Justice League: The Darkseid War Essential Edition (2018) Reprints Justice League #40-50, Justice League: The Darkseid War Special, and DC Sneak Peek: Justice League Written by Geoff Johns Directed by Jason Fabok and Francis Manapul
The New 52 came in with the Justice League and ended with it too. After fifty issues, Geoff Johns capped off his run as Rebirth became the banner on every comic. With this final arc, Johns could wrap up most of the threads laid out over the last four years, more or less. The Darkseid War brought back the titular menace from the first arc and expanded on DC lore. Now it did so in some highly confusing ways and clashed with other points, but this is sort of a thing for DC Comics ever since Crisis. The continuity just doesn’t quite fit. But you just get used to it and move on, I suppose.
Justice League: Forever Heroes (2014) Reprints Justice League #24-29 Written by Geoff Johns Art by Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke
Justice League: Injustice League (2015) Reprints Justice League #30-39 Written by Geoff Johns Art by Doug Mahnke and Jason Fabok
Last week, I shared the big Justice League event of the time, Forever Evil. While that event was happening in its mini-series, the main Justice League book changed a bit. The heroes readers were familiar with were caught in a pocket dimension prison, so the Justice League comic devoted its pages to telling the origins of the villainous Crime Syndicate. For the unfamiliar, the Crime Syndicate are villainous versions of classic DC Heroes. They are:
Ultraman (Superman) Owlman (Batman) Superwoman (Wonder Woman) Johnny Quick (The Flash) Power Ring (Green Lantern)
Justice League: Trinity War (2014) Reprints Free Comic Book Day 2012, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1-3, Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #11, Justice League #22-23, Justice League Dark #22-23, Justice League of America #6-7, and Constantine #5 Written by Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire, and Ray Fawkes Art by Ivan Reis, Dough Mahnke, David Finch, and Mikel Janin
Forever Evil (2015) Reprints Forever Evil #1-7 Written by Geoff Johns Art by David Finch
DC did a good job of not having any major events in its shared universe for the first three years of the New 52. But we all knew that wouldn’t last. Things kicked off with Trinity War, an event being teased for a while that brings together the three Justice League ongoing titles that were being published at the time. It seems ARGUS, the government organization working as the Justice League’s liaison, was secretly building a team behind their back. This ties back into Green Arrow’s failure to be inducted early in the series’ run. Now Oliver Queen is in the Justice League of America alongside Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Katana, Green Lantern (Simon Baz), Stargirl, Vibe, and most surprisingly, Catwoman.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2014) Reprints Justice League #13-17 and Aquaman #15-16 Written by Geoff Johns Art by Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier, and Tony S. Daniel
Justice League: The Grid (2014) Reprints Justice League #18-20, 22-23 Written by Geoff Johns Art by Ivan Reis, Jesus Saiz, and Joe Prado
Despite its title, the Throne of Atlantis begins with a two-part story, “The Secret of the Cheetah.” It concerns Wonder Woman’s nemesis, The Cheetah. At this point in the New 52, the Wonder Woman ongoing title was written by Brian Azzarello and was primarily concerned with Diana’s relationship with the Olympian gods. Her non-mythic villains were available, so Johns attempted to develop what The Cheetah is like in this reimagined DC Universe. The Cheetah as a solo villain against the Justice League is very unbelievable as she hasn’t quite proven to be a physical powerhouse against Wonder Woman. There’s some extra magic curse MacGuffin added to the story. I get the sense a lot of this story came out of the image of Superman receiving the curse and taking on cheetah features of his own. It’s reminiscent of those Silver Age covers that promised wild transformations of your favorite heroes. I find the constant push to create some sort of love triangle between Superman – Wonder Woman – Steve Trevor, or Batman really annoying and so unnecessary.
Wonder Woman and Justice League America Volume 2 (2017) Reprints Justice League America #86-91, Justice League International #65-66, and Justice League Task Force #13-14 Written by Dan Vado, Mark Waid, and Gerard Jones Art by Marc Campos, Chuck Wojtkiewicz, and Sal Velluto
The Justice League of the 1980s/90s was winding down at this time. When Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis introduced their take on the classic DC superhero team, it emphasized humor and character relationships rather than non-stop action. However, the influence of the “extreme” and “edgy” Image Comics and other alternative publishers reshaped how DC presented its characters. The title most struck by this fad, in my opinion, is Justice League America which devolved into chaos. Dan Vado can’t solely be blamed for what this collection presents as multiple entries are authored by Mark Waid and Gerard Joes. The core story is meant to be an epic gathering of all the Leagues at the time, but it feels so incoherent and sloppy.
