SECRET SOCIETY vs. the CRIME SYNDICATE - Who Ranks Higher?1 of 12Spoilers ahead for this week's Justice League #45.
Over the decades there have been multiple iterations of the Justice League - from "of America" to "International" to "Detroit" (seriously), but the roster of DC's most famous superteam commonly includes icons like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash.
With a stacked lineup like that, it takes some formidable firepower to take them on - villains capable of bringing down entire countries, planets, solar systems or even reality itself. And the 10 characters/teams on this list certainly meet those standards.
But times they are a-changin’, and some big shake-ups have occurred with some of the League’s most fearsome foes. In the wake of Forever Evil, Lex Luthor actually joined the Justice League – a move that brought him into the war between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and, through a strange twist, granting him the power of the seemingly fallen Darkseid in this week's Justice League #45.
So how might this new Darkseid/Luthor hybrid stack up against the League’s greatest arch-enemies? Only time will tell, but for now, here’s our list of the greatest villains the Justice League has ever faced!
DESPERO2 of 12While Starro (more about him later) was the first Justice League villain ever, appearing in the team's debut in Brave and the Bold #28, Despero has the distinction of appearing in the first issue of Justice League of America back in 1960.
With an incredibly distinctive look - fin, pink skin, third eye - Despero has challenged the Justice League and the DC Universe at large countless times, fitting right in with the pantheon of evil alien conquerors. (Even though one time he did get his mind switched with the Justice League International's innocuous robot sidekick, L-Ron.)
That third eye isn't for decoration, either it's the focal point of his mind powers, which allows him to control others and cheat at chess.
WHITE MARTIANS3 of 12Martian Manhunter has been a mainstay in Justice League teams for decades, despite a strange history with the team in the "New 52." Which is why his fellow Martians have frequently been a shape-shifting, vulnerable-to-fire thorn in the League's side.
Unlike J'onn J'onnz, the White Martians are anything but peaceful. In Grant Morrison's very first JLA story arc, the White Martians used their shapeshifting powers to pose as the superteam "Hyperclan," in a subversive attempt at world domination. As the antagonists of the storyline that helped restore the Justice League concept and define the franchise for a new age, the White Martians might have earned their way on this list for that arc alone.
They returned a few years later during Mark Waid's run on the book, once again up to no good in the "Terror Incognita" storyline.
PROMETHEUS4 of 12Unlike just about everyone else on this list, Prometheus doesn't have superpowers, he isn't an alien, and he isn't a crew of like-minded megalomaniacs.
Like Batman, he's just a dude who happens to be incredibly smart and unsettlingly crafty. But unlike Batman, instead of using his powers for good, he well, you can probably guess what he did, based on his inclusion in this list.
Created by Grant Morrison during his seminal run on JLA, Prometheus used his wiles to take down the entire League, before being unexpectedly taken down by Catwoman.
In the Justice League: Cry for Justice series, Prometheus' actions escalate to the point where Green Arrow puts him down with an arrow through the head but this is comic books, and DC's ever-evolving continuity could mean a return.
INJUSTICE LEAGUE5 of 12If the Justice League is a collective of DC's greatest superheroes, it only makes sense that the greatest villains would band together to oppose them, right?
In the tradition of the Legion of Doom from Super Friends, big-time bad guys like Lex Luthor and the Joker have frequently banded together to take on the Justice League, in both the less formally named "Injustice Gang," and the "Injustice League."
During Dwayne McDuffie's run on Justice League of America, the late writer took a similar approach to the Justice League Unlimited TV series and presented an Injustice League inclusive of just about everybody, from major players like Gorilla Grodd and Cheetah to more ancillary names like Nocturna and Manticore.
AMAZO6 of 12Robots always make good villains. You don't have to worry about your heroes holding back because they can just tear the soulless humanoid apart and not actually be killing anyone! Tack on the powers of every member of the Justice League, and suddenly you have one bad guy.
With absorption cells, this amazing android (yup, that's where "Amazo" comes from) can take on the powers of metahumans and humans alike, copying everything from the Flash's speed to Green Arrow's expert aim.
Amazo's most recent multimedia appearance didn't go too well, when he got utterly punked by Batman and Nightwing in the animated feature Batman: Under the Red Hood, though a virus bearing his namesake made waves in recent issues of Justice League.
SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER VILLAINS7 of 12They are one of the oldest and most iconic team of supervillains in the DCU, containing a who’s who of the combined DC Rogue’s Gallery from Lex Luthor to Darkseid and more.
Originally formed by Darkseid, the Secret Society of Supervillains have stood toe-to-toe with both the original Justice Society and the modern Justice League. And inn a still-rare move, these villains actually headlined their own book in the mid-'70s, which lasted for 15 issues.
Several incarnations followed, including Alexander Luthor Jr.'s team seen in the Infinite Crisis mini-series, Villains United which spawned the fan-favorite antihero team Secret Six.
Most recently, the SSoSV actually briefly conquered the world (with the help of the Crime Syndicate) in Forever Evil.
ANTI-MONITOR8 of 12Where there's a "Crisis," Anti-Monitor isn't hard to find. The multiverse-destroying being from the antimatter universe literally brought about the destruction of infinite earths, leaving only one left for two decades.
While the heroes of the Justice League usually led the way against Anti-Monitor, it's unfair to call him just a JL villain. This is a threat that usually needs more like the entire assembled force of every hero on Earth, in space, and just about all of reality to take down. That easily gets him into the top half of this list.
STARRO9 of 12Another alien conqueror (the League seems to face a lot of them), Starro makes his way this high on the list not just because he's an awesome alien mind-controlling starfish, but because he was the first villain the Justice League ever faced!
Premiering in Brave and the Bold #28, Starro attacked Happy Harbor and Rhode Island, the natural place an alien conqueror would start. Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman teamed up to take him down, though it was really the non-powered human Snapper Carr who figured out the key to his defeat.
Starro comes back to plague Earth on occasion, despite it originally seeming that the alien had been utterly destroyed. With mini-starfish used for more direct mind control, Starro has even taken over individual members of the League at times, in comics, TV, and video games.
CRIME SYNDICATE OF AMERICA10 of 12In superhero comics, the general public and the world’s governments always worry – and prepare – in the event that one of their world’s top superheroes turns bad. But imagine if they all turned evil? That’s the Crime Syndicate, an evil version of DC’s top heroes from an alternate Earth.
The concept of the "evil twin" is certainly not one exclusive to comics, but it does offer a unique challenge for a team of superheroes. With the alternate-earth Crime Syndicate, the Justice League gets to see what it would be like if they were instead the world's greatest villains.
Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring may not all have the most original names, but the threats they pose to the League are very real. Other members have come and gone, also offering up doppelgänger versions of famous heroes, but those five are usually the core of this villainous squad.
“For them, and Ultraman in particular, it’s not about good and evil,” Geoff Johns said in an interview with IGN. “It’s about strength and weakness. They’re the strongest, most powerful people on their planet, therefore they have ruled it.”
The Crime Syndicate invaded the Justice League's Earth last year as part of Forever Evil, in which they very nearly defeated the League and conquered the world - all while fleeing the Anti-Monitor, destroyed their home of Earth 3.
Now, advance solicits have made it clear that the Crime Syndicate will return to the pages of Justice League - possibly as their reluctant allies against the assembled villains of "Darkseid War."
DARKSEID11 of 12Ultimately, it all comes down to the Omega, and for Darkseid (fun with spelling!) that's a literal assessment. With his Anti-Life Equation and Omega Beams, this alien overlord from Apokolips (more fun with spelling!) has plagued the Justice League since his first appearance in November 1970.
Darkseid is from the creative mind of Jack Kirby, as one of the "New Gods" from the far reaches of space. Using the Mother Box, he plagues the Justice League as a whole, or sometimes just Superman alone, and has proven to have staying power - Darkseid even winds up taking on the Legion of Superheroes, who tend to dwell a thousand years in the future.
Whether it's in comic books, in direct-to-DVD films, or on TV in animation and live action: Darkseid at some point or another winds up being the big bad. At the center of Final Crisis, he was one of the last villains the JLA faced during the old DCU, and has since became the first one the new Justice League faced down in The New 52.
And though it seems he may be dead, after the events of Justice League #45, a new dark lord of Apokolips might have risen to take his place - in the form of Lex Luthor, himself one of DC's greatest villains.
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