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CSBG Archive

Comics You Should Own – JLA #1-41 + various tie-in comics

Hot damn, I love these comics! And, as it’s the God of All Comics’ fiftieth birthday today, it’s a good time to discuss them (even if it was completely coincidental)!

01-30-2010 05;35;10PM 01-30-2010 05;36;33PM 01-30-2010 05;37;51PM

JLA by Grant “I am … the Tyrant Sun!” Morrison (writer, issues #1-17, 22-26, 28-31, 34, 36-41, 1,000,000; Secret Files and Origins #1; New Year’s Evil: Prometheus; DC One Million #1-4; JLA: Earth 2), Mark Waid (writer, issues #18-21, 32-33; Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #1-3), Mark Millar (writer, issue #27; Secret Files and Origins #1), Devin Grayson (writer, issue #32), J. M. DeMatteis (writer, issue #35), Fabian Nicieza (writer, Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #1-3), Howard Porter (penciller, issues #1-7, 10-16, 18-19, 22-25, 28-31, 34, 36-41, 1,000,000; Secret Files and Origins #1), Oscar Jimenez (penciller, issues #8-9), Gary Frank (penciller, issue #15), Greg Land (penciller, issue #15), Arnie Jorgensen (penciller, issues #17, 20-21; New Year’s Evil: Prometheus), Mark Pajarillo (penciller, issues #26-27, 32-33, 35), Jeff Johnson (penciller, Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #1-3), Darick Robertson (penciller, Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #1-3), Don Hillsman (penciller, Secret Files and Origins #1), Val Semeiks (penciller, DC One Million #1-4), Frank Quitely (artist, JLA: Earth 2), John Dell (inker, issues #1-7, 10-16, 18-19, 22-25, 28-31, 34, 36-39, 1,000,000; Secret Files and Origins #1), Ken Branch (inker, issue #7), Chip Wallace (inker, issues #8-9), Bob McLeod (inker, issue #15), David Meikis (inker, issue #17, 20-21; New Year’s Evil: Prometheus), Mark Pennington (inker, issue #17), Walden Wong (inker, issue #19, 26-27, 32-33, 35), Doug Hazlewood (inker, issue #21), Marlo Alquiza (inker, issue #27), Drew Geraci (inker, issues#40-41), Jon Holdredge (inker, Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #1-3), Hanibal Rodriguez (inker, issue #9; Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #1-3), Albert de Guzman (inker, Secret Files and Origins #1), Prentis Rollins (inker, DC One Million #1-4), Pat Garrahy (colorist, issues #1-32, 34-41, 1,000,000; Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #1-2; DC One Million #1-4), John Kalisz (colorist, issue #33; Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #3; Secret Files and Origins #1), James Sinclair (colorist, New Year’s Evil: Prometheus), Laura Depuy (colorist, JLA: Earth 2), Heroic Age (color separations, issues #1-13,16-25, 29-41, 1,000,000; New Year’s Evil: Prometheus; DC One Million #2-4), Digital Chameleon (color separations, issue #26-28; DC One Million #1), Wildstorm FX (color separations, JLA: Earth 2), Ken Lopez (letterer, issues #1-20, 22-41, 1,000,000; Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #1-3; Secret Files and Origins #1; DC One Million #1-4; JLA: Earth 2), Kurt Hathaway (letterer, issue #21), Janice Chiang (letterer, New Year’s Evil: Prometheus)

01-30-2010 05;29;22PM01-30-2010 05;32;12PM01-30-2010 05;33;25PM

DC, 51 issues + JLA: Earth 2 original graphic novel (Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #1-3; JLA #1-41; JLA Secret Files and Origins #1, which comes after issue #9; New Year’s Evil: Prometheus, which comes after issue #15; DC One Million #1-4, which come between issues #23 and 24; issue #1,000,000, which comes between DC One Million #2 and 3), cover dated September 1996 – November 1996 (Midsummer’s Nightmare) and January 1997 – May 2000 (Earth 2 was released in 2000 as well).

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SPOILERS ahoy! I do try to keep them out, but I don’t always succeed! And click the images to enlarge, because they’re awesome!

It’s fascinating to consider the life cycle of certain comics, especially Justice League. The first volume ran its course, finally dying during “Legends” when J. M. DeMatteis killed or incapacitated the remnants of the team – Vibe, Steel, Gypsy, and Vixen. Then we got the relaunch, which injected fresh life into the franchise with its irreverant take on superheroes. This even led to a spin-off and an ancillary title, and life was good. That too ran its course, and the book floundered again. Then the God of All Comics got ahold of the series, and life was again good. This series, too, ran its course, and DC killed it and relaunched it yet again. You can’t keep a good Justice League down, it seems.

This particular relaunch is what really turned Morrison into a superstar. He had done excellent work prior to this series, of course, but working on such a high-profile book and knocking it out of the park really made his career, and he’s been on top since then. He uses many, many ideas that he would later refine or simply re-use, and it’s interesting to see if they’re better here, in their rawer forms, or later, when he’s had time to think about it. In many ways, this is Morrison’s apotheosis, at least when it comes to superheroes, and he’s been working in its shadow ever since. What makes it so is worth considering.

Without taking anything away from Morrison, Mark Waid deserves some credit for making this a memorable run. The “prequel” of JLA, Midsummer’s Nightmare, introduces the major theme of Morrison’s run – that is, an ancient evil bent on destroying Earth, and how to fight it. Perhaps Waid was working from a basic plot that Morrison gave him, but it’s still Waid that gives us the seminal story of the entire population of the world turning into superheroes. Furthermore, it’s interesting that Waid makes the most of the idea of seven superheroes being somehow important, in the two-part Julian September story in issues #18-19, and it’s also Waid who brings up the Seven Soldiers of Victory, in issue #21 (granted, it’s to denigrate them, but did Morrison read that and think ahead to a different project?). Waid also writes a clever follow-up to Morrison’s initial story arc in issue #33, when Batman sends the JLA to confront … Bruce Wayne? It’s a fun, one-off story that shows how poorly the League dealt with the problem of the Martians. Waid’s contribution to the success of this incarnation shouldn’t be overlooked, especially when we look at Midsummer’s Nightmare. In it, we meet Know Man (yes, the name sucks – deal with it!), who is attempting, with Doctor Destiny’s help, to make everyone on Earth a superhuman. He tells the “League” (who aren’t the League yet, just seven heroes who managed to break Destiny’s programming) that he foresees the destruction of the world, and the only way to fight it is if everyone has superpowers. This idea, of course, colors Morrison’s entire run, leading up to the confrontation with Mageddon in issues #36-41. However, Waid uses Destiny to show that the League is vulnerable through a “false world” – using their own minds against them. It’s something the Key will use in issues #8-9 – Aquaman and Batman even comment on their vulnerability to it. The use of Doctor Destiny, however, points to a different, grander theme of Morrison’s run: The idea of different worlds, not just those in the Leaguers’ minds. This is something that has always fascinated Morrison, and he uses it to magnificent effect.

