6. WONDER WOMAN
Inspired as a female analogy of Superman with male-skewed feminist leanings, Wonder Woman was a powerhouse (perhaps the powerhouse, Green Lantern and Spectre aside) of the Justice Society of America so it was fitting she would be a founder of the Justice League of America. However, despite her power, just as with the Society much of her character fell to the wayside in favor of her male compatriots (likely from an idea a male-centric audience preferred male heroes). Even with Superman and Batman (aka the World’s Finest) shy of the early adventures of the League, members like Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern had a stronger presence and when the Trinity appeared together, undoubtedly the World’s Finest stood above Wonder Woman. In the late ’60s, the character would lose her superpowers and would be one of the first members of the League to resign.
Amid a backlash to Wonder Woman losing her powers, the character returned to the status quo with her powers returned and back in the Justice League (the latter part of a storyline in her own title where she underwent twelve labors to demonstrate her worth). However, as the cast swelled, standing out became much more of a challenge (especially for Wonder Woman who was already fairly under-utilized). Eventually, the character would leave the group again with the Detroit years. Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, not only was Wonder Woman off-limits to the new Justice League, she was no longer a founder and was a rookie that quite infrequently helped the then team. It wouldn’t be until the death of Superman that the heroine finally joined the League and went so far as to lead it as well. The group decimated by Doomsday, Wonder Woman founded Justice League America as Captain Atom started a rogue League team and Martian Manhunter organized Justice League Task Force. It was during her tenure as the JLA’s leader that the League experienced the new Wonder Woman, a powerful warrior with a head for strategy and commanding presence. However, all of the League titles failed to catch on with readers and were canceled to make way for the title JLA, based around the Big 7.
For Grant Morrison’s JLA, virtually each member of the Big 7 was treated as important. Combating world threatening terrors in essentially every story, each character stood out and Wonder Woman was played up as having the power of Superman and combat skill of Batman in a devastating combination. For a time, Wonder Woman would be dead and replaced by her mother Hippolyta before getting better. Wonder Woman would later die again but Hippolyta sacrificed her life to bring her back again. Some time later, Wonder Woman would pass her mantle down to her sister Donna Troy in order to become a secret agent named Diana Prince only to then take it back. Following Infinite Crisis, Wonder Woman was again a founding member of the Justice League and, in the present, she met with Superman and Batman to reform the group (which had collapsed following the events of the noted Crisis). Despite having brought the team together and selected its members, the Trinity decided to place Black Canary in charge (but would secretly monitor and discuss the group among themselves, which seemed to rob some authority away from Canary). The League would inevitably disband as Green Lantern and Green Arrow formed their own rogue JLA, Wonder Woman preoccupied with her own business (though, she would become a reservist). Prior to the events of Flashpoint, Wonder Woman would convince her sister Donna to join the League. In the new continuity, Wonder Woman was also a founding member of the Justice League.
5. GREEN ARROW
When Green Arrow was invented, he was largely intended to be a knock-off of Batman mixed with a Green Archer (a film serial) motif. One of a handful of characters to remain published going into the Silver Age, Arrow was placed in the Justice League of America to be a Batman character such that Batman wouldn’t have to be in the book. The rationale was that with all the books Superman and Batman had already, the audience would be burned out to see the pair also appear in the JLA book. During those early years, Green Arrow offered little to the title, just that he would have a trick arrow when the group needed it in much the same way Batman had something for everything in his utility belt. It wouldn’t be until around the time of the Hard Travelin’ Heroes storyline that the character gained some depth, the addition of a Van Dyke beard with a new extreme liberal attitude.
While DC’s readers were moving on to Marvel Comics and its examination of superheroes in real life situations, Hard Travelin’ Heroes was an early experiment on the publisher’s part towards this idea that proved rather successful. The while, in the League, new drama was formed as Arrow’s political beliefs clashed with Hawkman’s conservative values which drew lines within the group (Arrow and Lantern became close friends, Lantern and Flash were best friends, Hawkman and Atom were best friends, etc). Further, Arrow felt having a headquarters floating above the Earth removed the human element to the group, placing them above those they claimed to protect. It made it too easy for the group to forget the world is full of suffering as the League merely sat in judgment above, waiting for things to go wrong rather than prevent them. One of the heroes who stood beside Aquaman during the Martian invasion, Green Arrow was out of the League as Aquaman refocused the team with full time members in Detroit (ironically, coming back to Earth).
Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, Green Arrow abandoned his trick arrows and Star City (after killing men who tortured Black Canary) to move to Seattle, Washington. During this time, Arrow largely had nothing to do with the greater superhero community. Along the line, Green Arrow would be killed and his son Connor Hawke would take up his mantle. Hawke would join the JLA briefly before leaving, seeing himself more as a street level fighter than saving the world. The original Green Arrow would eventually return to life and later joined a replacement Justice League led by Nightwing formed when it appeared the original was killed. Instead, the main group was trapped in the past and upon their return, he resigns. When a new, more proactive covert League is formed in the Justice League Elite, Arrow would join this team for the brief spell it existed. Following the death of Sue Dibny, Green Arrow is one of the League within the League members to emerge. Later, when Despero reappears and assembles some of the members of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, Green Arrow is one of the League members pulled into the conflict. In the wake of Infinite Crisis, Arrow is one of the recruits for an interim Justice League. When a new, official League forms, Arrow’s protege Roy Harper joins under the name Red Arrow.
After the Martian Manhunter was killed during the events of Final Crisis, Green Arrow and Green Lantern decide to form and co-lead a rogue Justice League team that proactively seeks threats before they happen. However, this exercise is sidetracked when they’re forced to deal with Prometheus who turns their worlds upside down. Bombing Star City (which was already previously bombed during Infinite Crisis), Roy Harper’s daughter Lian is killed and Roy completely and utterly loses his mind. Inevitably, Green Arrow hunts Prometheus down and murders him in cold blood. The rogue League in shambles, Donna Troy later reforms the group and brings back Green Arrow. However, word comes out about the killing and Green Arrow is unmasked and imprisoned. Following the events of Flashpoint, Green Arrow was a founding member of the Justice League of America and Justice League United.