Some of this Morrison reading project has been fairly heavy going.  The Filth, The Invisibles, and Seven Soldiers of Victory are meaty lumps of sequential narrative.  On top of that, the modicum of research some of my posts have necessitated has felt a tiny bit like work here and there*.

So I’ve been saving up Morrison’s JLA for when burnout beckons and I need some simple 4-colour superhero fun. 

That moment has arrived! 

JLA was my introduction to the mainstream DCU.  Even though the stories weren’t designed to be read in conjunction with the rest of DC’s output at the time, reading about these central characters each month gave me a good handle on where the DCU was at back then.  I loved this incarnation of the team.  Morrison’s deft handling of these characters in their team book and his portrayal of them as a group bound together by mutual trust and respect allowed them to have a strong presence when they appeared as a team in other books, or when other writers borrowed the reins. 

Because I have a fondness for this period of DCU history, I’ll probably be taking side-trips to appearances of the JLA in other comics during Morrison’s tenure as chief custodian.  Such was my fanboyish enthusiasm for the JLA that I eventually bought many of those appearances, including events like JLApe and Day of Judgement.  These summer crossovers might have been knocked at the time, but they are veritable models of restraint in light of DC’s publishing practices since DiDio took over.

Here is a chronology of Morrison’s JLA and the storylines that intersected with it.  I’ll be using it to decide the reading order and possible side-trips.  Let us know if there are any glaring errors on it.  I’d love to read through every appearance of the JLA during 1996-2000, but unfortunately, most of them are amongst the comics I had to leave behind when I made my big move.  If you would like to chime in with commentary on JLApe, Paradise Lost, Day of Judgement or any of the other stories in the chronology, be my guest.

JLA was stratospherically popular back when it hit the stands, so it’d be good to hear what you all thought of it at the time and how you think it reads now. 

If possible, I’d like for all the early posts to focus on the first 2-3 storylines rather than ranging too far ahead.  Not really for SPOILER reasons, but just to keep the discussion from getting too general.  I don’t think we have to worry about spoiling later developments, though, as most of us have probably read this series already.

Given I’ll be branching out to the work of other writers, it seems right to begin the discussion with Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare, written by Mark Waid and Fabian Niceiza.

*Ironic, given where I wrote most of them…

 

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What I get from all the preparatory material that was put out in 1997 is that Morrison kind of realised early on that JLA stories would be all major threats coming from external to the team and action-driven plots. That didn't leave much room for character interaction, apart from what could be suggested during exchanges in the thick of things. It is very much counter to how comics have developed since.

Good point about Conner. They'd be protective of him anyway, but the fact that he hardly knew Ollie, or got any kind of upbringing from him (the cad!) makes them feel even more that they owe Conner something. In a good way, like a kid with multiple godparents.

Also they might be thinking that Conner could possibly be the next Batman, who also didn't look like much on paper.

Yes, they are elitist, for the reason you give, but I got a strong sense from the recruitment drive that it was as much about training a portion of the next generation as making their team as strong as it possibly could be. Also I think Morrison likes the idea of something that starts with the basic ingredients and snowballs into something larger and more complex. We'll see how many team-members we eventually build to...

I'm going to kick off with Rock of Ages now, to keep us going forward. As ever do chime in with comments on earlier issues if you like.

I'm going to cheat a little and repost a review I did during the early Final Crisis hullaballoo, when it looked like FC was retreading RoA in some way. So the post has that slant. Also it's from the point of view of someone about to start reading all Morrison's work rather than someone halfway through...

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I was blown away [in 1997] by the breathless succession of one wild and whacky idea after another. As I said elsewhere I was convinced that I'd missed an issue or two along the way and even that I'd skipped pages, as one wild idea after another is thrown out there. I was very surprised that the Jack Kirby Collector took so long to get around to interviewing Grant about his relationship to Kirby's work as he seemed to be the writer whose style most closely resembled the King's. Just like Jack he used up ideas in half a page that other writers would have built multi-part epics on. Rereading this with the benefit of hindsight, a lot of the apparently unrelated concepts that just seemed to be Morrison showing off were actually foreshadowing of elements that he would bring into play later on. The giant superheroes of Wonderworld are on guard against Mageddon, who was the big baddy of the final Morrison JLA arc and the Hourman and Superman of the 86th millenium are introduced during the course of Rock of Ages.

