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12/22 – Curious Cat Asks…

Which writer do you think had the best run as writer on Justice League of America/Justice League International/Justice League America/JLA?

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74 Comments

You might want to replace that picture with Rage Cat.

Giffen/DeMatteis (sp?).

Definitely Brad Mel—

Oh, who am I kidding. Grant Morrison.

With his #1 inspiration, Len Wein, in second place, that stuff was amazing. THEN Giffen/DeMatteis.

Grant Morrison!

Giffen/DeMatteis

Then

Grant Morrison.

Sorry. The one I read first meant more to me. And it did so much with second-string and even third-string characters. Morrison had a Classic Seven to play with… … more or less…

Grant Morrison,
then, Giffen/DeMatteis,
then, Mark Waid.

The unperfect unholy three.

;-)

morrison/waid. while thy might not have wrote together they obviously planned together.

Giffen DeMatteis.

i’d say Giffen/DeMatteis, as they made the book work on its own terms, with mostly b-list characters in actual stories that actually progress towards something (at least as far as their stories took them), far better than morrison’s thoroughly enjoyable yet very surface gleamy superficial popcorn stuff, which read to me more like an Ellis antithesis than its own actual comic book aesthetic.

Giffen/DeMatteis, then Morrison, then a tie between Waid and Jurgens… ><

I maybe a major Whorrison for Morrison, but I gotta go with Giffen/Dematteis.

Back to the beginning- Morrison couldn’t have done what he did without Gardner Fox.

Gerry Conway also gets overlooked too often- he did a long run before he moved the team to Detroit.

Grant Morrison. His run is the reason I got into DC, and probably the main reason I still read superhero comics.

Oh Giffen/DeMatteis. It’s still my favorite incarnation, and it’s been twenty years or so. I also have to put in a good word for Gerard Jones. It was getting a little weird there, but the interpersonal relationships were a lot of fun.

Giffen/ DeMatteis, because they put humor and heart into the series.

My favorite Justice League stories (Earth 2 and Rock of Ages) were by Morrison, however. While G./DeM. and Morrison both lost some steam after awhile, I think Morrison’s lows were worse. The Ultramarine & Imp stories were boring. I liked World War 3 better, but it wasn’t great. At least the sillier G./DeM. stories had some entertainment value.

Giffen/DeMatteis, Len Wein, Morrison, and…Joe Kelly! That’s right, JOE KELLY.

Giffen/DeMatteis successfully pulled off a JLA book without most of its most recognizable characters – Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman barely appeared at all, for instance. Instead we had a book featuring the then-least prestigious of all Green Lanterns, a remote 4th-World Kirby hero, a retooled non-powered Charlton hero who up to that point was a blank slate, an obscure commercial-minded ’80s hero, a couple of reinvented Global Guardians who had never been given personalities before, and so on, and stabilized that mix with a minimum core of preestablished Leaguers consisting of Batman, J’onzz and Black Canary.

Giffen and DeMatteis turned a team book about Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice and Mister Miracle into a GREAT book, fondly remembered decades before its original publication. You can’t tell me that this wasn’t a bigger achievement than what Morrison did with a selection of DC’s best/most successful heroes.

Oops, make that “fondly remembered decades AFTER its original publication”. It makes more sense that way.

Yeah… I love the Giffen/DeMatteis era, but it’s definitely Morrison.

the love for the giffen/dematteis era never ceases to amaze me.

i never wanted nor needed melrose place in my comic books.

No Englehart love?

He was really the first writer to “Marvelize” the JLA, giving each character his or her own distinct personality.

Nothing against the earlier writers (including the great Gardner Fox), but the voices of the characters were completely interchangable. For my money, Giffen/DeMatteis took the personality thing further, but Englehart started the ball moving.

Plus his Manhunter story was adapted for an awesome JLU episode

Grant Morrison. I only bought X-men comics until I read Morrison’s JLA.

Giffen-DeMattis
Joe Kelly-Doug Manke

Giffen/Dematteis narrowly edges Grant Morrison into second place.

Randy, I have no idea what episodes of Melrose Place you must have been watching.

Len Wein for me, because the Golden Age is twelve. There may have been better ones since but that’s MY League. With Dick Dillin on art.

Giffen/DeMatteis. Always.

Giffen/DeMatteis, of course. Morrison’s run was great, but it had nothing on the classic JLI.

