So, you’ve just seen Justice League. You loved it and now find yourself craving more adventures featuring the iconic superteam, only you’re not sure where to start.
Well, my friends, you’re in the right place. The Justice League made their comic book debut back in 1960, which means you have nearly 70 years of comic adventures to quench your thirst for Justice until the League’s next big screen adventure hits theaters (or at least until your second viewing of this one). Of course, with so many comics to pull from, it can be a little bit intimidating if you're trying to find the comics that are right for you.
Or a lot intimidating. Especially considering the Justice League has often had more than one comic series running at a time, and some of them feature lineups very different than the one in Zack Snyder’s film. Also, while some of them are great, others aren’t exactly what we’d call “new fan friendly.”
But don't you worry, we're here to help. The advantage of having so many Justice League comics out there is that there's something in the Justice League's history for everyone, no matter how familiar (or unfamiliar) you might be with the DC Universe. And any one of these could form the basis for a future movie…you never know!
So with that, sit back and allow us to recommend a few stories that could serve as the perfect follow up to Justice League. Starting with the one that’s probably the most flat-out cinematic, and also happens to have been written by someone greatly involved with the film.
Put simply, you absolutely CANNOT go wrong with Justice League Vol. 1: Origin if you’re looking to dip into the world of Justice League comics. This story kicked off the 2011 DC reboot known as The New 52, which means that it was written in part with new fans in mind. And it shares some DNA with the movie in that both of their villains come from the planet Apokolips. In the movie, that villain is Steppenwolf, but in the comic, it’s Steppenwolf’s nephew Darkseid—the despotic ruler of Apokolips. (For more on Apokolips and Darkseid, be sure to read our DC Comics 101 article on the New Gods.)
But other than that, there are plenty of similarities. Both villains want to conquer Earth and rely on armies of flying parademons to help them. Both stories are centered around the Justice League coming together for the first time and realizing that they can accomplish more together than they can apart. And Origin was written by Geoff Johns, who is also a producer on Justice League and is one of the guiding forces behind DC’s slate of films. And of course, the art by Jim Lee is pretty spectacular as well.
Are you a fan of inter-team drama? Do you like to try and figure out who would win if two heroes were forced to fight one another? Or, really, do you just love Batman? Then we have a story for you.
Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Howard Porter, Tower of Babel has become a touchstone moment of Justice League history. When Ra's Al-Ghul discovers and enacts Batman's secret "contingency plans"—failsafes he's concocted to destroy each and every member of the League, should they ever go rogue—the team's trust of the Dark Knight is left rocked to the very core, leaving Ra's path to victory all but paved.
Looking for something a bit different, but also featuring DC’s most popular heroes? DC: The New Frontier is an original graphic novel by legendary writer and artist Darwyn Cooke. This book is set outside of main DC continuity with an alternate version of the Golden Age in the ’40s and ’50s. That means that not only does it feature brand new takes on iconic characters like Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman, it also paints a complete picture of the entire DC Universe in one convenient, easy to read place. Think of it like a guided tour of everything DC has to over, minus the intimidation factor of decades of prior comics to sort through.
Plus, it’s an amazing story that’s really ambitious in scope. Think HBO miniseries rather than two-hour theatrical film. It draws from our nation’s history (quite a few real life figures make cameo appearances) as well as from popular entertainment genres, masterfully mixing it all together into what’s widely acknowledged as one of the best comics ever written. If you're a fan of noir mysteries, sci-fi pulp, war movies, horror, history or just looking to feast your eyes on some of Cooke’s most famous and iconic art, The New Frontier is for you. (If you do dive into this one, be sure to check out our New Frontier readthrough, which was written by two fans who were also brand new to the book.)
Spanning issues #10 through #15 of creators' Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's iconic run on JLA (which stands for JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, if you’re new to all of this), Rock of Ages tells a sprawling, bombastic and cosmic story of alternate timelines, possible futures, and splintered realities—all of which culminate into funhouse mirror representations of the Justice League's most famous members and most devastating villains.
Rock of Ages is a great place to go if you're interested in the more abstract parts of the DC Universe—from Darkseid's Anti-Life Equation (might we see that in a future Justice League movie?) to the most obscure corners of the DC Multiverse—all delivered through Morrison's famously cerebral, poetic scripting.
Want something a bit lighter in tone? The first volume of Justice League International by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire is the book for you. Like Origin, this is a relaunch, which means it’s written with new readers in mind and you don’t have to be familiar with any of the Justice League comics that came before it to enjoy it. But that’s where the similarities with Origin ends.
This initial storyline introduced a new Justice League team, and it drew heavily on the (sometimes literally) explosive exchanges that are bound to happen when the clashing personalities of characters like Batman, Shazam and Guy Gardner are forced to work together. But it’s not melodramatic—it's laugh-out-loud funny, off the wall and the foundation of one of the most unique incarnations of the League in the modern age. While the characters on this version of the team vary greatly from the ones in Justice League, Justice League International is known as one of the more comedic comics in DC’s catalog, making it the perfect book for anyone who enjoyed the humor and clever banter of Justice League.
This is really just the surface of what’s available when it comes to the Justice League, and we’re sure fans will have plenty of additional suggestions to add to your list. But you can’t go wrong with any of the above. Any of them would be a great place to start. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself going “all in” when you’re done.