Top 5: Justice Leaguers

Sometimes, we want to be funny here, and sometimes, business needs taking care of, BTO style!  I say the Justice League needs an overhaul, and it needs it now.  First, you start with the team.  I've only got 5 slots, but without these 5, the whole thing's a wash anyway.

1. Martian Manhunter

Plain and simple, J'onn has to be on the team. He's the rock of the JLA, and it needs him. I secretly suspect that the reason the JLA hasn't taken off over the last few years is because the character was dead.  I can't explain the magical Martian alchemy that makes it so, but the big green martian, who is basically as powerful as Superman, is the cream in the Oreo cookie of the JLA. Plus, he's never been able to carry a book of his own, and he needs to be somewhere, and that place should be the Justice League books.  Fire bad, but Martian Manhunter good. And none of this clothing thing either. He gets 2 red straps and no shirt.  That's the deal!


2. Aquaman

Aquaman was the outsider made insider, and his spot on the league is mandatory.  If you're still operating under the assumption that Aquaman is the one who is lame, then you are the one who is actually lame.  He provides a nice counterpoint to the regular good guy characters, and he's usually right.  I love that Aquaman carries a gravitas that sometimes seems to outweigh his position on the JLA, making him a bit of a loose cannon.  Plus, it's fun to see how the writers figure out a way to involve his powers in stories.


3. Metamorpho

There must be a wacky character, and I've never had too much of a soft spot for Plastic Man, so I went with Metamorpho.  Rex Mason has been through some stuff, and got a little glum, but he's got that "Ben Grimm" quality that fits in so great on a team, and he needs their love and support.  Plus he's always well written when he's got a little sense of humor to him.  Again, it's always fun to see what writers can do to bring his powers into the story, which doesn't fit in all that well with how modern comics are told.  Why do they need phosphorus right now?  I don't know, but if they do, Metamorpho needs to be on the team.  Or Firestorm, I guess.  But he's not on the list!


4. Atom

Science!  I'm talking about Ray Palmer.  Be it Hank Pym, Reed Richards, or Dr. Jeremy Stone, a superhero team needs a scientist; a character to be made slightly uncomfortable by whatever sexy lady they've put on the team that week, and a character to figure out why they need Aquaman in the water, and a healthy amount of phosphorus.  And if we've learned nothing from reading years of superhero comics, there's almost nothing you can't do with a character who can get really tiny.  Also, they need to shed that dead-wife-grief from Ray too, because it gets old. Can we get a Brand New Day for Ray?


5. Snapper Carr

If you don't know, you better ask a long time JLA fan…


  1. How long has this "J’onn is the heart of the League" idea been around? Does it only go as far back as Morrison?

  2. J’onn always struck me as the calm rational one who could keep the kids in check when tempers got heated and could stop things like Batman going nuts and taking out the Justice League.

    But notice J’onn got taken out FIRST.

  3. i know i am not that familiar with dc characters and all, but who the hell is snapper carr? and don’t tell me his superpower is snapping his fingers. i thought metamorpho was supposed to be the fun guy.

  4. Great article, Josh, and I love the new Top 5 column. Also, is it me, or does defending Aquaman always sound like apologetics?

  5. I find absolutely nothing disagreeable with these selections. (Not often you see that typed on the Internet.)

  6. @Kenzaburo No originally he just snapped his fingers. Then he gained the ability to teleport by snapping his fingers.  And then he lost the ability to snap his fingers all together for a while.

    So… yeah

  7. hard to make a case for the atom when he can get trapped inside a lightbulb…

    nothing wrong with these picks. personally, i loved it whenever dr fate hung out with the giffen-era league.

  8. "If you’re still operating under the assumption that Aquaman is the one who is lame, then you are the one who is actually lame."

    That’s a nice and concise way of putting it.

  9. Great article, but you ordered it wrong… You should always start a top 10 or top 5 with the LAST number and then move closer towards 1… This builds tension… once I know who the MOST JLAish character is, everything else is a let down…


    I’m often shocked by how many writers get that wrong.


    Outside of that I agree completely with your list.

  10. Why stop at Snapper Carr?  Let’s bring back all the Blasters!

  11. Wow…

  12. All I know about Snapper is he banged Cheetah during Final Crisis. That makes him aces in my book!

  13. @stuclach – That is the dorkiest thing you’ve ever written. But I will admit to wanting to see more stories featuring Jolt, the Spanish fashion model / Magneto rip-off.

  14. I’ve been saying for years that the JLA needs to consist of a team reminiscent of the Super Friends line up. Complete with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Flash (Barry Allen), Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. Toss in the Atom, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Green Arrow and Black Canary to mx it up a little.

    Here’s why. This particular roster would serve both as a reunion line-up of the classic Justice League, while also being the first time in continuity that all of these members have served together. Remember, when Crisis on Infinite Earths happened, WW was retconned off the playing field as a founding member, paving the way for Black Canary to serve her role. And then, post the actual Crisis,  Barry was gone.

    The only time we have come close to this line up is with Morrison’s run, and even that had the "second gen’ers" in the way of Kyle and Wally. 