If we examine the first theme, that of superpowers and heroism, we see that Morrison is remakably skilled at making each hero who appears an interesting character, with their own skill set. This is why his run works so well – unlike a lot of superhero books, where a core group handles all the problems, Morrison used different characters from DC’s rich history to come up with solutions to specific issues. This has become a bit more common over the past decade, and Morrison certainly wasn’t the first to do it, but his lack of a stable team and his ability to move various characters into positions where they can do the most good is a fun juggling act, and it helps build this idea that heroes are people that do heroic things, not ones with powers – which pays off in the final arc. While the various heroes who show up to perform certain duties have powers, they also possess abilities that have nothing to do with superpowers, and therefore show that it takes something different than powers to be a hero. This is most notable in Batman, of course, the hero who has no powers. Morrison loves Batman, obviously, and although some people complain that he made Batman almost superhuman, he usually just figures things out first. Morrison does this with other heroes, too. In the brilliant first story arc, we get an entire fight in which the Flash battles Züm, the speedster of the Hyperclan. It’s a memorable battle because Wally uses the power of … physics! Whoo-hoo! Later, Aquaman takes out Züm (poor Züm) in another cool way, although why exactly Züm would have marine ancestors isn’t explained. These kinds of examples litter the book, and Morrison, more than many writers, seems to think about how these heroes would use their powers. When the demons are trying to drag the moon out of orbit in issue #7, Blue Superman figures out how to stop them by using his new powers. J’onn figures out how to get through the Joker’s twisted mind in issue #11 by changing the shape of his own brain to become insane himself. Ray Palmer discovers a way to defeat Darkseid in issue #15. Waid runs with this when Palmer figures out how to make probability stabilize in issue #19. Buddy Baker figures out how to wound Mageddon by talking to lizards in issues #40-41. Many writers don’t think of different ways for superheroes to use their powers beyond a limited palette. Morrison doesn’t limit himself – he knows that superheroes would be thinking about their powers and how to stretch what they can do, and he comes up with those uses. It’s refreshing reading this run because of the wild and inventive ways the heroes defeat the bad guys.

Just as important as the superpowered beings are the ones that don’t have them. In the final story arc, of course, this comes to the fore, as Mageddon can only be defeated if everyone in the world becomes a superhero, just as Know Man claimed. Morrison, however, uses “ordinary” humans throughout the run, and not just Batman, to show the human potential. This is an idea he developed a bit more during his run on X-Men (although that was with mutants, of course), but it germinates here. He does it in small moments, such as the people holding up lit lighters and other flaming items when they realize the Martians are scared of fire, but also in bigger ones. He first explains this grand theme in issue #4, when Superman tells the others their purpose, and the first time Morrison examines “ordinary” people becoming more heroic, he ironically doesn’t use a human, but a robot, in issue #5. Tomorrow Woman, the first new recruit of the League, turns out to be a creation of T. O. Morrow and Professor Ivo, and she’s supposed to destroy the League. As she spends time with the League, however, she develops a conscience and breaks her programming, something Morrow planned all along as a way of proving that he’s a better genius than Ivo. It’s a clever story, and it works in Morrison’s themes of people rising to the occasion. That Tomorrow Woman isn’t an actual person doesn’t change the central idea. The next time we see a non-superpowered person fighting seemingly impossible odds is in issues #8-9, when Connor Hawke, the new Green Arrow, has to save the day. He’s stuck with Oliver Queen’s weird arrows, but he does what he can, stopping the Key from taking over reality. In “Rock of Ages,” an older Connor is crucial in defeating Darkseid. Even someone like Prometheus, a villain, creates his persona from scratch, using good old human know-how, and he’s defeated, in part, by Catwoman. A key part of the League’s defeat of Starro in issues #22-23 is a boy’s belief in heroes (specifically Superman), and belief in heroes is part of this idea of humanity striving for more. The Huntress comes up with the way to defeat Vandal Savage and Solaris in DC One Million (and receives no credit for it, mind you). Ted Grant teaches Huntress a bit about heroism during “Crisis Times Five” (issues #28-31), while J. J. Thunder, the boy who gains control of Johnny Thunder’s thunderbolt, also has to learn about heroism in the same arc. In JLA: Earth 2, Alexander Luthor and Thomas Wayne fight alone against the Crime Syndicate, and they have no powers (and even though Thomas Wayne turns out to be not quite so heroic, that doesn’t change the fact of what he fights for). All of these examples are simply a prelude to “World War III,” but it’s interesting that Morrison was doing this throughout the series. Waid’s example wasn’t simply forgotten and then brought up again three years later. Whether it’s Oracle or even Blue Beetle, Morrison never forgets that seemingly normal people can do heroic things. In a book as wild as JLA, it’s an interesting contrast to the big superhero moments.

The second pervasive idea in this run is the “different worlds” one that begins with Waid’s mini-series. Morrison has always been fascinated by other worlds in his fiction, and it seems as if he’s extremely disappointed he wasn’t writing before Crisis on Infinite Earths, when the multiverse was a normal fact of life in the DC Universe. What he can do with these ideas of different worlds is show our heroes in completely different lights, which helps again to highlight their heroism. When you consider how powerful the heroes are on this “plane,” it’s not surprising that Morrison has to look elsewhere to come up with threats for them. Batman and Aquaman might complain about it, but coming at the heroes through their minds is a good trick, and making them confront threats from different realities makes them better heroes, because it’s nothing like they’ve seen before. Waid, as noted, begins this trend, as the seven “big guns” are some of the few who aren’t superpowered – Know Man says he gave them a “reprieve” from their powers and they rejected it. Waid, interestingly enough, goes metafictional on us, as Kyle is drawing a comic book starring Doctor Destiny, which is how the League finds him in issue #3. But let’s consider the “other worlds” that Morrison delves into throughout the run, because it’s remarkable. In issues #6-7, we get different planes of reality – Hell and Heaven, which brings the League in contact with rogue angels and nasty demons (even though they don’t know they’re fighting demons). This leads directly into the Key arc in issues #8-9, which begins with Kal-El of Krypton becoming a Green Lantern. Each Leaguer is trapped in an alternate reality which reflects their powers and pasts and desires – Aquaman is a protector of a world inundated by water; Batman is grown and mentoring Tim Drake (who is now Batman) and his son (who is now Robin); Wonder Woman fights Nazis in a classic adventure story; Wally lives in a world where, at noon every day, everyone has super-speed; Kyle is a crazed video-game anti-hero. In Secret Files and Origins, Morrison tells a story that occurred after Midsummer’s Nightmare but before issue #1 of the regular series. They plan to battle Starro, and the Spectre shows them what will happen if they do – they will be taken over and used to dominate the cosmos. (As an aside, it’s interesting that none of them know who Starro is. I suppose this is after one of DC’s seemingly endless reboots, so perhaps the Powers That Be at the time were claiming that J’onn, for instance, hadn’t battled Starro in JLE a few years earlier, but if that’s true, it seems strange that at one point, we see an Extremist in the trophy room. It always struck me as odd that they didn’t know what Starro was.) “Rock of Ages,” of course, shows us a future in which Darkseid has taken over the world, but it also introduces us to Wonderworld, the bastion of heroes waiting to defend reality against Mageddon (a task they fail spectacularly to do), not to mention the various realities Kyle, Wally, and Arthur go through to reach Wonderworld itself. Prometheus’ headquarters is in the “ghost zone,” which Zauriel refers to as Limbo. When Waid steps in for issues #18-21, he gives us our world, but changed beyond recognition thanks to Julian September changing the laws of probability. Issues #22-23 not only give us Starro, but Daniel from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, taking the League into dreams to strike at the alien. DC One Million features characters from the 853rd century. “Crisis Times Five” brings us characters from the fifth dimension, and also, with its depiction of Kyle and Captain Marvel in that dimension, hearkens back to Morrison’s classic “Coyote Gospel” from Animal Man #5. Mageddon, while not from a different reality, is a product of a war between gods. And, of course, JLA: Earth 2 gives us an antimatter counterpart to our universe.

