Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern, so now it's time to name Collected Editions' greatest ten Justice League TPBs. As always, your results may vary, and I'm eager to hear what you would include on your own list.
* JLA: The Obsidian Age
Joe Kelly wrote JLA third after Grant Morrison and Mark Waid, and his run didn't receive nearly the attention that the others did, despite overall good quality and a nice emphasis on the Martian Manhunter -- not to mention art by Doug Mahnke, later of Final Crisis and Blackest Night: Green Lantern. In The Obsidian Age, Kelly perfectly captures the tone of Morrison's earlier work with a time-spanning tale that follows the JLA searching for the missing Aquaman in the past (after Superman: Our Worlds at War) and a group of substitute heroes sitting in for the JLA in the present. The conclusion is a rolicking era-spanning epic worthy of the name JLA; this is one of my favorite stories of this group's particular incarnation.
* JLA: Year One
I'm still waiting for DC Comics to release a hardcover version of this book and its sequel, Green Lantern and the Flash: The Brave and the Bold; both certainly deserve it. This twelve-issue series by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson looks at the formation of the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Justice League (with Black Canary taking Wonder Woman's historic role). Waid treats the Leaguers as twentysomethings finding their place in the world; this "young-ish Justice League" approach allows for a greater emphasis on how the Leaguer's personalities intersect -- particularly the brash Hal Jordan and quiet Barry Allen, and Black Canary's reaction to both after she learns of her mother's infidelity (revealed in the pages of Starman). I love the twist three-fourths of the way through the book that temporarily breaks up the League; though largely out of continuity now, this remains a great Justice League character piece.
* JLA: Rock of Ages
My second favorite story from the JLA title is Rock of Ages, the concluding storyline from JLA's first year. I find writer Grant Morrison's actual JLA conclusion, World War III, a bit too scattered, with a conclusion that's more theme than plot; Rock of Ages is another time-travel tale that starts with a simple League/Injustice League fight and explodes into a fight to defeat Darkseid in the future. At the time Morrison wrote Rock of Ages, his cast of characters was hamstrung by the Electric Blue Superman and a Wonder Woman killed before the Genesis crossover, yet Morrison still finds a way to include the entire JLA cast plus Green Arrow Connor Hawke, the Atom, and others. To me, Rock of Ages exemplifies the Grant Morrison widescreen JLA era.
* Superman: Panic in the Sky
I've mentioned before that one of my favorite Justice League eras -- passionately and inexplicably -- is the Dan Jurgens era that followed Justice League International's "Breakdowns." Maybe it's because Jurgen's Justice League seemed the perfect distillation of the best of Justice League International -- Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, and Guy Gardner -- or maybe because, between Maxima's presence and the Doomsday crossover, that League served as almost a fifth Superman title for a while.
Irrespective, Superman: Panic in the Sky is a lead-in to that Justice League run, guest-starring almost the whole DC Universe to help Superman fight Brainiac in space. This was the storyline in which the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman took his place as the leader of the DC Universe, and I counted it as among my top favorite Superman stories, too.
I am not as familiar with Marvel characters, the Avengers especially, as I am with the Justice League, so JLA/Avengers could have been hit or miss for me. Kurt Busiek's story, however, could just as easily be called JLA! for the amount of Justice League history and nostalgia Busiek packs into these pages. Every Justice Leaguer in every costume they ever wore appears in these pages (I'm pretty sure), so if you ever had a favorite Justice League era, it gets a nod within. Added to that, JLA/Avengers dials back from the Morrison/Kelly-era Justice League all the way to the original seven, and we get a chance to spend time with Hal Jordan and Barry Allen as they consider their future fates. This is a super Justice League story, even if you're not sure about those other guys.
* JLA: American Dreams
After Rock of Ages, my favorite Morrison-era JLA collection is American Dreams. What's not to love about the three stories collected in this book -- one, a Justice League membership drive; two, a team-up with the angel Zauriel, whom Aquaman refers to as the then-deceased Hawkman Katar Hol; and three, Green Arrow's son Connor Hawke taking on the villainous Key and saving the entire Justice League. Each of these three stories has in common that Morrison delves into the rich history of the League -- missing members, heroic legacies -- and the stories are not so cerebral as Morrison's later work. I don't want to spoil much, but there are nice touches in these stories that give me chills every time.
* Identity Crisis
Oh yes, I know how controversial Identity Crisis is. And I know it doesn't portray the Justice League in some of their finer moments. But I love Brad Meltzer's idea of a League within the League, and Booster, Beetle, Fire, and Ice seem as much to me the core of the international League as Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Hawkman do of that earlier League. This is, to an extent, also the League featured in JLA: Year One, and there's a way in which Identity Crisis can be read as a bookend to that earlier story. Whether Meltzer's changes were right or wrong, when I think of League stories, I think of Identity Crisis.
* Booster Gold: Blue and Gold
This is not, I grant, a real official Justice League story, but in the days when Ted Kord had just died and Ice had just been resurrected, Geoff Johns and Dan Jurgens presented this time-traveling tale that not only reunited my aforementioned favorite Justice League Internationalers (living and dead), but it also included a sub-League made up of heroes including Wild Dog (!) and Pantha (!!). I'm a sucker for time-travel stories, and I'm a sucker for Dan Jurgens drawing the Justice League, so this one made my list.
* Justice League of America: The Tornado's Path
What I like about Tornado's Path boils down to the scene in which Red Tornado remembers first meeting his wife Kathy, and the flashback reprints actual panels from a Justice League story in 1973. For a number of years, likely due to widespread continuity confusion, there wasn't much reference in the Justice League titles to the team's creation or early adventures; Meltzer changes that with this scene and also in Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman's recruitment drive. Plus, Tornado's Path returns Black Lightning to the Justice League and gives Justice League Detroit some credit; all in all I thought this was a good start to the new League, even if the title has faltered since then.
* I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League
I am not, as a matter of fact, all that versed in the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Justice League (though I know Kooey Kooey Kooey was an island), but I do have a strong affection for the characters (as this list is pointing out even to me). Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire re-teamed for a miniseries called Formerly Known as the Justice League, and then the I Can't Believe story followed in JLA Classified. Of the two, maybe Formerly is the funnier, but I Can't Believe is equally funny and also pretty emotional, especially when it comes to Fire and Guy having to come to grips with Ice's death, and then trying to rescue Ice from the depths of Hell. Maybe Justice League: Generation Lost makes this all moot now, but in the absence of a series starring Booster, Beetle, Fire, and Guy at the time, I found this book completely captivating.
And that's my desert island ten Justice League stories. I know I've left a lot out -- Elseworlds, for one, plus Justice League: New Frontier, any of the Justice League: Crisis on Multiple Earths books, and even Death of Superman was on my longer list but got cut. So, what's your ten favorite Justice League stories?