Greatest superhero comic story ever?

I was just rereading Grant Morrison’s run on the JLA, and there isn’t a superhero story I love more than his final epic. It starts with Luthor and a couple of other deadly JLA foes banding together, destroying the JLA base and killing one of its members, and the Queen Bee’s drones invading the Earth and turning NYC into a giant hive – but this is just a trivial distraction from the real threat. A couple of years before our heroes found a planet at the edge of the universe, called Wonderworld, where all the greatest heroes of ten thousand worlds had gathered to prepare for the thing that had destroyed the last universe, in case it ever came back. The likes of Superman and Darkseid were completely beneath their notice.

And now this ultimate threat, which the New Gods call Mageddon, is coming. Earth is going mad, all of the nations going to war and throwing nukes at each other. There is only one hope for Earth: go to Wonderworld for a rescue. They get there – and Mageddon went there first, and utterly destroyed it. Still, there is always Superman and Orion, the Destroyer Of Gods – so they attack, and it simply brushes Orion aside and assimilates Superman. One of the JLA is a genuine angel, so he goes to Heaven for help – but God has given up on the universe, and is already designing the next one.

He builds up the odds as heavily as I’ve ever seen, but when Batman is put in telepathic contact with Superman, despairing and helpless, and says “I don’t care if it can destroy every God in every Heaven, Clark! It’s never faced US before!” I find it immensely moving, and gets to the heart of why I love these comics. Spoiler: one of the techniques they use in defence is turning absolutely everyone on Earth into a mighty superhero, and the bit where Wonder Woman tells the JLA that they pointed out how many times Superman had saved them, and you turn the page and she says “They wouldn’t take no for an answer” as we see the entire population of Earth flying out to fight this thing andrescue Supes, is another magnificent moment, in a story full of them where he manages to give everyone (including non-JLA Morrison characters Aztek and Animal Man) vital and extra-heroic things to do, even the likes of Aquaman and Plastic Man.

(Actually, I used the word ‘story’ deliberately in my header there – the art is very second rate, so I wouldn’t rate these as greater comics than, say, Kirby’s mid-season FF peak, which had great stories and peerless action art too.)

The Brown Wedge