So what, you may say? What’s my point? Well, I would argue that Morrison has to do these things to make this a great comic. After comics’ age of innocence ended (in the mid-1980s), no longer could a writer simply throw world-conquering bad guys at the heroes over and over and expect people to enjoy it. It makes no sense to have all these powerful characters and just keep upping the ante – it gets boring. A writer has to change it up, and Morrison uses these two major themes to do so. By bringing in regular humans, he shows how innovative and adaptable humans are. By using different realities, he confronts the Leaguers with threats that they can’t necessarily punch out, and therefore their powers are, if not useless, then needed to be used in different ways. The fact that Morrison gives us alternate realities means that the League often needs to think their way out of bad situations, and it’s a refreshing change of pace. Morrison continues to build bigger and bigger threats to chuck at the League, but it doesn’t feel stale because of the different ways he has presented these heroes. Despite the complaints that Morrison skimped on the characterization, we do get a lot of insight into these characters – Morrison just does it on the fly, which in many ways humanizes the characters even more – their personalities are revealed through their actions and the random things they say to each other during their big fights. That’s as effective as a quiet issue focusing solely on characterization. Not all of it works perfectly (the Huntress in the ghost zone with Prometheus still, a decade later, feels completely off), but because Morrison has focused a lot on the “non-powered” humans or the humanity of the superpowered ones, plus the various alternate realities where we see the Leaguers in different lights, his characterization is very effective.

If we ignore the subtext of the comic, however, and focus on the surface (as Chris Eigeman memorably says in Barcelona, “What do you call the message or meaning that’s right there on the surface, completely open and obvious? They never talk about that. What do you call what’s above the subtext?”), it remains a wonderful comic book, full of astonishing scenes and brilliant fights. A good deal of this is due to Howard Porter, who simply does not get enough credit for making this book amazing. There are times when Porter’s perspectives are a bit skewed, which upsets the balance of his pages, but for the most part, this book looks tremendous. The 1990s were an interesting time in art development – on the one hand, artists had moved beyond the lack of detail that had plagued many superhero comics in the past (I’m generalizing a great deal, of course, as you can find stuff from earlier decades that is very detailed), but on the other hand, computer “shortcuts” hadn’t taken over in such a huge way as they became. Just compare Greg Land’s art on JLA #15 with his work today. So while the 1990s are vilified for the “Image” style that took over in many comics, we also got artists like Porter filling the books with tons of detail but still actually drawing it, so everything looked like it belonged rather than being Photoshopped in. And Porter had a lot to draw. Morrison’s scripts were hyperkinetic, and Porter’s art kept up with them very well. His layouts are extremely busy, and while that is occasionally a recipe for disaster and incoherence, Porter manages to make it breathtaking, flitting from scene to scene as quickly as Morrison wants him to. His design work is simply amazing, from the hideous Martians to the thundering Asmodel to the heroes of Wonderworld to the wall-like Darkseid to the Ultramarines to the terrible power of Mageddon. If Morrison’s scripts give us heroes set against amazing villains, Porter makes sure that those scripts are translated with sufficient grandeur. His fight scenes feel brutal, because he makes sure that things get smashed, while he does well with the creepiness too – witness Mageddon’s giant eyeball encircling Hector Hammond and later Lex Luthor. The other artists do a fine job, and of course Quitely’s work on JLA: Earth 2 is amazing, but Porter helps make this a great superhero book. I don’t think he’s been this good since.

I can write about the themes and art all I want, but this is a comic that demands to be seen. So let’s check out some pages from a few story arcs. Wallow in the excellence! (And check out Brian’s post about Earth 2 for some keen-o scans of that.)

Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare #3 (Darick Robertson art).

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Issue #2.

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Issue #6.

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Issue #9 (Oscar Jimenez art).

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Issue #14.

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Issue #16.

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Issue #23.

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Issue #1,000,000.

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Issue #25.

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Issue #31.

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Issue #36.

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One final note: There are some interesting letter-writers in these comics. Yours truly didn’t get one published until issue #44, but here are some of the names I recognized in the letters column: J. Caleb Mozzocco (issue #5), Kevin Huxford (issues #6 and 13), B. Clay Moore (issue #10), and Will Brooker, who writes stuff (issue #20). And those were just the names I happened to know!

This iteration of the JLA has, of course, been collected in trade paperback. DC has started releasing them in big hardcover versions, too, which is nice. Seek them out, good readers! If you haven’t read them already, you’re in for a treat! And I’m working on getting the archives completely back on-line, too! I promise!

96 Comments

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 31, 2010 at 10:39 am

Prometheus highlights theme you’re describing, but not because he builkds himself from scratch: the fact that he doesn’t is what lets Batman beat him in the final arc, after all. Remember, Prometheus’s skills are almost all “stolen,” as Bats puts it; he got the technology to do so from the bizarre alien-monk thinks in Shamballa as seen in the New Year’s Evil one-shot Morrison wrote. It’s that reliance on the thing that isn’t his own, that isn’t “merely” human in origin, that becomes his Achilles heel in “WWIII.”

It’s a testament to the “man and superman” theme that another “mere human” character, Lex Luthor, is repeatedly and consistently shown to hang with the supers just as well as Batman, and that Luthor and the Joker — the two most human of the Injustice Gang — are the two who get the most sympathetic and sympathizing moments. (I’m think of Luthor’s distress at the deaths of children in issue #11 and the Joker’s moment of sanity and infinite regret in #15.)

As to the Starro thing…considering that images from precious Starro stories were seen on the JLA’s computer files in JLA #22-23, and that Batman refers to plural “previous encounters” with “probes” of this iteration, I’d say no reboot was performed. (There’s also a classic-model Starro in trophy form seen in the background a few times.) For what it’s worth, contemporary DC materials like the Secret Files treat the Star Conqueror as a different member of Starro’s race.

My favorite superhero comic ever (and, to be totally truthful, really my favorite comic ever, period). Porter really doesn’t get enough credit for what he brang to the table. Kind of awkward and stiff in places, but it’s not like Kirby’s drawings were ever right out of the Old Masters or anything, either. It’s the power that’s important, and Porter delivers.

(One thing that bugs me, though, is the colorist sometimes rendered Kirby Dots as 3D spheres. There’s not bubbles, they’re there to define negative space!)

Morrison also doesn’t get enough credit for the character bits in his run. It’s there, but it’s just packed in real tight. Morrison doesn’t separate “action sequence” and “character sequence” – he *combines* them because Morrison’s JLA is way too *busy* to sit down and do soap-opera.

Aw yeah, one of my favorite comic book runs. I love that you picked up all the characterization through the book too. Because most of the Big 7 have their own books, they couldn’t have any life-changing events happen to them, but their personalities, their true character, and the way they feel about each other is definitely there(its just like everything else in this book, hyper-fast and super compressed).

Honestly, THIS is the start of the widescreen action comics that have such a big effect on today. Yeah, the Authority might have improved on it and the Ultimates gave it an entirely new spin, but I think Morrison’s JLA stands out most fondly. Its fast-paced, full of great quotes, crazy ideas, pretty artwork, and Batman being a special ops ninja badass. Its the ultimate superhero team book(even if I like Morrison’s New X-men more).

Also, don’t forget JLA Classified #1-3! Ya know, the one where Batman teams up with the Squire to unleash a robot army of JLA against the Hunter from the Vampire Sun and Gorilla Grodd and his army of jetpack apes.

