Justice Lords
Justice Lords' model sheets
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceJustice League, episode "A Better World"
Created byStan Berkowitz
In-story information
Base(s)The Watchtower

The Justice Lords are a fictional team of anti-heroes/anti-villains who first appeared in the two-part Justice League episode "A Better World", which was broadcast on November 1, 2003.

The Justice Lords were brought into DC Comics' canonical multiverse with The Multiversity Guidebook #1 by Grant Morrison in 2015. Their world is situated on Earth-50.

Television appearances

The Justice Lords are an alternate Justice League from a parallel Earth.[1] After Lex Luthor is elected President of the United States, kills the Flash, and establishes policies resulting in a potential nuclear war, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman storm the White House and confront President Luthor in an attempt to prevent the war. When President Luthor tells Superman no matter how many times he sends him to prison, he would find a way back to power, Superman kills President Luthor with his heat vision, and decides he likes this new form of "justice". The others also lose faith in humanity.

For two years, the Justice Lords seize the world's governments and begin ruling with an iron fist. Using their satellite base for surveillance, they ban free speech, limit elections, and eliminate crime by lobotomizing criminals and supervillains through Lord Superman's heat vision, although they justify their behavior as "temporary" and for the people's own good. Lord Superman has also imposed severe restrictions on his girlfriend Lois Lane's way of life, forbidding her from making phone calls, having unauthorized guests, or leaving her home.

"A Better World"

The Justice Lords discover their counterparts when Lord Batman finds the League during an experiment which allowed him to view the alternate universe, as well as be transported there. Bored with their own world, the Lords decide to "assist" their counterparts by having their tyranny on the League's world, and trick them into going to the alternate Earth. When the League arrives, they are imprisoned and rendered unconscious. They are later transferred to cells designed to neutralize their powers, and Lord Batman stays behind to keep watch over them.

When the rest of the Lords arrive on mainstream Earth, they meet Doomsday, a monstrous fighter who challenges Earth's mightiest combatants and goes on a rampage. The Lords, especially Lord Superman, are happy to fight him. After a hard fight, Lord Superman lobotomizes Doomsday with his heat vision. Lois Lane is surprised by this, saying it is unlike him. Watching the interview from prison, Lex Luthor immediately recognizes that the Lords are not the League.

The League escapes from the holding facility when the Flash accelerates his heartbeat to make Lord Batman think that he has flatlined. Lord Batman opens the Flash's cell door, and is quickly locked in the cell by the Flash and the League escapes. Most go to Arkham Asylum to retrieve Hawkgirl, although Batman goes to the Batcave to get the dimensional transporter. There Batman and Lord Batman fight, and Batman convinces Lord Batman that the Lords' methods are wrong, after sarcastically saying if his parents were alive, they would be proud of his actions. Lord Batman saves the League from the alternate Earth's security forces and sends them back to their reality.

On mainstream Earth, Superman approaches Lex Luthor for help against the Lords, who agrees in exchange for a presidential pardon, and so the League distracts the Lords to allow Luthor to use a power disruptor to permanently remove their powers. The Lords are sent back to their Earth, and Luthor expresses his intention to enter politics.

Long-term effects

The Lords' proposed alterations of mainstream Earth have repercussions in the first two seasons of Justice League Unlimited. The events of "A Better World" aid Amanda Waller's crusade against the destructive capabilities of the metahuman population if the government left it unchecked. When Waller is confronted by Batman, she reveals simulations that show what would happen if the League went rogue; each time, the government was defeated. Project Cadmus, established to counter Superman if he went rogue (as shown in the Superman: The Animated Series two-part episode "Legacy"), then called "Project: Achilles", expanded its threat list to the entire Justice League. Mistrust increased within the League; Batman and Question fear that what happened to the Lords' Earth would happen to theirs when Luthor nearly wins the presidency, and the Question tries to kill Luthor.

The League's apparent degeneration cast it into an increasingly bad light. However, it successfully recruits the populist, astute Green Arrow as its political conscience; he puts the role of Cadmus in perspective for the League, preventing it from succumbing to the temptation that created the Lords.

Luthor hacks the Justice League Watchtower to attack Cadmus headquarters, causing extensive collateral damage to the surrounding area. The public turns against the League, and they decide to decommission the Watchtower and faithfully surrender (except for Batman, who wants to clear the League's name on his own). However, Cadmus decides to retaliate, sending Galatea (a clone of Supergirl) and an army of genetically engineered metahumans to destroy the Watchtower and kill the rest of the League on board. The League subdues the clones and Supergirl defeats Galatea. When Batman finally convinces Waller that Luthor is responsible for the attack, they confront him in his Lexcorp offices, only to be beaten back by Lex, who demonstrates unnatural speed and strength due to Brainiac secretly being in his body for several years.

