Original Justice League vs. Original Avengers

Our weekly Versus smackdown this time out comes courtesy of Sutter Kaine, and I think it's a peach:


The concept here was to take the teams as they were originally founded, with that era's characters and powers. With two very major exceptions -- I've removed Superman and Batman from the JLA roster. My rationale is that DC deliberately kept them out of most issues of the JLA comics as they had enough exposure elsewhere in the company's titles. My real reason is that, come on, that would be totally unfair and uninteresting.

Having said that, let's take a closer look, shall we?

  • JLA: Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter: Remembering that these are the incarnations of the characters as they appeared in the original issues, that would make Barry Allen the Flash and Hal Jordan the Green Lantern. This makes for a very strong team. Martian Manhunter has most of Superman's powers, albeit at a lower level, plus the ability to turn invisible and read minds. That's a major advantage, as no one on the Avengers was a mentalist. You've got the astounding super-speed of the Flash and the versatility of GL's ring. You'd think Wonder Woman is basically a female Superman, but in that era she really wasn't. Yes, she was strong and had her lasso, along with the bullet-deflecting bracelets, but she spent an awful lot of time getting tied up and spanked. I wish I were making that upu, but sadly I am not. Of course, that's exactly the kind of thing that could prove a fatal distraction to Tony Stark ... I didn't mention Aquaman, because, come on, Aquaman.
  • Avengers: Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, Iron-Man, and Wasp: Remembering again that these are the appropriate era's iterations, we've got Iron Man in the original all-gold armor. Hank Pym debuted as Ant-Man, though by issue two he'd changed to Giant Man. So you've got two insects, a Norse god, and an unstoppable monster. Hulk hadn't yet adopted "the madder I get the more invulnerable I get" construction he'd have in later years, but he was still immensely strong and difficult to bring down. At the time, Thor was probably the most powerful day-to-day character in the Marvel Universe. It's tempting to dismiss The Wasp as a flibbertigibbet fashionista, but she was the heart of that team. Plus, imagine a tiny little flyer with powerful stings loose in Iron Man's chunky monkey armor. Not pleasant.

Just looking at the heavy-hitter lineup of even the diminished JLA, I'm tempted to go that way. Plus, those characters were my favorite as a kid. But the Marvel characters had an edge to them, even back then, that's hard to discount. I keep thinking that while the JLA was busy moralizing, Thor and Hulk would be smashing their teeth in while Ant-Man and Wasp would be wreaking havoc.

So I'm going the other way and calling this one for the original Avengers.

But that's just me -- what I want to know is, what do you think would happen?

30 Responses to Original Justice League vs. Original Avengers

  1. Frevoli says:

    Well original Green Lantern still has the weakness to yellow – which Gold Iron Man can exploit

    One well placed lightning bolt from Thor, and Aquaman is fish-sticks (the resulting fire, also scaring of martian manhunter)

    If Wonder Woman was as big a pushover as you say Jeff, that just leaves Flash. Although superspeed is a big edge, I reckon the Avengers could work out a way to trip him up

  2. Dan says:

    Without the addition of Batman and Superman, I’d give it to the Avengers. Avengers have the edge on smarts and fighting skills. And the Avenger’s lamest member is Ant-Man, as opposed to Aquaman. I’d take talking to ants over talking to fish, unless they were fighting underwater. Or in a Red Lobster.

  3. John says:

    Avengers? Why? Because that’s just how I roll, yo.

  4. Jake says:

    Considering how overpowered Martian Manhunter was at the time, I think he alone could handle a big part of the Avengers. His powers have actually been cut down a bit.

  5. Patriot_Missile says:

    I voted for the OG JLA because although they’re outmatched in IQs and brawn, they have the super-hero advantage over the anti-hero attitude: Stark drops in drunk like his stocks, Thor is still brooding over family issues, the Pyms aren’t on speaking terms today, Hulk is berserky. The JLA just came from a Teen Titans birthday party. Who’s perpetually thinking clearly enough to duke it out as a team? In my view, morals and combat skills considered, the JLA wins like any pro wrestler claims to be “undefeated”.