Oh God – such good comics.
Morrison’s JLA run, combined with Waid’s work a few months earlier on Kingdom Come and MidSummers’ Nightmare, is literally what reignited my passion for comicbooks in my early 20s and what solidified my love of the DCUniverse.
I have such fond memories of this run.
Your point about Morrison having his heroes use their brains to solve problems in my opinion was what made his League so great. But it should be noted that approach has its roots in the Silver Age JLA stories by Gardner Fox and other early DC writers. For years DC did not permit actual physical violence in its comics. Heroes didn’t throw punches. They used their heads coupled with their powers to find ways of thwarting the bad guys.
Morrison revived that approach in the 1990s after we had all had just about enough of the big brawls, blood and guts that comics had become, and it was so damn refreshing.

Matter-Pooper Lad

January 31, 2010 at 11:20 am

You inspire me to want to re-read that series. But except for a few issues, my memories aren’t as fond as yours. What I remember is a freaky-looking long-haired Superman, a dark (ho-hum) amputee Aquaman, and the temporary substitute Green Lantern that was shoved down our throats. And that style of art has always turned me off. Never cared for the “look” of the JLA during that era.

But you wrote an inspiring piece — thank you.

Grant Morrison’s run on JLA was the first comic book I ever read, and now I own tons of comics… I guess I owe it all too Grant for getting me into the medium.

Omar: You’re right, of course. My point is that Prometheus didn’t get his powers from getting splashed by chemicals or being born under a different-colored sun or having a magic wishing ring. He went out and built himself from the ground up, and yes, he did it nefariously, but he did it. But you make a good point about his Achilles’ heel being his reliance on technology.

Jeremy: JLA Classified #1-3 belongs with Seven Soldiers of Victory, as it’s a “prequel” to that. But yes, it’s excellent.

Dude. paragraphs!

Whew. Seeing all those scanned pages reminds me of just how great that run was. It also makes my head spin when people criticize Porter’s art on this series (save perhaps the early issues, where the heroes look just a wee bit Image-y). Just look at how he draws the action, the warped perceptions of the 5th Dimension, the opening shot of issue #36 with the fallen heroes of Wonderworld, and so forth…. brilliant stuff. It’s strange; I checked out an issue or two of Porter’s work on The Flash and despite the fact that he was drawing the Fastest Man Alive, Porter didn’t quite reach the kinetic energy of his JLA run, nor The Flash work of his predecessor, Scott Kolins.

“Many writers don’t think of different ways for superheroes to use their powers beyond a limited palette. Morrison doesn’t limit himself – he knows that superheroes would be thinking about their powers and how to stretch what they can do, and he comes up with those uses. It’s refreshing reading this run because of the wild and inventive ways the heroes defeat the bad guys.”

Exactly! That was one of my favorite things about Morrison’s run.

I think Tim Callahan wouldn’t agree with you regarding Porter’s art,Greg! :-)

What to say about this run? It’s just as great as everybody says it is. Believe the hype!

The scene where Batman kicks the crap out of the White Martians is one of my favourite moments in comics (along with the Executioner’s Last Stand in Walt Simonson’s Thor run).

And also, seeing all the people on the planet flying to save Superman…it just brings a manly tear to my eye just remembering it.

Oh, and happy birthday to the God of All Comics, of course! :-)

The one thing you didn’t include Greg was the Red Dart analyzing why criminals hate the JLA as the prison riot was taking place before the Anti-Sun arc (WWIII); giving us a look at a c-list villain’s POV towards the A-List heroes…

With all this being said what made the Morrison run here memorable to me (even more so than his run on my X-Men) is that he played up the heroes’ archtypes then their humanity underneath instead of the stereotypes. Scenes like Superman taunting the White Martians about their overlooking of Batman or Lex Luthor’s reasoning for his Injustice League’s existence made this run fascinating to read…He actually made Starro relevant and scary for goshsakes. Even though I am not a great fan of Morrison on the whole I can respect that….

As far as those who hated on Porter’s art, I guess there are critics in every bunch….

PS: It still pisses me off as a Marvel Zombie, that Marvel was so painfully shortsighted with Mark Waid during his X-Men run that he took the idea over to JLA and did Tower of Babel. Just goes to show that good ideas can translate to any book with a little tweaking….

Are you trying to drown me in Howard Porter’s greatness? It didn’t work, sir!

Any criticism of Morrison “skimping” on the characterization is entirely unfounded, as it was intentional. He has said multiple times that the reason there’s no character development in JLA was because they all had their own series in which to develop as characters. JLA was the book where they showed up to kick ass and visit the Pudding People of Electro-Dimension 7

Ha! I just read the first two arcs about an hour ago. Great stuff so far.

(So no, I didn’t read a word of this nor look closely at any of the pictures. Sorry Greg!)

Daryll: That’s a good point about the Red Dart. That’s a nifty issues in more than a few ways.

Tim: That’s because you’re DEAD INSIDE!!!!!!

One of the greatest runs ever, but right in the middle of it comes JLA #27 by Mark Millar, easily the stoopidest JLA story since the Silver Age. Amazo wipes the floor with the JLA, until he is defeated by the power of… pedantry!

i can never divorce the way waid follows up this run with his towel of babel story. i like to think of midsummer night’s dream and tower of babel as the bookends to morrison’s epic take on the JLA.

I have been reading morrison since doom patrol, and while i have loved other of his runs more, this is perhaps his greatest work with superheros as he weaves story and themes together is a most glorious way.

Yep, good stuff. I just wish I could find someone in Australia who was interested in them, because I have a complete collection of them and a bunch of other comics that it looks like I’ll have to trash, because I’m moving house in a few months and can’t spare the space to carry them all. EBay is a pain, but how else do you rehome comics if you don’t care about the money as much as about finding an appreciative new owner? Would I seem like a spammer if I mentioned http://toomanybloodycomics.jottit.com? I hope not…

Thanks for including so many images from the series. Brings back great memories of probably my favorite run of superhero books (from DC anyway).

I always appreciated the emphasis on action over characterization. As mentioned, they all had their own books for that, plus I remember at the time it seemed like every team book was wallowing in their own obsession with characterization, which often translated into “the team plays softball together” or other down-to-earth stuff that just seemed to get out of hand.

Plus, it’s not like Grant ignored characterization. Everyone was in character, it was just distilled down to very brief exchanges amidst all the fireworks. Great economy with words there.

Thank you for this overview.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 31, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Morrison’s 50? Jesus, and to think my first foray into the wacky weird world that is Morrison was the DOOM PATROL and ANIMAL MAN, to be followed by SEBASTIAN O and INVISIBLES.

Would love to see another volume of DOOM PATROL and SEBASTIAN O by the god of the universe!

That art is terribly uneven, but there is definitely hints of potential there. Has Porter done much since this run?

My biggest regret about this run is that the “war with the angels” arc took place during Superman’s Electra Glide in Blue period. You just know Morrison had had the images in mind for years of Superman dragging the moon on a chain and wrestling an angel. Morrison handled all of the weird continuity garble that the DC Universe threw at him in stride during his run, but it is the little things like this that keep this run just shy of perfect.

Porter’s layouts could be a little confusing at times, storytelling-wise, and I hated the pointy shoulders on Batman, but he sure could knock you on your ass with a panel or two each issue.

“The 1990s were an interesting time in art development – on the one hand, artists had moved beyond the lack of detail that had plagued many superhero comics in the past (I’m generalizing a great deal, of course, as you can find stuff from earlier decades that is very detailed)”

This is a load of crap though, even with your caveat.

Prelude, dammit. Not prequel, prelude.

