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Super Work Friends: How the Justice League Gets Along

Super Work Friends: How the Justice League Gets Along

By Alex Jaffe Thursday, July 14th, 2022

In Aquaman & The Flash: Voidsong, the Fastest Man Alive and the greatest hero of the seas team up against an alien invader that threatens all life on Earth. It’s not an uncommon scenario for these two…but typically, when this sort of thing happens, they have five or so other heroes to back them up. The truth is that apart from a select few, the seven original members of the Justice League of America—Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hal Jordan and Barry Allen—don’t get the opportunity to do much socializing outside of the Justice League group context. With Voidsong doing its part to develop an unexplored dynamic between two core Leaguers, it makes us wonder which other members of the team could do with more one-on-one time. Let’s head over to superhuman resources and check in on the interpersonal dynamics between each of these heroes.


Superman x Batman

Status: Super Friends

Out of any two heroes in this group, Batman and Superman’s relationship is the closest. They’ve been the co-stars of multiple team-up series since the 1940s and can currently be seen working side-by-side in the stunning Batman/Superman: World’s Finest series set back in the heroes’ glory days. These two are always going to have something going on with each other.


Superman x Wonder Woman

Status: Super Exes

The closest Superman and Wonder Woman have ever been was their relationship between 2012 and 2016, encompassing most of the New 52 comic book period and even their own Superman/Wonder Woman series. A continuity reshuffling in the Superman titles following DC Universe: Rebirth eventually brought Superman back together with his wife Lois, but Superman and Wonder Woman still remain close—though, as seen in Trinity, they usually bring Batman along as a buffer.


Superman x Aquaman

Status: Super Acquaintances

Although the two heroes shared an animation programming block in the ‘60s with the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, these two heroes have never been particularly close. With Superman up in the sky and Aquaman under the sea, there simply haven’t been many occasions for the heroes to meet. While their different approaches to protecting the Earth have sometimes put them at odds, Aquaman typically maintains a level of distant respect for Superman. However, a recent incident in Action Comics #1034 where Superman narrowly averts a war between the United States and Atlantis by making some hard choices has left their relationship somewhat strained.


Superman x Martian Manhunter

Status: Super Survivors

As some of the last survivors of their respective races living new lives among their adopted people on Earth, Superman and Martian Manhunter have always understood each other through shared trauma in a way that the other members of the Justice League can’t relate to. According to John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s Martian Manhunter series, in fact, J’onn J’onzz’s relationship with Clark goes back further than any two other members of the team, as he insinuated himself in the margins of a young Clark’s life to watch over him through a number of assumed identities and ensure the young Kryptonian wouldn’t turn his powers against the Martian’s new homeworld. When Superman discovered this as an adult, he was understandably a little freaked out. But in times of grief and sorrow for their lost cultures, and when feelings of alienness begin to take hold inside of them, this pair of survivors often find solace and comfort with each other.


Superman x Hal Jordan

Status: Super Work Friends

As two of DC’s highest profile cosmic heroes, one would think that Superman and Green Lantern would have more occasion to see each other. But historically, while Superman is saving the planet, Hal Jordan is either off-world on Lantern business or beating tracks across America in search of his soul. Interestingly, as we learn in Superman #257, Kal-El likely would have become his own sector’s Green Lantern had Krypton survived, and then he and Hal likely would be much closer. But as things stand, all of Superman’s closest relationships are Earthbound, and Hal will always be a man of the Corps.


Superman x Barry Allen

Status: Super Rivals

Even more so than with Batman, Superman’s history with the Flash is the one most defined by the spirit of competition. “Who’s REALLY the fastest man alive: Superman or the Flash?” When these two get together, it’s to tackle this question, be it for charity or on their own terms. Typically, in the Pre-Crisis days, it would be pretty close, usually resulting in a draw. But since Barry’s return from his long journey through the Speed Force between Crisis on Infinite Earths and Final Crisis, the Flash has been leaving his former rival in the dust. Nevertheless, the friendly rivalry between Flash and Superman keeps both heroes pushing themselves against each other for when their speed is needed most.