No doubt both concepts would have had many readers scratching their heads and complaining back in the day.

Anyway...

JLA issue 10: Rock of Ages Part 1 (prologue)- Genesis and Revelations



The issue begins with hard light evil duplicates of the JLA attacking Star City. We later find out that they are being controlled by the Injustice Gang. We are being set up for a narrative 'bait and switch' here. We don't get the JLA vs Injustice Gang story we are expecting but an epic of the end of everything (ie Revelations). Luthor has got hold of a 'stone' which it is later revealed is the 'Worlogog' - "It is a map of time and space. A fraction of the source reveals itself in the Worlogog and even that fraction is suficient to blind the intellect". Luthor is just starting to use it to do various little tricks but hasn't realised that it ultimately allows its owner to control reality.

Its also called the Philosopher's Stone and must be the 'Rock of Ages' of the arc's title. I have a feeling that it's appeared in other works of Grant's? As a replica of all reality, it seems to be the thing itself as well as a model of it, the old magical idea of 'as above, so below'. By working on the stone its wielder can affect the wider universe it is a replica of.

Given where the story goes, the biblical titles of the series and prologue are for once fitting rather than bombast.

The 'Genesis' aspect is handled interestingly and throws light on some of Grant's recent creative choices. Grant is happy to do his bit for DC by building in a little prelude to John Byrne's Genesis mini-series and use his best-selling series to draw readers to it. Here J'onn goes off into space to face the Genesis Wave and is suitably awed by it, but apart from a little message at the top of the letters page telling us that we can follow J'onn's encounter with the wave over in Genesis #1, it doesn't have any effect on the story Grant had mapped out for Rock of Ages. Superman mentions the 'Genesis incident' early in the next chapter, but that's about it.

Even as a JLA fan back then I didn't bite and I only picked up Byrne's mini-series recently. Having read it I'm really glad that the excellent RoA has as little to do with it as possible. I only read it a few months ago, but I can remember next to nothing about it. Time has vindicated Grant's decision, even though the two cosmically apocalyptic New Gods-driven tales could have been inter-related more. Grant goes further, in fact, as the characters in his story act as if they hadn't just met Metron and the New Gods. Flash reports on Metron's appearance thus; "He says he's one of the New Gods and ... He says his name's Metron."

It makes for a great introduction for Metron in RoA but I can see how this would put noses out of joint with the continuity buffs. Morrison's chief allegiance is to the story he's telling and the readers of that story. It's a contentious stance obviously, but I don't have a problem with it. If DC editorial cared enough about continuity to keep all the books straight all the time, my attitude might be different but as it is...

Some other points:

The skull logos on the Hard Light Evil Duplicates costumes are very similar to Spawn's and are used similarily as buckles etc. A bit of meta-commentary from the creators?

Wonder Woman has apparently died sometime just prior to this issue . I can't remember the details. Anyway, Grant runs with the ball he's given and her passing is commented on along the way. Unfortunately, the rest of the series is heavily male-dominated, apart from Circe in the Injustice gang. Wonder Woman does turn up alive 15 years in the future and ,wryly, no-one seems to find this worth commenting on. Par for the course in superhero land!

Aztek has just joined the JLA. Some readers might be put out by Grant's 'Mary-Sue' character getting boosted up to the big leagues, but guess what? I wasn't bothered. He plays his part in the drama. A running theme of Morrison's JLA is the successive generations of heroes being mentored by the older heroes so here we get to see them mentor someone brand new and looking like a completely new generation for a change. Given his insecurities about running with the big boys, Aztek's role in the JLA was too much like Wally and Kyle's so he leaves at the end of this arc.

