The Justice Lords were an alternate universe version of the Justice League.
In a universe parallel to that of the Justice League's universe, President Lex Luthor's unjust execution of the Flash caused the super-hero team of that universe to go rogue. Though this team called itself the Justice Lords (rather than the Justice League) since its inception, it, too, was composed of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, John Stewart, Hawkgirl, and J'onn J'onzz, and (until Luthor became President) both teams apparently shared the same history.
After Superman killed President Luthor, the Justice Lords reorganized itself into a planet-wide ruling body, quickly beginning a program of protecting humanity from itself. Free speech was all but dead, elections were chosen only when the Lords said so and the slightest disturbance of the peace meant immediate arrest. Many of the rogues that the Lords had faced in the past were lobotomized by Superman's heat vision to make them peaceful and harmless. The rogues were then placed in an updated and pleasant-looking Arkham Asylum run by the Joker, who had become harmless after undergoing the "treatment" himself. Also during this period, the costumes of the Justice Lords underwent extensive changes.
The Justice Lords meet the Justice League
Once Earth was peaceful, Batman developed an interdimensional transport device which allowed him to view universes parallel to his own. The first universe he found was that of the Justice League, where his and the Lords' counterparts continued to battle Lex Luthor, the Flash was still alive, and they had not instilled order via harsh rule. Deciding to force their brand of order on the League's universe as well, the Justice Lords tricked and captured the League, imprisoning them in the Lords' universe while the Lords took their place, with the exception of Batman, who stayed behind to keep order.
Soon after their capture, the Justice League escaped and, with the help of Batman, who had been convinced of the wrongness of his and the Lords' actions, returned to their own universe. After gaining the assistance of Luthor in creating an energy disruptor, the five Justice Lords were stripped of their abilities and returned to their own universe.
Despite this victory, the actions of the Justice Lords continued to plague the Justice League in the years to come, serving as a constant reminder of what could happen if they went too far. The rampage of the Justice Lords precipitated the creation of Project Cadmus (although some of their projects had been in production even before the incident). The League also took great pains to recruit the politically-active Green Arrow when the Justice League expanded in the wake of the Thanagarian invasion. The League hoped he would serve as their political conscience and appropriately, he was instrumental in preventing a dangerous overreaction by the League when Cadmus captured and tortured the Question and tricked Captain Atom into serving them and thus fighting Superman, who was forced to beat Atom into unconsciousness to subdue him.
In the final hours of the Cadmus Crisis, the fused form of Lex Luthor and Brainiac created android replicas of the Justice Lords to battle the seven founding Justice League members. The androids were, however, destroyed in the ensuing battle.
While the original intention was to do a Crime Syndicate story, commentary on the Season Two DVD of Justice League revealed they ended up more a reference to The Authority. Also, the idea of having the Crime Syndicate as the main antagonists was later stored for Justice League: Worlds Collide, a planned Justice League DTV. However, the project never materialized.
Bruce Timm, the executive producer of Justice League, has stated that the great difference between the Justice Lords and the Crime Syndicate was that the Lords were merely misguided, but the Syndicate members are evil of heart.
In the Batman Beyond comic book series, it was revealed that the effects of Lex Luthor's power disruptor were not permanent, restoring the Lords' powers. In a further expansion, Wonder Woman married Justice Lord Batman and stayed on the alternate Earth, replacing Justice Lady Wonder Woman, who kills Lord Batman, making Wonder Woman kill her also with her Lasso.
Appearances and references
- "The Doomsday Sanction" (Mentioned Only)
- "Question Authority" (Mentioned Only)
- "Divided We Fall" (Android Replicas)
- Berkowitz, Stan (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (November 1, 2003). "A Better World, Part I". Justice League. Season 2. Episode 11 (airdate). Episode 37 (production). Cartoon Network.
- Berkowitz, Stan (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (November 1, 2003). "A Better World, Part II". Justice League. Season 2. Episode 12 (airdate). Episode 38 (production). Cartoon Network.
- McDuffie, Dwayne (story) & Goodman, Robert (teleplay) & Riba, Dan (director) (February 19, 2005). "The Doomsday Sanction". Justice League Unlimited. Season 1. Episode 16 (airdate). Episode 16 (production). Cartoon Network.
- Berkowitz, Stan (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director) (July 31, 2004). "Initiation". Justice League Unlimited. Season 1. Episode 1 (airdate). Episode 1 (production). Cartoon Network.
- McDuffie, Dwayne (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director) (July 2, 2005). "Flashpoint". Justice League Unlimited. Season 1. Episode 23 (airdate). Episode 23 (production). Cartoon Network.
- McDuffie, Dwayne (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director) (July 16, 2005). "Divided We Fall". Justice League Unlimited. Season 1. Episode 25 (airdate). Episode 25 (production). Cartoon Network.
“ Fun fact: "A Better World" started out as a straight-up Crime Syndicate story, but evolved into something else while we were 'breaking' the plot. Another fun fact: Worlds Collide, the currently still-on-hold Justice League DTV, featured the Justice League versus (you guessed it) the Crime Syndicate (obviously, we like alternative universe stories, too). Maybe someday ”
— Bruce Timm, Toon Zone
“ [As for comparisons between 'World's Collide' and 'A Better World'], there are quite enough differences between the Justice Lords and the Syndicate to make doing the story worthwhile. For instance, the Lords were merely misguided, but the Syndicate folks are 100% evil. Also, although the individual motifs are similar, the Syndicate guys aren't exact doppelgängers for the Justice League (Ultraman isn't Clark Kent / Kal El, Superwoman isn't Diana of the Amazons, Owlman isn't Bruce Wayne, etc.). In any case, 'World's Collide' is vastly different than 'A Better World,' in general tone and specific story beats. Keep your fingers crossed, maybe someday. ”
— Bruce Timm, Toon Zone