DC Database

In the first version during the Silver Age, in a story told in flashback in 1962's Justice League of America #9, Earth was infiltrated by the Appellaxians. Competing alien warriors were sent to see who could conquer Earth first to determine who will

The Justice League has had many origin stories retold differently several times over their many years of publication, with significant variations in continuity.


Silver Age

In the first version during the Silver Age, in a story told in flashback in 1962's Justice League of America #9, Earth was infiltrated by the Appellaxians. Competing alien warriors were sent to see who could conquer Earth first to determine who will become the new ruler of their home planet. The aliens' attacks drew the attentions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter.

Justice League of America Vol 1 9

The event that created the Justice League.

While the superheroes individually defeated most of the invaders, the heroes fell prey to a single competitor's attack; only by working together were they able to defeat the competitor. For many years, the heroes heralded this adventure as the event that prompted them to agree to pool resources when confronted with similar menaces.

Bronze Age

The story was completely changed during the Bronze Age, years later, however (as revealed in Justice League of America #144), Green Arrow uncovered inconsistencies in League records and extracted admissions from his colleagues that the seven founders had actually formed the League after the Martain Manhunter was rescued from Martian forces by the other six founders, along with several other heroes (Blackhawk Squadron, Robin I, Challengers of the Unknown, Plastic Man, Robotman [Robert Crane], Roy Raymond, Vigilante, Congo Bill/Congorilla, Rex the Wonder Dog, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane). Green Lantern participated in this first adventure solely as Hal Jordan, due to the fact that he had yet to become the costumed hero at that time (the biggest inconsistency Arrow found, as they celebrated the earlier incident's date, while recounting only the later one's events). When the group formalized their agreement, they suppressed news of it because of anti-Martian hysteria (mirroring the real-world backdrop of Martian scares and anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s). Because the League members had not revealed their identities to each other at the time, they did not realize that Jordan and Green Lantern were one and the same when he turned up in costume during the event described in #9. While most subsequent accounts of the League have made little mention of this first adventure, the animated Justice League series adapted this tale as the origin of the League as well.


The Crisis on Infinite Earths ended the Multiverse and streamlined the entire DC Universe into a new continuity. Secret Origins (Volume 2) #32 in 1989 updated Justice League of America #9's origin for post-Crisis continuity. The Appelaxians plot was kept; differences included the inclusion of the original Black Canary as a founding member and the absence of Batman, Wonder Woman (according to her new origin, she only arrived at the Man's World only during the event Legends) and Superman (he defeated one of the Appellaxians at the North Pole, but returned to Metropolis before the rest of the heroes could talk to him, and so he was no longer a founding member); the 1960s time frame was retained, but the post-Crisis versions of DC's three biggest stars were young and early in their careers in the late 1980s. Additionally, while Hal Jordan served as the public face of the Justice League, this iteration of the League's origin cast the Flash as the team's unofficial leader, since it was Allen who usually came up with the plans that best used everyone's powers. The 1998 JLA: Year One limited series by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, and Barry Kitson further expanded upon the Secret Origins depiction, with the revelation that the group was secretly financed by Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow. It also stated that Superman rejected membership into the group, leading to much animus between him and the "founders" during the early years of the group.

In 1994's Justice League Task Force #16, during Zero Hour, an unknown superhuman named Triumph appeared. Triumph was revealed to have been a founding member of the Justice League, serving as their leader. On his first mission with the fledgling Justice League, Triumph seemingly "saved the world", but was teleported into a dimensional limbo that also affected the timestream, resulting in no one having any memory of him. This was to explain how all the heroes ended up in Washington for their first meeting. The following year, DC's annuals had a Year One event and for Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #4, Superman is depicted in his first year of heroics meeting Batman, the Flash (Barry Allen), the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter and helping them save innocents or stop disasters. At the end of the story, Lois Lane informs Clark Kent that the Justice League are fighting themselves in Alaska and Superman helps them break free from Xotar's mind control. This team is composed of the Flash, the Green Lantern, Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter, and the Black Canary—the latter meets Superman for the first time. They invite him back to Happy Harbor where Barry, acting as chairman, proposes that Superman join but he declines, citing his responsibilities in Metropolis.

Further convolutions came with the issue of Batman's involvement with the League; during the 1990s, the editors of Batman sought to distance him from the Justice League, to the point of demanding that Batman's entire Justice League membership be removed from the group's canon. According to Christopher Priest, this "Batman was never in the Justice League" edict came down ironically after DC published Justice League America Annual #9, which featured Batman as a member of the League during its early days. The edict itself was largely haphazardly enforced and was ultimately ignored by the early 2000s, as Batman's involvement with the League is now referenced heavily by later writers such as Brad Meltzer. JLA Incarnations #2 would show that Superman joined to the team, but resigned of active membership due "not be ready to be a team player", preferring be only a reserve member, and Batman joined as active member soon after.

In 2000, Silver Age (Volume 1) was published; The chronology of this limited series is confusing; it resembles the old Silver Age period, but with Post-Crisis elements. Retroactively, the saga occurred in the JLA's first year and lacks Wonder Woman, with Black Canary present instead. Also, Superman's JLA membership simultaneously with Batman's during the first years of the team is contradictory with their particular backgrounds.

The convoluted change made to Hawkman's background in the wake of the launching of Hawkworld (Volume 2) ongoing series in 1990 resulted in a retcon where the original Golden Age/Justice Society Golden Age Hawkman, Carter Hall was now a member of the team as opposed to Katar Hol (who would now not join the group until 1994's Justice League America #0). The details of how Carter Hall joined the team, would be revealed in the 2001 JLA Incarnations #1, with the revelation that Carter joined the team to serve as a mentor for then-young heroes; he was even a chairman of the team according to JLA Incarnations #2.

In 2006's Infinite Crisis #7, the formation of "New Earth" (the new name for the post-Crisis Earth) resulted in the retcon that Wonder Woman was again a founding member of the Justice League in the early days. In Brad Meltzer's Justice League of America (Volume 2) #0 (2006), it was also revealed that both Superman and Batman were founding members as well. 52 #51 confirmed that the 1989 Secret Origins and JLA: Year One origins were still in canon at that time, with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman joining the team (consisting of Aquaman, Black Canary, Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter) with founding members' status shortly after the group's formation. However, in various issues (particularly Justice League of America (Volume 2) #12 and DC Universe Legacies #3) both of the current Justice League and DC Universe Legacies series, the founding members of the Justice League are shown to be: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Flash (Barry Allen), Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter (i.e. not The Black Canary).

New 52

Related Articles

The Brave and the Bold 28
Justice League Origins
DC Rebirth Logo

Origin stories for how the Justice League of America came together have had multiple retellings over the years. Although numerous attempts have been made at writing a definitive origin story, the true history of the team has spanned many decades and many changes.