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Comic Book / Grant Morrison's JLA

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A 1997 relaunch of DC’s premier superhero team.

After several years of roster changes, tone shifts, a brief, successful foray into comedy and a hard turn into the Darker and Edgier 90s that left it in the middle of a massive Dork Age, DC decided to clear house and return to a “back-to-basics” approach to the Justice League under the pen of Grant Morrison. Following off of a three-issue miniseries written by Mark Waid and Fabian Nicieza titled Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare, Morrison and artist Howard Porter relaunched the book under the title JLA, establishing a new roster consisting of the iconic seven founders or the team or their successors: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter.

A critical and commercial success, JLA established the League as a force united to face threats on an Earth-shattering level and subsequently revamped several classic villains such as Starro, the Crime Syndicate, the Injustice Gang, Darkseid and more to raise the stakes in every issue. Morrison stayed with the book until issue #41 (aside from a few fill-in issues by Waid and other writers), bringing his Myth Arc to an end with the World War III storyline that saw every human being on earth imbued with superpowers and inducted into the League to combat an Old God weapon. Other writers would take over and the series would run for over a hundred issues, but the Justice League would continue to be defined by its core “magnificent seven” roster, potentially universe-ending threats and keeping its status as DC’s flagship title.


This series served as the primary inspiration for the animated Justice League, which took a similar approach to restructuring the League for a new generation after the team had been linked for decades to the Lighter and Softer Superfriends.

Storylines in this run that have their own pages:

This work provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Though the series was released in 1997, Superman is still rocking his mullet (pictured above) from the end of The Death of Superman at the start of the series. After ditching it in favor of his “Electric Blue” costume, he returns to his more classic short crop.note 
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  • Arc Words: In the "Imaginary Stories" arc, the JLA begin to realize they are in a Lotus-Eater Machine whenever someone mentions a key.
  • Amazon Chaser: Zauriel can't help but marvel at how strong and hot Wonder Woman is. This is all superficial since he's a Fallen Angel because of a human woman he fell in love with.
  • Bad Future: Rock of Ages features one where Darkseid rules Earth.
  • Bash Brothers: Despite some sniping early on, Wally West and Kyle Rayner become this much like their predecessors were in the original League.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Basically every issue.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: J'emm, an obscure character created as an expy for J'onn, ends up like this to act as J'onn counterpart in Lex Luthor's first Injustice Gang.
  • Continuity Nod: JLA was always forced to adhere to the current DC status quo changes, resulting in stuff like Superman spending about three story arcs in his Superman Blue form, Wonder Woman briefly dying and being replaced by her mother, and Wally West seemingly being dead and replaced by a Dark Flash.
  • Dream Team: The iconic “magnificent seven” incarnation, which has served as the basis for every Justice League roster since and been the subject of parody and homage whenever someone wants to depict a superhero team.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The League face several:
    • The Star Conqueror is reimagined as this.
    • Darkseid is.
    • Solaris, the Tyrant Sun
    • Mageddon
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mirror Master only works for whoever pays the most. Batman outbids Lex Luthor and hires Mirror Master as The Mole, a move his peers question the morality of. Batman counters that in spite of engaging in bribery, Mirror Master ultimately donates the majority of his earnings to the orphanage he grew up in.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • The Crime Syndicate of Amerika, champions (overlords) of Earth-Three.
    • Prometheus to Batman, sharing a similar backstory but this time his parents were criminals who were gunned down by policemen.
  • Fallen Angel: Zauriel has given up Heaven after falling in love with a human woman, making him a positive example of this. The angel sent after him, Asmodel, is a much straighter example of this trope, planning to succeed where Lucifer failed and being sent to Hell after his defeat at the hands of the League.
  • Fusion Dance: How Lkz is defeated, by being forcibly merged with Johnny Thunder's genie Yz into Ylzkz.
  • Hate Plague: Part of how much of a danger Mageddon is to the Earth is how it manipulates its populace to turn on each other, driving humanity to the brink of World War III until Zauriel and the armies of Heaven manage to stop the world's leaders from sending nukes at each other.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tomorrow Woman. Aztek.
  • Humble Hero: Superman is repeatedly affable and denies that he is as special or The Cape as everyone claims he is. As The Flash puts it:
    "This is the guy who said he couldn't live up to his own myth. And he's wrestling with an angel."
  • Kryptonite Factor:
    • Batman deduces the Hyperclan’s true identities when they refuse to check the wreckage of his crashed Batwing. Seeing the super-beings recoil from something as mundane as fire leads him to realize that they’re actually Martians.
    • The Hyperclan subdue Superman with a piece of Kryptonite. Once they’re revealed to be White Martians mentally projecting the image of Kryptonite into Superman’s head he breaks out and lays down a Curb-Stomp Battle on the aliens.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Zauriel was created and introduced to be a stand-in for Hawkman, who at the time was off-limits due to his infamous case of Continuity Snarl. However, Morrison and company still managed to make a wink to Hawkman by showing Aquaman briefly confusing Zauriel for Katar Hol.
  • Legion of Doom: The Injustice Gang serves as the primary antagonists of the “Rock of Ages” arc until Darkseid shows up. As the League has been returned to a “back-to-basics” approach the Gang similarly institutes an “arch-enemies only” rule amongst its membership. The new Injustice Gang and their counterparts are:
    • Lex Luthor (Superman)
    • The Joker (Batman)
    • Circe (Wonder Woman)
    • Mirror Master (The Flash)
    • Doctor Light (Green Lantern)
    • Ocean Master (Aquaman)
    • Son of Saturn (Martian Manhunter)
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Averted at first, with the team being a not-unreasonable squad of seven. It’s after the events of Rock of Ages that the League expands, settling on a roster of 14 heroes.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Key, upon his return, traps the JLA in a computer program that makes them live through Elseworld scenarios.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The JLA goes on full alert when they discover that the Shaggyman has been removed from his prison.
  • The Mole: Batman has three in Luthor's first Injustice Gang: the Mirror Master, via outbidding Luthor; Green Arrow, who feigns defection after a meeting with Circe; and Plastic Man, who captures and impersonates the Joker.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In the climax of "Rock of Ages", J'onn uses his powers to stabilize the Joker so he can't use the Philosopher's Stone to wreak havoc. While due to the nature of Joker's mind, J'onn can't keep it, during this time, the Joker regrets what he's done over his life.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The "Rock of Ages" Bad Future is perpetuated by Superman destroying the Philosopher's Stone. With a powerful artifact such as it is out of the way, Darkseid and Apokolips found their window of opportunity to take over Earth.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: The infamous bit of both Batman and the Martian Manhunter knowing enough about Sailor Moon that the latter used Sailor Mars's real name "Rei Hiro" as the basis for an alternate identity and the former immediately knew that "Rei" was really J'onn? Granted, it was an issue guest written by Mark Millar, but it was published during this time.
  • Rule of Cool: Much of the series is really just the Justice League kicking the collective asses of the villain(s) of the week.
  • Superior Successor: Daniel Hall assures Kyle Rayner that he will surpass Hal Jordan on the basis that unlike him, Rayner is more open about his fears than Hal ever was.
  • Take That!: Some of the villains the Hyperclan kills are unmistakably Wolverine and Doctor Doom.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The Hyperclan pay Batman no mind because they assume that being the only non-powered member of the League, he is the weakest. Unfortunately, Batman is, as Superman describes him, "the most dangerous man on Earth."
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Or rather "Girl" in Huntress's case, as Batman had Huntress join the League to curb her more violent tendencies and kicked her off when he caught her about to kill Prometheus.

Example of: