You may have read my first article talking about the beginning and current iterations of the first 7 members of the Justice League. If not you can read that here first so that you're not wondering why your favorite Justice League member isn't on this list. Being the extreme geek that I am, I know that there are a lot of heroes that sometimes don't get as much of the limelight as others, but who deserve just as much recognition. That's why I'd love to help shed some light on the different incarnations of some of these other beloved Justice League members. Grab bat-glasses and take a seat while we dive into the humble beginnings and current iterations of some of our favorite Justice League members!
Then: In his creation, Oliver Queen was first introduced as a means to back up Batman in comics. In the 40s DC didn't want to overuse their star characters and as a result, created heroes that would be eerily similar, but still different enough to still give audiences what they want without associating the names. Green Arrow was a millionaire playboy with a young sidekick who would scour the rooftops at night taking on crime lords and drug dealers, much like Batman during this era. In these early years, Oliver had things like his Arrowcar, Arrowplane, Arrowsignal, and campy trick arrows.
Now: Oliver Queen is still active as the Green Arrow. However he is a darker character and has separated from his former Batman image a bit more. Olly is now a much more grounded hero who is the fighting symbol for the every-man. Green Arrow has now also gained more allies than just Speedy. He has Roy Harper as Red Arrow, Connor Hawke, Mia Dearden, and Sin. Green Arrow is now the the go-to backbone of the Justice League of America and has served as a staunch supporter of left-wing views and doing whatever it takes to protect the innocent.
Then: Ray started out as a brilliant scientist who was trying to use white dwarf star matter to decrease the size of matter. He was one of the fist superheroes to join the JLA outside of the original 7, and did most of his vigilantism in Ivy Town. Ray was mostly used as a supporting character alongside his best friend Hawkman. He was incorporated into missions by having something be inaccessible to others, but not to him thanks to his size manipulation.
Now: Ray Palmer is no longer a member of the Justice League and instead works for S.H.A.D.E. (Superhuman Advanced Defense Executive). He is their scientific liaison and reports to the UN on their behalf. He still retains his powers and abilities, but is a much more broken man than in previous incarnations. He has also had run-ins with Justice League Dark.
Then: Dinah Lance was the daughter of the original Black Canary. The Black Canary that we know and love had a curse put on her by Wizard that caused her to have a sonic scream. Because of this she was put in suspended animation where she grew up. When her mother died, her memories were given to her daughter who was then released from suspended animation.
Now: She is now the leader of the Birds of Prey. She has an ex-husband named Kurt Lance who was thought dead, but is still alive. Black Canary is now actually a metahuman who has her sonic scream unleashed by Kurt being shot. She still has her signature fishnets and blonde hair, but she is more removed from her police family background.
Then: Originally, Red Tornado was an android created by the villain Dr. T.O. Morrow as a means to learn the inner workings of the JSA. He would then use Red Tornado's intel to destroy them. Despite his infiltration, Red Tornado later helped the JSA defeat his creator and helped revive some of the fallen members. After this, he was still given a place in the JSA and served as a great secondary character for years.
Now: There is no Red Tornado on Earth-0, but there is one on Earth-2. Red Tornado in this world is inhabited by the spirit of that world's dead Lois Lane. Currently, she has survived the death of her world in a spaceship with other survivors and is now in search of a new home. With this, she is now officially calling herself Red Tornado.
Then: Zatanna received her powers and magical abilities genetically thanks to her mother, but learned her heroism from her father John Zatara. Having been cursed to be unable to reunite with her parents, Zatanna was mostly raised by strangers and forced to traverse the world learning to harness her powers herself. After joining the JLA, the members helped her lift the curse put on her by Allura, thus allowing her to reunite with her parents. Unfortunately, both were killed shortly thereafter.
Now: With DC's creation of Justice League Dark, Zatanna was a hero who naturally shifted to this team. With her experience with magic and the occult, she has become an invaluable member of the team. She maintains the same origin, but has greater knowledge of the occult due to her prolonged involvement with John Constantine and her tenure on the JLD.
Captain Marvel a.k.a. Shazam
Then: Young Billy Batson, like most heroes, had his parents murdered early on in his life. The killer was none other than his soon to be arch-nemesis Black Adam. Having his inheritance stolen and nowhere to go, Billy is forced to live on the streets. His is eventually introduced to the great wizard Shazam, who deems Billy worthy of receiving the powers of the 'Elders', Solomon, Hercules, Achilles, Zeus, Atlas, and Mercury. With Billy idolizing Superman, he takes up his own superhero persona in order to combat evil in the world with his unwavering optimism and purity.
Now: Billy Batson has become recognized as one of the most powerful beings in all of the DCU. His origins have changed a bit though. Billy is still an orphan, but he is a foster child to the Vasquezes who have several other foster children. Billy is the most troublesome of the bunch and his resistant to become part of this family. He stumbles upon the Rock of Eternity while running away from bullies and finds the Wizard on his own. In this incarnation, the Wizard doesn't immediately bestow the powers of the elders on Billy because he is not pure of heart, but Billy is able to convince the Wizard that it is impossible for anyone to be pure these days. With this wisdom, Billy earns the powers of the Elders. Shazam and his foster brother Freddy are also seen being extremely irresponsible by stealing money and using Billy's powers for selfish reasons. Billy eventually splits his powers amongst the 7 other foster children thus creating the Marvel Family. He currently serves as a member of the Justice League.
Then: Ted Kord was the second Blue Beetle, but arguably the most recognizable or the most associated with the persona. Ted was passed on the identity by the former Blue Beetle and his professor, Dan Garrett. He was given the blessing of Dan Garrett when they were both trapped in rubble thanks to Ted's evil uncle Jarvis Kord. Jarvis had killed himself and mortally wounded Garrett in a fight for world domination, which prompted Garrett to reveal his identity to Ted. Knowing that he would soon be dead, Garrett asked Ted to carry on his legacy, but before he could hand Kord the sacred scarab they were separated by the debris. Kord was forced to use his genius intellect and inventions to create his Blue Beetle persona, forever giving him a huge distinction from the other inhabitants of the Blue Beetle mantle.
Now: After serving as a long-standing member of the Justice League and becoming best friends with Booster Gold, Ted met an unfortunate end. He was killed by Maxwell Lord, and unfortunately, he has stayed dead since then except for his appearance as a Black Lantern during the Blackest Night storyline. The Blue Beetle mantle as since been carried on by Jaime Reyes who has found the scarab and gained all of Dan Garrett's previous abilities.
Then: Firestorm was originally the outcome of two men fusing together: Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein. Once merged thanks to the Firestorm matrix, they were able to perform multiple fantastical feats and they possessed amazing powers relating to nuclear energy among other things. They were able to split back into their original selves, but Stein would have no memory of their time together. This took a great toll on his psyche, but Raymond later helped Stein reconcile this mental glitch. Both were able to summon Firestorm at will, but this caused problems for the one man duo when Stein was struggling with his identity and loss of time during the time as Firestorm. Once they were able to control their powers and mental abilities, Firestorm became an indispensable hero of the Justice League.
Now: Ronnie Raymond can now become Firestorm on his own and so can Jason Rusch. Martin Stein is now dead, but he has given Jason the matrix that allows both he and Ronnie to become Firestorm. Now when Ronnie and Jason fuse, they become an entity known as Fury. They both possess the same powers but are increasingly stronger when fused.
There you have it guys! I hope you enjoyed reading about some of our favorite hero's humble beginnings and their current whereabouts in the DCU. I really hope you learned something about a character you perhaps weren't as familiar with before, and perhaps this has inspired you to start reading some of their comics. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next installment where I might be covering another hero you're dying to know more about!