J'onn is as ever quietly irreplaceable as the glue that binds the JLA together. Whatever about his being the 'heart' of the JLA, his telepathy linking the team keeps them in touch and focused during the Star City crisis. By removing him at the start of the Final Crisis, it's as if the team are without their anchor and rudder. Its their inability to link up and share their insights that might be pieced together to make the bigger picture that ensures the most recent Crisis is scarier and more disturbing than in RoA, and they only start to realise what's happening when it's too late. In J'onn's absence, perhaps Morrison is highlighting their reduced communication ability by the fact that they get their draft X call-up by snail-mail! His absence is enough to make the two stories very interesting companion pieces and enough to make the latest Crisis very different in tone.
Slight detour ahead...

As stated above, part of the action of JLA #10 involves the Martian Manhunter flying to the edge of the solar system to witness the Genesis Wave. We don’t see what makes him so upset, but we are told to find out more over in Genesis #1.

My feeling was to skip this four-part weekly crossover, but it does have that lead-in right there in the pages of JLA, so here goes...

Genesis 1-4


Image from www.comicvine.com

Sadly we are in Zero Hour territory again, rather than Final Night. The whole universe and creation itself being threatened in some vaguely defined way while loads of undifferentiated superheroes stand around making up crowd scenes. Superheroes best left forgotten get speaking parts. Guy Gardner has a bare chest and is smeared with greasepaint – not a reason I read comics! We also get that off-putting mid-nineties style of art that graced many a DC crossover.

I was glad to catch up with some characters that I’d last seen in Final Night. Some iteration of the Legion of Superheroes were still stuck on 20th Century Earth. (All four of them!) I’ve finally worked out that the tall red-haired Amazon is called Artemis and she seems to pop up often, with the expectation that everyone knows who she is. I’m always the last to know…

Unlike Final Night, where the heroes banded together early on and started working proactively to save the Earth, here the heroes are completely ineffectual. However, because they are superheroes, they get to stand around while big things happen. Donna Troy gets a front seat even though she no longer wears the flying spermatozoa themed outfit. Instead she merely sports a drab trenchcoat and tells everyone she no longer has any powers. My Dad would have been more useful investigating the collapse of the Source!

I got to see Superboy and the Ravers, who I’ve always wondered about, in ‘action’ for a panel or two, but like everyone else, they don’t do much here, and I’ve forgotten them already.

The plot is that all the superheroes fly to the Source to investigate its impending collapse, which will be followed by the Fifth World. Darkseid is there too, to remake the Universe in his image when that happens. Two ancient pre-‘New Gods’ Gods turn up to continue the enmity they’ve practiced since the First World. ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ are just labels as far as they are concerned, as we see them do neither. Then Ares turns up to take advantage of the situation too. As is par for the course during these crossovers, the Spectre arrives to show how fateful it all is, but his omnipotency isn’t up to resolving this situation (natch).

Without any of the superheroes doing anything, Darkseid, Ares and the two First World Gods get stuck to the Source Wall. It’s like flypaper to higher entities, isn’t it?

Then everyone gets to go home...

The nicest thing about the series was that the Genesis Wave is explained by the 'Kurtzberg Field', discovered in 1937. It seems it was a wave of radiation that rippled outwards across the universe 40,000 years ago, giving us all the Gods that litter our culture, and then again 1,000 years ago, resulting in ‘demi-gods’ starting to appear – ‘superheroes’ to me and you. The 'Genesis Wave' is this force in reverse, drawing itself back to the source and diminishing the spirit and powers of those it passes through. If you've ever wondered how quickly the Earth would descend into all-out war and anti-social behaviour without the soothing power of the Source to keep us all on the straight and narrow, this is the mini-series for you!

As is the way with these things, all concerned do a good job of draining away any mystery or awe left in Jack Kirby's great concepts.

