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Comic Book / Justice League Elite

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"No charter. No nation. No rules. NO MERCY!"

Justice League Elite was a twelve-issue DC miniseries by Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke, spinning off from JLA (1997) #100, in which the League and the Elite teamed up for an elaborate ruse to force the rest of the world to work together. In this miniseries, Flash, Green Arrow, Manitou Raven, and Major Disaster join the Elite to handle a couple of more sensitive jobs that the League couldn't openly deal with. Things quickly go wrong when their first mission results in the death of a dictator.


This series contains examples of:

  • Achilles in His Tent: Subverted with Major Disaster; He suffers a breakdown after his alcoholism gets a teammate killed. When the call comes for him to return, he refuses in an attempt to stay away from the things that drove him to drink in the first place. Vera Black decides to respect this rather than risk pushing him into a relapse.
  • Adorable Abomination: Po-Pokta is the guardian totem of travelers. He's also a giant, adorable ferret.
  • The Alcoholic: Major Disaster develops a huge drinking problem over the course of the miniseries, much to his teammates' chagrin. After his drinking causes his powers to crap out at a really bad time, resulting in the death of Manitou Raven, he ultimately decides to get sober.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Vera lost both of her arms as a child in a factory accident.
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  • Asshole Victim: President Bhat was a despot whose response to the Blood Brothers' attempt to take over was to gas his own people.
  • The Atoner:
    • Coldcast was motivated to become a hero after blinding his mother the first time that his powers manifested. This resulted in him joining the original Elite, who turned out to be supervillains, giving him another thing to atone for.
    • Major Disaster is atoning for his career as a supervillain.
    • Kasumi is supposedly atoning for all the people she killed as an assassin. It's not entirely a lie, but she only killed one man, not hundreds.
    • Manitou Raven is trying to make amends for his actions as a member of the League of Ancients.
  • Ax-Crazy: Blood Brother Tomas carries an ax, and is completely batshit insane.
  • Badass Normal: Al-Sheikh. He has no powers, but he still manages to come off as someone you don't want to mess with.
  • Berserker Tears: Blood Brother Thomas is prone to tearing up in battle.
  • Betty and Veronica: Invoked by the Flash to describe his internal conflict between his duties to the Justice League and his duties to the Elite.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Manchester Black always protected his little sister Vera when they were growing up.
    • Coldcast tries to look out for his idiot brother, even after said idiot gets involved with alien gangbangers.
  • Blood Knight: The Blood Brothers are a pair of these.
  • Brain Bleach: Flash asks for something to get the sight of Changsha's killing fields out of his head. Humorously, Menagerie offers him one of her bugs, telling him to suck on the mucus...
  • Breather Episode: In the fourth issue, the team is temporarily impounded after their attempt to stop the Blood Brothers' bloody attempt to take over Changsha results in the death of that country's dictator. Many of them treat it as a day off.
  • Broken Bird: Vera is one, deep down. She's never truly gotten over the realization that the big brother that she used to idolize grew up to become a monster, and this inability to repudiate him causes her to subconsciously adopt some of his methods.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Manchester Black tries to use Eve to alter history so that Superman was killed before his powers developed, but she claims that there is no way for her to make such a drastic change to the universe without tearing reality itself apart.
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town: In order to infiltrate an alien gang, Vera Lynn Black, the Flash, and the Mist adopt fake identities as "Miss Morphine", "Supersonic", and "The Nothing", respectively.
  • Clingy Costume: Menagerie's "crèche" might count as one. When the League forcibly removes it from her after she's revealed to be responsible for Bhat's death, its absence nearly kills her.
  • Darker and Edgier: JLE is a darker version of the Justice League. Admittedly, it's not the first time a series would take a darker look at the league (Justice League Detroit, Justice League Task Force, Extreme Justice), nor would it be the last (Justice League: Cry for Justice).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Major Disaster starts off as one, but increasingly turns to alcohol to deal with all the shit he's gotten involved with.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Kasumi hunts and eats several Eldritch Abominations while trapped in the Shadowlands for around a week.
  • Disney Death: Kasumi apparently decapitates both Major Disaster and Coldcast in the first issue, only for it to be revealed that the Flash switched them out with dummies at the speed of light.
  • Driven to Suicide: After Manitou's death, Major Disaster tries to kill himself to "even the score". He fails, and decides to get sober instead.
