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Comic Book / JLA (1997)

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DC's Dream Team.note 

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 1990s that left it in the middle of a massive Audience-Alienating Era, 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 of the team or their successors: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Aquaman, and 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 their Myth Arc to an end with the World War III storyline. 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 
  • 90% of Your Brain: During the Key's two-parter, in issue #8, the villain gloats that "he is tapping 90% of his brain" due to using his psycho-chemicals to enhance his brain activity.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: The Ultramarines, superhuman government mooks ordered to fight and take down the JLA. They end up subject to a Deconstruction as they partake in the morally questionable strategy of locking down a civilian-inhabited area to fight the Justice League in and eventually undergo a bad Heel Realization when they notice that while they're busy trashing the place trying to take down the League, their enemy was too busy saving people in the crossfire to retaliate. Not only that, but Superman scans their physiologies and discovers that all of their days are numbered due to the experimentation that gave them their powers. They're just as quickly reconstructed as they maintain their anti-hero tendencies by promising Superman that they'll do "what [the League] can't," but whatever they are intending to do, it has Superman and the League's full blessing and the two teams end their confrontation as full allies.
  • Alien Invasion:
    • The opening arc of Morrison and Porter's deals with a secret invasion done by White Martians masquerading as alien refugees.
    • During Morrison's stint in the book, a satellite book titled JLA Secret Files and Origins was published. In its first issue, Morrison and Millar penned a tale called "Star-Seed: The Secret Origin of the New JLA", which serves as a prequel to their regular series. In the story, the Big Seven repel an attempted invasion by Starro.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: During Kurt Busiek's Crime Syndicate arc, villainess Superwoman (who, in that universe, is married to Ultraman) openly flirts with Owlman and the African-American Power Ring. Though, to be fair, in their home universe, every version of the JLA's members is a villain through and through.
  • 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.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The last shot of Morrison's run is the League heading off to stop another villain.
  • Animesque: Parodied in Issue #6 with Animech and Mangatron, two robots built by a crazy otaku that Aquaman and Wonder Woman defeat before being called over to deal with the Bull Angels. A more serious example can be found not in the artwork but the writing, specifically all the Shōnen style Story Arcs.
  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: The issue dealing with the aftermath of Day of Judgment sees this applying to Hal Jordan as the Spectre, making him appear to be a different person to each member of the League.
  • Arc Welding:
    • The "Crisis Times Five" arc reveals that Mr. Mxzytplk isn't the only denizen of the Fifth Dimension to interact with the heroes of the DCU, as the arc retconned that Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt and Quisp, a minor Aquaman character, also hail from there with the Thunderbolt's summoning word "Cei-U" (pronounced "say you") revealed to actually be his name, "Zy", backwards and the name "Quisp" being modified to "Qwsp". Batman (Grant Morrison) added to this by revealing Bat-Mite is also from the Fifth Dimension.
    • The "World War 3" arc that served as the finale for Morrison's run also served as a Fully Absorbed Finale for Aztek, revealing that the "Tezcatlipoca" Aztek preparing for was, in fact, the Old Gods' weapon Mageddon, not the Wonder Woman villain.
    • The Martian Still Zone, the Kryptonian Phantom Zone, and the Biblical Limbo (which Prometheus calls the "Ghost Zone") are all the same place.
  • Arc Words: In the "Imaginary Stories" arc, the JLA begin to realize they are in a Lotus-Eater Machine whenever someone mentions a key.
  • 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.
  • Blessed with Suck: Hector Hammond is portrayed here as being extremely fragile, as one wrong move could cause his oversized head to snap his neck.
  • Bond One-Liner: By Aquaman, of all people. In issue #4, while fighting the Hyperclan aliens, he telepathically manipulates Züm's basal ganglia, "inherited from his marine ancestors", to give him a seizure. After taking him out, Aquaman delivers the line: "He's got a headache."
