Smallville and its characters are copyright ©2006 Warner Bros. & DC Comics. This is a fan site and not authorized by the WB, the CW, or DC. The term "Kryptonite" is a trademark of DC Comics. Page copyright ©2006 KryptonSite, unless the material is noted as coming from someplace else or being by an individual author. Smallville stars Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, John Glover, Aaron Ashmore, Annette O'Toole, Erica Durance, and Allison Mack.

PRIVACY POLICY: KryptonSite does not collect personal information on its users (aside from forum registration) or share any information obtained in forum registration. We are not responsible for content on sites linked from KryptonSite.





The Many Faces Of... The Justice League
Column by Russ Dimino

Read some of Russ's other columns! Many Faces Of...: Lana Lang - Lucy Lane - The Kents - Lex Luthor - Lois Lane - The Flash - Jor-El and Lara - Mxyzptlk - The Other Women Of Clark Kent - Batman - Aquaman - Superman - Jimmy Olsen

The man of steel. The world's greatest detective. An Amazonian warrior princess. The fastest man alive. The king of Atlantis. A man who wears the most powerful weapon in the universe on his ring finger. The last Martian. These are but a few of the members of a group whose ranks define the elite of the world's superhero community. Separately, they have saved the world countless times over. Occasionally, however, a threat emerges that is so huge that they have no choice but to band together and combine their forces. Together, they are the Justice League.

In this edition of "The Many Faces of...", we will examine several incarnations of the Justice League that made it (or almost made it!) to the television screen!

The League first appeared in the comics in The Brave and The Bold #28, which hit stands in 1960. The initial line-up was Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and J'onn J'onzz, a.k.a. The Martian Manhunter. This issue also introduced the team's teen sidekick/mascot, Snapper Carr. The League got their own series in 1961, with members constantly being added or replaced throughout its long history. Over the years, other chapters of the League popped up, such as Justice League Europe, Justice League International, and Justice League Task Force. The current Justice League of America comic book series was recently relaunched, and is being written by New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer.

The League flew into the Saturday morning line-up in 1973 with "The Super Friends." The series was produced by Hanna-Barbera, the company behind "Scooby Doo," "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons," and many other classic cartoons. The title "Super Friends" was seen as a more kid-friendly than "Justice League," though the team was still sometimes referred to as such on the show. "Super Friends" was a hit, and would stick around until 1986, going through many changes and revamps as it went along.

The roster for the first season of "Super Friends" consisted of Danny Dark as Superman, Olan Soule as Batman, radio legend Casey Kasem as Robin, Shannon Farnon as Wonder Woman, and Norman Alden as Aquaman. To increase the kid-appeal, the team also included two teenagers, Wendy and Marvin, and their talking dog, Wonder Dog. They had no powers, except, of course, Wonder Dog's ability to talk, which was never really addressed or explained. Wendy was voiced by Sherry Alberoni, and Frank Welker voiced both Marvin and Wonder Dog. The series was narrated by Ted Knight, best known as Ted Baxter of "Mary Tyler Moore" fame.

Episodes of the first season repeated until 1977, when "The All New Super Friends Hour" debuted. This season saw the addition of Jack Angel as Flash and Hawkman, and Michael Rye as Apache Chief and Green Lantern. Gone were Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog. In were the Wonder Twins, Jayna and Zan, who had the power to shapeshift into animal and water forms, respectively. Liberty Williams voiced Jayna, and Michael Bell voiced Zan. William Woodson replaced Ted Knight as the narrator (ironically, Woodson was in the "Mary Tyler Moore" episode "And Now, Sitting in for Ted Baxter"!).

The most popular season among the fans came in 1978 with "Challenge of the Super Friends." Not only had the quality of the animation improved by this point, but the Friends now faced The Legion of Doom, a group of villains who had formed a league of their own, so to speak. The Legion of Doom was made up of 13 villains whose ranks included Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy, Toyman, Riddler, Bizarro, the Scarecrow, and Brainiac (played by Ted Cassidy, "Lurch" of "Addams Family" fame), to name a few. Also this season, Bill Calloway took over the role of Aquaman from Norman Alden.

In 1979, the League made a live-action appearance of sorts. In "Legends of the Superheroes," a TV special that can currently only be found in bootleg format at some comic book stores and/or conventions, the heroes take part in both a superhero adventure and a celebrity roast. The stars of this campy, tongue-in-cheek show were Adam West and Burt Ward, who reprised their roles as Batman and Robin from the hit 1960's "Batman" TV series. Rounding out the rest of the group were Garrett Craig as Captain Marvel, Howard Murphy as Green Lantern, Danuta Rylko Soderman as Black Canary, Bill Nuckols as Hawkman, Rod Haase as Flash, Barbara Joyce as Huntress and Alfie Wise as The Atom. They went up against villains such as Charlie Callas as Sinestro, Gabe Dell as Mordru, Howard Morris as Dr. Sivana, Mickey Morton as Solomon Grundy, A'leisha Brevard as Giganta, Ruth Buzzie as Auntie Minerva, and, also reprising his "Batman" role, Frank Gorshin as the Riddler. Gary Owens provided narration, and none other than Ed McMahon was the Master of Ceremonies at the roast. Appearances by Hawkman's mom and a geriatric hero called Retired Man added to the silliness of this strange program.