That’s the plot. Simple as it is, there is no sub-plot. To be fair there is a fraction of a page here and there showing the reader that there were many sub-plots but all would only be resolved in that month’s issue of Badhaircutman, or whatever.

I can imagine that Morrison agreed to do the intro so that he wouldn’t have to derail his series any more than he had to. I can’t help but wonder how John Byrne would have reacted if he’d been asked to adjust a major story that he’d been planning for months so that it tied into Morrison’s crossover. Probably just left the series, judging by past performance.*

The Genesis Wave collapsing back to the Source means that everyone’s powers started fluctuating, which was how this crossover affected the line for that month. I also read the Green Lantern crossover. In it he gets tortured by DeSaad and the writer used it to explore Kyle's memories and relationships at the time, but it feels like a filler episode between issues that Marz really wanted to do. I also read some Superman crossovers. The Genesis Wave compounded his difficulty controlling or understanding his new powers, but otherwise it was business as usual.

The other great thing about this series is the Alan Davis covers. Great to see him doing the JLA and then some. A little peculiarity is that the artist and the inker are listed ahead of writer Byrne in each credit box. It’s unusual.

I get the feeling that Morrison has studied these crossovers that don’t quite work, as well as the awesome ones. In Final Crisis, even though the heroes are separated and each only aware of a small part of the bigger picture, he shows that they are all working on different plans to save the day. It’s what superheroes do, rather than standing around waiting to see what happens next!

The JLA thread: 'Reviewing best forgotten crossovers since August 2010 - so you don't have to!'

*Photobucket
Maybe we can compare Genesis with Rock of Ages a bit more once we've reached the end of this JLA arc? With Mighty John Byrne's little Fourth World diversion out of the way, here is what I wrote about the next installment of Rock of Ages back in Ought Eight...

JLA issue 11: Rock of Ages Part 2 - Hostile Takeover



I love the cover of this issue. At first glance it looks like a metaphorical image of Luthor and Joker forcing Supes and J'onn to run through their labyrinth. In the issue we see that it's quite literal too. [J'onn has to adapt his brain so that a more irrational, Joker-like way of thinking allows him and Superman to get out of the maze Luthor and the Clown Prince trap them in.] But if you look closer here, however you'll see that the two villains are themselves in a larger maze.

Games within games. With Metron's appearance and Luthor's realisation that he may have a reality affecting super-weapon on his hands, we are shown that more is at stake than a duel among superfolks. As Flash meta-comments "This is going cosmic on me, Aquaman. I don't know about this..."

Interesting from a post-Infinite Crisis perspective is Luthor's speech in the opening pages. He says that he wasn't interested in the Justice League before, but now that Superman is leading them for the first time he has to neutralise them. Given that Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman have been leading the League since the earliest days post IC, this very much indicates that in modern continuity this story 'never happened'. All of creation being ended and 're-booted' is a recurring event in the DCU multiverse. It seems to be written into its DNA. Within this story everything ends to begin again. Metron says that this happens over and over, sometimes with Darkseid winning, sometimes with New Genesis winning. From this perspective, a replay of RoA in Final Crisis is thematically inevitable.

Even though he wrote this 10 years after the Post-Crisis re-boot, Grant was still making hay with the 'freshness' of the situations and characters. This was the story where Luthor comes out into the open as a major league villain rather than just a businessman who is 'coincidentally' connected to various attempts to deal with Superman.

For once, there is a logical reason for Joker's position on a team. Luthor is using his irrational mind to build the maze which will keep Superman and the Martian Manhunter as busy as possible for as long as he needs. Thanks to JLA, Kyle is my favourite Lantern and here he displays his usual creative approach to using the ring. He creates a giant head with a straw to drain a flooded city. I wonder was he as creative in his own mag?

Morrison has stated that he decided the only way to write the JLA was in plotting events that they had to deal with rather than developing their characters. This he does in spades, but the members of the team in this story are beaurifully written. Aquaman is authoritive and regal. Flash is impetuous, but unsure of himself and nervy. J'onn and Supes are avuncular with their young team-mates.