  • Book Ends: A Midsummer's Nightmare, the miniseries that set-up the run saw the Big Seven deal with (an enslaved) Dr. Destiny. While Mark Waid would ignore it in favor of presenting JLA #50note  as the first time since the mini they met, Morrison ends their run with Oracle informing the Big Seven that Dr. Destiny was stirring up trouble and them heading off to stop him.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: J'emm, an obscure character created as an expy for J'onn, ends up like this to act as J'onn's counterpart in Lex Luthor's first Injustice Gang.
  • Brought Down to Normal: One of Mark Waid's stories sees Superman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter, and Plastic Man undergo a case of Literal Split Personality and sees their respective alter-egos as Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Wally West, Kyle Rayner, John Jones, and Patrick "Eel" O'Brien. While Clark, Wally, and John adjust alright (aside from Clark actually becoming meek and Wally starting to become late to things), Bruce, Kyle, and Eel do not as Batman was a means for Bruce to channel his anger, Kyle (an artist) was going crazy without a means to express himself, and Eel was reverting back to the criminal he originally was before the accident he underwent when he gained his powers — and hating every moment of it as he despised his old life.
  • Character Name Alias: The former trope picture is the below-mentioned "Real Men Wear Pink" example of the Martian Manhunter using "Rei Hino" as an alias, which Batman calls him on. This is due to guest writer Mark Millar getting pranked after asking for a name tied to Mars.
  • Chekhov's Gun: As detailed in Meta Origin, the White Martians reveal that humanity was destined to become a race of superpowered beings much like Kryptonians or Daxamites, but their genetic experiments disrupted this evolutionary chain, resulting in most of humanity being regular people with only a minority holding the metagene. This becomes important in "World War III", when the Justice League temporarily imbues humanity with the powers they were meant to have and thus raise an army of superhumans to fight Mageddon.
  • The Comically Serious: Despite all appearances, Batman isn't this and has a rather sardonic sense of humor. However, when Orion of the New Gods (and to a lesser extent, his fellow New God Barda) joins the team he is constantly shown as stern and humorless around more humorous figures like Flash, Green Lantern and Plastic Man.
  • Continuity Overlap: 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.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • Between the events of DC One Million and the "World War 3" arc, the Martian Manhunter officially took a sabbatical from the League because of the events of the former with the third Hourman filling in. Mark Millar, Mark Waid, and J.M. DeMatteis were all willing to ignore this when they guest wrote. Issue 27, written by Millar, is the biggest offender as J'onn was meeting with Superman and Batman to discuss what Hourman told the League about the then-upcoming events of "Crisis Times Five" when he arrived.
    • The Corinthian's skull can be seen in Dream's chest. This is in spite of the fact that his predecessor used said skull to recreate the creature during the events that led to Daniel replacing Morpheus in the first place.
    • Subject to a third one as Mark Waid's run saw issue #50 be the first time since A Midsummer's Nightmare the JLA confronted Dr. Destiny—which ignored the And the Adventure Continues ending of Morrison's run of the big seven heading off to fight John Dee.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover for issue 29, part two of "Crisis Times Five", features the League and members of the Justice Society of America watch on in horror as Superman and Captain Marvel fight. In reality, the "fight" takes place on the Watchtower and mostly consisted of Captain Marvel sucker-punching Superman to prevent him from following Marvel into the Fifth Dimension while most of the JLA and JSA are busy in Keystone City.
  • Crossover Finale: The revelations about the Satellite-era Justice League in Identity Crisis (2004) started the end of JLA, ending with this version of the League disbanding during Infinite Crisis following the mindwipes becoming public knowledge and the Trinity's falling out after Max Lord used his powers to force Superman to attack Batman, and Wonder Woman's subsequent killing of Lord.
  • Dark Age of Supernames: Invoked by Morrison, and discussed In-Universe:
    • Morrison created the Hyperclan as a send-up to Darker and Edgier Nineties Anti Heroes with names written in Xtreme Kool Letterz, with characters like Züm (the speedster), A-Mortal (a Grim Reaper-esque "hero" with a skull mask, white robes and red gloves), Zenturion (a Captain America shield-bearing lookalike) and Armek (the only robotic member).