Michael: Dang, you’re right. Sorry!

I’m not a big Morrison fan, but I am a pretty big fan of this run. I thought his interactions between the characters were great, the threats were sufficiently big to warrant the JLA stepping in, but they still managed to be taken care of in a way that allowed different heroes to be in the spotlight and not just Supes taking care of everything. I loved his use of Plastic Man. And even though I read it years after it came out and am not that up on DC continuity, I thought he did a great job of weaving current continuity into the book, i.e. Blue Superman and the mystery Flash and whatnot. Surprisingly, my least favorite story of the run is Rock of Ages, which seems to be the one everyone else likes the most. But as a whole I thought this run ranged from above average to excellent.

I also loved Mark Waid’s follow up run. Tower of Babel is probably my favorite JLA story, and from what I understand it was Morrison’s basic idea scripted by Waid, which is a good combination in my opinion. I usually like Morrison’s ideas, I’m just not always a big fan of his execution. If he plotted and someone like Waid scripted, I’d buy pretty much whatever it was they were putting out.

How can you mention Morrison’s JLA, include secondary titles and not mention “Paradise Lost” or the WILDCATS crossover?

Love Grant Morrison’s writing on this but I did not care much for the style of the art.

I really wanted to like this series but I couldn’t get into it. The art is the main reason; it’s so garish and cluttered that any sense of storytelling or flow goes out the window. I just found it unpleasant to read. I think better colouring might have helped guide my eye through all the mayhem.

The art has always – even back then when I was a wee lad – put me off of picking up this run…seems like it’d be too much of a distraction to actually enjoy.

The most astounding feat for Morrison’s JLA may be that, despite being the first ” big guns ” Justice League in years, Morrison didn’t actually get to use most of the iconic characters and/or configurations. Electric Superman, AquaHook, Crab-Face Kyle Rayner, Connor Hawke, Hippolyta-as-Wonder-Woman for a time, and to a very debatable extent Wally West; reading through these old comics is like watching one of the best John Hughes movies, in that the story holds up quite well but everyone’s got laughably outdated fashion.

Unfortunately in the case of AquaHook, it’s more than skin-deep. I remember him taking out one of the White Martians by inducing a seizure on the vestigial aquatic parts of his brain. If Aquaman’s much-mocked power could do this, why wouldn’t he just do that all the time and skip the pretense that conversing with dolphins was that useful?

YES! YES! YES!

this is a must have for any fan of comics in any way shape or form. This is the series that got me into DC and that made Green Lantern Kyle Rayner one of my favorite characters of all time.

These are truly some of the best ‘comic-book’ comics to have ever existed.

Always glad to read stuff on this run. The first DC comic I properly read. The reason I love the DC Universe. The reason I love superhero comics, even. I feel as if I could have drifted away from comics completely had this run not deepened and reaffirmed my love of the genre. It was also Morrison’s run on X-Men that later brought me back from my loss of interest in comics in my late teens. I had started buying JLA monthly when it came out, but dropped it just after Rock of Ages due to lack of money. I vividly remember reading Strength In Numbers for the first time a couple of years later and just thinking that this was about the most enjoyable thing I had ever done. My critical faculties fail me utterly with this run, hence why I’m just writing a bunch of sentences. Fantastic comic.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 31, 2010 at 7:21 pm

What I remember is a freaky-looking long-haired Superman, a dark (ho-hum) amputee Aquaman, and the temporary substitute Green Lantern that was shoved down our throats.

I think he worked well with the characters of the time, and made all the changes work.

Hearing someone upset about Kyle Rayner – still – is pretty hilarious.
Many at the time credited Morrison with doing great work on the character, building him up from new comer to experienced hero.

Dave: I haven’t read the WildC.A.T.s crossover, and Paradise Lost is just okay. It’s certainly not terrible, but it’s not as good as the main title.

I only had time to be pedantic earlier, so now let me say that this is one of my favorite superhero runs ever, and pretty much the book that got me to give a damn about DC. And since I had no real preconceptions about any of the characters going in, this pretty much is the default JLA for me (except for Electric Superman. I mean, come on). I’m in the process of collecting the 13 regular members as JLU action figures. Of course, they haven’t actually done Zauriel yet, but I can dream.

The WildCATS crossover is about as good as you’d expect a JLA/WildCATS crossover to be. Which is to say, pretty middle of the road. It’s got some neat ideas, and Morrison’s Grifter is laugh-out-loud funny, but it never rises above the sum of its parts.

They collected it in the same trade as JLA Classified 1-3, for no discernible reason.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 31, 2010 at 7:55 pm

They collected it in the same trade as JLA Classified 1-3, for no discernible reason.

It’s also in the the JLA Deluxe Edition Vol. 2, but I’ve never made it more than a couple of pages in… it’s pretty bad,

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 31, 2010 at 8:03 pm

The WildCATS crossover is, however, basically JLA #4.5, since it’s the battle with the Lord of Time that leaves behind the IF weapon in the Tomorrow Woman story.

My memory of JLA is colored by my disappointment that Morrison was doing mainstream superheroes instead of more greatness along the lines of Doom Patrol and Invisibles. It’s getting near the top of my reread list, and I expect to get a lot more out of it this time… This review moves it up a few more notches…

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but JLA is one of the major holes in my Morrison collection. I’ve only read the first arc and Earth 2. How shameful.

I should pick up the Deluxe editions…

Bill, I don’t know how much you’re missing. I read through to the end of “Rock of Ages,” maybe a bit beyond, and ended up trading away everything but Earth-2, because it left me cold. Obviously there’s a ton of posters above that would disagree with me, but I don’t know if things get much more exciting than the first arc. Porter’s art, btw, is all kinds of lame. Neither the first, nor the last, time that Morrison’s work would get saddled with a less-than-stellar artist.

That art is terribly uneven, but there is definitely hints of potential there. Has Porter done much since this run?

(lifted from wiki:)

Comics work includes:

* The Ray #0-11, 13, 14 (with Christopher Priest, DC Comics, 1994-1995)
* Underworld Unleashed #1-3 (with Mark Waid, DC Comics, 1995)
* Extreme Justice #7, 9 (1995)
* JLA #1-7, 10-16, 18, 19, 22-25, 28-31, 34, 36-41, 43-45 (with Grant Morrison and Mark Waid, DC Comics, 1996-2000)
* Fantastic Four #503-508 (with Mark Waid, Marvel Comics, 2003-2004)
* Aquaman #12, 14 (DC Comics, 2004)
* The Flash #207-211, 213-217, 220-225 (with Geoff Johns, DC Comics, December 2003-August 2005)
* Trials of Shazam #1-9 (with Judd Winick, 12-issue limited series, DC Comics, 2006-2007)
* JLA Classified #37, 39 (DC Comics, 2007)
* Countdown to Final Crisis #32(20) #34(18) (DC Comics, 2007)
* DC Universe: Decisions #2, 4 (with Judd Winick and Bill Willingham, DC Comics, 2008)
* Titans #7-11 (pencils, with Judd Winick, DC Comics, January-May 2009)
* Doc Savage #1- (with Paul Malmont, ongoing series, DC Comics, April 2010, forthcoming)

I did like this series a lot. Green Arrow and the Atom vs Darkseid is still one of my all time favorite comic book moments.

BTW: here’s what happened to Howard Porter: http://www.newsarama.com/comics/100802-HowardPorter.html

Of course Morrisson’s imaginative use of powers has a downside. Under other writers, these guys go back to the standard bag of tricks and now it stands out like a sore thumb. When Superman fights some other strong guy, why doesn’t he do it at super speed to land 100 punches for every one of his opponent?

