Who’s DC’s next Justice League writer?
Disclaimer: While DC is still in smack dab the middle of its current monthly event Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths (issue #4 of 7 went on sale September 6), due to the industry’s unique three-month-in-advance solicitation cycle, our community is always looking ahead to what’s next as much (if not more) as what’s right in front of us.
To wit, DC just announced its next post-Dark Crisis editorial era beginning in January – Dawn of the DCU – which will almost certainly (we’ll go with 99.8 percent) include what should be a much-ballyhooed return of an ongoing Justice League title in January or very soon after. The series has been dormant since the most recent volume’s ‘cancellation’ with May’s Justice League #75 – AKA the ‘Death of the Justice League’ story that kicked off Dark Crisis.
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Something of DC’s flagship series 1a (1 is the ongoing Batman title), Justice League is one of comic books’ highest profile gigs and the creative teams over the last 25 years have included some of the biggest names on DC’s roster of talent at the height of their commercial profiles.
DC’s announcement of Dawn of the DCU came with some imagery that signals the classic Justice League members Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and The Flash figure prominently in its plans, and it’s not hard to imagine those superheroes being front and center of a relaunched title.
We’ll leave the team roster speculation for another day, however, and for now, wonder aloud what writer will be handed the reins of the title helping to launch DC’s new era. Our list is long but not comprehensive, so there will surely be some names we missed.
And keep in mind, DC rarely reaches for names not already associated with its main DCU line. When it does, it’s usually creators who are big names at rival Marvel Comics, which informs our speculation.
The heirs apparent
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As we say, Justice League is arguably DC’s second highest profile gig, so you can never discount who’s currently writing Batman when looking at the possibilities.
Writer Chip Zdarksky took over Batman just a couple of months ago and his first few issues have already prominently featured Superman and called back to a classic Justice League storyline ‘Tower of Babel.’
The conversation begins (but doesn’t end) there.
Fan-fave Tom Taylor is as well-versed in writing the Justice League as any writer will ever be without actually having written Justice League proper.
His current Dark Knights of Steel is more or less a Justice League story from an alternate setting and continuity and his Injustice and DCeased series inhabit the same conceptual space as a Justice League story.
Taylor is already plugged into the DCU via his current Superman: Son of Kal-El and Nightwing ongoing series, with the latter being a possible key given Dick Grayson’s prominence in the Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths finale and transition to the Dawn of the DCU.
Though he’s more recently gravitated towards projects outside of core DCU continuity, Tom King would have been a name to watch if not for his recent announcement he was stepping away from comic book writing for some sort of Hollywood project.
And speaking of Hollywood, you can never discount an Academy Award-winning writer, so John Ridley bears some watching although his current DC projects fall outside the core Justice League sphere.
While perhaps not as high profile as some of the other names, Matthew Rosenberg has his name attached to four different titles in DC’s December solicitations, suggesting a mutual comfort level with the current DC editorial regime.
Rosenberg seems to be a writer whose profile is on the rise similar to previous Justice League writers like Scott Synder, James Tynion IV, and Joshua Williamson.
It isn’t just a men’s game
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Becky Cloonan (usually along with her writing partner Michael C. Conrad) is another writer who qualifies as DC prolific these days, and is therefore an heir apparent. She has (co)written Superman and Wonder Woman in the last couple of years.
Cloonan would also break something of a glass ceiling at DC surrounding the Justice League. No woman has ever written the core ongoing series before and it might be time to finally shatter that barrier in 2023. Tini Howard, Megan Fitzmartin, and Stephanie Phillips also come to mind as talented women who could take the Justice League reins.
Non-binary writer Grant Morrison crafted perhaps the seminal Justice League run (put a pin in that), and there’s room for other gender expansive writers like Vita Ayala or Danny Lore to follow in their footsteps and bring a fresh POV to DC’s A-team.
The transfer protocol
DC and Marvel aren’t at war for creative talent like they used to be, but it’s hard to forget one of the more recent times a high-profile writer switched teams.
Brian Michael Bendis was as big a name at Marvel (and in the industry) as there was when he took his talents to Burbank, and promptly wound up writing … you guessed it … the Justice League.
Two names that stand out as writers who could skip across the country as Bendis did are Jonathan Hickman and Jason Aaron.
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There’s been buzz about Hickman writing for DC for years now. Although most recently he’s taken a step back from his tour de force Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men work to focus on creator-owned projects, he’ll be returning to Marvel for a mystery project with artist Valerio Schiti in the coming months.
The Justice League is precisely the kind of big-scale DC project Hickman could excel at, particularly given the more meta-fictional nature of the DCU. At one time it would seem inevitable Hickman would eventually find his way to DC (and if you believe the rumors, attempts have been made), but that’s much more uncertain in 2022.
Jason Aaron will be wrapping up his own bombastic run on the Avengers in the next few months by fully exploring the Marvel Multiverse, making a jump to the DC sandbox with its Multiversal preoccupation something of a natural transition.
The ‘you can go home agains’
Whenever someone delivers a signature run on a comic book, you can never discount the possibility of a triumphant return.
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One could make the argument that Geoff Johns – at one time as big a DC name as there was – never got to write the ‘real’ Justice League as his still-high profile run was under the New 52 umbrella that didn’t include all the toys DC writers can play with today.
But Johns is likely focused on with his own New Golden Age corner of the DCU, which includes an ongoing Justice Society of America series so a concurrent return to Justice League seems a little unlikely.
Perhaps the biggest splash DC could make with readers and the press would be to somehow draw Morrison back to monthly superhero comic books. Morrison’s time on the JLA series they launched is one of the most highly-regarded modern runs of any comic book of the last quarter century and arguably the pinnacle of the long-running DC series.
One can’t undersell the buzz a second Morrison run would generate, but their energy seems pointed in other directions other than DC and Marvel superhero comic books these days.
That said, the writer who had the unenviable task of following Morrison back in the day (and did pretty well for himself) might be very well situated to make a return.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Mark Waid’s long-awaited return to writing DC titles was news and we didn’t know the extent of it, but now Waid seems all-in.
His Batman/Superman: World’s Finest ongoing series has the sort of ’embrace DC’s storied past but point to towards the future’ dynamic that readers are responding to, and Waid is currently the writer of the Batman vs. Robin event series that again imbues the DCU community/crossover energy Justice League embodies (or should) every month.
Plus as we learned this week, Waid is the writer of Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1a December special that effectively celebrates the return of the infinite Earths lost during the original Crisis and seems like a natural lead-in to Dawn of the DCU.
The publisher refers to Waid as a “comics legend and DC architect” in its description of the special, and it wouldn’t surprise us if Waid’s now full-fledged DC revival includes a return to a title he’s uniquely qualified and positioned to knock out of the park.
There are still a few issues to decide whether Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths is one of the best DC stories of all time.