    Also, we hear a lot of talk of the classic Justice League, esp. in this post Meltzer world. Of the golden age of super-heroics, but we haven’t actually seen it. I think the only time, in recent memory, this roster was seen together on the page was with Paul Dini’s and Bruce Timm’s JLA: Liberty & Justice graphic novel.

    It would be good to see the JLA back to where it needs to be.


    PS: No, I haven’t wasted hours of my life dwelling on this at all.

  15. I think you might have.

  16. I approve of any comics list anywhere with Snapper Carr on it.

  17. Oh Snapper Carr, if it wasn’t for Jimmy Olsen you’d be famous right now.

  18. @Heroville – the idea of Martian Manhunter as the heart of the team comes, I think, from the fact that he had been a member of every iteration of the team until very recently (post-Infinite Crisis). From the first appearance in Showcase to JLI to Morrison’s run, he is the institutional history of the team. Of anyone, he needs to be back.
    @all – what about a Green Lantern? Doesn’t have to be Hal, there are a lot of out-of-work Lanterns post-Blackest Night. How awesome would Kilowog be as team drill sergeant, for example?

  19. @Fractal514 As a journalist I can tell you that Top 5 lists can be ordered either way. Unless the very idea is to say that one is better than the others on the list. These just seem like essential members and Josh isn’t saying one is better than the other but rather that all are imperative to have on the roster.

  20. @RioVampire


    As a person who reads a ton of these top 10 lists, I can tell you that while you are right in that you can do it either way, it does seem to me that when building towards the most, from the least, then you DO have to go from 5-1, or whatever your highest number is.  I understand what you are saying here, but I actually think Josh did rank these somewhat, I mean it’s pretty clear that MM is THE Leaguer, ya know?


    That being said, I guess it’s just something that is a pet peeve of mine, and I tend to point it out even when it’s not terribly bad.  This list, it doesn’t ruin it, but when it’s Top 10 80’s Stars whose lives went to shit, and you start with the worst, who cares about the rest, ya know what I mean?

  21. @Fractal514 As a person who reads a lot of comments on the internet I can tell you that people will complain about anything.

  22. @Fractal You’re crazy Snapper Carr is clearly the most important person on that list.

  23. "You hear these fingers snapping, Flash? That’s my way of showing I like something!"

    Whoever wrote that line should be on the JLA.

  24. I love Snapper Carr! Yes!

  25. It was a comedy beat. Sheesh.

    And now the joke is ruined.

  26. If you just put the BAT-MAN in the League you won’t need anyone else.  Because he’s BAT-MAN.

  27. @Dan I love that he kinda has to say "do you hear" because the flash isn’t even looking at him at this point. Barry is so bored with this kid.

  28. @JeffR – You’ve clearly never read my dissertation.  It may be the dorkiest thing anyone has ever written.

    Everyone wants more Jolt. 

  29. wow, that sure is an interesting list. I have to say though that if that team ever happened they’d have put a damn good writer on that book because honestly, i really don’t care about any of those characters. i can’t think of any good stories starring any of them….

  30. sorry, i should be a bit more specific: good stories that i’ve read starring only those characters… J’onn has been in some damn good JLA books but i’ve never read anything to make me just care about him… just trying to avoid sounding overly negative here…


    I am pretty sure not having a woman on the team is a Title IX violation…..although Aquaman is kinda effeminate

  32. YOU are the one who is effeminate!

  33. Nice list but I always think the League is incomplete without a GL or Flash on it.

  34. Nice list, but you only have 3 Americans on this list. The Justice League of AMERICA is supposed to have Americans in it.

    I’m surprised by how many comic book fans get that wrong.

    Fun article as always. Oh, and I missed you at WonderCon. The whole time I was wondering "where’s Josh?"

  35. I was hiding.

  36. xenophobe


  37. It’s like there are two Aquamen.. well three, but Busiek aside, Two. The public view of Aquaman, who is a whiny worthless whelp. (+1 for Aliteration) And the real Aquaman, who’s the fuckin’ king of the Earth and can Punch out Cthulhu. 

  38. Why has no one commented on the fact that Josh wants a mostly naked alien on the team? 2 red straps and no shirt? That costume was in need of some overhaul and you’re trying to ruin it all over again!


    Great list though. 

  39. I just realized I totally have Snapper’s hair.

    Also, he snaps with his index fingers, which seems weird to me.

  40. @Flakbait. Hah! You totally had me thinking there. But… if you snap your fingers (thumb and middle finger) , look at the position they’re in AFTER you snap them. It’s similar to what’s above.

    Crap, I can’t believe *this* is what I’m posting about.

  41. I’d buy that…

  42. Everytime I’ve forgotten about Snapper Carr someone reminds me of him.  Oh man…

    I agree 100% with Martian Manhunter.  I remember saying almost the same thing to a friend recently that he needs to be on JLA.  Great list Josh. 

  43. The JLA should be Dick Grayson, Aquaman, Flash(Barry Allen), Green Lantern(Hal Jordan), Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and Superman.

  44. @CalebTheTimeTraveler Why would Aquaman punch out Cthulhu when he could just command him?



    The Justice League should consist of Brown Hornet (strength), Dan Didio (world destroying powers), Kim Possible (karate/obligatory chick), Black Lantern Steve Irwin (too soon?) and Thomas Katers (accounting skills/encylopedic knowledge of DC villains)