I’ll also give props to Denny O’Neil’s run, which took the Silver Age JLA and did a lot of work to modernize it – dropping Snapper Carr, creating the satellite headquarters, giving the heroes individual personalities, etc. Friedrich, Wein, the parade of post-Wein temp writers, Englehart, and Conway would have inherited a completely different book without O’Neil’s run (note that Friedrich’s run probably would have still been terrible).

My favorite Justice League stories (Earth 2 and Rock of Ages) were by Morrison, however. While G./DeM. and Morrison both lost some steam after awhile, I think Morrison’s lows were worse. The Ultramarine & Imp stories were boring. I liked World War 3 better, but it wasn’t great. At least the sillier G./DeM. stories had some entertainment value.

I agree with Mike here. Certain individual JLA stories of Morrison’s were fantastic, but a considerable percentage of his run was pretty mediocre, if not an outright mess. Personally, I think the only really good arc Morrison wrote on the title after ‘Rock of Ages’ was the two-issue Starro/Sandman story. WWIII was a mighty disappointing payoff to what he’d been trying to build, too.

So since the question is who had the best *run* on Justice League, I have to go with Giffen/Dematteis. They may not have reached the momentary heights that Morrison did, but their work, taken as a whole, bests his ~40 issue run. Had Morrison quit after Rock of Ages, or even after the Starro story, the answer might be different.

On a related note, when I was buying it, I rather enjoyed Joe Kelly’s run. But in rereading it last year, I found myself a lot more disappointed in it. I ended up selling the run on eBay. I did the same with Morrison’s, but I bought trades of the arcs I liked. But I still own the full Giffen/Dematteis run.

Giffen/DeMatteis juuuuust edges out Morrson’s for me. (Echoing that, weren’t these two #11 and 12 respectively on the Top 100 All-Time Runs we did here, or 9 and 10 or something?).

While Morrison wrote the definitive Big Gun JLA, which is in some ways what the JLA is all about, Giffen and DeMatteis’s series is the more groundbreaking work. JLA was an exciting read each month, with lots of wow moments. But Justice League was the most human, most genuine look at superhero characters of its time. There was nothing else like it. And I know the question pertained to writers, but Giffen & DeMatteis were helped out by a significantly superherior artist on their run too.

So yeah, 1. Giffen/DeMatteis, 2. Morrison, and I don’t have a clear three… looking forward to see what James Robinson can do though!

Giffen/DeMatteis, then Joe Kelly, then Dwayne McDuffie (yes, really), then Morrison.

Giffen & DeMatteis made me love them, Morrison brought me back to them, Kelly made them awesome and Mcduffie is doing stellar work rescuing them from the evil clutches of Meltzer.

@fake pat i am not sure i ever saw more than 10 minutes of melrose place, but that is what makes the giffen/dematteis era so similar. they both had characters that i did not care about nor want to read. the JLA should be about the biggest and best heroes. the g/d era was about the understudys’ understudies. i needed cpr from boredom after reading pieces of their run.

the so called humor that their run was cursed with also ran through my veins like a set of jacks would.

sort of made me want to die.

i would also like to echo the joe kelly appreciation, if just for the shattered plastic man on the ocean floor for thousands of years. genius right there.

Grant f-ing Morrison.

I suppose I should go read the Kelly run. Is it all in trade? I was so excited when they announced he was taking over, and I was underwhelmed enough by the first arc that I dropped it (although it didn’t take much for me to drop a book back then, I dropped 95% of what I was reading within a couple of months).

Grant Morrison, hands down. I love Giffen/DeMatteis, but I don’t really consider that a “true” Justice League.

Gerry Conway. Can’t stand Giffen’s JL, and Morrison was WAY over-hyped and over-tricked.

I’ll echo the Joe Kelly, er, like? I don’t think you can call it love, but I thought his run was pretty good (with some terrible moments like Absentee-Dad Plastic Man [coming soon from Kenner], and some awesome moments mixed in). I wish he could have written more adventures of the B-Squad (Green Arrow, Nightwing, Atom, Firestorm, Jason Blood, Faith, Hawkgirl, Major Disaster) that popped up during Obsidian Age, but I liked his retooled team that came out of that story. Was JL Elite any good?

Flaws aside, Morrison and Waid are “my” JLA writers.

You have to admire Kelly’s attempts to change things up after years of Morrison and Waid’s Big Stories style (in Waid’s case, literally – Heaven’s Ladder). And Doug Mahnke was a great art choice. It was fun and ambitious, even if it missed the mark sometimes.

That said, I have no idea if “Justice League Elite” was at all worthwhile. Did anyone read that? Was it any good, or just “Justice League as led by a Jenny Sparks knockoff”?

