"This one sees me and smiles".
"I only keep you alive to make your lives hell".
I reread Rock Of Ages for the first time in years and was struck by just how stellar Morrison's run was. I can't really comment as to how it compares to his whole bibiliography but it definitely deserves it's place in the pantheon of great American superhero comics runs.
He didn't just take the big guns and put them in actiony stories, he suffused his stories with great characterisation, clever moments, epic encounters and plotting that was always pushing you to turn the page.
There was a deftness and artistry that's beyond anyone who isn't Alan Moore. What's more he understood the characters and made them look special in both small and big sequences. You saw Superman take a guy who was pissed off at GL and arguing with him over collateral damage and silently talk to him in the background, eventually calming him down and saying goodbye with a handshake. You saw Batman out-witting New Gods with the power of his brain. You saw Justice Leaguers go on an epic journey through space and time that saw them visit Wonderworld and the gargantuan super-beings of ten thousand worlds.
I reread Action Comics #600 recently, written by John Byrne with Darkseid as the villain. There he came off as a cackling, tin-pot villain. In Rock Of Ages, he was a terrifying, overwhelming force of tyranny. In Infinite Crisis, Batman jibes that the last time Superman inspired anyone was when he was dead. Looking at Superman's monthly series it would be hard to argue with that. Here in JLA, he was the smart, confident, upright and inspiring undisputed leader of Earth's superhero pantheon, the man who wrestled warrior angels of myth to the ground and defeated threats to the entire cosmos. Morrison's Batman run was good BUT a big part of me wishes he'd be on Superman for an epic series of that length instead.
It was also good to see the Justice League as a team of seasoned, highly capable professionals capable of amazing feats. They could talk to each other in short-hand, trust each other to get out of jams, improvise and out-smart their opponents. The stories also made imaginative use of their powers beyond all the standard tropes what with Electric Blue Superman absorbing energy and Martian Manhunter turning Joker sane.
The only Big 7 run I've enjoyed besides Morrison's is Waid's since he could at least come up with big concepts. Tower of Babel was decent and I really liked the follow-up, Queen Of Fables. Warren Ellis also had a good story in JLA Classified. I could care less about Kelly, Robinson and Meltzer (UGH!).
I'm willing to keep giving Johns money for his JLA. I'm hoping the stories improve as he settles into the title and he's always meshed well with Reis. He's good at building up to big, epic stories that rely on a lot of prologue but not so much at imaginative, high-concept threats every six issues. I reckon Trinity War will do well since he'll be engineering it from the the ground up.