Nerd Factor: Satellite Operations

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

Not every superhero has a hideout or a headquarters.  Both Daredevil and Batman battle crime on the mean streets of their respective home cities, but only Batman has taken the time to build a lair.  Of course, he has to make a Batcave.  Where else is he going to keep all that Bat-stuff?  

While individuals may differ on the necessity of such a facility, a superhero team needs a place to hang out.  At the very least, it’s a place to meet, go over the membership by-laws and train to fight the baddies.  And when the trouble alerts come in, well the team has to start from someplace.

Over the years, many teams have occupied locations that reflect the teams’ missions.  Professor Xavier’s mansion is a school that carries out the X-Men’s purpose of educating students about their mutant powers.  While the first started in a tower in the movies, the comic book home for the Avengers was a luxurious NYC mansion donated by Tony Stark that housed the various coming and going members.  The futuristically equipped Baxter Building is the iconic home of a team that explores the unknown as much as it fights crime: the Fantastic Four.  And of course, the famously casual Defenders just hang out at Dr. Strange’s house when they need to crash.    

As beloved as those locales have been to the fans over the years, the best headquarters have belonged to the Justice League of America.  

secret book case

Illustration by Genevieve Griffin

For many years, the League met inside a fully equipped headquarters inside a small mountain in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island.  The Secret Sanctuary served as a common meeting place until the Joker learned of its location.  

The team quickly moved into the Justice League Satellite, a massive structure in geostationary orbit around the planet.  The satellite made its debut in 1970, just two years after the real life moon landing.  Suddenly DC Comics’ premier super team got the gleam of space-age futurism.  The round structure contained many levels and was surrounded by a circular ring.  A clear dome at the top allowed the team to see our blue world among the stars.  The facilities had everything a super team would need, including a pool just for Aquaman.  

For those members who could not travel into space, the League installed a series of teleporter booths hidden in secret locations in major cities.  These devices allowed members to appear on the satellite during emergencies or to just arrive to rotate out a shift on the all-important monitor duty roster.  Every now and then, an enemy or a stranger would gain access, allowing for a dramatic arrival.  Since membership has its privileges, Leaguers could use this tech to jaunt all around the planet, even for social visits.

Over the years, the Justice League Satellite would be torn up in various super battles and alien invasions.  It was briefly abandoned in favor of a refurbished factory in Detroit, for example.  Eventually, the satellite fell from orbit after being targeted by the evil Hyperclan.  

But the idea of a space based operation would never completely leave the team.  The Justice League next moved into a Watchtower situated on the moon.  And later, there would be a second Watchtower, a new satellite in a familiar orbit.  What better place to look out for us?