Wonder Woman and Justice League America Volume 1 (2017) Reprints Justice League America #78-85, Justice League America Annual #7, and Guy Gardner #15 Written by Dan Vado (with Chuck Dixon and Bill Loebs) Art by Kevin West, Greg Larocque, Mike Collins, and Chris Hunter
The post-Crisis reinvention of the Justice League had been around for seven years by the time these issues were being published, and it had clearly veered away from its original tone. That makes sense; the book was on its third creative writer, and the comic book landscape had changed drastically since 1987. Image Comics and other upstarts gave DC and Marvel a run for their money using gimmicks and an injection of something new. Unfortunately, the consumers of the era weren’t aware how quickly these fantastically new comics would burn out and fade away, and so the Big Two saw themselves mimicking the “gritty” and “edgy” style of their young competitors. The result was some of the ugliest unreadable stories to come out, especially here with Justice League America.
Superman and Justice League America Volume 2 (2016) Reprints Justice League America #69-77, Annual #6 Written by Dan Jurgens (with Dan Mishkin) Art by Dan Jurgens (with Dave Cockrum)
For a collection with Superman in the title, he is gone from the book two issues in. This collection presents stories told just at and after the infamous Death of Superman storyline. We get a tie-in with the League attempting to fight and getting obliterated by Doomsday. That’s followed by a Funeral for a Friend crossover as the League, and other DC superheroes come together to mourn the passing of the great hero. From there, we have Wonder Woman coming onboard, and Dan Jurgens begins to wind down his relatively short-lived run on the book. Jurgens’s departure feels abrupt as he barely slides into home base to finish off the Bloodwyn arc, and then it’s over. There’s a strong sense of a lack of closure for characters that were personal additions like Maxima and Agent Liberty.
Superman and Justice League America Volume 1 (2016) Reprints Justice League Spectacular, Justice League America #61-68 Written by Dan Jurgens (with Gerard Jones) Art by Dan Jurgens and Ron Randall
In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, one of the significant changes made to continuity was removing characters like Superman and Batman from the founding Justice League roster. Throughout the late 1980s, the JLA consisted of characters that weren’t considered headliners like Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and Guy Gardner. Once the creative team of Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis stepped down after a five-year run, and JLA was handed over to Dan Jurgens, a writer/artist who was doing some exciting things in the Superman books. So it seemed natural that he would bring Superman to the title as it was time for a new pared-down team to form. That would consist of stalwarts Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Ice, Fire, and two new additions, Maxima & Bloodwynd.
JLA by Grant Morrison Omnibus (2020) Reprints JLA #1-17, 22-31, 34, 36-41, One Million, JLA/WildCATs, JLA-Z #1-2, JLA: Classified #1-3, JLA: Earth-2, JLA: Secret Files & Origins #1 , Adventures of Superman One Million, DC One Million #1-4, DC One Million 80-Page Giant, Detective Comics One Million, Green Lantern One Million, Martian Manhunter One Million, Resurrection Man One Million, Starman One Million, Superman: The Man of Tomorrow One Million, New Year’s Evil: Prometheus Written by Grant Morrison (with many contributions) Art by Howard Porter, Val Semekis, Oscar Jimenez, and many more
By 1996 it was clear that the Justice League has lost its luster among D.C. Comics books. This was a shame because it was the premier team title at the company. Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis’s run on the book transitioned to Dan Jurgens, who eventually made way for Dan Vado with Gerard Jones writing the final arc. The roster by that time was made up of interesting but definitely not marquee level superheroes. Blue Devil. Nuklon. Icemaiden. Obsidian. Wonder Woman was there, but she was about the only notable character among the bunch. Sales dwindled, and Scottish writer Grant Morrison saw it as an opportunity to put their idea of a blockbuster movie take on the Justice League out there.
Justice League International Omnibus Volume 2 (2020) Reprints Justice League America #31-50, Justice League American Annual #4, Justice League Quarterly #1, Justice League Europe #7-25, Justice League Europe Annual #1, and Justice League International Special #1 Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis Art by Adam Hughes, Mike McKone, Bart Sears, Chris Sprouse, Darick Robertson, and Marshall Rogers
The JLI came across my radar with Justice League America #42, a cover that promised a team’s recruitment drive. I was nine years ago, and my knowledge of the Justice League came mostly from watching Challenge of the Superfriends, so you can understand how shocked I was when I opened up this book and found none of the characters I expected. Where were Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman? Instead, I was given new faces and names like Blue Beetle, Mister Miracle, and Guy Gardener. I didn’t have any idea who these people were. And they didn’t fight anyone; they spent a lot of time talking with a very comedic tone. I was confused as a child but still intrigued. A decade later in college, I would rifle through quarter bins on the floor of comic book shops, slowly but surely assembling a near-complete run of Giffen & DeMatteis landmark controversial run on the League.