My favorite run of a superhero book. When Morrison wrapped up with JLA followed by Robinson’s Starman ending some time later, I was pretty much done with superheroes. Nothing since has ever come close to those two books. Makes me nostalgic for the 90’s.

” Many at the time credited Morrison with doing great work on the character, building him up from new comer to experienced hero. ”

And in a much shorter period of time than in Kyle’s own book, where getting past being a whiny n00b was a glacial process. Granted, Morrison couldn’t/didn’t address the basic conceptual problems of the character, but he did manage to make Kyle workable in a setting with much more experienced and respected heroes.

Another highly acclaimed series that I’ve read large chunks of… and didn’t particularly enjoy.

To be fair it displayed Grant Morrison’s characteristic strengths: fantastic imagination, good plotting, immense faith in his artist to put over complex ideas.

But… I just don’t get much out of series nowadays that don’t focus heavily on character. (And by that I mean personality and the way people relate with friends and foes, rather than getting the minute details of the back story right.)

That Grant didn’t concentrate on that didn’t surprise me. It’s not that he can’t do it… it just seems to bore him. (e.g. In Doom Patrol and Animal he does it darn well for a few issues. Then there comes a point in the series where he seems to say “Stuff that… lets get on with the action”. From that point in the series the characters just become inter-change-able capes in service to the plot.)

That’s my bias. Yes, I know I’m in the minority. But its the main reason why I’ve stopped reading any Grant Morrison comics.

As someone who had grown up with the Giffen/DeMatteis/Jones run of the JLI and had then been terribly frustrated by the death-throes of the post Zero Hour books, I was anticipatory of the Morrison book but measured in my expectations. Ultimately, I am not a fan of the idea that the JLA always has to include the same seven characters (or their replacements) as the original team, and I frankly did not understand either the in- or out-of-universe reasons for going back to a JLofA, which always struck me as not only jingoistic, but also oxymoronic, since three (or four, if you count Superman) out of seven members were not, in fact, native to America (hell, two of them officially represented other nations). I don’t know if those biases are what made me lukewarm to the GM run, but lukewarm I was. They were the kind of stories that I enjoyed, but which didn’t make a whole lot of impact on me. Here we are, a decade-plus later, and I can’t remember the details of a single one of the storylines you mentioned, and yet I know for a fact I read them all. By comparison, I could tell you exactly what happened on KooeyKooeyKooey, and it’s been just as long since I read that story, too. I guess I was just “meh.”

I’m neither hater nor a lover of Grant Morrison- I think he’s done some brilliant work, namely with Animal Man and the Doom Patrol, and I liked his All-Star Superman far more than I expected. But most of his in-universe superhero stuff just leaves me bored, or appreciative of his ideas while frustrated by their execution. Maybe I’ll go back and re-read thse stories eventually to see if I change my mind about them.

How can you mention must own JLA comics and leave out Waid’s Tower Of Babel?, which was the highlight of the last volume of JLA and for all the praise that Morrison gets on JLA which is somewhat earned I thought Waid stories were the better one’s.

Sadly we are now reduced to guys like Meltzer and Robinson writting the most boring and useless JLA comics since the Detroit League, these are the types of stories that people want to read from DC’s flagship book and why Didio hasn’t figured that out is beyond me.

How can you mention must own JLA comics and leave out Waid’s Tower Of Babel?, which was the highlight of the last volume of JLA and for all the praise that Morrison gets on JLA which is somewhat earned I thought Waid stories were the better one’s.

No way, Waid’s stuff was fanwankery, Morrison’s was widescreen epic. Don’t get me wrong, it was very well-written fanwankery, but fanwankery nonetheless. His run was the start of the downward slide of that volume of the series.

And in a much shorter period of time than in Kyle’s own book, where getting past being a whiny n00b was a glacial process. Granted, Morrison couldn’t/didn’t address the basic conceptual problems of the character, but he did manage to make Kyle workable in a setting with much more experienced and respected heroes.

Agreed. Every time I read Rayner in JLA, I’d get inspired to try the Marz solo book and would find a character that was amateurish and incompetent way longer than he should have been. Ironically I read an interview where Marz complained about Morrison’s Kyle characterization. A real shame too, because Marz should have been taking notes instead.

” Agreed. Every time I read Rayner in JLA, I’d get inspired to try the Marz solo book and would find a character that was amateurish and incompetent way longer than he should have been. Ironically I read an interview where Marz complained about Morrison’s Kyle characterization. A real shame too, because Marz should have been taking notes instead. ”

….seriously? ( And no, this isn’t an issue of Grant Morrison being better than Ron Marz or not, but of me being flummoxed as to why Marz would want to keep Kyle an amateur as long as he could– if he doesn’t become a successful hero or wash out/die, it becomes obnoxious and drawn-out, and it often felt that way ).

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Here we are, a decade-plus later, and I can’t remember the details of a single one of the storylines you mentioned, and yet I know for a fact I read them all. By comparison, I could tell you exactly what happened on KooeyKooeyKooey, and it’s been just as long since I read that story, too. I guess I was just “meh.”

Age of reading stories matters as well.

I can tell you, off the top of my head, what happened, and what all the cool moments were, in the opening story of Morrison’s JLA (as I had the trade in my early teens) – on the other hand, I can’t tell you a damn thing about Meltzer’s JLoA arc, and I only read it a few months ago!

We’re really close in interpretations here – I basically read the subtextual narrative (if that makes any sense) as being about humanity – From needing Superman to look out for them (as he says at the end of issue # 4) to being able to stand on our own, or free the superhero within.

And I’m totally with you on Howard Porter – He always had a strong sense of overall page design, and he could make the big widescreen moments look BIG. I’m not sayin’ he’s the second coming of Kirby or nothin’, but he was absolutely the right artist for this book.

Morrison on JLA-YES!

Morrison on Batman- HELL NO! A million times NO!

….seriously? ( And no, this isn’t an issue of Grant Morrison being better than Ron Marz or not, but of me being flummoxed as to why Marz would want to keep Kyle an amateur as long as he could– if he doesn’t become a successful hero or wash out/die, it becomes obnoxious and drawn-out, and it often felt that way ).

Well it worked for Marv Wolfman and Dick Grayson. Wolfman had Dick Grayson utterly incompetent for decades and people claim it to be the best characterization of the character ever. In Wolfman’s defense though, he at least tried to give the illusion of competence. As in, sure Grayson lost every fight he was in for decades except the ones he had with henchmen and utter jobbers, but he made sure to always write other characters praising Dick for being “his own man,” “coming out of Batman’s shadow” and being a great leader. So even though his actual defining actions were losing against anyone half decent, Wolfman did at least talk him up. With Rayner, it seemed Marz didn’t even want to bother with an illusion of competency. That I find really odd.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm

And I’m totally with you on Howard Porter – He always had a strong sense of overall page design, and he could make the big widescreen moments look BIG. I’m not sayin’ he’s the second coming of Kirby or nothin’, but he was absolutely the right artist for this book.

In the early stuff, sure, but in Rock Of Ages, he’s well sloppy – I think they needed to have gone with an arc on arc off rotation with another artist or something.

Morrison on Batman- HELL NO! A million times NO!

Why?
Batman And Robin is one of the best superhero books at the moment.

“No way, Waid’s stuff was fanwankery, Morrison’s was widescreen epic. Don’t get me wrong, it was very well-written fanwankery, but fanwankery nonetheless. His run was the start of the downward slide of that volume of the series.”