  6. Sutter_Kaine says:

    At first glance I’d say the Avengers for no other reason than having both Thor and Hulk. They’d simply overpower the JLA. But then again Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter are no pushovers. Realistically, a guy that can create anything should win almost every time (think a burst of microscopic particles turning your supposedly invulnerable opponent into mush on the molecular level), granted these were the days when the most formidable thing Green Lantern could come up with was a giant boxing glove. And then you have Wonder Woman and Aquaman, both of whom have super-strength. If she could trap the Hulk with her unbreakable lasso, she, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter could gang up on Thor while Green Lantern keeps Iron Man busy by ineffectually pounding him with a giant mallet. This would leave Ant-Man and Wasp versus the Flash, who would simply trap them in a cyclone and send them tumbling into the atmosphere. Then Flash could then help out Green Lantern by probing for weak spots in Iron Man’s armor or by simply suggesting that GL aim for Iron Man’s eye-holes. In other words, I actually see a scenario with the JLA winning. But at the end of the day, the Avengers have Thor AND Hulk so I gotta give it to them.

  7. Joshua says:

    If Joss Whedon only knew of how I’ve whored myself out by choosing the Avengers just because his upcoming adaptation has the potential to be one of the greatest comic films since 2008’s The Dark Knight–well, he’d either pay me or offer me a small, walk-on role in the sequel.

    Mr. Whedon, just tell me where and when to show up, m’kay?


  8. X-stacy says:

    I gave it the JLA for teamwork (at the beginning, they were all chums who never had an argument), for the ridiculously over-powered Martian Manhunter (like Jake said, his powers have actually been trimmed quite a bit; silver-age MM was right up there with silver-age Superman in the ability to pull out weird new powers that would be seen once and never again), and because I feel bad for Aquaman. I mean, he gets dismissed when the other side has Ant-Man and Wasp?

  9. McKnight57 says:

    It seems I’m not really needed at this particular juncture. So far, Patriot_Missile is right on the money. I see Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern and Flash being the big guns in this fight. Wonder Woman will keep geting hit on by Tony Stark only because Wasp is too small to actually get a bead on at this point. GL will just bring out the bug spray for the Pyms, just like Hank did to Janet in the Ultimates. Flash starts removing Iron Man’s armor piece by piece so GL can whoop on him. Martian Manhunter keeps annoying Thor and Hulk and just as they’re on either side of him, he goes intangible so that Hulk takes out Thor. The big guns then start working on Hulk, who at this point has a set limit of how strong he gets. He’s also quite slow, which makes sense for how large he is and since it’s not the 90s, he’s still pretty dumb, which works in JLA’s favor. Now it’s just up to Flash to find the right pressure point while GL and martian Manhunter keep him distracted. If those too fail, it’s up to Wonder Woman to impersonate Betty Ross and calm him down. Then even Aquaman can knock Banner out cold.

  10. Myro says:

    I’m surprisingly going to go for the JLA on this one. I mean, by the fourth issue of Avengers, they had effectively replaced Hulk with Captain America, because the Jolly Green Giant was an unreliable, emotional suck that left the team in issue 2, and by issue 3, was teaming up with Namor to fight them. I figure, with Martian Manhunter, they’d have figured out a way to make Hulk take off much quicker than that. Yes, Thor would still be around, and probably the heaviest hitter still there, but the combined might of JLA vs. the Avengers down one, and frankly, with Wasp trumping Aquaman on my apathy-to-character meter, I just don’t see the Avengers making it out of this one. As long as Hal stays away from Iron Man, without letting the Avengers know why he can’t take Tony on (let him take out Wasp and Ant Man with a giant green flyswatter, and hope Ant Man doesn’t summon up hornets to fight back), I think they could get this one done.

  11. Frankie says:

    Most of the time I would vote for the JLA any day, but I don’t like anyone of those five people. Of the original Avengers, I only like the Hulk, so I voted for them.

  12. Joel says:

    I say avengers. For one thing, golden armor Iron Man trumps Green Lantern any day. Also, people have brought up Flash’s speed quite a lot, but Thor summons lightning. I think a lightning bolt might be fast enough to hit The Flash. Also, Thor could probably just create a giant tornado to suck up the JLA.

