Explaining Rock of Ages

Hey you can list 10. In the 11 years I’ve been reading (since the beginning of New 52), I would only recommend two: Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder (despite my reservations about the latter being unnecessarily viewed through a Batman lens).


Johns’ run was great! Really salvaged the book. The top 6 in my Justice League list are the ones I enthusiastically endorse (Morrison, Giffen/DeMatteis, Gardner Fox, Johns, Len Wein, and Waid in that order). Outside of those runs, I’m usually asking myself if the strengths outweigh the flaws…


I’d go

  1. Steve Englehart
  2. Grant Morrison
  3. Gardner Fox
  4. Mark Waid
  5. Geoff Johns
  6. Len Wein
  7. Scott Snyder
  8. Kurt Busiek
  9. Dwayne McDuffie
  10. Adam Beechan (Justice League Unlimited)

For me, Gerry Conway and Giffen/ DeMatteis are all over the place with great stories and bad ones. I could probably same the same about Brad Meltzer’s short run.

I like Dan Jurgens’ short run as well. I recognize Denny O’Neil’s run was important, but I just don’t enjoy it.

One other out of the blue favorite pick would be Jim Kreuger for Justice with Alex Ross.


You know, I forgot about this. Would definitely recommend, along with Waid & Ross’ Kingdom Come. Not main universe stories, but great nonetheless, especially the art.

Sorry this took over your Rock of Ages thread @TheCosmicMoth.


Yeah, I never even considered Conway though I like his other work. Agree to disagree on Giffen/DeMatteis. I enjoyed all their stories but I was admittedly all-in on their satire take. I generally agree with the take on Meltzer. I definitely feel you on O’Neil. I never felt like he took the Justice League seriously. Case in point:

Naming aliens after candy bar filling… Still, he added characterization to the book, so I kinda felt I needed to rank him so high.

I’m surprised that you have Englehart at #1. As much as I love his work on Captain America, I never saw anything in his Justice League that really popped out at me. I may need to revisit it. With McDuffie, I love him as a creator (Milestone was amazing). His Justice League run, though… felt kind of off to me. It felt like he was doing an Animated Series run in main continuity, but maybe that’s what’s appealing about it? I don’t think he deserved to be fired from the book the way he was, but his run didn’t excite me. Maybe another one to revisit.

Busiek is another great creator but he didn’t write too many JL issues. I didn’t feel there was enough material there to rank him. I’d give Beechan a look because his work is fun, but my list was limited to main continuity runs (which is also why I didn’t take JLA/Avengers into account for Busiek and Krueger’s Justice… or Cooke’s New Frontier for that matter).

No worries @moro! I love the Justice League, so I’m here for it. Also, I do consider it relevant since going over all these JL runs does reinforce my belief in Morrison’s take.


I just think people think about stuff to much sometimes
not everything has to be understood enjoy the ride


I just need a podcast where you explain complex comic plots. Next do Final Crisis.


His secret origin is still the one I think of as the “real” one. #144 is similar and every bit as good as New Frontier as it could be considering the possibilities of 1977 DC. He even tosses in the White Martians that Grant and the cartoon used later on. As a seven year old, this showed me the scope of Silver Age DC and it was wonderous. I’d have to wait twenty years to get Plastic Man in the JLA and another decade for Congorilla to join though. This may be my all time favorite single issue.

I’m not keen on having too much characterization in my JLA stories, but Englehart did it very well. I really identified with my fellow “Midwestern yokel” the Flash. Wonder Woman was odd, but there was a reason for it. Even the guys that thought of themselves as “weak links” got a chance to shine and show their worth.

The Manuhunter two parter was excellent and was also later adapted into the cartoon. The saga of Mark Shaw was a great arc through the run. Its legacy continued into this era as Bendis is about my age and he clearly read this run too and used it for his Leviathan stories. Englehart would continue to use the Manhunters vs Green Lanterns in his later GL series.

He even managed to come up with a good arc for Snapper Carr. The Star Tsar story was a great cap to the run and thankfully Red Tornado was there to keep track of who was with whom, not even Batman had figured it out.

Yes it’s probably nostalgia, but this is the JLA run all others are compared to by me. Steve Englehart has similar top level runs on Avengers, Captain America, Batman and Green Lantern and is my pick as best comic book writer of the 1970s.


Thanks! I’ll add Final Crisis to the list and it actually wouldn’t be too hard since the plot of Final Crisis shares A LOT with the dystopian future of Rock of Ages. Because I’ve had so many requests, I’ll try to make this a regular thing.

You had me at Plastic Man. But, seriously, your impassioned recap of Englehart’s run has convinced me to revisit it. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Bronze Age fan so I could’ve missed a lot along the way.