"Divided We Fall"

In "Divided We Fall", Brainiac and Luthor unite into an entity that creates duplicate androids of the Lords to fight the League, playing on their worst fears: Superman becoming a Justice Lord, and Green Lantern and Hawkgirl's failed relationship and her pariah status on Earth and Thanagar. Only Flash appeared to be the most unaffected by his replica's taunts due to his optimistic nature, and the androids were quickly destroyed, though the group of androids was merely a delaying tactic on the part of the Brainiac/Luthor entity.

The growing fear that the League might become the Lords reaches a climax in this episode, when the Flash exceeds his maximum speed to destroy Brainiac, vanishing into the Speed Force. With Flash supposedly dead and Luthor at his mercy, Superman is put in the same position as his Justice Lord counterpart, but resists the temptation and proclaims that he is his own person. J'onn then senses Flash's presence, and the League successfully pulls him back to reality.

Realizing they have estranged themselves from those they are trying to protect and still fearful of the future, Superman publicly announces the complete dissolution of the Justice League. However, Green Arrow challenges him, saying the Justice League was bigger than any individual and would continue without the original seven, and Superman changes his mind, deciding for the League to establish an embassy on Earth as a secondary Watchtower and maintain a closer relationship with governments and law enforcement.



The Justice Lords were released in the Justice League Unlimited toy line in three 3-pack collector sets. The first set featured Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. A reviewer wrote that although they do not stand up on their own, they "represent one of the most popular episodes of the entire Justice League series".[2] The next pack contained Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern and the Flash. The final set contained Hawkgirl and the Brainiac versions of Superman and Batman. In 2012 Treehouse Kids released its Heroics line of collectable figurines, which includes Justice Lords Superman as a chase figure.

Inspiration and parallels

According to the DVD commentary on the second part of "A Better World", although the Justice Lords began as a Crime Syndicate of America story, the writers decided that a story about a rogue Justice League had more story potential as the Crime Syndicate was simply evil. The episode is similar to a Dan Jurgens Justice League America story, "Destiny's Hand". In that story, the Atom dreams about the original Justice League becoming oppressive rulers of the world. Doctor Destiny tries to make this "dream universe" absorb the mainstream reality, and the modern Justice League fights the "evil" old Justice League.

In the DC Animated Universe itself, the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Brave New Metropolis" depicted an alternate Superman becoming a dictator after Lois Lane's death.[3] The episode was also written by Stan Berkowitz.[4]

The alternate universe presented in Injustice: Gods Among Us also shared much similarity to the Justice Lords, in that a parallel version of the Justice League, save for Batman, became oppressive rulers of the world after Superman was tricked by the Joker into killing Lois Lane, their unborn child, and destroying Metropolis with a nuclear bomb, for which Superman kills the Joker in retaliation, leading to his descent to tyranny. The alternative Batman, who had formed an underground Resistance movement to combat Superman's methods, brings in the mainstream version of the Justice League to combat Superman and his forces. Notable differences from the Justice Lords include Flash (who, in this continuity, is Barry Allen) being alive and fighting on Superman's side (before he realises how far the "heroes" have fallen and defects), Martian Manhunter was killed during the prequel comics fighting for Batman and Green Lantern Hal Jordan now a member of the Sinestro Corps as he fights for Superman, while John Stewart is killed along with most of the Corps.

The premise of a Justice League-type super-team establishing a totalitarian state for what they see as the good of humanity was explored in Marvel Comics' original Squadron Supreme miniseries, its recent reworking of that story, in WildStorm's The Authority and the "Titans Tomorrow" storyline of the Teen Titans comic book. The idea of metahumans taking control of humans, and of Superman leading them to make a better world, is also developed in the Elseworlds mini-series Kingdom Come. According to Bruce Timm's DVD commentary, Batman was to form the Outsiders as a counter-superteam of the Lords but the idea was discarded. In the Avengers Annual #2, the Avengers are sent to an alternate world by an early version of Kang the Conquerer; the original Avengers take over the world and imprison other super-beings, allegedly for their own good. The idea of altering criminals to prevent them from returning to crime was also part of the DC Comics miniseries Identity Crisis (albeit using magic and primarily intended to protect the heroes' secret identities) and in Marvel Comics' original Squadron Supreme miniseries.

Mainstream comics

In Grant Morrison's series The Multiversity, the Justice Lords were brought into mainstream comic continuity, being revealed to originate from Earth-50.

See also


  1. ^ "The World's Finest - Justice League". Worldsfinestonline.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  3. ^ Mysogland, Gregory (2021-07-09). "Justice League Infinity Introduces the DCAU's Most Dangerous Superman". CBR. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  4. ^ Kendall, G. (2018-05-06). "Superman: The Animated Series - When Superman Became A Ruthless Tyrant (Twice)". CBR. Retrieved 2023-01-23.