  • Electric Black Guy: Coldcast technically has broad energy powers but in practice, he's a big black dude that brings the lightning.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Coldcast and his brother Chris are not the best sons one could hope for, but they both love their blind mother dearly.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Insult Aardvark is an aardvark who insults people.
  • Eye Scream: In the first issue, Menagerie takes a dart to the eye. Coldcast also blinded his own mother by accident when saving her from muggers. That same incident also burned out one of his own eyes.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Menagerie betrays the team, intending to get revenge for the brain damage her sister suffered at Manchester Black's hands.
  • Fingore: Blood Brother Lars' hand ends up being horrifically burned after he attacks Menagerie. This includes several of his fingers being dissolved.
  • Good Is Not Nice:
    • Naif Al-Sheikh is a mostly honest and honorable man. He's also a sexist, elitist asshole.
    • Green Arrow may be a hero. But he's also a self-important moralist dick that cheats on his girlfriend Black Canary and sleeps with one of his teammate's wife behind his back.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Manchester Black was a heavy smoker. Vera starts picking up the habit after becoming convinced that Ches is in her head.
  • Groin Attack: Vera delivers a really hard one to President Bhat.
  • Hands-On Approach: Subverted when Manitou Raven insists on helping Dawn prepare a spell. She teases him that he doesn't need to make excuses to touch her; he is appalled that she thinks he would lie about his intentions.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Menagerie repeatedly insists that she's not interested in girls.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The Elite deliberately seek out bad press to convince people that they're still supervillains.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Manitou Raven pulls one in order to save a drunk Major Disaster from the Black Racer.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: A constant concern for this team; they struggle to be convincing supervillains without doing anything truly villainous.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Towards the end of the series, it's revealed that Vera's increasingly erratic behavior is the result of Manchester Black somehow taking over her body.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Blood Brother Lars has the power to absorb the blood out of other people's bodies through his hands. This goes horribly, horribly wrong for him when he tries to use this power on Menagerie, not knowing that her blood is highly acidic.
  • Holy Handgrenade: Manitou Raven's ax cannot pierce the skin of a good man. It can, however, pierce the skin of an adulterer, which is how he saves Green Arrow from falling to his death - he embeds the ax in Ollie's chest and uses it like a fishhook to haul him back up. After Manitou's death, Dawn gives the ax to Al-Sheikh, believing that his devout religious belief will enable him to wield it.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die:
    • Flash blames himself for Bhat getting killed, because he believes that his nausea and contempt for Changsha meant that he wasn't giving his full effort.
    • Major Disaster blames himself for Manitou's death, because he was so drunk that Manitou had to step in and save him.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Wolfwood, being a lycanthropic assassin, prefers to dispose of his kills by eating them. Maybe. He later tells Vera that he was joking, but it's left ambiguous.
    "You'd be surprised what a teaspoon of olive oil and a little curry does for your average bastard..."
  • In Love with Your Carnage: the Blood Brothers, Tomas in particular, get *very* excited (even weepy) by Kasumi and Deathstroke's performances during the recruitment phase.
  • Jerkass Gods: One of the gods in Manitou Raven's pantheon is the Insult Aardvark, an aardvark who sits around on his ass insulting people. He can offer up boons, but only if you're prepared to spend several days just sitting there while he calls you every insult that he can think of.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Major Disaster isn't interested in going back to being a supervillain, but he's also increasingly disillusioned with being a superhero.
  • Legacy Character: Sonja is technically the second person to assume the persona of Menagerie. The original was her sister, who was left severely brain-damaged.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Menagerie wears an "alien crèche" made up of bugs.
  • The Mole: Kasumi is actually Batgirl, installed to keep an eye on the team by Batman.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dawn had a affair with Green Arrow because her husband began paying more attention to work and the trials of the "Stony Path" than her. She eventually regretted the affair and betraying Raven, especially when Raven apologized to her. Before she could apologize to Raven and reconcile with him, he died while taking the brunt of a bomb blast, leaving her heartbroken by his death and the fact he knew about the affair before he died.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Menagerie adores her little "bambinos". Everyone else finds them disgusting.
  • Noble Bigot: Al-Sheikh is a complete asshole towards Dawn because she is a "pagan" who "dresses like a harlot" (for reference, Al-Sheikh is a former member of the Saudi Arabian government, so presumably he's a devout Wahhabi Muslim, which means that his standards of "modesty" are probably not shared by most people, and Dawn wears more clothing than most comic-book women.) On the other hand, he makes sure that she plays a role in running the team, and after Manitou dies, he is fully prepared to offer her compensation to insure that she doesn't become dependent on Oliver Queen.
