In the past, people have used the terms Justice League and JLA interchangeably, but we can't do that anymore. They are two distinctly separate entities now in the New 52 era. The big guns we all know SuperFriends-style are simply the Justice League, while Steve Trevor's government-sponsored superteam made up of second stringers – Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Stargirl, Catwoman, Vibe, Katana and the new Green Lantern Simon Baz – will be called the Justice League of America.
How will they be different aside from membership? Well, here's what writer Geoff Johns has to say about it.
“When I was thinking about whether or not a second Justice League title would work [editor's query: does Justice League Dark not count as the second already?], essentially, I wanted to make sure that if I was going to write another team book, it had it's own point of view, its own purpose both creatively and in the bigger DC Universe,” Johns says. “So the Justice League has been positioned as like the A-list, the big iconic superheroes, and the Justice League of America is a very different team. As evident by the initial lineup, it's not a team of A-listers. I think the biggest A-lister on there is probably Green Arrow, who knows it and flaunts it a little on the team.
"But the team is built with potential and that's really what I wanted to dive into because I've always loved the big heroes, I love the big seven. Batman's great, Superman's great, but there is something that I've always really enjoyed about getting into characters that you might not have looked twice at. Green Lantern, before we relaunched it with our rebirth – I think we obviously expanded the fan base of the character. Working on Justice Society of America, I liked delving into characters like Mr. Terrific and Doctor Midnight that people might not know very well – they might have heard of them, but their judgment is a little quick. It's the same thing as Aquaman, and so I wanted to create a team of characters that people would look at and wonder what the hell we are doing – in a good way hopefully. I wanted to create a group of characters that had potential, and it's all about unlocking potential for me. The characters that I really enjoy writing and I gravitate towards are characters that might at first glance feel less than other superheroes and that's the whole point of the Justice League of America. It's all about finding characters who you have low expectations for, and hopefully they surprise you both in story and in the universe. Designing this book to be all about finding the potential in you no matter who you are is what, for me, makes the book a lot of fun to work on.
“Justice League of America has its own big storyline and its own big world its creating that starts right off with issue #1 and delves into a darker corner of the DC Universe that we have yet to explore,” added Johns. “And that's going to be villains. That's a big piece of what the JLA is. It will play a big role in Trinity War, but a big role in the DC Universe after that as well. We've got it planned out through 2013 and beyond.”
So, there's that. And here are a few variant covers from Justice League of America #1 by David Finch. How is Stargirl NOT part of the flag crew in the first one?