    • Metamorpho, commenting on a live transmission about the Hyperclan, mocks their choice of codenames:
    Metamorpho: Armek! Zenturion! They sound like a line of cheap toys! Why don't they get themselves regular names, like every other Joe in spandex?
  • Death Is Cheap: Lampshaded when Superman sees the only ones attending Metamorpho's funeral are himself, Sapphire Stagg, her and Rex's son Joseph, and Java with the priest pointing out this trope as to the low attendance. To hammer the point home that some people stay dead, statues of Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Oliver Queen, Ice, and the majority of the Justice Society of America were shown and the same issue saw the debut — and death — of Tomorrow Woman. History ultimately proved the priest right — neither Metamorpho nor Tomorrow Woman — nor Ice, Ollie, Hal, Barry, or even original Hourman Rex Tyler stayed dead.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The "Elseworlds" arc deconstructs and reconstructs Trick Arrows. With his quiver destroyed by the Key, Connor Hawke is forced to resort to Oliver Queen's goofy trick arrows. Initially, the gimmicks are detrimental to Connor; he has no idea what each arrow does and almost blows himself up when he accidentally grabs an explosive arrow without knowing what it is, and his inner monologue yells at his late father for just a regular arrow. Connor quickly soon realizes that utilizing these arrows required a certain amount of skill that only Oliver had mastered, and the arrows steadily become more and more useful as Connor learns to appreciate his father's genius and audacity. The Key in the end isn't beaten by any of the Big Seven and their amazing powers, but rather the simple, classic Boxing Glove Arrow knocking him right on his ass.
  • Deus ex Machina:
    • Prometheus would've likely managed to succeed in claiming victory over the League if it weren't for Catwoman sneaking into the Watchtower to steal some alien jewelry from its trophy room. None of the League seems really surprised by her presence and even she lampshades how incredibly lucky they were that a supervillain on mostly friendly terms with (one of) them was around to bypass Prometheus's ability to defeat all superheroes.
    • Ray Palmer suddenly enters the "Synchronocity" arc to save the day despite no previous hints at his involvement. This is justified by the Engine of Chance's "probability cancer" causing the highly improbable event of the Atom arriving to help solve the problem come true.
  • The Dreaded: Plastic Man uses criminals' fear of Batman to scare a prison riot into dispersing by shapeshifting into a Batman silhouette.
  • 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.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Hourman and Superman from the future seen in DC One Million appear in "Rock of Ages" first, before One Million.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The League face several:
    • The Star Conqueror is reimagined as this.
    • 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.
    Batman: Never underestimate the sentimentality of a Scotsman.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • During the Injustice Gang's attack on Star City, several people (including children) were killed. After the Joker reveals he rigged the coffins of the children with explosives, Luthor backhands him and expresses regret over their deaths. During the Joker's J'onn-induced "My God, What Have I Done?" moment, he manipulates the Joker into resurrecting those killed with the Worlogog and Superman sees through Luthor's reasoning of simply avoiding murder charges to realize that Luthor felt guilty. In the same arc, Mirror Master claimed to not have killed anyone during the attack.
    • In a twisted example, T.O. Morrow, who decided to inform the JLA about a deactivated Amazo to shut Ivo up about escaping, decides to not entirely be truthful about when the android would come online as he didn't want to be seen as helping the League, resulting in a fight between the League and Amazo.
  • 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.
  • Expy:
    • As mentioned in "Expy Coexistence", Zauriel was created during Grant Morrison's run after DC threw up their hands and decided to let Hawkman rest after growing tired how his Continuity Snarl was growing more and more complicated.
    • Joe Kelly's run introduced Manitou Raven, a reimagining of Apache Chief from Superfriends.
  • Expy Coexistence: Zauriel is a rather transparent stand-in for Hawkman which gets lampshaded to hell at back by the other Leaguers, with Aquaman confusing him for Katar Hol for a minute and Superman telling him that his membership will fill out the obligatory "guy with big wings" quota.