  • Oh, Crap!: Lars' expression after he tries to use his blood-drawing powers on Menagerie and discovers that her blood is acidic...
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Subverted. Al-Sheikh makes several references to President George W. Bush, even though the DC Universe supposedly had a different President during that time.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Major Disaster, who uses sexist and homophobic insults, and Al-Sheikh, whose religious fundamentalism leads to some bigotry on his part.
  • President Evil: Don Qua Bhat, a borderline dictator who was prepared to gas his own people to prevent the Blood Brothers from overthrowing him.
  • Pretend Prejudice: Naif al-Sheikh complains repeatedly that he hates superheroes, women, and anyone else who tests his rather limited patience. The fact that his best friend Vera Black is a white, female, punk rocker ex-supervillain means such complaints end up falling rather flat however, especially since he eventually ended up getting himself arrested because he couldn't bring himself to harm her. He also makes sure that Dawn is fairly compensated for her work and that she is taken care of after her husband dies during a mission.
  • The Quiet One: Kasumi is quiet and withdrawn, rarely speaking unless spoken to. Which shouldn't be surprising, given her upbringing.
  • Rape as Backstory: Dawn ended up with Manitou Raven after her family shunned her for attacking a tribal chieftain who forced himself upon her.
  • Recovered Addict: For most of the comic, Major Disaster kept getting wasted in order to deal with the stress of having to play a supervillain (because supervillainy was a previous addiction that he was still struggling to overcome). After getting so wasted that his powers crapped out on a mission, leading to the death of one of his only real friends, he tried to kill himself. When that failed, he decided retire from superheroics and join AA instead, and as far as we know, never relapsed (well, not on the drinking, anyway; he did return to being a superhero, but since that was during Infinite Crisis, and he ended up dying in battle, he can probably be forgiven for it.)
  • Refusal of the Call: Booker chooses to reject Manitou's attempt to summon him to London, because he's just gotten sober and fears that going into another superhero battle will tempt him to start drinking again.
  • Rescue Romance: Kasumi grows infatuated with Coldcast after he saves her from dying in Changsha.
  • Scary Black Man: Coldcast deliberately plays up his gangbanger roots to convince his brother and his alien-gangbanger buddies that he's a criminal. This leads to some trouble when the Justice Society of America decides to take an interest.
  • Slasher Smile: Menagerie has one.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Christopher Jones is an idiot gangbanger who just happened to make friends with some aliens, and even that might have ended badly for him if he hadn't happened to have a superpowered big brother to back him up.
    • Aftermath turns out to be one just before Eve rips him in half.
  • Spicy Latina: Menagerie is a literal example - her blood is acidic.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: It's hinted that Menagerie is a completely different persona than Sonja.
  • Survivor's Guilt: Manitou's death leaves Major Disaster such a wreck that he decides to retire from superheroics altogether.
  • Unequal Rites: During one story where the team goes up against Circe, Manitou Raven expresses disdain for Circe's magic, as her magic doesn't involve any sacrifice as his does.
  • The Unfavorite: Coldcast will always be second in his mother's eyes, even though his brother is an idiot gangbanger while he himself is a superhero.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Manchester Black offers a comic-book-plausible explanation for how he managed to get into Vera's head, then turns around and points out that such an explanation is only plausible in fiction, so the more rational explanation is that Vera's just making this up as an excuse for her own behavior. Of course, this is Manchester Black talking.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: For all the insults that Vera and Naif sling at each other, they usually have each other's backs.
  • Volleying Insults: In order to get the Eye of Thirteen Pupils, Manitou must face off against the Insult Aardvark, withstanding the Aardvark's insults until the Aardvark grows tired, and then offering up an insult of his own.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Coldcast vomits up a royal shitload of Menagerie's "bambinos".
  • Voodoo Shark: Manchester Black's explanation for how he managed to take over Vera's body despite supposedly being dead (he says his mind jumped out of his body just before he blew out his own brains) raises more questions than it answers, because it's not entirely clear if this is really Manchester or if he's just a figment of Vera's imagination.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: This is the Elite's reputation in the DC Universe.
  • Whole Costume Reference: Vera's "Ms. Morphine" disguise is basically an updated version of the Tina Turner's Acid Queen costume from Tommy.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Becoming the second Menagerie does a number on Sonja's mental health, transforming her from a sweet girl who just wanted to complete her sister's work to a cold-blooded murderer.