After nearly sixty years, the first ever live-action “Justice League” movie is now days away hitting the bg screen. Okay, so there was the failed live action CBS tv pilot twenty years ago, but I’m not going to count that.
The new movie from Warner Bros. has big name actors, two directors, and a massive budget. So this is the first legitimate live action Justice League we’ll be seeing. With this in mind, this is as good time a time as any to tell you about a few underrated comic stories starring DC’s super powered team.
Before we get to my list, a quick reminder: just like my previous underrated comics posts, this Justice League comic list features a few stories you may have missed when they first came out. But keep in mind that these comics are by no means necessary to enjoy “Justice League” in theaters. And I should mention this list is not in any particular order. These are just good comic stories you might enjoy before or after seeing the movie. And away we go:
Justice League International #24 (February, 1989)
This was a double sized issue featuring three stories. In “The Road Less Travelled,” Maxwell Lord goes in search of answers from the machine sentience, but ends up in a jam that requires the League’s assistance. This story has a plot and breakdown art by Keith Giffen, a script by J.M. DeMatteis, and art by Ty Templeton and Joe Rubinstein.
There’s also a bonus 16-page insert tale called “Hostage!” In it, Maxwell Lord is kidnapped, and its up to Blue Beetle and Booster Gold to negotiate for his release. This one was written by David Levin, with art by Dean Haspiel.
Those two stories are fun, but the main reason I like Justice League International #24 so much is the third story in the book. In “Across a crowded room…” the team goes on a recruitment drive. Max Lord decides that the best way to meet potential new members is to throw a party at JLI headquarters.
This leads to Blue Beetle flirting with Wonder Woman, Hawkman having a sort of “Ah-ha” moment, and one-on-one interviews with possible team candidates. This story has plot and breakdown art by Giffen, a script by DeMatteis, and art by Kevin Maguire and Rubinstein.
Justice League Spectacular #1 (1992)
This book served as a bridge between the BWAHAHAHA League, and a new era for DC’s super team. In Justice League Spectacular #1, both the JLA and JLE have disbanded. But when the Elongated Man and Sue Dibny are taken hostage by the Royal Flush Gang, the Justice League reunites to rescue them.
This one-shot issue was written by Dan Jurgens and Gerry Jones, with art by Jurgens and Ron Randall, and inks by Rick Burchett and Randy Elliott. Aside from being a fun story, Spectacular #1 also served as the introduction of the new JLA & JLE squads. Spectacular even brought Superman and Aquamn back to the fold. All in all, a solid book for $1.50
JLA/Witchblade #1 (January, 2001)
I’m sure a few people weren’t even aware there was an JLA/Witchblade crossover, but there was. In this one shot Written by Len Kaminski, with art and cover by Mark Pajarillo and Walden Wong, the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes come face to face with Top Cow’s premier heroine, the Witchblade.
The story sees current Witchblade wielder Sara Pezzini comes to Gotham to visit her old friend Barbara Gordon. But soon, a strange turn of events has the most powerful eldritch weapon in existence jumping from Sara to take control of Barbara, who just happens to be the JLA’s Oracle!
Now the Justice League has the difficult task of fighting one of its own. But with members like Wonder Woman and the Huntress among the JLA, and the Witchblade being drawn to female hosts, the League might be serving up exactly what the Witchblade needs for its own wicked ends!
Quite frankly, after reading this back in the day, I wish it had been a mini-series rather than a one-shot.
“Crisis on Earth-Prime” (1982)
Justice League of America #207-209 & All Star Squadron #14-15
This was my first Justice League crossover of any kind. I actually bought the entire story at a flea market for about 75 cents believe ot not. The team-up include not only the JLA and the All-Star Squadron, but the Justice Society as well. The story was written by Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas. The art was by Don Heck, Adrian Gonzales, and Jerry Ordway.
The plot of “Crisis on Earth-Prime” was a bit all over the place with the JLoA, JSA, and Squadron teaming up to prevent Per Degaton from annihilating the hero-less Earth-Prime and using its technology to blackmail Earth-2’s 1942. But nevertheless, it was cool seeing the teams split up into smaller teams.
This gave us some interesting mash-ups, as well as some interesting moments involving time. One of the moments that stood out for me was how Aquaman had to be careful not to let the Squadron member know how the United States won the war in the Pacific. It was little moments like this that made “Crisis on Earth-Prime” such a fun saga to read.
JLA/Hitman #1-2 (2007)
There’s a big problem on the JLA moonbase, and not even the World’s Greatest Heroes can cope by themselves. So it’s up to Tommy Monaghan, otherwise known as Hitman, to help them out. The question now is: will he?
You really can’t go wrong with anything written by Garth Ennis. Especially when he’s joined by artist John McCrea. JLA/Hitman is often forgotten, but this two issue series was phenomenal, and a ton of fun to read.