Giffen/Dematteis, easily.

Morrison had the best *serious* take on the JL, but I can’t help having a soft spot for the goofball Giffen/DeMatteis version.

Grant Morrison is usually my favorite writer of anything he ever touches but with this one I’ll have to go with Giffen/DeMatteis.

Mike and Jeff: Justice League Elite was okay. If you liked Kelly’s run and/or black ops superheroes, then you’d probably like JLElite. Personally, I found it decent but forgettable, but then I was never a fan of Kelly’s “Justice League of Pet Characters,” as I like to call it. I also think the mini suffers from developing this covert underground team, then all of the non-established characters promptly disappeared from the DCU as the League was cancelled and relaunched. There was some potential, but it never really went anywhere.

Gardner Fox, duh. Then I think I’d go with Morrison, followed by a three-way tie between Wein, Englehart, and Giffen/DeMatteis.

Giffen/DeMatteis. Along with Alan Grant’s Batman books, their JLI is what got me into DC and comics in general. Next up I’d put Waid, then Morrison’s run. I’ll echo the earlier post that Gerard Jones was decent (his dialogue and characters were always solid, at least). Kelly’s started strong, but lost me during the Obsidian Age, and Metzler lost me on his first issue. I’d like to include some older writers, but I’ll be hoenst, I haven’t really read ‘em.

Giffen/DeMatteis. But let’s not forget Gerard Jones on JLEurope.

I’ll grant that the first few adventures of Jones’s JLEurope were pretty cool – sort of a forerunner of Morrison’s run in some ways- someone should bring back Deconstructo. But by the time it became JLI and then he moved his storylines over to JLA, it really got bad- the Power Girl diet soda stuff, all the sexual orientation stuff, and the hodgepodge “icons + Giffen league + Infinity Inc. + Blue Devil’ lineup has got to be one of the shittiest of all time.

Giffen/DeMatteis is my favorite, but I think generall Morrison had the “best” run.

“Len Wein for me, because the Golden Age is twelve. There may have been better ones since but that’s MY League. With Dick Dillin on art.” – Greg Hatcher

Brad Meltzer once said that whoever is doing JLA when you’re 13 years old is your all-time favorite. Meltzer stinks as a writer of superhero comics but he’s got a great point.

In 1996, I was exactly 13 years old and Morrison took over writing duties that year. He’s got my vote. Even without the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, his run is pretty damn impressive. It’s hard to imagine how you could make characters that commonplace exciting and fresh again.

My favorite is a many-way tie between anyone not responsible for JLApe.

@Phil E. Stein

the whatever group was in place @ 12/13 = best argument is fairly bunk. it sure sounds great and sure lets people write some awfully regressive stories, but for anyone that you can find to prove it, you can equally find someone to disprove it.

case in point, the detroit league was in full effect when i was that age, and even then i knew i better not waste my money on that filth (and i bought nearly anything i could find back then).

i did not see morrison’s take till i was well out of college, but holy hell was i instantly hooked. never had i seen DC’s heroes been taken so seriously and respect paid to them. i had always wanted to see this, and often lamented not seeing it while i was growing up.

randyhate – Fair enough. Some of us are just lucky enough to get good stuff when we’re in Jr. High and if that’s you, you feel a tenderness and favoritism towards it.

I definitely see your point, though. I can relate… when I was that same age, in the mid 90′s, the X-Men comics were absolutely unreadable. I mean, I couldn’t understand them and they were crap even if I could. It wasn’t until the early 00′s (when I was in late high school, early college) that Marvel turned things around. I can remember reading some of the Ultimate books and Morrison’s X-Men and wishing that stuff had been out when I was younger, instead of endless Clone Sagas, Gambit miniseries, and arbitrary ammo pouches. (And to see certain people *cough*Kirkman*cough* look back wistfully on those days makes me roll my eyes).

Wait, what were we talking about? Oh, yes, Morrison’s JLA. Damn, that was goods. Pretty much a perfect superhero comic. The scripting was good enough that you never had to feel like you were being talked down to, yet it was as fun and imaginative as a superhero team book should be. It really pushed the envelope and went new places and had a good time doing it. I wish there was more stuff like that, period.

It’s just got to be Giffen/DeMatteis – they got me reading US comics at a time and a place when they were hard to find in the UK (well in my county anyway). I loved the way the comedy would suddenly swap out for darker edged stories, and thanks to all the characterisation I really cared who lived/died/got swapped out for a robot and then vapourised.

