Cover date: Late November 2004
Writer: Chuck Austen
Penciller: Ron Garney
Inker: Ron Garney
"The Pain of the Gods: The Dark Knight"
Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito
The JLA return to Joey's mom to ask her for more specifics. Most importantly why she never mentioned Joey's powers before. She doesn't lie so much as hide the truth and try to misdirect the JLA. Batman meanwhile looks in on Mrs. Abernathy's youngest daughter. The tiny girl crushes a building block in her bare hands. It seems the whole family might posses such powers. Mrs. Abernathy escorts the JLA from her home. The JLA know that if she's hiding this much she must be hiding more.
Later that night a costumed woman speeds through the back alleys of down town. The batmobile cuts her off and flashes her with its headlights revealing her to be Mrs. Abernathy. Batman reveals he's in possession of her young daughter, Mandy, and suggests she surrender to the JLA before she does anything foolish. It's too late though as Mrs. Abernathy uses some form of super speed to snatch her daughter away to safety and blow up the batmobile before escaping.
Moments later at a ritzy mansion outside of town; Mrs. Abernathy arrives with her daughter in tow. Joey is waiting there for her and instructed to watch after his sister while Mrs. Abernathy heads upstairs. But moments later Mandy speeds up the steps after her mother. The children burst into a study to find their mother threatening the life of a very rich man. He's the same man that owned the factory her husband died in. Mrs. Abernathy blames his corrupt practices for her husband's death. As she's about to deliver the final deathblow Mandy reveals her true form: Martian Manhunter in disguise. The rest of the JLA arrive and talk Mrs. Abernathy down from her violent course.
Days pass... Superman meets Mrs. Abernathy and her children at the grave site of her deceased husband. He offers his condolences once more and extends them to Joey. The little boy lashes out though and blames Superman for his father's death before running off. Mrs. Abernathy follows...
Story - 3: I know, I know there's not much Batman "pain" here. It's a little frustrating since the story could have easily gone that way too. The issue could be about Joey tearing apart the JLA with here-to-unseen powers that not even his father possessed. Then the little boy and the big bad Batman could have their face off: A battle of physical strength that Batman turns into a contest of wits. When the smoke clears and the little boy is defeated and imprisoned Batman pays him a visit and lends him insight learned from a man who lost his father too.
Despite the fact that this issue disrupts the theme set up by Austen's own arc; it's still a good conclusion overall. This story is more about the Abernathy Family and their pain. Batman gets a great bit of characterization straight out of Superman/Batman when he and the Man of Steel have their playful exchange outside the Abernathy home; but the Dark Knight isn't featured in the same prominence that the rest of his teammates had been afforded over the last few issues.
Art - 4: Solid work from Ron. I like a lot of the choices Ron makes when he draws. For instance in this issue Ron draws a classic Batmoblie as opposed to something more modern. Little things like that can make a world of difference. On the down side I found that with few exceptions however, the colors were pretty flat and had little variety. This is a problem that pops up every few months in the book. I don't know if its because of a specific colorist, or if its a rush job but it really hurts the quality of the pencils.
Cover Art - 4: Cool rain effect on Batman's cape makes the hunched pose look extra creepy. Plus that retro Batmobile in the background doesn't hurt.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.