In 1984, "Super Friends" was back with another new incarnation, this time called "Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show." This time out, the team had help from Firestorm the Nuclear Man, voiced by Mark L. Taylor. Adam West now provided the voice of Batman, taking over for Olan Soule. Despite this, the show started to take on a more serious tone, with the Friends now fighting darker villains like Darkseid and his warriors from the planet Apokolips. Some other cast changes: Constance Cawfield now voiced Wonder Woman, and B.J. Ward voiced Jayna.

The final season of "Super Friends" came in 1985 with "Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians." This season saw the addition of Ernie Hudson of "Ghost Busters" fame as Victor Stone, a.k.a. Cyborg. B.J. Ward now stepped up the ranks, voicing Wonder Woman. This version continued the darker trend that the series had been taking, marking the first time that Batman's grim origin (namely having his parents gunned down in front of him as a young boy) was ever depicted outside of the comics.

In 1997, the League tried and failed to make a jump to a live-action TV series. A pilot that never aired in the US was produced and, much like "Legends of the Superheroes," is now pretty much exclusive to the comic convention bargain bins (and possibly YouTube). This version starred Matthew Settle as Green Lantern, Kimberly Oja as Ice, John Kassir as The Atom, Michelle Hurd as Fire, Kenny Johnston as The Flash, and David Ogden Stiers as Martian Manhunter J'onn J'onzz. The villain in this tale? Miguel Ferrer as Dr. Eno, The Weather Wizard, who holds the city for ransom with the threat of a tidal wave. Ferrer voiced another version of this same character in an episode of the animated "Superman" series, "Speed Demons," in which Superman teamed up with The Flash.

In 2001, the gang got animated again. The new "Justice League" series was produced by the award-winning team behind the "Batman" and "Superman" animated shows of the 1990s, and was in fact spun-off from the continuity of those shows. Kevin Conroy, who had voiced Batman since 1992, continued to voice the Dark Knight. George Newbern stepped up to the role of Superman, since Tim Daly, who had previously voiced Supes, was busy with the new "Fugitive" TV series. The rest of the League was comprised of Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, Carl Lumbly (Dixon on "Alias") as J'onn J'onzz, Maria Canals as Hawkgirl, "MAD TV" alum Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern, and "Smallville" star Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash. The League's original sidekick from their comic book debut, Snapper Carr, even made scattered appearances throughout the series, this time as a TV reporter. He was voiced by Jason Marsden.

In 2004, the "Justice League" series evolved into "Justice League Unlimited." The League opened its doors to all superheroes in the DC Universe, expanding its ranks from the original seven to include around 60 heroes in all. To name a few, Kin Shriner as Green Arrow, Nicholle Tom as Supergirl, Jeffrey Combs as The Question, Chris Cox as Captain Atom, Scott Rummell as Aquaman, Oded Fehr (the "Mummy" movies) as Dr. Fate, and Ron Perlman as Orion joined up with the expanded League. "The Wonder Years" stars Fred Savage and Jason Hervey were reunited on the show as the superhero team Hawk and Dove.

On the "Smallville" episode "Justice," the possible beginnings of the League will be examined. Details about the episode's plot are being kept under tight wraps, but it is known that other heroes who have appeared throughout the show's six seasons will be returning to combine forces with Clark (Tom Welling). These include:

-Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, who has appeared all throughout season six.
-Alan Ritchson as Arthur "A.C." Curry/Aquaman, who appeared in season five's "Aqua."
-Kyle Gallner as Bart Allen/The Flash, who appeared in the season four episode "Run."
-Lee Thompson Young as Victor Stone/Cyborg, who appeared in season five's "Cyborg." (Cyborg has also been seen in animated form in the Cartoon Network's "Teen Titans").

Hartley and Ritchson share something in common... they've both played Aquaman. Ritchson, of course, played him on "Smallville." Hartley, before being cast as Oliver Queen, played Aquaman in the pilot for "Mercy Reef," from "Smallville" co-creators Al Gough and Miles Millar. Unfortunately, the pilot was not picked up and was never made into a series.

Previous episodes featuring the characters in "Justice" have often teased or hinted at the formation of the League, usually in the form of a joke. J'onn J'onzz, often a core member of the League in its various incarnations in the comics, is not reported to appear in this episode, but will figure prominently into the following episode, "Labyrinth." J'onn has already made a cameo in the episode "Static." He will be played in "Labyrinth" by Phil Morris, who made many appearances as lawyer Jackie Chiles on "Seinfeld."

The first episode of "Justice League Unlimited" opened with Superman addressing the gathered heroes who were joining the expanded League. "Each of you brings something different to the table," he told them. And therein lies the reason for the League itself. The powers and abilities possessed by the many members of the League range from flight, strength and speed to telepathy, shape-shifting, energy blasts and advanced weaponry. But it is not only their varied powers that makes the diversity of the League so important. They each have different approaches, thoughts and ideas about how to uphold their noble mission of bringing justice to the world. Batman may not always agree with Superman, and Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl may not see eye to eye, but having another point of view on a difficult case can sometimes prove the key to solving it. And even the most powerful of heroes needs some backup once in awhile. Other times, though, it just comes down to the moral support of having some trusted teammates fighting by your side when the times get really tough. After all, now and then, we all need a little help from our friends.

Note: The views of Russ Dimino don't necessarily represent the thoughts and feelings of everyone at KryptonSite.

Thanks to Jana and Nitro for image help.

Return to the KryptonSite Home Page