  • 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.
  • Fallen Hero: Triumph fell on hard times since the end of his series, resulting in a loss of his powers and becoming a joke — which made him susceptible to Lkz, a Jerkass Genie and Evil Counterpart to Johnny Thunder's thunderbolt Yz.
  • Fingore: While attention isn't called to it, looking closely reveals that the Batman of "Rock of Ages"'s Bad Future is missing bits of some of his fingers.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: Discussed by Eel O'Brian (when separated from Plastic Man), where he notes that, much like the protagonist will always remember what being smart is like, if their Literal Split Personality continues, he's going to be an average thug who yet remembers what it's like to be a hero and how much he loved being Plastic Man.
  • Foreshadowing: While venting about his perceived lack of usefulness on the team, Green Arrow lists off various big supervillains that a guy with arrows is not gonna be able to hold his own against. Darkseid is one of the villains listed and the arc later veers into a storyline about a Bad Future where he rules over Earth.
  • For the Evulz: Prometheus admitted to Lex Luthor that he's only in it for his own amusement.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: After Aztek ended, Morrison had Aztek join the team for a while, then used the "World War III" arc serving as the conclusion to their run to wrap up his story.
  • Fusion Dance: How Lkz is defeated, by being forcibly merged with Johnny Thunder's genie Yz into Ylzkz.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Zauriel brings the armies of Heaven to Earth to help repel Mageddon.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Connor Hawke aka Green Arrow II, who only appears in "The Key" and the "Rock of Ages" arcs before retiring.
  • Hand Wave: While travelling at sizes smaller than photons, Kyle asks Ray Palmer how they can even see, or how they are even breathing oxygen. The best explanation Ray can give is that the five human senses work differently at quantum levels and the human brain is processing the visual information in familiar forms. In short, it's best not to think about it.
  • 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.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Aquaman can talk to fish via telepathy. So, to compensate for being far away from seawater and ocean life, Aquaman uses his telepathy on the part of a Hyperclan member's brain inherited from his marine ancestors to give him a seizure.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tomorrow Woman and Aztek both end up giving their very lives to save the day.
  • 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."
  • Ignored Expert: As Superman forewarned, the Hyperclan's ecological and environmental alterations to the Earth are at best temporary and worst unstable. Sure enough, the lush jungle the Hyperclan create in the Sahara eventually withers away due to the incompatibility.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The issue guest-written by Justice League International writer J.M. DeMatteis that deals with the aftermath of Day of Judgment (which saw Hal Jordan become the host for the Spectre), after the Spectre and League leaves his mind, the Joker chalks up his end of the experience (namely feeling a bunch of people shifting around in his head) to eating a man's tongue raw.
  • 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.
  • Legacy Character:
    • Wally West and Kyle Rayner were chosen to be a part of the League's most iconic lineup due to their predecessors either being dead or having turned to villainy, respectively at the time.
    • The original Green Arrow's son Connor Hawke takes his (also at the time) deceased father's place in the League just as the Key attacks. The issue shows the stark differences between father and son, with Connor forced to use Ollie's more outlandish trick arrows after his quiver is destroyed.
    • Steel was one of four replacement Supermen to appear following the The Death of Superman and joins the League due to his impressive engineering acumen.
  • 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)
  • Literal Split Personality: One arc has the League split into their civilian and superhero selves by a wish-granting machine, excepting Aquaman and Wonder Woman (who don't have secret identities). They're eventually split too; Aquaman into a human and a fish, and Wonder Woman into a clay statue and the Spirit of Truth... which she uses to save the day. It doesn't work out well, as the Leaguers quickly fall apart without their other halves for balance.
    • Superman loses his humanity both literally and figuratively, becoming more 'displaced Kryptonian' than an adopted son of Earth. Clark Kent becomes mild-mannered and timid for real.