I enjoyed Morrison’s run, it was epic but I never felt the same connection to the big 7 and always knew it’d turn out alright in the end when the mighty reset button was pressed come the end. And WWIII (the first one) just felt like a let down…

Giffen/DeMatteis/Jones for sure.
Then Priest on JLTF.

Cuz they weren’t about the events, but about the characters.

I have high hopes for off the leash McDuffie.

MORRISON!

The guy’s run is just plain sick. Rock of Ages, World War III, the Ultramarine Corps. He made the blue Superman readable for god’s sake. He brought in Aztek and made it have a point beyond simply boosting one of his own creations. Plus, the two-issue battle with Prometheus is freaking great – to this day one of my favorite villain introductions.

Now I loves me some Morrison. Hell, I adore Morrison’s JLA… but its gotta be…

GERRY CONWAY!

Can’t believe how much hate that guy stirs up on the net. His 1000000000 issue run on the original Justice League pretty much sets the flava for everything that comes after. Fox was writing a team book with totally interchangable characters (as someone mentioned above), O’Neil, Wein and Englehart were all fantastic but frankly more of the same. It was Conway who wrote the book on the JLA as it is today and has been for the last 30+ years; a book about DC’s best second stringers with guest appearances from the big 3.

Even Morrison only managed 8 (?) issues or so before his ‘big 7′ were all being written out/’irreversibly changed’ and he had to replace them with Zauriel, Steel, Huntress etc.

Oh, loved Giffen/DeMatteis too when I was that golden age of 12/13 and collected it avidly. Some of it is still a damn good read but a lot of it has aged VERY badly. People demanding hardcover collections of the Kooey Kooey Kooey arc, the Teasdale Imperative (zzzzzz…), Breakdowns, and especially the godawful General Glory 5 parter have way too much disposable income.

And man, that Secret Society of Super Villains/JLA/JSA crossover is all kinds of awesome.

Englehart, easily.

Gardner Fox, Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, Giffen/DeMatteis, Grant Morrison.

Greg is clearly correct that the results of a poll such as this will be outrageously generational. However, my choice is Mike Friedrich, who began writing the book when I was not yet eight years old.

Fans of Englehart’s run would enjoy Friedrich’s JLA as well; both of them were doing the same trick of splicing Marvel storytelling and characterization values onto DC characters and plot structure.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

December 22, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Engelhart. With Conway (pre-Detroit) a close second.

Yes, Morrison’s run was wonderful. But way too many of the classic JLAers were damaged goods at the time. So, instead of Hal we got Kyle. Instead of Ollie we got Connor. Instead of the SA Hawks we got Zauriel. For awhile Wonder Woman was her mom and Superman was electric and blue. And, don’t get me started on Aquaman. Dammit, the JLA should be exempt from such crappy editorial decisions!

Giffen / DeMatteis, two incredibly talented creators whose work I usually enjoy, created a book that I could not stand.

Grant Morrison and Howard Porter had the definitive JLA.

It’s trendy to answer GM, but they really were the best books.

I just wanted to say thanks; this is very useful. I’ve only liked the Morrison run out of all the contemporary Justice League I’ve read, and I’m really glad to see some suggestions that I might like. It’s such a cool concept and it’s sad to see it as poorly done as it usually seems to be. Then again, most of the recent Uncanny X-Men has been shit too.

I mean, I couldn’t understand them and they were crap even if I could. It wasn’t until the early 00’s (when I was in late high school, early college) that Marvel turned things around. I can remember reading some of the Ultimate books and Morrison’s X-Men and wishing that stuff had been out when I was younger, instead of endless Clone Sagas, Gambit miniseries, and arbitrary ammo pouches.

Oh yeah. As a kid, I got into comics just in time to catch . . . X-Cutioner’s Song. Where the stork-legged pert-buttocked X-Men are on the moon and, um, Jean and Scott have a kid from the future? Only the villain is. . . the clone of their kid . . . maybe? I don’t know if I’d do a better job of understanding it as an adult.

I gave up after buying three X-books and stuck to Spider-Man. I suppose Wikipedia would’ve helped.

Sorry to fire another shot across the bows of the 12/13 thing…

That to me would have been Conway, just pre-Detroit.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed what I now think of as “Classic JLA”. I must also be one of the few who enjoyed JLDetroit… J’onn, Aquaman, Gypsy, Steel, Vibe… Ahhh….