It wasn't the book to do much about it, but its clear that Grant disapproved even then of the way the Batman side of his personality was allowed to overshadow Bruce Wayne. Here we see Bruce disguised as 'Matches' Malone and there is a great final page where Bruce points out that if Luthor is using the tactics of a corporate takeover, then he doesn't know that he's up against a master capitalist in Bruce Wayne. Morrison is using every facet of these characters personality in the stories.

I'll have to admit though, that Metron is confusing me even reading his motives again. He appears and stresses that they have to find the Philosophers Stone before Darkseid does. To this end he starts re-jigging their teleportation system for 'Transtemporal Travel'. The stone is down on Earth in Luthor's possession. It is stated that the Earth is the proper place for the stone, so that indicates the 'where' but it would seem that Luthor's using the stone in the present is what alerted the New Gods to its being found. Metron appears in the present but goes about sending the JLA into the future as a means of getting it. I'm not sure if the Metron here is the one who has been turned evil by Darkseid in the future, or legitimately sent by the Highfather as he says. Why is he sending them on a wild goose chase if the stone in question is being used now on Earth?

Metron is always neutral just as knowledge itself is neutral, but can be used for good or ill. Cleverly, when we get a close up of his eyes, they are shown to be mirrored, so we can only read in him what we bring ourselves.

He says that if Darkseid gets the stone he will crush the universe under his big boot, but this is what happens later when the stone is destroyed by Superman, so it seems he is a lying evil version.

Any light anyone can shed on Metron's role in this story would be much appreciated!
I believe that Wonder Woman's "death" led her to briefly being the Goddess of Truth during Bryne's under-rated run.

If I may, some thoughts on the new Injustice Gang:

Luthor, as you noted, is speaking in strictly Post-Crisis terms since Superman didn't officially join the League till much later. Though there were flashback tales involving Luthor and the JLA, even on Earth-One, his involvement was minimal for such an important villain. Here, Luthor sees destroying the JLA as another way to kill/diminish Superman. He doesn't really care about the others.

Of course, he can't stand the Joker. They are direct opposites but they are forever linked as Superman and Batman's Number One Foes. Throughout the years and Ages, they have teamed up as often as they battled each other. It's a good touch, that for all their hi-tech weapondry, the other members are genuinely creeped out and terrified of the Grinning Ghoul.

Does the Joker really want to kill Batman or just cause mayhem? He doesn't seen to even try. He is having a good time just baiting Luthor!

The Scottish Mirror Master was created by Morrison in Animal Man. I'm not sure if he had fought the Flash by this point. But it does give it a certain symmetry to have the successor Flash against the successor Mirror Master. Also the original was part of the first Injustice Gang.

As I said time and time again, if it's not Black Manta, it had to be Ocean Master, who seems a bit reluctant to take on his now-more violent half-brother!

The amped up Doctor Light (in order to undo the damage from Suicide Squad yet get worse in Identity Crisis) for Green Lantern? I guess Kyle didn't have a major villain yet!

Strange to see Circe with no Wonder Woman to play against but she fills the mythological foe and temptress role nicely.

I'll speak about the seventh member when we get there.

In the Wizard JLA Special from 1997, Morrison spoke of other possible members, like Savitar for Flash, Finality for Green Lantern, Black Manta (d'uh) for Aquaman and the Cheetah for Wonder Woman. But he wanted to follow current continuity in which baddies he picked, a rare trait, then and now!

Man, if you want me to downgrade a story or tune out completely put the New Gods in there. I know I read some of the Genesis tie-ins, but I avoided the main series like the plague. They just drain my life force (for the most part).

 

The Scottish Mirror Master was created by Morrison in Animal Man. I'm not sure if he had fought the Flash by this point. But it does give it a certain symmetry to have the successor Flash against the successor Mirror Master. Also the original was part of the first Injustice Gang.

The amped up Doctor Light (in order to undo the damage from Suicide Squad yet get worse in Identity Crisis) for Green Lantern? I guess Kyle didn't have a major villain yet!