    • Batman had the opposite problem; sure, as the normal Batman he's angry and only his own iron will prevents him from crossing all of the lines... but this all stems from Bruce Wayne's trauma, so the separated Batman is an empty shell with no face, while Bruce Wayne is violent and unstable without Batman to channel his rage. It's even lampshaded that it's the opposite of what most people expected would happen if Batman and Bruce split up.
    Eel O'Brian: Everyone figured that when you split Bruce Wayne and Batman, you get a fop and a lunatic. Which is true. But not like we thought.
    • Wally West's speed and sense of urgency were part of being the Flash, and he starts being late to things. Flash, meanwhile, starts to disregard Barry Allen.
    • Green Lantern loses Kyle Rayner's imagination, while Kyle nearly goes crazy without use of the ring for self-expression.
    • John Jones, after an initial freakout over no longer having telepathic powers, is actually the happiest of the civilians, since he no longer fears fire and the Martian Manhunter got all the 'last of my race' angst.
    • Plastic Man loses his ability to take anything seriously, while Patrick "Eel" O'Brian reverts to who he was before his superhero career- an amoral thug. He's the first to realize how serious things are because he has the perspective of never wanting to be that guy again.
  • Lonely Funeral: As noted under "Death is Cheap", because of the very nature of death in the comics, the only people attending Metamorpho's funeral were Superman, Rex's family, Java, and the preacher.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Key, upon his return, traps the JLA in a computer program that makes them live through Elseworld scenarios.
  • Magic Kiss: Aquaman wakes Wonder Woman from her Sleeping Beauty-like Forced Sleep via a kiss, since by being the King of Atlantis he counts as a handsome prince.
  • 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.
  • Meta Origin: The White Martian race studied humanity and performed experiments on them, changing their genetics, specially the nature of what would be the metagene. The group of renegades who did this (the Hyperclan) was imprisoned in the Still Zone as punishment. Had the White Martians not interfered with primitive humans, humanity would've evolved into a more uniformly powered race, much like Kryptonians and Daxamites did.
  • Myth Arc: While Morrison's run cycles through a villain of the week premise, overall there is the impending danger of Mageddon's arrival into the DC Universe and Wonderworld's warnings to the JLA if it was to ever breach their defenses.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Grant Morrison basically wrote Plastic Man as a superpowered Jim Carrey.
  • No-Sell: Circe gets fed up with Plastic Man and attempts to turn him into a pig and other assorted animals. Unfortunately, Plastic Man is a natural shapeshifter who can revert back and all this does is make him even hornier for her.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Of all the alterations Julian September makes to the timeline, Oracle finds the fact that Bruce Wayne's parents survived to be the most frightening. She's even reduced to a cowering mess when Bruce comes to visit with his folks, as she's unable to bear seeing people who should be dead and how different they might be, particularly when the other League members are actively working to restore the original timeline and thus essentially condemn the Waynes to death. We never see them as the timeline is corrected just as Bruce is opening the door to her apartment.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: It turns out in the "Rock of Ages" Bad Future, Desaad is actually an older Batman, who doesn't specify what he did to Desaad other than he won a battle of wits with him.
  • Pet the Dog: Guy Gardner spends most of his appearances being the arrogant jerk that he is known for being, especially to Kyle Rayner, who he almost always lambasts for not being up to snuff as a Green Lantern. At the Darkest Hour however, Guy wholeheartedly tells Kyle to take a break and recollect himself, adding that Kyle really should stop taking him seriously.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Prometheus refers to Barbara Gordon as a "ragdoll crip" in the "World War III" arc that concluded Grant Morrison's run.
    • In Kurt Busiek's run, the "Syndicate Rules" arc (dealing with the aftermath of JLA/Avengers) has Johnny Quick of the Crime Syndicate demonstrate that he is a racist, first by nearly referring to Chinese people as "yellow" and later by addressing Power Ring after he had been Race Lifted into a John Stewart counterpart as "Black Power Ring", much to the latter's chagrin.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot:
    • The "Crisis Times Five" arc served as a lead-in for JSA.