Batman x Wonder Woman

Status: Super Friends

It would be wrong to say that there’s never been any romantic tension between Batman and Wonder Woman. The prospect of a relationship is clearly something they’ve both considered, for example, in the Justice League animated series. Nevertheless, both are well aware that there are too many psychological and logistical obstacles to really make it work. The two heroes have fought before—most notably in Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, where Diana kicked Batman’s butt. But these days, their dynamic is best informed through their best friend Clark Kent, like the respective George and Elaine to their mutual Jerry Seinfeld.


Batman x Aquaman

Status: Super Work Friends

As DC’s most storied character, Batman’s had more opportunities even outside of the Justice League to establish relationships with his fellow heroes. And whether it’s the live action Justice League film or the animated Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the dynamic between Batman and Aquaman is one of a relatively subdued personality placed up against something bigger than life.

In the aftermath of No Man’s Land, Batman enlists Aquaman in Gotham Knights #18 to help rebuild from the wreckage—something that Batman, as Aquaman learns, could have easily done himself, but secretly just wanted the opportunity to get closer to Arthur. Whether that’s a case of Batman seeking to amass detailed files on his teammates in case they go rogue, as he’s known to do, or simply feels lonely and isolated by the complicated lifestyle he’s chosen for himself is a thought exercise left for the reader. We’re inclined to believe the latter.


Batman x Martian Manhunter

Status: Super Sleuths

Superman and Martian Manhunter may share similar origin stories, but J’onn and Batman share an origin series: Batman in Detective Comics #27 and Martian Manhunter in Detective Comics #225. For all their differences, Martian Manhunter’s modus operandi is ultimately more similar to Batman than Superman: more than a world-saving beacon of hope, Bruce and J’onn are both detectives at their core. The two heroes have been known to collaborate on a case when a mystery in Gotham calls for extraterrestrial or extrasensory resources, and both attend many of the same detective functions—like the Mystery Analysts of Gotham in Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold, or the Guild of Detection in Detective Comics #1000. As two brilliant minds for deduction and strategy, J’onn is one of the few people in the galaxy that Bruce obviously considers a colleague.


Batman x Hal Jordan

Status: Super Rivals

Some people never forget a slight. Ever since the “Emerald Twilight” saga where Green Lantern went mad with grief and became an alien parasite-hosting super-villain, Batman hasn’t ever quite trusted Hal Jordan since. Even after a stint as the Spectre to pay for his sins, high tensions between Hal and Bruce defined their dynamic throughout the decade of Green Lantern and Justice League stories told by Geoff Johns. Like most heroes who don’t quite see eye-to-eye, Batman and Green Lantern eventually find a begrudging respect for one another in the trenches. But more than their pasts, the real friction between the two is that both of them harbor the same core element that drives them to do what they do best every day: a legendary propensity for stubbornness.


Batman x Barry Allen

Status: Super Sleuths

Like J’onn, Batman respects Barry Allen for the detective he is at heart. For the mystery of “The Button” in the DC Rebirth comics era, it’s Barry and Bruce who work together to discover who’s behind the cosmic manipulation of reality itself. Emotions can run higher between Bruce and Barry than they do with J’onn, especially in the aftermath of Heroes in Crisis, but that may just be because they understand each other better. Both have raised legacy heroes, foster large found families, feel responsible for an entire city, and don’t believe they can ever slow down. No wonder they feel comfortable calling on each other. Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen are basically the same person. (And sometimes, like in the case of Red Death, literally.)


Wonder Woman x Aquaman

Status: Super Royals

As the royal figureheads and global representatives of two lost civilizations, Arthur and Diana have a lot to talk about with each other. In fact, a royal marriage is in the cards between them to cement an alliance between their realms in the world of Flashpoint, although that union ends in heartbreak, disaster and war. Probably better that they just remain friends, all else considered. The two royals share friendly banter on occasion while on duty together with the Justice League, but don’t see too much of each other outside of that capacity.


Wonder Woman x Martian Manhunter

Status: Super Acquaintances

To keep the sitcom comparisons coming, Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter are a little like Phoebe and Chandler on Friends. They’re part of the same group, but they don’t really have much in the way of notable storylines together. Both heroes have a capacity for empathy and understanding to the point where it would be hard to imagine they don’t at least get along, and all evidence suggests they do. But maybe there’s something about J’onn being from the cosmic domain of a Roman war god that has Diana keeping some distance.