Wally had fought this version of the Mirror Master by this point in time. And I don't know what Major Force was up to, but I think he could have been included  as a foe for Kyle.  Dr. Light is fine I guess.

 

For once, there is a logical reason for Joker's position on a team. Luthor is using his irrational mind to build the maze which will keep Superman and the Martian Manhunter as busy as possible for as long as he needs.

I totally agree. One of the few instances of the past number of years that I enjoyed a Joker appearance.

My favorite moment from Morrison's run on JLA was where the Martian Manhunter reshaped his brain like the Joker's so he could figure his way out of the maze. It was just one scene in this story, but something that have become a six-issue arch elsewhere in the Era of Decompressed Storytelling. Morrison's ultra-compressed storytelling is part of what makes JLA so spectacular.
In the same Wizard Special", Morrison reveals that the look of the JLA Revenge Squad (purple color scheme and skull motif) was based on Neal Adams' Batman Revenge Squad from World's Finest#175 (My'68). There was also the Superman Revenge Squad, bald (like Luthor) aliens wearing Superman-costumes with the "S" emblem glowing green like kryptonite. Why you would want to go gadding about in the same spandex outfit as the guy you're trying to kill, I don't know but whatever floats your boat!

Plus the JLA Revenge Squad were released as action figures in '98-99.
While looking for something else, I found JLA 80-Page Giant #1-2 (Jl'98 & N'99)! The most surprising thing to me was that Grant Morrison wrote none of the stories and they span throughout the team's history and characters. The fifth story in #1, "Secret Society of Super-Villains" was the one that had a connection since it involved the villains' reaction to the new JLA. Outrage, fear, resignation and doubt like most of us would feel when our status quo radically changes.

Seeing some old-time baddies like the Prankster, Signal-Man, Crazy Quilt and the Rainbow Raider was neat as was Sivana's flying head from his 80s World's Finest appearances.

(BTW, who was the guy in the blue armor on pg 45-46? And the helmeted guy on the bottom left corner of panel 1, pg 48? I keep drawing blanks!)

Ironic that the villains should know that the Brain Wave was dead but since probably most of them were considered dead at one time or another, it didn't surprised any of them!

The fact that the JLA uses disguises to scam, trick and lure the villains together was used to greater (and more fun) effect in Justice League Adventures #6 (Ju'02).

The more poignant story was the Red Tornado starting to regain his emotions. "And though all he could feel now was sadness and pain... at least that was better than nothing."

The best story was the Justice League International by Giffen and Maguire, a fitting companion piece to Justice League #5! "It's not a wharf rat!"
Regarding Wonder Woman, her death was touched on in Genesis. Seemed like all the Amazonians that were made of clay somehow reverted back to the clay! Ares had something to do with it. Now that you mention Byrne being involved in the WW comic at the time, it makes sense. We saw Hippolyta stepping up in Diana's absence and Ares had to be brought in out of nowhere to impress everyone, because Darkseid had been rendered very mundane and petty up to that point in the story.

The other point we get about Luthor is that according to him, having brightly clothed heroes and villains fighting each other all the time serves to distract everyone from the real, non-flashy badness people like him get up to. That's a cool idea. Luthor's descent into old-school comicbook villainy begins here. Luthor stares into the abyss of meaningless comicbook bust-ups and it stares back at him! There's a lesson there somewhere!

Of course, he can't stand the Joker. They are direct opposites but they are forever linked as Superman and Batman's Number One Foes.

But they look good together on that cover. They pair with Batman and Superman, but not in an obvious way. Luthor is like an evil Batman - using his keen mind and great wealth to keep on a par with the superfolk, and the Joker is much more the diametric opposite of Superman, personality-wise. Superman is rationality, and goodness and truth - the bright light of day to Joker's twisted irrational unknowable evil midnight.

The amped up Doctor Light (in order to undo the damage from Suicide Squad yet get worse in Identity Crisis) for Green Lantern?