It doesn’t get more fanwankery than Rock of Ages and World War 3 and those are still the best things Morrison has written in years, Waid simply told better stories than your hero drop the elitist bs because it’s tired.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm

It doesn’t get more fanwankery than Rock of Ages and World War 3 and those are still the best things Morrison has written in years, Waid simply told better stories than your hero drop the elitist bs because it’s tired.

Not even Mark Waid agrees with you there…

If Mark Waid did– he’d be kind of a dick, wouldn’t he? “Yeah, fuck you people, I wrote a better JLA than Grant Morrison…”

An amazing run on a comic. However, as much as I liked the first year on this title, I thought it really lost focus after that. The epitome of what became wrong with this title was the Rock of Ages story which had two major story lines playing out at the same time which, while not bad individually (Darkseid Is was great, Injustice League mediocre) it left the book feeling uneven and jerky. Morrison did this 2 more times during Crisis Times Five and Maggedon, the latter of which I felt was a big ol’ mess. But pretty much the rest in between that he did was really quite good.

I don’t have as much reverence for the Waid stories as you apparently do.

However, overall I really enjoyed the run and even got to like Porter’s art when he wasn’t rushed/rushing. This was the first comic I had seen that used separations so I thought that was really neat.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm

If Mark Waid did– he’d be kind of a dick, wouldn’t he? “Yeah, fuck you people, I wrote a better JLA than Grant Morrison…”

Yeah, but he doesn’t particularly like his run on the book, and thinks Morrison did it much better.

Heck, it didn’t work, because he was trying to write it in the Morrison vein – plot driven – with the artists from The Authority.
It was an awkward mix of styles at the best of times.

Just thought it was worth pointing out to someone, who just wants to dismiss criticism as ‘elitist bs’ , that he should find a better way, because even the author of the run he is saying is better than G-Mozz’s, doesn’t think it’s a good run.

I was just kidding around, I really had no idea what Waid made of his run on JLA.

As far as this era of the book goes, I really enjoyed some of the arcs but on the whole thought it suffered a bit from editorial wackiness generated in other titles. I also found the way Plastic Man was used didn’t quite work for me, as much as I love Plas most of the time.

In a broad sense I don’t think what individual creators think of their work really should matter to readers. It is funny these days that Moore detests The Killing Joke, but I don’t see how it means that everyone who still likes it wrong in any sort of objective sense. Not everyone buys into authorial intent as absolute, nor should they.

I do think it’s a bit ridiculous how people try to dismiss Morrison’s work as elitist just because it sometimes requires you to rub two brain cells together to get it. Waid’s JLA was perhaps more accessible in that it was written in a more conventional style, but “conventional” doesn’t mean “right.”

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 2, 2010 at 9:12 pm

I was just kidding around, I really had no idea what Waid made of his run on JLA.

Well, I read an interview where he joked about it saying that he did such a good job, Gail Simone now denies inventing a character of hers he used, with permission, as a villain in a story.

I don’t remember ever saying that I did a bad job on JLA. In fact, I think I did a pretty good job, particularly that I had to work with, like, 14 different artists. Not as good a job as Grant did, but that’s a given. And not to sound defensive, but I’m not sure where the notion that Grant had anything to do with Tower of Babel came from; whether it was to anyone’s individual taste or not (or was just “fanwankery,” whatever the hell THAT is) is up to the reader, but people who didn’t like it shouldn’t blame Grant.

Not that it has anything to do with anything, but I had no recollection of letterhacking at all around that time.

But this piece did get me to dig out the original issues in question.

And once again feel inadequate in too many ways…

-BCM

I’ve been reading and collecting for 30 years and this run is absolutley one of my 5 favorite of all time. Great stuff!

JLA #16 got me into comics. It was THE issue I read when I knew I’d be coming back to the store in a month no matter what. Definitive modern JLA for me.

About as good as Morrison’s writing gets. Which means it just barely makes it to about a 7 out of 10.

(… trying to hold back any comment on Waid’s JLA run… must not turn into one of those keyboard cowboys who talks crap in a message board… must resist….)
C’MON!! That run was so shockingly bad that I went from owning every Morrison JLA issue to dropping the book three issues later. “Batman had files on how to take us all down and someone else used them to hurt us. Batman’s a jerk.” Huh? Logic Train. A) Batman wasn’t the one who attacked the League and B) Everyone in the DC Universe knows Batman has forty ways to take down anyone. He’s an insane paranoid guy who saves the world on a consistent basis, so they kinda put up with it.
God, by the time that return of the white martians story showed up, I only had one friend still buying because he suffered from complete-ist syndrome, and four or five of us would just pass the books back and forth laughing our asses off at how terrible it was.
The Martians change the way air worked at a molecular level so that oxygen could no longer ignite (huh?) and at one point every magician in the world held hands to stop the world from spinning off its access or the tidal effect of the moon coming closer to the Earth or some other really well thought out plot point.
It was such a massive and complete waste of Bryan Hitch.

I think I’ve always been in the VERY small minority that thought Morrison’s JLA was just decent; it wasn’t bad by any stretch but I wasn’t awestruck either(actually liked Waid’s run on the title better). I did enjoy Morrison expanding the ranks with characters like Huntress and Barda, though. The big downfall for me with this run was the artwork–I just didn’t like Porter’s work and when I occasionally go back and re-read the trades it just reinforces my opinion; the work looked rushed in almost every issue and even rather unflattering. Again, that’s just me.

Chrisga: Agreed re: Morrison’s run. FYI, both Big Barda and the Huntress had previously been involved with the League during the International period.

This series was awesome. I hope they’ll give it the omnibus treatment.

i liked both Morrison’s and Waid’s run quite a bit. Not everything worked, but some stuff was comic book genius. i loved Waid’s Adam Strange story [a character who i also liked the idea of but never the actual writing], and there were plenty of other great moments.

However, as great as those runs were [and i still have all the issues!], i like Joe Kelly’s run even better. i think that ‘The Obsidian Age’ was one of my most favorite comic stories EVER! Dense, well written, time tossed; just everything that i really enjoy in my entertainment.

So, thanks Grant, Mark, and Joe for truly awesome comics!
DFTBA

Umm, yeah it was an ok run, not bad. But wow, you Morrison fans sound like a religious cult! A bit scary and a bit pathetic there guys!

I’ve never liked how Morrison hints at huge details that need to happen later in his stories, but then skips over them completely when the time comes to show that part of the story.

My wife has the entire run of JLA, (because she’s a Plastic Man nut) and she prefers Waid.

Thanks for a great article about my favorite superhero run of all time. I remember eagerly awaiting each issue, and I’m grateful DC is currently reprinting them in Deluxe editions.

I also enjoyed the follow up runs by Waid and Kelly, and I’m eager to give the entire run a reread soon.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I don’t remember ever saying that I did a bad job on JLA. In fact, I think I did a pretty good job, particularly that I had to work with, like, 14 different artists. Not as good a job as Grant did, but that’s a given.

Truly sorry about that!

Put that down to my faulty memory.

C’mon, nobody is going to compare Rock of Ages to Final Crisis? OK, I will. Morrison got it right the first time and should have stopped there. Rock ruled; Final drooled. Yeah, yeah, I know – Final Crisis was experimental and metatextual and all that jazz. But not even Morrison could make the Monitors interesting.

“I don’t remember ever saying that I did a bad job on JLA.”

…That’s otay. We’ll be glad to say it for you.

“Put that down to my faulty memory.”

