THE SEQUART DETECTIVE: A MATTER OF JUSTICE
Analysis #8: Reviewing half of Justice #4.
My name is unimportant. What’s important is…I’m a detective.
WARNING: Not only does this article contain spoilers for the Justice issues reviewed, it attempts to deduce the plots and mysteries of future issues as well. If you wish to be completely surprised, you may not want to proceed.
In the last analysis, I focused my attention on the speech given by four members of the Legion of Doom to the entire planet. Simultaneous to that speech, several other members of the Legion launched a coordinated series of attacks on the active members of the Justice League of America. In this analysis, I will discuss and scrutinize their respective plans of attack.
The Ambush of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern
The Villains: Sinestro
The Plan of Attack: When the attack begins, Hal Jordan is in his company’s locker room. Sinestro silently coats the entire room in his yellow energy. Hal’s ring provides him with a warning but it appears to be too little, too late. Sinestro then activates a device he is carrying called a Boom Tube. While I’m no expert on this device, I believe it was developed by the so-called New Gods and possibly by the leader of the evil half of them – a figure known as Darkseid. The device essentially creates a tube-shaped portal between great distances.
When Sinestro activates this Boom Tube, the air in the locker room immediately rushes towards and through the tube – a good sign that the other side connects to the void of outer space. Hal is carried along with the air seemingly helpless. Because the Green Lantern ring cannot touch anything yellow, Sinestro first bathes the room in yellow ring energy. Unable to anchor himself to anything, Hal Jordan is blown helplessly into a starless void.
Analysis: The word I would use to describe the attack is arrogant.
First, I am forced to admit, however I analyze this attack, it was successful – as far as the plan goes. Hal Jordan was transported off the planet and seemingly out of the galaxy. Thus he is definitely incapacitated as far as the villains are concerned. But one might add that he is free to figure out a way back. So we can’t give Sinestro full marks just yet. Sinestro probably expects that Hal will be unable to find his way to sanctuary before his ring’s 24-hour charge wears off. That may or may not be true (only time will tell), but the fact Sinestro obviously expects it to be the case is arrogant.
Further Sinestro appears in the room at the time of the attack, floating and glaring menacingly as our hero gets sucked into the void. He says nothing during the attack. Again, I credit arrogance.
But here’s the thing that bugs me. Sinestro is hovering in the room. He is not being affected by either the tube or the gale force winds rushing through it. So obviously there’s a way to resist the wind. I believe Sinestro and Hal’s rings function essentially the same way, which means Hal could have done something to free himself from the wind too. What that is, I don’t know and, obviously, Hal didn’t either (or at least he didn’t have sufficient time to reason it out). But the fact that there was a way out and Sinestro showed it to him, that’s arrogant.
Because I am blessed with far more time to consider the options than Hal was, I should probably point out that Hal could probably have anchored himself to Sinestro or, at least, grabbed and pulled Sinestro into the void with him. But that’s not what happened, and the attack was a success. For now.
The Ambush of Dinah Lance, the Black Canary, and Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow
The Villains: Scarecrow and Clayface
First, because Clayface is a new member to the Legion, here’s a quick biography. There have been several Clayfaces over the years, but this one appears to be Matt Hagen, a man transformed into a viscous humanoid capable of molding himself into any shape he can imagine. He has historically been the enemy of Batman.
The Plan of Attack: When the attack begins, Oliver and Dinah have just completed a, uhm, let’s call it a romantic adventure, and Dinah is dressing (somewhat) on her way to make coffee for them both. Once she arrives in the kitchen, Scarecrow uses some means (exactly which we’re never shown) to induce a hallucination in Dinah, making her believe that she is being swarmed over by a variety of creepy insects and arachnids.
Meanwhile Clayface has assumed the form of Dinah but with blond hair (readers are aware that Dinah has naturally black hair and wears a blond wig as Black Canary) and a decidedly different pair of unmentionables. Oliver notices the wig, at least, but still believes it to be Dinah. Once this new Dinah gets close enough, she goes viscous on Oliver. When next we see the room, the real Dinah bursts into the bedroom and sees, presumably, Oliver’s body with at least four arrows sticking out of him.
Analysis: The word that comes to my mind for this attack is foolish.
