When Grant Morrison revamped the Justice League of America, with 1996's JLA series, he brought back, for the most part, the archetypical Justice League team, the team whose inception, in 1960, was one of the founding points of the Silver Age of comics. For those who have read the original, 1960's era Justice League stories, two things are clear: first, that the story writing and characterization are primitive and artificial by modern standards; and second that there is something archetypically attractive about both the characters and the adventures they embark upon.
Grant Morrison's comic writing is cutting edge, to say the least, and yet when dealing with the JLA, he brought back some of comic's oldest, most loved, and traditional characters. And he made them sing. What was the secret behind this? Given Morrison's professed background in chaos magick, and his obvious knowledge of storytelling archetypes, I think he brought back the Justice League not only for reasons of nostalgia, but because they have a specific dynamic among the members that goes back to the system of the Sephiroth.
Shoehorning various groups of people or symbols into the Tree of Life has been a popular and not totally fruitful occupation for quite some time. For one thing, in both the traditional qaballistic literature, as well as in the expansions made by later occultists, there were so many different symbols used, that almost everything could be associated with anything else. That being said, the following guide is still of some interest:
- Batman: The Batman was the character that first made me think about this, because he has such a clear association with Gevurah, judgement. Gevurah is the Sephira that reflects God's element of justice, a justice that can be hard, unyielding, and unmerciful.
- The Martian Manhunter: The Martian Manhunter is interesting because despite the important role he plays in the JLA, and in DC continutity in general, he hasn't had the success in other media that many DC characters have had. People who have never picked up a comic know who Superman and Batman are, but only comic fans know who the Martian Manhunter is. However, within the comic, he plays an important role. John Jones, the Martian Manhunter, is the counterpart to Batman. He is Chesed, mercy. The most obvious feature of this is the fact that he is the empath of the team, whose psychic sensitivity binds the team together. He is also a shape changer, with a fluid nature almost like water, and with a pathological fear of fire, a fear that could be connected to his Vulcan like control over his emotions.
- Superman: DC's premiere character probably represents Tifareth, which means "balance". It might seem that he would represent the highest Sefira, Kether, but there is a more obvious candidate for that later. Superman's connection to the concept of balance comes from the fact that he is the central member of the Justice League, the person who ties them all together with his fair personality.
- Wonder Woman: The Sefira Malkuth is represented by a Princess in exile. A Princess that, despite her exile, is meant to teach and guide people. This one is obvious.
- Green Lantern: The highest Sefira, Kether, is also referred to as Ratzon, Will. The belief is, that through a process of Will, nothingness is shaped and formed into various shapes that eventually permeate down into material existence. The connection between this and the mechanisms by which the various Green Lantern's work is easy to intuit.
- The Flash: To me, the Flash's obvious archetypical connection is with the god Mercury. Both of the Flash's were created in an accident where they were bathed in a mixture of chemicals (obviously alchemical) by a bolt of lightening (also alchemical), and then turned into someone capable of great speed, like the God Mercury, or Hermes, the patron god of alchemy. In Qaballistic terms, this may equate to the "hidden" Sefira Daath, symbolizing knowledge. Daath is also considered to be the structure that reflects the other Sefira themselves. Since the entire process of the structure is symbolized as lightening, the connection to Daath becomes clearer, or as clear as everyhing can be in these symbol laden waters.
In this list, I have left some of the Sephiroth, and some of the members of the Justice League off. Many alternative comparisons could be raised and discussed. Much discussion could also be made of the fact that many of these characters were invented by people of a Jewish background. However, I don't know if there is any direct link, or if this is just a process of my over active imagination. I do think, however, that no matter what particular set of symbols you wish to analyze the Justice League of America through, it has to be admitted that their popularity, over the course of fifty years, is due to some sort of archetypical appeal.