    • The "Obsidian Age" arc has Aquaman resign from the League to start Rick Veitch's 2003 Aquaman relaunch.
    • Kurt Busiek introduced the Power Company'' in the 61st issue before giving them their own series.
    • The "Tenth Circle" arc served to set up John Byrne's Doom Patrol run by establishing revamped versions of the team's original roster the Chief, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man and Robotman as well as having Justice League member Faith and new characters Nudge, Vortex and Grunt become additional recruits for the team.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
    • In the same that introduced Tomorrow Woman, Tommy Monaghan freely admits he only came to a JLA recruitment drive to check out Diana with his X-Ray Vision.
    • In an issue guest-written by Mark Waid, Plastic Man poses as a dress for Big Barda to wear—and promptly gets strangled by her when she realizes what happened.
  • Production Foreshadowing: Prevalent in Morrison's work:
    • Superman living in the sun until the 853rd century (as seen in DC One Million) is the character's ultimate fate in Morrison's All-Star Superman.
    • Everything in the Rock of Ages arc, from Darkseid turning Earth into a hellscape to a small collective of Leaguers fighting back would finally come to pass in Final Crisis. Additionally, the Genesis Box Orion used in that story's Bad Future would be revealed to be the Miracle Machine from Final Crisis in their The Green Lantern run.
  • 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' real name "Rei Hino" 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.
  • Reality Warper:
    • The Philosopher's Stone is a compression of all of creation into miniature crystalline form, allowing anybody who wields it to manipulate reality the way they see fit.
    • Julian September invents the Engine of Chance, which allows him to manipulate reality by altering probability enough to be in his favor... until he lost control of it and unleashed a "probability cancer" that rewrote reality basically at random.
    • The Joker is given free reign to manipulate the environment of a satellite Superman and Martian Manhunter are lured to, turning it into an Mind Screw physical representation of his unstable mind.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: Though Status Quo Is God was in effect for the members of the League themselves, many of the team's most iconic villains were reimagined from their usually goofy Silver Age incarnations into terrifying threats capable of taking on the world's greatest superheroes:
    • Starro (the League's original villain) goes from a giant starfish to a true Starfish Alien, being a continent-sized Eldritch Abomination that spawns countless probes to attach themselves to the face of any individual. This becomes especially horrifying when it happens to someone like the Flash, who essentially becomes a super-speed zombie under the Star Conqueror's control.
    • The Crime Syndicate Took a Level in Badass similar to the League from their original "what if the Justice League were bad guys" incarnation, becoming the overlords of an entire world built on the concept of "evil always wins." It's notable in that though J'onn and Arthur lay a Curb-Stomp Battle on the Syndicate when they arrive on Earth, they still don't lose in the end as they must remain in the Antimatter Universe to maintain the status quo.
    • The various Injustice League/Gangs over the years have typically had an odd assortment of supervillains chosen to plague the League in standard "one-on-one" fights that lack any real tactical prowess. Luthor founds his "archenemies only" incarnation (himself, Joker, Circe, Mirror Master, Doctor Polaris, Ocean Master and Jemm of Saturn) and launches an attack that involves discrediting the League and tearing them apart from within along with using a stone that can literally rewrite reality to his wishes.
    • The Key goes from an Intergang scientist in a robe to a dream manipulator with Super-Intelligence capable of locking the Justice League inside their own minds. It's only due to the out of nowhere appearance of Green Arrow literally sucker punching him with his late father's boxing glove arrow that stops the Key from obtaining omnipotence.
    • The original Queen Bee was a standard alien invader from a bee-themed Planet of Hats who was discarded in the 80s for her human mind-controlling counterpart. She returns as part of Luthor's revamped Injustice Gang as the ruler of a race of superhuman insectoids.
    • The Shaggy Man was always an "all-hands-on-deck" level threat for the League, but his sasquatch-esque appearance was more than a little goofy. Here, he's just a shell for General Eiling, who decides to put his brilliant tactical mind into the body of the beast. It basically makes him (renamed the General) a remorseless Superman with the strategic mind of Batman that can regrow missing limbs or even withstand a mini-nuke.
