Today’s graphic literature fans are enjoying a golden age of television undreamed of. Whether you’re a fan of superheroics, spy-thrillers, or horror, there’s something for virtually everyone. But what happens when someone goes looking for the books that inspired their favorite shows? More often than not they get confused,.
It’s fairly simple to track down The Walking Dead books. iZombie and Preacher (soon to be a series on AMC) have been collected into neat little volumes. Even the various volumes of Hellblazer aren’t too difficult to navigate for those proud Constantine fans still hoping for a revival on The CW Network. But where do you send the little girls who want to see more Supergirl? The tweens who want to read about The Flash? The teens who want more Green Arrow?
Face Front, True Believers! We’ve got the reading lists to help you save the day!
Legends of Tomorrow
Creating recommendations for fans of this show is a bit tricky, since the show is based off numerous sources from the DC Comics Universe and not a lot of them have been collected. Many of the ones that have been collected are out of print and out of continuity, for what that is worth. Still, here’s a few series that might be worth tracking down.
Booster Gold, vol 1: 52 Pick-Up (9781401220068)
Booster Gold, vol 2: Blue & Gold (9781401220143)
Booster Gold, vol 3: Day Of Death (9781401226435)
Booster Gold, vol 4: Past Imperfect (9781401230241)
Booster Gold, vol 5: Reality Lost (9781401222499)
Booster Gold, vol 6: The Tomorrow Memory (9781401229184)
Probably the closest thing DC Comics ever published that could directly compare to the concept for Legends of Tomorrow, Booster Gold focused upon the titular glory-hogging hero as he became the secret guardian of the DC Comics’ timeline. A number of talented writers worked on this series before it ended, including Geoff Johns, Keith Giffen and Chuck Dixon. It also features Rip Hunter—the time-traveler who is leading the Legends—in a supporting role as Booster’s partner.
Justice Society of America
JSA, vol. 1: Justice Be Done (9781563896200)
JSA, vol. 2: Darkness Falls (9781563897399)
JSA, vol. 3: The Return of Hawkman (9781563899126)
JSA, vol. 4: Fair Play (9781563899591)
JSA, vol. 5: Stealing Thunder (9781563899942)
JSA, vol. 6: Savage Times (9781401202538)
JSA, vol. 7: Princes of Darkness (9781401204693)
JSA, vol. 8: Black Reign (9781401204808)
JSA, vol. 9: Lost (9781401207229)
JSA, vol. 10: Black Vengeance (9781401209667)
JSA, vol. 11: Mixed Signals (9781401209674)
JSA, vol. 12: Ghost Stories (9781401211967)
Another classic series with writing by Man of Steel writer David Goyer as well as Geoff Johns and James Robinson. This series is noteworthy for having introduced the Kendra Saunders version of Hawkgirl as well as the origin for Hawkman utilized on The Flash and Arrow. It also features Vandal Savage as the villain of one storyline and features some stories involving time travel, including one with Rip Hunter trying to stop the JSA’s many members from being killed by a time-traveling Nazi!
Hawkgirl and Hawkman
Hawkman, vol. 1: Endless Flight (9781563899522)
Hawkman, vol. 2: Allies and Enemies (9781401201968)
Hawkman, vol. 3: Wings of Fury (9781401204679)
Spun out of JSA, the first 25 issues of this series were written by James Robinson and Geoff Johns and continued to expand upon the newest incarnations of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Kendra Saunders and Carter Hall.
The Atom Archives, vol. 1 (9781563897177)
The Atom Archives, vol. 2 (9781401200145)
Ray Palmer can’t get any respect. He hasn’t had his own title in years and the hero in the comics bares little resemblance to his counterpart on Arrow. Still, one could do worse than to add these books collecting classic material from the 1960s (featuring artwork by the legendary Gil Kane at the height of his powers) to their library collection.
Firestorm: The Nuclear Man, vol. 1 (9781401231835)
This is the only volume collecting any of the original Firestorm series.
Fury Of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men, vol. 1: God Particle (9781401237004)
Fury Of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men, vol. 2: The Firestorm Protocols (9781401240325)
Fury Of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men, vol. 3: Takeover (9781401242923)
As with our Supergirl list, we’d advise against picking up this New 52 series. Despite having some talented creators working on it, this series never really clicked with most readers. Additionally, the differences between the characters in the comics relative to their counterparts on the show (who are based more on the pre-New 52 comic incarnations) may be off-putting.
Birds of Prey:Of Like Minds (9781401201920)
Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student (9781401204341)
Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn (9781401209407)
Birds of Prey: The Battle Within (9781401210960)
Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch (9781401211912)
Birds of Prey: Blood & Circuits (9781401213718)
Birds of Prey: Dead Of Winter (9781401216412)
Birds of Prey, vol. 1: End Run (9781401231323)
Birds of Prey, vol. 2: Death of Oracle (9781401234492)
Sara Lance is a character unique to the Arrow universe. And while there is an assassin character called White Canary, who was introduced in Gail Simone’s second Birds of Prey run, she was Asian and a villain. That being said, we’d still recommend Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey runs to anyone interested in the character.
Why? Well, Simone has done more to develop the character of Black Canary than any writer in modern history. Additionally, despite Laurel adopting the Black Canary moniker—Sara’s character drew far more inspiration from Simone’s take on the character than Laurel. Simone’s Canary trained with assassins, worked out of a clocktower, looked after a girl named Sin and was a confirmed bisexual—all traits Sara Lance has.
Black Canary, vol. 1: Kicking and Screaming (due out 2016/03/08) – (9781401261177)
We’re also going to suggest the new Black Canary collection by Brenden Fletcher and Annie Wu. Partly because it’s a good series that’s easy for new readers to get into and partly because there’s an as-of-yet unidentified female assassin with blonde hair and blue eyes that is clad in all-white chasing after Black Canary, helping her out. Could we be about to see the introduction of Sara Lance to the comics? Could be…
Suicide Squad, vol. 1: Trial by Fire (9781401258313)
Suicide Squad, vol. 2: The Nightshade Odssey (9781401258337)
Suicide Squad, vol. 3: Rogues (due Out: 2016/04/12) – (9781401260910)
Suicide Squad, vol. 4: (due Out: 2016/07/26) – 9781401262617
One of the most influential yet underrated comics series in history, John Ostrander’s run on Suicide Squad set a standard that has never truly been equaled. While none of the Squad members in the comics are a part of the Legends team, the concept of an eclectic mix of heroes and villains joining together to do the things ordinary superheroes wouldn’t or couldn’t manage was refined here. Also, the two-part story White Knight/Fail-Safe – in which the Legends have to infiltrate a Russian Prison at the height of The Cold War – owes a huge stylistic debt to the themes that permeated Suicide Squad. If nothing else, it also wouldn’t be a bad idea to have these issues on hand for when the Suicide Squad movie comes out.
The Flash by Geoff Johns: Book 1 (9781401258733)
The Flash by Geoff Johns: Book 2 (due out 2016/05/24) – (9781401261016)
Yes, we mentioned these books under our The Flash list, but we’re mentioning them again because Geoff Johns wrote the definitive Captain Cold and Heat Wave origins as part of his run on The Flash and we wanted to be sure you didn’t miss out.