  13. Skarchomp says:

    Martian Manhunter is a big deciding factor here. Instantly predicting a foe’s attacks through telepathy? Intangibility? Laser vision? Looking pretty good so far…
    Not to mention the Speed Force would be a huge advantage in any fight. I think Thor and Hulk would be the only Avengers that could really put up a fight, but I still think they’d lose. Manhunter could calm down Hulk enough, then they could all rush Thor. It would work! Especially when Aquaman summons the Leviathan, Krakken, and Cthulu to wash out Goldilocks. Game, set, and match. broski.

  14. Jeff Hebert says:

    Let’s not forget that Martian Manhunter’s weakness is … fire. Pretty sure Tony’s packing a flamethrower in that suit of armor. And if not, a couple of lightning strikes in the brush and suddenly Big Green ain’t so big no more.

  15. McKnight57 says:

    Skarchomp (13): Well-played sir. Bringin’ in the big 3 to take care of Thor. I woulda thought of it too, possibly, maybe. But then the whole 3 days of no sleep thing kind of gets in the way of rational thinking. I’m about 4 hours away from seeing flying purple elephants, a tap-dancing unicorn and Sabretooth as a sparkly Twilight vampire fleeing a headless Hank McCoy on horseback. Just think, that’s all without the aide of mushrooms or other psychadelic drugs.

  16. McKnight57 says:

    Crap…I may have revealed too much…

  17. Jake says:

    Jeff (14): While Martian Manhunter’s weakness is very common, there’s something you’re forgetting. The Silver Age JLA was great at team work. Flash could work to divert any missile Iron Man would have. GL could make a giant fan to blow out a fire. Good teamwork can go a long way.

  18. Jeff Hebert says:

    Granted, but the Avengers aren’t exactly slouches at teamwork either.

  19. Myro says:

    Jeff (18): Nuh uh! Most of the Avengers can play nice with their teammates (provided Pym isn’t smacking his wife around – sorry, had to say it). But Hulk, especially early Savage (i.e. stupid, angry) Hulk had a history of working best when he worked alone. most Hulk team-ups never lasted more than a couple issues anyway, and in some cases, Hulk was rebelling against his ally halfway through the same issue. Trust me, Martian Manhunter would figure this out pretty quickly, and then exploit the situation until Hulk gets angry and leaves the rest of the Avengers high and dry.

  20. Tim K. says:

    I prefer the Avengers to the JLA for the most part. However, I seem to recall the original JLA probably were a scale of power higher, by that I mean Flash moved faster than Iron Man could fly, Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter probably were each on Hulk’s scale at the time, and so on. Then you have Green Lantern–whose closest match is Thor with his bag of tricks.

    Still, Avengers loaded up on brains (Iron Man, Ant-Man.) their closest intellectual equal would be Martian Manhunter.

    Depending on what brought them into conflict it could go either way–more powerhouses versus more brains.

    I’m not quite sure how to factor in Ant-Man/Wasps stealth, or Aquaman….since their abilities are situational.

  21. William A. Peterson says:

    Okay, I’ve got to give it to the JLA, but let’s be fair…
    Tony, at this point, is not a drunk!
    He’s got a heart condition, but he’s not an alky…
    On the other hand, Hal, even early on, was VERY good at working around that whole yellow thing (including somehow casting illusions on the whole JLA making them look like some other member!).
    Thor very rarely starts fires with his Thunderbolts (like, never), and how are the Avengers to know what the JLA’s vulnerabilities are? Come on, folks…

  22. skybandit says:

    Green lantern uses power ring to pick up the Hulk and uses him as a hammer to pound the non-flying Iron Man into the grownd like a stake. Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman play wishbone with Thor’s legs while Flash kicks him in his enormously godly testicles 3,000 times a second. Aquaman gets a flyswatter. Game over.