  • Rule of Cool: Much of the series is really just the Justice League kicking the collective asses of the villain(s) of the week.
  • Sadistic Choice: Zauriel and Alan Scott try to call on The Spectre for aid, but someone had imprisoned him in a world teeming with developing life. Whoever had made the prison made it so whoever wanted to free The Spectre would have to commit mass genocide do to so. They technically do, as Alan uses the Green Flame to accelerate the world's time so it reaches its apocalypse within minutes, but it's made clear that the life-forms developing won't know time is being accelerated.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation The "Crisis Times Five" sees Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, and Wildcat talks about the glory days of the Justice Society of America with Wally West and Kyle Rayner before Hourman uses his powers to move them ahead to talking about the main plot — much to their chagrin.
  • Shooting Superman: A company of General Eiling's soldiers open fire on Superman. It has expected results, but the soldiers give up because they're wrought with guilt over the fact that they tried to kill Superman.
  • Shout-Out: Martian Manhunter attends a meeting in Tokyo under the disguise of a Japanese woman named Rei Hino. Batman notes that the name is a "giveaway".
  • Solar and Lunar: The Hyperclan leaders, Protex and Primaid, evoke the imagery: Protex is blond and wears a yellow outfit with a sun-shaped cape holder, while Primaid has pale white skin and hair, red eyes, and wears a crescent moon tiara.
  • Spotting the Thread: What clues Superman in to the fact that he's not being weakened by kryptonite, but rather telepathically convinced that he's being weakened by kryptonite? The fact that he still has his Super-Senses.
    Caption: Alarm bells are going off all over the world ... He can hear them.
  • 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 people the Hyperclan kill are unmistakably Wolverine and Doctor Doom.
    • The Hyperclan themselves are an indictment of the '90s Anti-Hero; they are perfectly willing to kill and regularly defy Reed Richards Is Useless, but they are ultimately an invasion force brainwashing the masses with promises of paradise, and their use of advanced technology to fertilise the Sahara desert was ultimately a quick fix that falls apart when they're no longer maintaining it.
    • Kyle Rayner briefly criticizes the Darker and Edgier supervillains prevalent during the period JLA was being published, complaining about the decrease in bad guys who just want to rob jewel stores and the proportionate increase of villains who kill your girlfriend and stuff her into a refrigerator.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The Hyperclan pay Batman no mind because they assume that by 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."
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: A fatal case as a hostless Spectre freeze Triumph during "Crisis Time Five" and the League put his body in a display case — only for Morrison to forget this detail when they had the Injustice Gang destroy the Watchtower in their final arc, "World War III".
  • "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.
    • Circe suggests that Kyle and Connor only joined the League in search of father figures to please, and that their older teammates are using this to keep them pliable and compliant. Seeing as how Circe is evil, she's hardly a trustworthy judge of the situation: but there's enough truth in the first part of her suggestion to get under their skins.
  • Witch with a Capital "B": In the back-up story for the fourth and final Annual, General Anka Kazim refers to the heroine the Janissary as an "insipid witch".
  • World War III: Mageddon is causing this by affecting everyone's aggression levels to the point every almost country is going to war with each other. Hell, the arc it appears in is even called "World War III", with Oracle using the term as she rallies the heroes to stop it.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The Key knows that the Justice League will inevitably escape their Lotus-Eater Machine and is counting on the mental energy required to do so to power his plan to achieve omnipotence. He's only defeated because Green Arrow showed up to interrupt his plan at the last minute.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Hyperclan keeps Superman incapacitated with a chunk of Kryptonite. However, he deduces that it's only an illusion and all the Kryptonite poisoning symptoms he's experiencing are all fake when he notices that he's way past the point when he should be dead already, and can hear air raid sirens all over the globe when this much kryptonite should have weakened his powers.

Alternative Title(s): Grant Morrisons JLA