Alright, so I made it through the first few Morrison JLA arcs, including Rock of Ages.

Thanks for the explanation regarding the Genesis wave. J’onn does take off to investigate a wave of energy in deep space before he sees it, and a Genesis “incident” is mentioned by Supes as having taken place off the page in issue 11. A bit clunky, with no editorial notes in either issue, but doesn’t derail the story.

So far, Morrison’s JLA is clicking with me. The most fun I’ve had reading the Justice League in a long time. Love how it just doesn’t let up from one arc directly into the next. I didn’t find Rock of Ages difficult to follow, if I’m being honest, but your notes do confirm how I understood the story. Metron’s prologue at the end and the mentioning of some upcoming threat was vague, but I’m guessing it was related to something in Morrison’s upcoming work at the time.

Overall, the run is fantastic so far. The JLA goes from fighting aliens with Superman level powers, to fighting off the forces of heaven, to escaping from being imprisoned in alternate realities in their head, to crazy time travel shenanigans with the New Gods. What a roller coaster ride :slightly_smiling_face:.

SN1: Love how the creative team handled Superman Blue here. This is one place where I was glad Morrison wasn’t over-explaining stuff. They just let the visuals do the talking instead of “Now that I have these new powers, I have to deal with the situation differently” thought bubbles.

SN2: Howard Porter’s art is great. It looked different then than it does now. Smoother lines, I think. I wouldn’t have recognized it without the credit.

SN3: Love the Kyle/Wally banter.

SN4: We need more of this Wonder Woman.

Thanks for taking the time to do that write-up. It pushed to finally get into a run I’ve always meant to read, and I’m enjoying it immensely.


I’m really glad that you’ve been enjoying it!

This is especially good to hear. Rock of Ages is one of my favorite Morrison JLA stories, but it is the most divisive one. If you had no trouble getting through it then the rest should go just fine!

Yes. There is payoff to that. Stay tuned.

I actually don’t hate blue lightning Superman, but I will say that I like him much better in JLA than in the Superman monthlies at the time. It might be because of how Morrison/Porter handled him.

Yeah. I enjoyed Porter’s art a lot back in the day, but hasn’t look quite as good since about the 2010’s. Maybe he’s just getting older or maybe it’s something to do with how comics are colored now…? I still like his art but it’s not as clean as it used to be.

Anyway, glad you’ve really enjoyed it so far! Hope the rest goes well.


Don’t forget to look at JLA Annual #1 and JLA Secret Files #1 from the first year. The latter has a short story of Superman’s power change and one of J’onn’s global war on crime.

This is also about the time Waid’s excellent JLA: Year One starts.


Thanks for the tips. Will make sure I check all that out :slightly_smiling_face:.


Rock of Ages is unquestionably my favorite story from my all-time favorite Justice League ongoing and written by my favorite writer of said ongoing.

I’ve never found it to be confusing, and was surprised that some are confused by it. Different strokes for different folks.

As Green Arrow said on Justice League Unlimited, “Hey, thank you.” :clap:t2:


If the book needs this level of explanation, it has a fundamental failing in the “storytelling” department. Morrison has some great books “Happy” being amongst the best I’ve read, but most of his super-hero books are too obtuse to be entertaining.

@TheCosmicMoth Any plans for more in-depth analysis on Morrison’s other work, JLA or otherwise?

I’d clear my schedule for a Ted Talk on his Flash run.

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Yes, yes. I’ve just got to reenergize myself to finish reading Snyder’s Justice League. I’ll add Morrison’s Flash to the list. But, here’s a preview:

Hard disagree. The argument that all fiction needs to be simple enough for everyone to immediately understand just doesn’t hold much water with me. That’s rarely true of any written work. If you don’t enjoy something because it isn’t immediately apparent, that’s one thing. To go as far as saying complex literature fails because it is not immediately apparent is another.


It doesn’t need to be " simple enough for everyone to immediately understand" but it needs to have enough of a structural understandability in order to be able to be a cohesive story. Especially when you are making entertainment for the masses. If you want to be oblique, find a book that isn’t part of a greater continuity. I view Morrison’s work as being an in continuity Elseworlds.

I think that’s a bit limiting to the way you’re able to tell stories in continuity, what kinds of stories you’re able to tell, and to how you perceive your audience. If the comic industry went about it with that kind of mentality then the stories would’ve never evolved passed short, self-contained stories about men in costumes fighting crooks. As part of that mass audience, I enjoy stories that are a bit more experimental because I take more away from them and they push my understanding which helps that understanding improve. I don’t see how DC has much to gain from underestimating their readers by not pushing the envelope.