…His, not yours. ISTR him saying the same thing in another interview some time back. Probably over on Newsarama back, when Matty still ran the joint and it was worth reading.

Demo:

C’MON!! That run was so shockingly bad that I went from owning every Morrison JLA issue to dropping the book three issues later. “Batman had files on how to take us all down and someone else used them to hurt us. Batman’s a jerk.” Huh?

Except the comic never said Batman was a jerk. Half of the league were angry at Batman (as they would be in real life) and the other half defended him. I’m not sure what your problem is here.

danjack:

However, as great as those runs were [and i still have all the issues!], i like Joe Kelly’s run even better. i think that ‘The Obsidian Age’ was one of my most favorite comic stories EVER! Dense, well written, time tossed; just everything that i really enjoy in my entertainment.

Gah – no. I enjoyed the Plastic Man/Batman issue, but other than that I couldn’t stand Kelly’s run.

I do vaguely recall an interview where I thought Mark said he’d noted that at some point during Grant’s JLA run, Batman had said something about having devised ways to stop the JLA. I could be wrong, though, and frankly, it’s not like it really matters.

I thought Waid’s run on JLA was great. He wasn’t 100 ideas a minute like Morrison, but he did a very effective job of mixing characterization with large-scale action; in fact, I’d argue that most of the people who tried to replicate the feel of Morrison’s JLA ended up emulating Waid’s approach instead

Someone complained earlier about the White Martians’ plan to alter oxygen so it wouldn’t ignite, but that really isn’t more outlandish than your average sci-fi premise. It also makes quite a bit of sense; if you’re a high-tech alien culture with a weakness to fire, wouldn’t you want to create a scenario where fire can’t exist? Also, the whole plot point about the tides growing larger as the moon drew closer to Earth is rooted in actual science.

Morrison did, indeed, do a bit where he explained how he figured that Batman likely had devised ways to stop all of the JLA.

But it wasn’t in the series proper (it was in a Wizard Special about Morrison’s JLA), so it’s perfectly reasonable for Waid not to have seen it.

Gefore I commence insulting Greg for his hard work in writing this column, I’d like to say thank you.

After readingan earlier column (probably in it’s previous location) extolling the virtues of The Defenders “Who remembers Scorpio” I was intrigued enough to buy the run, which I enjoyed so much I collected the entire Defenders run.

However… the subsequent years of unabashed, one-eyed Morrison love this column represents (have you considered renaming it “you should own all comics by Grant Morrison”?) got to me so much that I rarely read the column anymore.

This piece certainly makes the JLA run in question sound worth reading, almost to the point I’d consider having a look at it, however it seems so hard to get a neutral review of Morrisons work – they all seem to be either unable to say anything bad about the man, or unable to say anything good.

I’d love an impartial opinion before putting my hard earned cash into buying up the run.

I remember reading the first twenty issues or so a while back. However, I don’t remember it being awesome. I purchased the second volume of the deluxe ediction just recently and I have to admit I enjoyed it more the second time around. I still haven’t read the JLA/Wildcats crossover yet.

I’m afraid…

For all of those who are wondering, the deluxe edition is beautiful.

chookpimp: I’m glad that you enjoyed the Defenders – that’s always cool.

I certainly don’t deny that Morrison is my favorite comic book writer – everyone has to have a favorite! I try to be objective about him, though. He wrote my favorite comic ever – Doom Patrol – and two other tremendous long comics – this one and Animal Man – as well as Flex Mentallo, one of the best mini-series ever. I did, however, skip over The Filth and Fantastic Four 1234, which aren’t very good. I’ll probably skip Invisibles, too (I own that in trade, and right now I’m just digging through my back issues), because even though I’ve only read it once, it didn’t impress me. And when I get around to re-reading them, I doubt if Batman or Final Crisis will show up. Not everything the guy writes is superb, but when he’s on, I think he’s the best. Your opinion may vary.

I hope you continue reading, though – it’s been a while since I’ve had a Morrison book here, and it will probably be a while until I get to another one!

However… the subsequent years of unabashed, one-eyed Morrison love this column represents (have you considered renaming it “you should own all comics by Grant Morrison”?) got to me so much that I rarely read the column anymore.

You are totally right, chookpimp! Featuring Morrison four times out of 67 pieces, it’s like Greg can’t help it! It’s insane!

Or, in the alternative, your complaint was ill-thought out and foolish.

8 pieces on Peter David (four different titles).

5 pieces on Peter Milligan.

4 pieces on Matt Wagner (one title, though).

4 pieces on Keith Giffen.

But no, Greg is just doing unabashed, one-eyed love for Morrison.

Did I stumble into Newsarama by accident?

Yeesh.

-BCM

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm

…His, not yours. ISTR him saying the same thing in another interview some time back. Probably over on Newsarama back, when Matty still ran the joint and it was worth reading.

Nah, I’d say I misread, or more likely, misremembered his comments.

I trust Mark Waid more on Mark Waid’s opinion of his run that I trust my memory.

He’s got an inside line to the guy, after all.

I did, however, skip over The Filth and Fantastic Four 1234, which aren’t very good.

I hears ya buddy, The Filth is too good for words.

I thought the idea that Zum would have had marine ancestors never needed an explanation (well, no more than any of the other science-centric things that cropped up in the book). It makes sense that life in general would evolve in similar ways to how it did on Earth (at least on planets somewhat similar to Earth, like Mars). It’s much more likely to begin in an aquatic environment before venturing out on land for a variety of reasons that would be better explained in a Biology textbook than by me in an Internet post.

Fun article, though – I loved this JLA run and anything that brings more attention to it is a good thing!

I’m a bit hot and cold on Morrison.

I love:
Animal Man
The Filth
Doom Patrol
We3
Big Dave
Judge Dredd: Inferno
Zenith
Flex Mentallo

I like:
Arkham Asylum
Gothic
Dare
Most of The Invisibles
7 Soldiers*
The first TPB of his Batman (which is all I’ve read so far)
St Swithin’s Day

I don’t mind:
The Mystery Play*
Seaguy*

I don’t like:
Marvel Boy
The final volume of The Invisibles*
Sebastian O
Fantastic 4: 1234
Really and Truly
Judge Dredd: The Crusade
Vimanarama*
Kid Eternity*

(* = confused me)

I’m sure I’ve missed a load there.

As for JLA, the first 2 or 3 years (the first 4 TPBs) are gold. After that it slips a bit. JLA: Earth 2 is also excellent.

I knew I’d missed something… New X-Men.

Riot at Xavier’s goes under “Love” and the rest goes under “Like”

Greg,

I’ve re-read my comment and it comes across as very harsh – my apologies – I didn’t mean to be. Thank you for the exceeding gracious reply. I would have told me to f_ck off and never read the column again.

I’m afraid what I’ve read of Morrison (New Xmen and the early issues of his current run up to Batman until that awful prose issue) hasn’t left me wanting more, however there is a lot of Morrison love out there, which has me looking potentially give his work another go. I’d hate to miss out on something great because of one or two runs I didn’t particularly enjoy.

The feedback from a couple of other posters seems to be that if I liked New Xmen, I’ll like this. Is that a fair assessment?

Brian – “ill thought out and foolish” complaints are what the internet is all about (along with being a place to allow pedantic people to count up the number of articles written by topic to use as they wade into an argument).

Chookpimp – If you don’t like Morrison’s New X-Men and Batman then JLA probably isn’t the best place to start – with the exception of Earth 2.

Depending on what you’re into I’d suggest Animal Man first.

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