What was Scarecrow thinking? Black Canary, even being a world-class martial artist, has one, I repeat, one super-power. A sonic scream. And what is Scarecrow’s plan? To scare her? Hmmm, what do people do when they’re scared? They scream! This plan seems designed to force Black Canary to use her superpower which, I’ll bet dollars to donuts, neither of these villains can withstand. They have, in my opinion, set themselves up for being captured.
Now, to be fair, when Clayface assumed Black Canary’s form, he added blond hair. That seems to indicate that they don’t know she has naturally black hair. Using that assumption, it’s possible that Scarecrow doesn’t realize that this woman is Black Canary. Maybe he thinks she’s just some visitor. But I have to believe that if the JLA files tell the villains the heroes’ secret identities, the fact that Dinah wears a wig should be in there somewhere too. This attack was thrown together and the villains are going to pay the price for it.
As far as Oliver Queen is concerned, it’s hard to tell what exactly has happened to him at this point. It appears he’s been punctured several times by arrows but 1) we don’t get anything that even resembles a good look yet, and 2) I didn’t see his quiver anywhere near the bed before or during the attacks, and having a humanoid blob on top of you doesn’t really allow you the luxury of running to the closet (or wherever) to get some arrows. It’s possible that Clayface was carrying some of them inside his body. (He certainly wasn’t carrying any in his little two-piece outfit.) So, I’m not convinced yet that we readers saw what we think we saw.
The Ambush of Diana Prince, Wonder Woman
The Villains: Cheetah
The Plan of Attack: Cheetah bursts through a skylight and attacks Wonder Woman in a hallway. And…that’s about it.
Analysis: The word that comes to my mind for this attack is bold.
Wonder Woman and the Cheetah have fought each other before. Cheetah has always lost. So an open assault in close quarters doesn’t seem to be the most thought out plan. I’d say the odds are definitely in Wonder Woman’s favor. Not that the Cheetah won’t get a few good blows in which she does. But unless something’s going on that we don’t know about, I’d say the best Cheetah can hope for is that she stalls Wonder Woman enough to not interfere with the speech.
The Ambush of Carter and Shiera Hall, Hawkman and Hawkgirl
The Villains: the Toyman
The Plan of Attack: The Halls operate a museum. When the attack begins, both are inside. As it turns out, the museum’s temporary exhibit involves the Battle of Britain which was an aerial battle. The exhibit apparently contains some model warplanes that have been retrofitted by the Toyman to fly and fire real ammunition.
The Halls manage to fight off the first wave with some medieval weapons they quickly procure. But the next wave of planes seems to have a more direct approach. We then witness a massive, building-shattering explosion.
Analysis: The word I would use to describe this attack is typical.
Villains never seem to think anything through. And I guess we should be grateful for that. Here the Toyman makes two major mistakes. First, he destroys his best advantage – the element of surprise – by sending planes that have a relatively inefficient weapon. Long distance projectiles require accuracy to destroy their targets. Explosives do not. Had Toyman started off by surprising the Halls with the explosive planes, they’d be dead already. Instead, he gives them a fighting chance – and a clear warning that they’re under attack. Thus they escape and are now armed and more or less prepared.
The only caveat I make to that analysis is that, maybe, the planes weren’t meant to kill them but rather to drive them to the big domed room so the giant marionette Toyman robot-thingy could witness the end. But that’s still pretty stupid compared to a virtually confirmed kill right off the bat.
The second major mistake is the choice of ambush locations. Let’s take a quick moment to examine our hawk-like heroes. Here are two people with 1) functional wings and 2) medieval weaponry. Bad guys have things like lasers and machine guns. To the casual observer, one might think Hawkman and Hawkgirl are at a severe armament disadvantage in virtually every fight they enter into. They have weapons that require close quarter fighting and virtually no defenses whatsoever. But they always win. Why? Because they’re resourceful. They use their surroundings to their advantage. In their own museum, they know the layout. And they have access to numerous weapons.
Having said that, how do you survive an explosion when you’re not explosion-proof? There’s really only one way: you hide behind something that is explosion-proof. Is there something in a museum that’s explosion-proof? More than likely. It’s hard to see everything in the room the Halls occupy during the last scene, but there’s at least a statue and some type of box right beside them. All they need to do is shield themselves behind one of those.
The Ambush of Ray Palmer, the Atom
The Villains: Giganta (I’m presuming)
The Plan of Attack: Very straight-forward. From an adjacent rooftop, Giganta, wielding a very powerful-looking rifle, shoots at Ray Palmer who is working on his computer next to a glass window.