Wonder Woman x Hal Jordan

Status: Super Near-Misses

Diana’s proximity to the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe is mainly defined by her reserve status with the Star Sapphire Corps, technically placing her closer to Carol Ferris than Hal Jordan. But in the Bronze Age, they were nearly much closer than you might believe. According to letter columns in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, writer and editor Jack C. Harris was planning a storyline at the time where Diana and Hal might have started seeing each other romantically, but he left the Wonder Woman title before that premise could come to fruition. At any rate, it turns out Diana’s bona fides as a Star Sapphire go back long before Blackest Night.


Wonder Woman x Barry Allen

Status: Super Work Friends

Before Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wonder Woman usually kept her affairs to herself when off duty with the Justice League (and, before that, the Justice Society). In fact, Diana’s association with both teams means that historically she’s been just as close with Jay Garrick as Barry Allen. Diana really only started to enjoy full integration with the DC Universe at large in her Post-Crisis ‘80s series, which made her a closer contemporary to Wally West in their burgeoning superhero careers. Wally did manage to log a few team-ups with Diana during their respective runs, but Barry and Diana have always been merely professional. Considering how many different Cheetahs Wonder Woman has to deal with, maybe she just has enough speedsters in her life.
 

Aquaman x Martian Manhunter

Status: Super Work Spouses

J’onn J’onnz considers himself a citizen of the entire world, and 70% of that falls in Aquaman’s jurisdiction. While you won’t see them grabbing drinks after work or anything, there’s a surprising number of stories through Aquaman’s publication history where J’onn shows up as a guest star—maybe because he doesn’t have a particular city he’s strictly tied down to. Whenever Aquaman needs a friendly hand, J’onn is never too busy to pitch in. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that their Justice League membership in 1960 was both J’onn and Arthur’s big break to the A List. It would certainly explain why they’re the two original team members to stick around in the “Justice League Detroit” period.


Aquaman x Hal Jordan

Status: Super Acquaintances

One of Hal Jordan’s classic enemies is a mutant shark named Karshon, who simply goes by “Shark,” so he and Aquaman could probably afford to swap notes at some point. But despite that, they’re not really close. Honestly, we’re more surprised that Shark doesn’t ever hang out with King Shark. But maybe they’ve got beef or something.


Aquaman x Barry Allen

Status: Super Work Friends

Considering how one of Barry’s signature moves is the ability to run over water, the Flash doesn’t have much occasion to go under it. But that may change with Voidsong, as these heroes of different worlds are finally getting the chance to get to know each other. Perhaps we’ll be able to upgrade them to “Super Friends” status by the end of the series.


Martian Manhunter x Hal Jordan

Status: Super Work Friends

Since long before their extinction, the Martian race has always maintained a healthy mistrust for the self-appointed “Guardians of the Universe,” and as such had little use for their Green Lantern Corps. Since the loss of his people, J’onn seems to respect Hal as a fellow lawman, but Green Lantern tends to keep as much cosmic distance from his Martian teammate as most of the other Leaguers.


Martian Manhunter x Barry Allen

Status: Super Acquaintances

An almost completely unexplored dynamic. Most of what we know about J’onn comes from stories after Crisis on Infinite Earths, when Barry was already gone. And by the time Barry rejoined the League, J’onn had checked out of the core team membership. The two simply haven’t had an opportunity to really bond with each other. But just as Batman can relate to them both through the art of detective work, we’re sure they could find common ground with each other if they worked at their relationship. Maybe they’re next if Voidsong gets a follow-up.


Hal Jordan x Barry Allen

Status: Super Friends

As the two standard bearers for the Silver Age of comics, Barry Allen and Hal Jordan are typically mentioned in the same breath for cultural significance. Hal doesn’t have too many friends outside of his own corner of the universe, but apart from Green Arrow, Barry is as close a Super Friend as Green Lantern has. Like Superman and Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, and now Flash and Aquaman, Flash and Green Lantern share the rare distinction of sharing their own book together, Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold by Barry Kitson, Tom Peyer and Mark Waid, revisiting the glory days of both heroes back in their prime. Hey, wait a minute! Isn’t Mark doing this exact thing but with Superman and Batman in the current World’s Finest run? Well, if it works, it works.


Aquaman & The Flash: Voidsong #2 by Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Vasco Georgiev and Rain Beredo will be in stores on Tuesday, July 19th. Pick up issue #1 at you nearest comic shop or favorite digital retailer today!

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.