One of the few Suicide Squad comics I have is about Dr Light heading down to hell. Was that his last appearance before this?

In the Wizard JLA Special from 1997, Morrison spoke of other possible members, like Savitar for Flash, Finality for Green Lantern, Black Manta (d'uh) for Aquaman and the Cheetah for Wonder Woman. But he wanted to follow current continuity in which baddies he picked, a rare trait, then and now!

That's well worth mentioning. The thing I got from this particular team is that it is written as if Luthor picked just these guys to neutralise the JLA. In Rock of Ages we see simple systems unfolding into complex ones again and again (just as earlier we saw Tomorrow Woman grow from an automaton with a basic mission into a highly complex thinking, feeling being). One illustration of this is that Luthor puts the gang's powers together in ways that multiply their effectiveness exponentially. Dr Light, Mirror Master or the Joker couldn't pose much of a threat to Superman and J'onn individually, or even attacking them all together, but Luthor works out a way that the synergy of their powers, combined into an irrational maze-trap, almost defeats the JLA's two strongest members.

Kal's dependence on J'onn, even needing to hold his hand to get out of the maze, highlights Superman's Apollonian rational mindset. It's the source of his moral strength, but used effectively against him here.

Just wondering Travis, have you ever read a New Gods story you enjoyed? Not even the originals? There's a lot of scope to write boring New Gods stories, I'll admit. Are you reading along with this one? Let us know how you think they are handled here once it's all wrapped up. Morrison is already using different techniques to amp up their strangeness and 'difference', years before Final Crisis.

Just checked, and I see that I have World's FInest #175 is in the same collection as 'The Joker's 5-way Revenge' that you pointed me towards elsewhere, Philip. I'll give it a squiz tonight. Sadly it's in black and white, so I'll have to take your word regarding the colour-scheme.

Speaking of the JLA Revenge Squad, compare the covers of JLA#10 and JLA:Secret Files and Origins #1, and consider that they'd have been next to each other on the comic store shelves for at least part of that month...

Glad those JLA 80 Page Giants got a look in somewhere! It pleases the completist comic-nerd in me. Were both stories that featured Morrison's JLA written by Mark Millar? I consider him a junior partner in the whole thing, along with Waid, so we have to give his stories some 'canonicity'. Morrison as ever under-writes it, but The Injustice Gang themselves are another example in Morrison's writing, of systems adapting and evolving towards greater complexity. The threats get bigger and eventually the JLA has to become a formidable force of the most effective superheroes of the time. In turn this goads the villains to gang together into an almost equal threat. The 80-page Giant story shows the villains being infiltrated by the new 'virus', but this ultimately makes them stronger, when they come back under Luthor's guidance.

What's interesting about those 80-page Giants too, is that they show DC kept the fans of eg the Bronze Age Tornado, and the post-Crisis Geffin League juuuust hanging in there, so that they could bring these characters back when it suited them. Little occasional stories just to ensure no-one would think they had forgotten about them completely.

I remember reading the one about the'wharf rat' and comparing those fools with 'my' League. Presumably they never had to deal with mega-big-time threats? But I see now that change is the thing. The Wheel never stops turning and there is a time for everything. Even Meltzer's barely-functional navel-gazing League...!

Just wondering Travis, have you ever read a New Gods story you enjoyed? Not even the originals? There's a lot of scope to write boring New Gods stories, I'll admit. Are you reading along with this one? Let us know how you think they are handled here once it's all wrapped up. Morrison is already using different techniques to amp up their strangeness and 'difference', years before Final Crisis.

I have read some of the originals, but I didn't enjoy them enough to continue reading them. Except for Miracle Man. I've always liked him, and I enjoyed those originals that I have read, and I've generally enjoyed his later appearances. I liked Legends back in the day, but I haven't read it since it came out, so I don't know if I still would. There were two Legion stories that I consider more Darkseid stories than New God stories: The Great Darkness Saga and Giffen's during his Five Years Later storyline. Those are probably my two favorites though.

