug first appeared as a villain, before becoming a hero in the early 2000s as a member of Justice League of Anarchy, a sister-group of the main League dedicated to troublemaking. While he never had a huge role in the JLA, and while his silliness in that meant no other writers could find a use for him, Ambush Bug has become something of a cult hero among comic fans and has even had his own miniseries throughout the years.
3] The Wonder Twins
Zan and Jayna, The Wonder Twins, started out as cartoon characters in various animated series from the 1970s including Super Friends, where they were trained by some of DC’s iconic superheroes.
The Wonder Twins hail from the planet Exxor, and their powers include being able to take the form of any state of water (Zan) and animal (Jayna) albeit only if the pair are in physical contact with each other, or if their pet space monkey Gleek acts as a conduit between the two (seriously). They also share a telepathic link which can alert one another, should they be in danger.
The pair remained in animated limbo until the Crisis event, when DC continuity was altered and Zan and Jayna entered the main DCU as escaped slaves of an alien slave-holder. At first the twins are unable to speak English, and unknowingly attack civilians and the Justice League in 1996’s Extreme Justice series which is both very bad, and very 90s. The twins are eventually freed, and join the Extreme Justice team until the end of the series, pet space monkey and all.
Bloodwynd is the case of a pretty cool idea for a character with a cool design held back by a very very bad name with even Grant Morrison remarking: ‘he does appear to have based his super identity on some alarming rectal trauma.’ Unfortunate, to say the least.
Bloodwynd does have an interesting back story though, being the African-American descendent of slaves who had been owned by a particularly brutal slave owner. The slaves managed to create a blood gem with an ancient ritual to kill their owner, trapping his soul in the gem and transforming him into a demon. The gem is also the source of Bloodwynd’s power, allowing him flight, optic blasts, and various mystical powers too.
His run as a member of the Justice League sadly was pretty forgettable. He first appears in Justice League of America #61, before it was revealed that he is actually a shape-shifting Martian Manhunter in disguise, as the real Bloodwynd had been imprisoned in his own gem. He’s later rescued by the team and officially joins as a member but in his first real test against the mystical villain Dreamcatcher, he refuses to oppose him as he feels a kinship to the villain.
It’s a shame Bloodwynd hasn’t been used more than he has. He’s only made brief appearances since his initial run in the JLA. His origin and look is actually really cool, and the DCEU could use more mystical heroes.
1] The entire roster of Justice League International
Perhaps the silliest thing to ever come out of comics in history, the Justice League of Antarctica is a reformed group of C and D list villains put together by supervillain Maxwell Lord who was heading up the Justice League International at the time. Headed up by the Green Lantern G’nort, an incompetent humanoid dog alien and his one time archenemy Scarlet Skier (a parody of Marvel’s Silver Surfer) the team was largely a joke from its inception.
In their first (and only) mission, the team sits around their Antarctic base while G’nort patrols the rest of the continent. G’nort then comes upon a building that was filled with genetically modified killer penguins, who had killed the scientific researchers who had experimented on them. Scarlet Skier arrives and the penguins attack, following the pair to the base and destroying the area, as an earthquake leveled the base.
By chance, G’nort had erected a force field with his power ring and had saved the team, allowing the fellow Justice League members who had heard about what was happening in Antarctica to save them. Upon returning to the US, Maxwell Lord disbanded the team, but allowed some of the members to act as reservists in the main league, in which they saw no further action. To add insult to injury, many of the members eventually joined Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad and proceeded to die in their first mission together with that team as well.
Do you have any obscure characters you’d love to see on the big screen? Let us know in the comments section.
Image credits: DC Comics