THE SEQUART DETECTIVE: A MATTER OF JUSTICE
Analysis #9: Reviewing the first half of Justice #5.
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 issue, the Legion of Doom attacked most of the active members of the Justice League. In this issue we learn how they did. But first…
Issue #5 begins with Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, on the phone with Iris West-Allen, wife of Barry Allen, a.k.a. the Flash. He learns that the Flash has been missing since he ran out on dinner. Ever the detective, Ralph notices that Barry had been eating soup that’s served cold (which we readers know was somehow tainted by Captain Cold). Ralph is concerned that no one in the Justice League has responded to the villains’ global speech, and now he can’t reach any of them. Concerned, he says he put out a call to Rex and Zatanna.
Rex probably refers to Rex Mason, a man transformed by a mystical device into Metamorpho, the Element Man, who was a sometime helper of the Justice League of the olden days – I don’t believe he ever accepted membership. He has the ability to convert his body into any element or chemical compound.
Zatanna is the daughter of a stage magician/super hero named Zatara and his wife, a member of a hidden race of magic-infused beings called Homo Magi. Needless to say, Zatanna has magical powers.
Meanwhile the Martian Manhunter apparently has drifted far enough away from Grodd to break free from his mental assault. He immediately realizes what has happened: the villains have struck simultaneously. He flies off as we catch another glimpse of the Flash racing uncontrollably around the world.
Lex Luthor teleports into Brainiac’s lab and notices the still body of Aquaman on the operating table. Luthor asks Brainiac if he’s dead to which Brainiac replies, “Does it matter?” Brainiac then voices his belief that Luthor is plotting against him, and they both reaffirm that the partnership is one of countering limitations. Brainiac then hands Luthor six small spheres which are apparently more cities.
And now it’s time to begin to assess the villains’ success (or lack thereof). We will start with…
The Ambush of Clark Kent, Superman – Aftermath
Quick Recap: Bizarro and Solomon Grundy hold a significantly weakened Superman down. The Parasite has sapped much of his power, and Metallo is exposing him to his robotic body’s power source: a hunk of green kryptonite.
Aftermath: Lightning strikes overhead, and a red and yellow blur moves in. The blur yanks the kryptonite from Metallo’s chest cavity – causing him to immediately power down and collapse. The kryptonite is shoved into Parasite who, along with Superman’s powers, has absorbed Superman’s weaknesses as well. Solomon Grundy is slammed into the ground while Bizarro is punched into the upper atmosphere. Grundy is then kicked further into the ground creating a crater. Then the blur stops and reveals itself to be…Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel tells Superman that he received Superman’s distress call and responded. He realizes Superman needs medical attention and carries him to safety before Bizarro can return.
Analysis: Superman got lucky. Extremely lucky. This is the first time in the series that being part of a team has actually helped the heroes. You may remember a ranting of mine in a previous column where I lamented that the heroes weren’t acting like a team. I hope this humbling brush with death starts to turn that around. The villains have so far shown better teamwork – and it’s quite clear they don’t like each other much.
The Ambush of Ray Palmer, the Atom – Aftermath
Quick Recap: A female gunman, presumably Giganta, shot Ray Palmer through his office window from a nearby rooftop. A serendipitous phone call from his wife, Jean Loring, led to Ray’s sudden movement, and the bullet, aimed at his head, pierced his shoulder instead. With an active telephone line, he was able to ask Jean to summon help.
Aftermath: Ray is now lying unconscious in a hospital bed, his weeping wife by his side. She talks to him explaining that, although she has told him she doesn’t want him to be a superhero anymore, if it’s a choice between that and losing him, she’ll accept him as the Atom. Apparently she brought his size-control belt – the source of his powers – and has fastened it around his waist.
Analysis: The Atom also got very lucky. His survival was not of his own doing, but fate has given him a fighting chance. He is now in a hospital where his odds of survival are greatly enhanced.
The Ambush of Diana Prince, Wonder Woman – Aftermath
Quick Recap: Cheetah attacks Wonder Woman in a deserted hallway following Wonder Woman’s speech.
Aftermath: As the fight progresses, Wonder Woman realizes that something is wrong. The Cheetah explains that she has made a deal with Persephone, the Goddess of the Underworld. In exchange for her own blood, Cheetah received “Heracles’ Lament, the centaur’s poison.” Apparently this poison is coating Cheetah’s claws. Wonder Woman manages to get her lasso around the Cheetah which brings Cheetah back to her senses…but only for the moment. Cheetah frees herself and attacks again, but Wonder Woman sends her scampering off with a powerful kick.
Analysis: Well, the battle makes more sense now. The Cheetah’s goal didn’t necessarily involve beating Wonder Woman in the fight but rather hinged on striking her with her poisoned claws. It is possible that, even though she lost the battle, the Cheetah may have won this war. Wonder Woman has been contaminated with poison from the gods.
