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.
Justice League International Volume 6 Reprints Justice League America #31-35 & Justice League Europe #7-11 Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis (with William Messner-Loebs) Art by Adam Hughes, Bart Sears, and Art Nichols
So we reach the end of the JLI run that DC Comics has decided to collect. In these pages, we get the first official crossover between America and Europe with The Teasdale Imperative story arc. In a small European village what seemingly appears to be a vampiric horde has surfaced, spreading its condition slowly but continuously. Not only has this drawn the attention of both branches of the Justice League International, but The Spectre and The Grey Man (from waaaaay back in the first story arc). Through a series of increasingly complicated twists and turns Simon Stagg, an antagonist of Leaguer Metamorpho becomes involved. Everything culminates in a battle where the League isn’t even necessary. To quote Elongated Man in the aftermath, “It’s over? I still don’t understand what ‘it’ was.”
Justice League International Volume 5 Reprints Justice League International Annuals #2-3 and Justice League Europe #1-6. Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis (with William Messner-Loebs) Art by Bart Sears, Bill Willingham, Mike McKone, & Tim Gula
We open with an earlier tale of the Justice League taking on the classic Batman villain Joker. The Joker has been hired by the dictator of Bialya, Rumaan Harjavti to assassinate the JLI. The collection is capped with a team-up of the two Leagues as they visit their various embassies to get to know the staff and bond. This goes off the rails when they meet an ambassador from KooeyKooeyKooey, a rather industrious island nation that wants the League to make their land a protected embassy. In between these two over-sized annuals, we get the opening arc of the Justice League Europe as they experience an incredibly rough introduction to Paris. A Nazi war criminal dies on their steps and soon after they learn members of the now-defunct Global Guardians are out to get them.
Justice League International Volume 3 Reprints Justice League International #14 – 22 Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis Art by Kevin Maguire, Steve Leialoha, and Ty Templeton
Things get off to a rocky start when the intergalactic dealmaker Manga Khan and his robotic horde, The Cluster arrive at Earth. Khan’s goal is to sell advanced technology to the highest bidder, and this immediately sends up alarm klaxons as the world is in the midst of the Cold War arms race. The Justice League has just brought two new members on board: The Green Flame and Ice Maiden while the disaster of a Green Lantern G’Nort returns to warn the League about Manga Khan. The conflict ends with Mister Miracle being abducted and a small group of Leaguers, led by Big Barda, heading off into space to track down their teammate. Meanwhile, the members left behind on Earth get caught up in some covert ops in Bialya, with Batman taking the lead and Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, and Green Flame (now calling herself Fire) going undercover only to uncover the menace of the Queen Bee. Life never slows down for the JLI.
Justice League International Volume 2 Reprints Justice League International #8 – 13, Annual 1, Suicide Squad #13 Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis (with John Ostrander) Art by Kevin Maguire, Keith Giffen, and Bill Willingham (with Luke McDonnell)
The League has just gone International, giving them embassies across the globe in locales including New York City, Moscow, London, and Paris. Captain Atom and Rocket Red have been added to the ranks, giving the U.S. and Soviet governments a direct connection to the superhero team. This expansion has subsequently led to the dissolution of the Global Guardians, the former premier organization of multicultural heroes. Understandably, there are some bruised egos (Jack O’Lantern) as well as some eager to join up with the JLI (Green Flame and Ice Maiden). As would become traditional in the post-Crisis universe our story must be interrupted by a company-wide event, this time in the form of the dreaded Millennium. We get back on track quickly which leads to a significant revelation about Max Lord and his decision to form this new League, a crossover with the Suicide Squad, and a one-off annual story that shines a spotlight on the Martian Manhunter.