Writing about the lack of visual continuity in the new DC Comics logo the other day made me think about the current Justice League logo, and the way that it, too, has broken with tradition. Y’see, for the most part – of the nine logos the book has had since the title launched way back in 1960, all but three haven’t featured a shield motif in one way or another (and those have all been the most generic and forgettable of the logos, interestingly enough).
For the most part, the JL logo has been based around this idea:
This logo first appeared, with the team’s first appearance in house ads for The Brave and The Bold #28, and was designed by DC’s then-house designer Ira Schnapp, and it’s a great one. Todd Klein explained the importance of the shield aspect when he did a logo study for the JLA in 2008:
I think the shield is meant to suggest a policeman’s badge, playing into the idea of a group fighting for Justice, though of course they weren’t exactly a government-sanctioned organization. The stars add to the patriotic theme of America.
The second version of the logo came six years later, with Justice League of America #43; again designed by Schnapp, it drops the shield but the letters stay essentially the same with the addition of some telescoping to give them some additional weight:
This version didn’t last too long, though; by #66, it had been replaced by the original logo, which would stay in place all the way up through 1984′s slight revision (by Klein, oddly enough):
When the logo was entirely redesigned for the relaunch of the book at Justice League in 1987, everything changed – except, of course, the presence of the shield, although that shape was adapted:
When that logo was adapted just six issues later, the shield stayed around – perhaps fittingly, considering the team’s then-official status with as United Nations’ peacekeepers:
Things went wrong when Justice League International (by that point retitled Justice League America – insert “the more things change” homily here) was relaunched post-Zero Hour, and the logo redesigned as a result into something that dropped the shield motif, and lost all interest as a result. I mean, really, just look at this:
Yeah, you need that silver ink, terrible logo. We both know it. Thankfully, things got better when the title got relaunched in 1997 as JLA – Look, the shield is back! And it’s a much better logo as a result!
When the book was relaunched yet again in 2006 as Justice League of America – the first time the series had had that title in twenty years – the new logo went back to Irv Schnapp’s original for inspiration, and even though the shield is little more than an abstract design, it’s still very much present:
It’s a pretty great logo, and, let’s face it… miles better than the one the book (Again, just Justice League – but there’s already an additional Justice League International available. Clearly, Justice League America is next, then JLA again) currently has:
Once again: No shield, and no interest. Stop messing with a classic, DC. Surely Jim Lee can work his way around a shield-inspired logo by this point in his career, right…?