The late 90s saw a third iteration of the JLA. Rock of Ages collects issues ten through fifteen of the series and sets an interesting cast of characters against two major foes: Darkseid and the Injustice Gang (seriously…but more on that later).
As time has passed the JLA has taken on many forms with varying casts of characters. This run has: Batman, Electric (Blue) Superman, Martian Manhunter, Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Aquaman (One-Handed), Green Arrow (Connor Hawke). Missing from the big three is Wonder Woman, whose exclusion is explained with a throw-away line that she is dead. After some research I found that she had died to be resurrected as a god…ok, sure.
This isn’t necessarily the best lineup, I mean…it’s Blue Superman! But that aside the storyline is solid. Morrison takes on the challenge of organizing this assortment of heroes and makes Rock of Ages an intriguing arc involving two independent stories with arch villains and fascinating evil team-ups.
The first part of the story relies heavily on the Injustice Gang…ok, sidebar. How stupid a name is this for an evil team? Granted, the team involves some low-level talent like Dr. Light, Circe and The Mirror Master but it’s led by Lex Luthor. He alone should have vetoed such a ridiculous name. Perhaps it was the Joker’s membership that allowed such insanity.
Lex and the gang use “Hard Light” images of the JLA to attack Star City, killing dozens of people in the melee and destruction. It’s here that we see some of the backlash from the common man against this rag-tag version of JLA members. What’s the Injustice Gang’s plan? Destroy the JLA, of course. How? Using a mystical rock and an alien telepath to disrupt the team enough to split them up and pick them off a few at a time. Nice thought, but of course, an unsuccessful one.
JLA members Green Lantern, Flash and Aquaman do split from the rest of the team as Metron (notable New Gods character) appears to warn them of the impending destruction of the Philosopher’s Stone (no…not a Harry Potter reference) and how it will herald the coming of Darkseid.
As Flash, Aquaman and Green Lantern are flung through time and space with MotherBox technology in search of the stone they wind up on Wonder World (which the explanation of would require its own article) and are eventually transported back to Earth. Unfortunately, the return fifteen years in the future from their present to a world already ruled and enslaved by Darkseid. The real kick in the teeth is that their consciousness automatically downloads into their future selves.
Joined by an even ragger-tag version of JLA characters these three strike out to defeat Darkseid and find a way back to their own time. Finding, along the way, Wonder Woman (not surprisingly returned from the dead), Batman (who had been trapped in Desaad’s torture palace for fifteen years) and managing to get an audience with the big guy himself (Darkseid) the battle goes about as well as you’d suspect. That is, until genius takes over.
I have a few major issues with this book, team name of the Injustice Gang aside, there’s: Superman’s apparent murder suicide where he killed a mind-controlled Lois Lane and then took his own life, the lack of explanation for how Darkseid was freed from the Source Wall and the lingering and unanswered question of why Metron betrayed the JLA. However, the story did have one incredibly high point.
The defeat of Darkseid.
No spoilers here, clearly Darkseid is going to be defeated, but the way in which Morrison sets it up and depicts it is pure genius. Rarely am I impressed with a comic book when it comes to battle scenes and outcomes, as they rarely outstrip the lowest common denominator of resolutions. I won’t ruin it, though. But if you disagree…you’re dumb. Sorry, but that’s a fact.
For fans of JLA as a team and the book overall this is well worth your time. If you are a DC fan for the big three exclusively, you may be disappointed at the lack of true Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman involvement, but it opens the door for other characters to shine.
Rock of Ages gets a B from this reviewer. There is definitely not a dearth of ingenuity in this book, but there are some glaring issues that simply cannot be overlooked.
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Till next Wednesday…
Daft Punk – Fall, All – Refrain, Rise Against – Voices Off Camera, The Killers – This is Your Life, Silverchair – Without You, Ben Folds – Time, Jimmy Eat World – A Sunday, Jukebox the Ghost – Half Crazy, Jimmy Eat World – Goodbye Sky Harbor, Jukebox the Ghost – Schizophrenia, Panic at the Disco – Nails for Breakfast Tacks for Snacks, Gorillaz – Dracula, Reel Big Fish – Drinkin’, Stabbing Westward – Drugstore