Quick Recap: Scarecrow causes Dinah to hallucinate that she’s covered in creepy crawlies while Clayface, having impersonated her, flows onto Oliver. When Dinah makes her way into the bedroom, she sees Oliver lying dead in bed, pierced several times with arrows.
Aftermath: Dinah, beyond distraught, screams in anguish which activates her sonic powers. The pain of this attack causes Clayface to lose his form and default to his own appearance. It appears he was lying on top of Green Arrow – possibly suffocating him – while creating the illusion that Oliver had been shot to death with arrows.
Now able to move, slightly, Oliver reaches for a powered lamp, the bulb of which was shattered by Dinah’s powers. He jabs it into Clayface’s side, zapping him with pure electricity. This becomes more than Clayface and Scarecrow can take and they burst through a window and escape. As the lovers cuddle, Oliver reveals he was wearing earplugs which is why he was unaffected by Dinah’s scream.
Analysis: Scarecrow was a bad person to send after a hero with the ability of super screaming. He had the element of surprise but should have somehow added a mechanism for silencing Black Canary first. I mean, the guy wears a noose around his neck as a tie, for crying out loud. Use it.
Also there was a wee bit of luck involved here. When Clayface impersonated Black Canary he created blond hair which led Oliver to think she was wearing the wig for their next…encounter. Apparently Dinah’s love-making style is different with the wig than without, and Oliver, thankfully, thought the encounter was going to get rather noisy. And, to be fair, he was right. It did.
The Ambush of Carter and Shiera Hall, the Hawkman and Hawkgirl – Aftermath
Quick Recap: The Toyman altered the Midway Museum’s Battle of Britain exhibit by including toy planes with modern weaponry: some with working gunfire, others with high explosives. The Hawk-team, out of costume, managed to fight off the first wave but seemingly got caught in the devastating explosion from the second.
Aftermath: The Halls took cover in a stone sarcophagus which protected them from the explosion. Martian Manhunter appears and telepathically informs them of the ambush.
Analysis: Resourcefulness. Gotta love it. As I said last issue, had Toyman just used the bomb without warning the heroes with a fruitless, less-powerful attack, he probably would have won. But villains have to be villains, and they can’t bear to kill without first making their presence known. And that’s why they’ll usually lose.
The Ambush of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern – Aftermath
Quick Recap: Sinestro ambushed Hal Jordan in his company’s locker room. He bathed the room in yellow, to prevent Hal from anchoring himself to anything, then activated a boom tube – an intergalactic tunnel between two points in the universe. As the far end was located in the vacuum of space, all the air in the room headed to and through the tube at great speed, carrying Hal Jordan with it.
Aftermath: Hal is now floating in starless space. His ring informs him 1) that their location cannot be determined as there are no stars with which to orient themselves and 2) that the neither the ring nor Hal Jordan have the capability of duplicating the process that sent them here. Unaware of even what direction to head off in, Hal turns his attention to wondering how much energy is left in the ring. Once the power is exhausted, the ring loses its ability to protect him from the environmental conditions of the vacuum of space. In other words, Hal Jordan’s hours are numbered.
Analysis: Overall, this is a great strategy. Essentially, Sinestro sent Hal into a death trap – one from which there appears to be no escaping.
Of course, I have some scientific concerns about this trap – basically its plausibility. There are two possibilities I see. First, Hal could be somewhere in the universe so far away from his point of origin that light from stars has not reached it. As the universe is approximately 15 billion years old, Hal must be at a minimum 15 billion light years from Earth. It seems to me to be highly improbable that Sinestro would be able to calculate that location, or that a device – even manufactured by the New Gods – could transport someone that far in the blink of an eye. The other possibility is that Hal is not truly in “starless” space, but possibly he’s in an area that is somehow blocking the light – like in a dark cloud-like area. This seems much more likely to me but has its own risk that Hal might find his way out in time to orient and therefore save himself.
Had I been Sinestro, I think I would have made the end destination of the tube within close proximity to a black hole. But that’s just me.
Legion of Doom Report Card
So, overall, how did the Legion do in their attack?
Aquaman: Unconscious, unconfirmed dead, prisoner
The Atom: Shot and hospitalized
Batman: Presumably under supervillain control
Black Canary: Startled, otherwise fine
The Flash: Racing around the world, unable to stop
Green Arrow: Smells like Clayface, otherwise fine
Green Lantern: Trapped in a starless void with limited ring energy
Hawkgirl and Hawkman: Fine
Martian Manhunter: Fine and armed with the knowledge of the villains’ unity
Red Tornado: Ripped to pieces
Superman: Weakened but rescued
Wonder Woman: Magically poisoned
There are some promising developments, so it would be unfair to give them an “F.” however, they’re no confirmed deaths. One might argue that Red Tornado is in pieces in an orbiting satellite with no working teleporter, but he’s an android who has been disassembled many times before. You can’t measure death for him the same way you measure it for biological heroes.
In my next analysis, I’ll review the remainder of Justice #5 and return to the detailed inspection of the villains’ plans, the Riddler’s clues and the identity of the mastermind behind it all. See you then.