But JLI ruled. Sure it lost it’s way (long before Breakdowns), but for the sheer length of the run, including JLE (with Basil Fawlty as the Beefeater!) JLI had more pages of fun than anything else I can think of…

“One Punch!”
“Don’t call me ‘Bats’ Beetle…”/”Don’t call me ‘Beetle’ Bats…”
“I can see you Gardner…”
“Blue Beetle, meet the Paris Embassy head, Catherine…” “BWAH-HAH-HA-Ha-Ha!!!!”
“Buy this comic or we WON’T shoot the cat….”

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

Oh… and women enjoyed it too….

Yes. Despite PowerGirl (drawn by Adam Hughes, Bart Sears and gang…) *swoon*

I find the “Big 7″ boring as hell… with JLI, you were never sure if they were going to pull it off…

oh, and the first annual even had some of Bill Willingham’s first DC artwork!!!!

Another vote for Giffen/DeMatteis here. Their run’s timing was perfect for me; I was was slowly ditching Marvel as it was entering the embryonic stages of what would grow into Grim ‘n Gritty, and the appearance of a superhero book with an actual sense of humour lured me to DC rather than giving up on comics altogether.

I’m a shameless Morrison fanboy, but his JLA isn’t even a contender for top slot on my personal “Morrison’s Best” list (Doom Patrol, Invisibles and even Seven Soldiers all come out ahead of it).

Also a massive Englehart fan, but I always rather preferred his actual Marvel work to his “Marvelized DC” work. Same for Wein and Conway.

Dick Dillin is Mr. JLA Artist of all time, though.

Giffen/Dematties. I’m a big believer in stacking team books with as many characters who have no solo book as possible. The might not have wanted to go that way, but they were forced into a fantastic team.

Well, as it seems the only JLA I own are Conway issues, I guess I have to say Conway, pre-Detroit era. (Roughly around #200, when George Perez was doing regular cover work and occasional interiors – THAT was the purchasing point for me, Perez.)

I loved the middle of GM’s run, from the Tomorrow Girl Story through Rock of Ages at least.

Joe Kelly’s stories not connected to the Atlantis thing were brilliant.

I dig Wein and Conway too but I don’t have enough to go by.

Let’s see–I have a complete run of all the Giffen/DeMatteis issues of JL/JLA/JLI/JLE, etc, along wiht the follow ups on JLE that Gerard Jones did. I have only a smattering of any other runs before that–and I stuck with it for a little while after they left, but I never enjoyed it as much.

I’ll echo the Joe Kelly, er, like? I don’t think you can call it love, but I thought his run was pretty good (with some terrible moments like Absentee-Dad Plastic Man

Funny how the issue people often hold up as the worst in Joe Kelly’s run is the only one I actually liked. I thought the rest of his run was terrible, but I loved that issue.

for me:
1 – Giffen +Dematteis
2 – Morrison
3 – Waid

I’m still looking for another decent JLA run…

Gerry Conway, or at least until the Detroit version of the League. I loved his version of the Satellite era league.

Morrison places a very close second.

Citizen Scribbler

December 23, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Randy- if the only connection you really have between Melrose Place and the JLI is that you didn’t like both, then you need to point that out because the rest of us aren’t mind readers. That’s like me comparing The Strokes with Love Actually for the same reason without explaining myself.

You’re also the first person I’ve seen refer to characters such as Batman, Captain Marvel, and Mister Miracle as understudies’ understudies. The Giffen/Dematteis League is my #1 choice. #2 goes to the originator, Gardner Fox (I get a real kick out of reading those ones), and my #3 goes to Jurgens, with Len Wein close behind at #4.

-Citizen Scribbler

Looking over the comments, it’s VERY clear that I’m older than the average reader here. :)

Since Gerry Conway was writing the book when I was 12, he’s my 1st choice as the definitive JLA writer (pre-Detroit, of course). I’ll put JLA #200 up against ANY other JLA story written by anyone. I’ve read Len Wein & Steve Englehart’s runs in back issue form, and they’re both great & highly recommended. Wein brought back the Seven Soldiers of Victory & created the Freedom Fighters. Englehart brought great characterization and created the Manhunters, the Construct, the Star-Tsar & the Privateer.

Morrison is great, but can’t hold a candle to these runs in my mind.

And you have to give it up for Gardner Fox, too. He wrote the book for what… 10 years? Let’s see one of today’s writers match THAT!

Giffen/DeMatteis, Giffen/Jones, Gerry Conway, Gardner Fox and solo DeMatteis – in that order. Good to see nobody misses Dan Vado or Dan Jurgens awful destruction of JLI.

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