After Giffen's story I would have been perfectly happy to not read another Darkseid story again, but that happened 1,000 years in the future, so I knew that would never happen. I can tolerate Big Barda, Oberon, and Orion. The rest I can take or leave them, or don't like at all. There have been other bits I've enjoyed, like the one Parademon who was a member of the Secret Six.

I haven't had time to pick up my issues from my warehouse yet to read along. I will try to get by there today though, and give you my thoughts at the conclusion which are typically just a few sentences.

As for Metron's motivation, I'm switching back and forth on two trains of thought. Both are possible since, despite efforts to portray Metron as part of the New Gods "team", he is decidedly neutral, aiding and abetting both sides in his pursuit of knowledge. If he was more in the New Genesis camp, it was because of Highfather.

My first theory is that there were two Metrons: a "good" one and an "evil" one and both were travelling through time trying to cancel each other out. This would illustrate the multiple futures mentioned where Darkseid wins and loses.

My second is that Metron felt that he had to send Aquaman, Flash and Green Lantern through time, space and dimension so they could experience Darkseid's reign. That way they would believe that the Worlogog must remain intact and their memories would convince J'onn who would convince Superman!

Of course Metron shouldn't be that much of a mystery since the League met him twice in previous incarnations. Just don't invite Captain Atom! And that three New Gods had already joined the JLA in the past (Mister Miracle, Orion and Lightray).

On a personal note, I will always have a fondness for Hourman III as, in his short-run series, I had several letters printed. Cool moments, to be sure!
I haven’t read to the end of Rock of Ages yet, so I’ll reserve judgement on Metron for now. Two interesting lines of thought, though.

JLA #12 Rock of Ages pt 3 – Wonderworld



Well, we’ve run out of reviews ‘I’ve prepared earlier’, so it’s back to present day me doing them. Just as well, as I seem to have been even more long-winded and unfocussed than ever back then. (Also bad at sticking with things…) I just wanted to see how they would sit in the present thread.

I know I tend to slabber a lot about how great Morrison is, … but this is a cracking little storyline isn’t it? This is the first 6-parter we’ve hit on, and it's tempting to compare it to the 6-part 'decompressed' storylines geared towards the collected trade market that were about to become the industry norm. However, it’s obviously a completely different model of comicbook storytelling.

Each comic is almost a full storyline itself. The JLA vs the Revenge Squad is followed by Luthor springing his trap, escalating to a journey to the very edge of the cosmos, where the most powerful Super-Gods remain on permanent vigil against the Eternal Abyss and the Anti-Sun, leading back to the showdown with Luthor’s villains via 2 issues spent on a future Earth ruled by Darkseid. Even the two ‘Darkseid’ issues are different; one detailing the putting together of a resistance, and the other counting down to the end of a universe!

With the introduction of the New Gods into the story, Morrison uses several techniques to make them feel like something more than another bunch of superheroes. To start with, they arrive at a point where Kyle and Wally are feeling bewildered and confused, and their uncertainty rubs off on the reader. Kyle’s first person viewpoint at the start of Chapter 3 conveys this very well. He’s already been disoriented by being thrown into a seemingly tough duel with the numerically superior hard light Revenge Squad, and then disconcerted by Circe, and now he arrives with Wally panicking and zipping about the place telling him "It's all gone cosmic, Man!"

Morrison himself would appear to agree with Philip’s earlier assessment of Green Lantern as the Arthurian Knight who must prove himself. That’s a whole superhero Grail Quest that Kyle labours through in just two pages! The Philosopher’s Stone has many names, we are told, and the type of challenges Kyle faces looking for it (false grails, self-deception, despair), are extremely reminiscent of those faced by Arthur’s Knights on the their Grail Quest. Like theirs, Kyle’s is full of futility and self-doubt, but he has whatever the right stuff is to survive the journey, and even gets a glimpse of what he seeks, too!

All that in only the first 3 pages!

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