The Justice League may be DC Comics’ greatest heroes, but they’re responsible for creating one of DC’s greatest evils, and nobody seems to remember.
When it comes to DC Comics’ greatest heroes, few groups can hold a candle to the legendary Justice League, but the team is responsible for creating one of the DC Universe’s most powerful villains. While other A-List teams like the Titans and the Justice Society are icons in their own right, both within continuity and in publishing, the JLA are truly a League of their own. But just because they’re the world’s greatest heroes doesn’t make them infallible – and one of the Justice League’s greatest mistakes has long gone unpunished.
Both as individuals and as a team, the Justice League has taken on countless villains in their day. From cosmic-level threats like Darkseid to more grounded monsters like the Joker, the heroes of the Justice League have put down every villain that’s ever crossed their paths. But unfortunately, they’re also responsible for creating one of DC Comics’ greatest threats: Solaris the Tyrant Sun.
Solaris Is the Justice League’s Greatest Failure
During the DC One Million event series by Grant Morrison, Val Semeiks, and a host of other creators, the Justice League find themselves in the middle of a cross-time team-up with their successors from the 853rdCentury – Justice Legion A – against the combined forces of one Vandal Savage and Solaris the Tyrant Sun. As part of their villainous ploy, the League’s immortal opponents manage to send a technorganic virus back in time to destroy humanity in the Justice League’s home era.
The only way to purge the virus is to build Solaris himself and draw the maliciously mechanized malady into his core. With the main heroes of the League trapped in the 853rd century, the ancillary members of the present-day Justice League work alongside the time-displaced Legion, successfully activating Solaris and planting the seeds for their fellow Justice Leaguers’ ultimate victory thousands of years in their future. However, that victory comes at a grave cost to the rest of the universe.
While Solaris did ultimately need to be created in order to save both the present and the far future, that doesn’t undo the incalculable damage he wreaks upon the cosmos in the years between his birth and his ultimate defeat. In many ways, Solaris actually becomes Superman’s greatest foe, and his campaign against the Man of Steel causes more than its fair share of casualties across millennia. The Justice League may use their altruistic ends to justify the means through which Solaris was born, but that’s small comfort to the lives that the Tyrant Sun will snuff out across the stars.
The Justice League Aren’t Gods – Even If Nobody Reminds Them
One of the greatest criticisms leveled at the Justice League both by fictional characters and by more than a few readers is that they’re detached gods who do too much for humanity. While there are many who argue that this couldn’t be further from the truth, the fact is that the creation of Solaris is yet another instance where the Justice League changes the course of universal history for centuries to come, all in the name of saving humanity both from the virus and from themselves. After Solaris’ ultimate defeat in the 853rd century, nobody really holds them accountable for the monster’s actions through the years, so it’s no wonder why people would believe the Justice League think themselves untouchable.
The Justice League are undoubtedly the world’s greatest heroes. But not even Superman is immune to making mistakes here and there. Unleashing Solaris may ultimately prove to be the Justice League’s greatest mistake, but that all depends on whether DC Comics will ever hold them accountable.
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