Analysis: The phrase I would use to describe this attack is damn near-perfect.
Now, here’s the proper way to attack. No warnings. Kill shot on the very first try. All things being equal, this attack should have been a success. It was only a quirk of fate that allowed Ray Palmer to even have a chance of survival…his phone rang and he twisted to answer it. The bullet that was otherwise going for his brain hit his shoulder. He is still rather wounded, but he was not killed outright, and now he has someone on the other line summoning help. And Giganta is possibly too far away to finish the job before help can intervene.
The Ambush of Clark Kent, Superman
The Villains: Bizarro, Solomon Grundy, the Parasite and Metallo
Two new villains to the Legion scene. Here are their stories.
The Parasite was originally a petty, not-so-clever criminal named Maxwell Jensen. He found some containers marked radioactive waste and thought it was a sham by the government to “hide in plain sight” something of value. But the containers were accurately marked and Maxwell was transformed into a creature who could eat people’s life-forces. If that life happened to be super-powered, Jensen would develop those abilities as well. He set his sites on Superman.
John Corben was in some type of horrible accident and was fortunate enough to be operated on by a mad scientist who transferred his brain into a robotic body. Originally the body was fueled by uranium and Metallo, as he now called himself, was a powerhouse. But his power increased dramatically the day he substituted Kryptonite as his fuel.
The Plan of Attack: Ambush to the nth degree! Bizarro flies through the skies above Metropolis and catches Superman’s scent (I’m assuming – he definitely smells something). He makes a bee-line into Clark Kent’s apartment via the roof, plucks the reporter away from his TV dinner, and carries him through more walls and into the Metropolis sky. They soon come to a construction site where Bizarro really lays into Superman who finally manages to fight back. That’s when Solomon Grundy appears and joins in. They’re alternating between one powerhouse holding him steady while the other knocks him around when the Parasite arrives and tries to sap the Man of Steel. At first Superman is able to resist, but, after a few more poundings, Superman is sufficiently weakened. The Parasite absorbs some of his invulnerability. That’s when Metallo shows up and pops open the panel in his chest revealing a fist-sized hunk of Kryptonite. Weakened, unable to break free of Bizarro and Solomon Grundy’s grip, Superman is powerless to escape.
Analysis: The word I would use to describe this attack is devastating.
This attack was very well thought out. Superman barely has time to react to one threat when a second appears and keeps him off guard. By the time he realizes the seriousness of his predicament, he is powerless to save himself. He tried to summon help by pressing his belt buckle, but the recipient of that summons has his own problems, as I’ll describe next.
The Ambush of Barry Allen, the Flash
The Villains: Captain Cold
The Plan of Attack: Poison (or something like it). Captain Cold, posing as a waiter, gives restaurant patron, Barry Allen, some soup. Best I can tell, it was poisoned. Maybe tainted would be a better word as we have no idea what, if anything, was in it.
Analysis: The phrase I would use to describe this attack is sneaky.
I’m not exactly sure what happened, to tell you the truth. One moment Barry Allen is sipping on some soup, then his watch starts flashing with the Superman logo. Barry takes this as a call for help, runs out of the restaurant, switches into the Flash costume and takes off running. And in the very next panel, he realizes that he can’t stop. So fast, he seems to be running, that he appears to be passing himself at super speed.
It’s worth mentioning that in Justice #3 we spent some time trying to figure out how Batman could have been taken over. I made a prediction that Alfred slipped Batman something in his dinner when Alfred referred to it as “a surprise.” Now the Flash seems to have gotten a taste of it. But his case is slightly different in that he is at least able to talk freely despite his actions. He talks himself through his condition (i.e. “I can’t stop”). Alfred seemed to be under complete control, and Batman, while he was on the satellite, didn’t tell Red Tornado that he couldn’t control his own actions. But maybe the villains are cutting Barry a little slack, allowing him to witness his own destruction, helpless to do anything but complain about it. Now, that’s evil!
I’m not going to do a detailed analysis of the three major topics this time, because I don’t believe it’s warranted. These attacks are ends in themselves and not hints at a larger plan or suggestive of the mastermind’s true identity. But don’t worry, I’ll pick up where I left off in Justice #5 next week.