  23. hyperanthropos says:

    This is how it goes down:
    Green Lantern conjures a flyswater with his power ring and takes out Ant-Man in the first seconds of the battle. Sorry to all Hank Pym-Fans out there, but he isn’t the Atom. There is a reason Hank Pym became more popular as Giant-Man.^^
    Wonderwoman shows Iron Man with her unbreakable Lasso of Truth that she isn’t just playing “hard to get.”
    Aquaman vs. the Wasp: Half-way through the battle, the two heroes stop fighing and discuss how they never get respect and are both the members of their teams, which nobody takes serious.(:
    The Flash and Martian Manhunter take on The Hulk. Barry can circle the Hulk with Superspeed, creating a vortex that sucks out the air, until the Hulk pases out because of lack of oxygen. And Manhunter’s strenght, shapeshifting abilities and his mental powers should be a match for the green behemoth.
    This leaves Green Lantern and Tor. Since they are both the powerhouses of their teams, the battle would be epic. I think Thor will triumph over Gl. Hal Jordan may be a brave fighter with one of the most powerful weapons in the universe, but he is still a man. Thor is a thundergod, son of Odin, prince of Asgard, mighty his hammer. GL would be a worthy foe, but I can only see him win, if he somehow separates Thor long enough from his hammer, so he turns back into Donald Blake.
    So, I believe the JLA would win against The Avengers, but it would be a very close call.
    Of course, in the end it was all just a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING, and both teams would unite to take on the real bad guys. (:

  24. spidercow2010 says:

    Okay. GL vs Hulk. Suspend him in midair and let him yell about puny humans all he wants. Flash could snag AntMan & the Wasp and all the ants they wanna call, while GL is still free to put a bubble around them all and toss it to Aquaman to drop it far out to sea for the fish to eat. Martian Manhunter vs. Thor, reading his mind and going insubstantial so the hammer and/or lightning blows right through him, meanwhile invisibly landing enough respectable punches to damage Goldilocks, and by now Flash is free to punch him 1000 times per second; he’s not THAT invulnerable. Wonder Woman was then tough enough, I think, to take what the then-lumbering Iron Man could dish out while dismantling his armor. JLA FTW.

  25. spidercow2010 says:

    This has been mentioned before in another context, but here it is again: The Avengers are winning the poll, but are losing in the comments, so there are people skulking (and I mean that in the best sense of the word) in, voting for the Avengers, and not defending their choice. I mean, yes, secret ballots are all very well, but I think the point here is rancorous, bitter, vituperative and divisive arguing. Where’s the fun in being part of the silent majority? Am I wrong?

  26. Jake says:

    ^spidercow: I think there’s a lot of people that are voting more on name recognition than actual analysis. Three out of four of the people on the Avengers side have a movie made about them as well as the upcoming Avengers movie. The only Justice League member to have a movie is GL, which wasn’t the most successful movie anyway.

  27. Worf says:

    I think all my arguments have been stated for me. JLA wins hands down.

  28. Sean Murphy says:

    I like the Avenges better, but the difference in power levels is extreme. This is the Silver Age JLA we are talking about here – back when Green Lantern could play tennis with the orbit of entire planets, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman are each nearly as strong as Superman (who could easily move planets) so they are undoubtedly strong enough to move continents – while Hulk and Thor are strong enough to move locomotives. And Iron Man at this point is not much stronger than Aquaman (“I’ve had buildings fall on me, dog, those goons were nothing”). So I had to vote the JLA.

    Then, of course, as has been pointed out earlier, they would set aside their differences to put Loki in Takron-Galtos and Despero on the Isle of Silence…

  29. knight1192a says:

    Have to go with the Avengers. Original JLA may have some heavy hitters, but without the Dark Knight and Big Blue I don’t think they stand a chance.

  30. Jessica says:

    Pretty much everything I was going to say has been said. I agree that it would be pretty hard to take down the Hulk and Thor. Iron Man at this time was an incredible genius and not an alcoholic, which made him more focused. And even though the JLA was great at teamwork, the Avengers were pretty good at teamwork when it counted. And I notice that everyone seems to be putting down Ant-Man’s and Wasp’s powers. Maybe they’re not powerhouses but they do have the ability to shrink which they could use to their advantage. And Wasp, though tiny, did have those projected blasts. Think I’m gonna have to go with the Avengers on this.