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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA/Spectre: Soul War #2

JLA/Spectre: Soul War #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 26, 2003

Cover date: April 2003

Writter: J.M DeMatteis
Penciller by: Darryl Banks
Inker: Paul Neary

"Soul War" (Part 2 of 2)

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel (

The league are dead.

"At long last... they were rising. Six humans-psychics, channelers, mystics, mediums and intuitives-whose unique electromagnetic resonance made them perfect vessels for the alien group-mind called the Trans.

But these aliens didn't come from another planet. They weren't preparing to invade our world with ray guns and spaceships.

No: the Trans existed in the realm of pure mind; and they were planning to conquer the Earth not on the physical plane... but on the metaphysical... entering each heart, each soul, through the doorway of consciousness itself.

And these six - were their advance guard.

Five were dispatched five living satellites, to strategic points above the planet. While the sixth... the most powerful vessel among them, Rachel DeCarlo... was sent farther on. In order for her to be useful on the material plane, a spark of her individuality had to be maintained by her masters. And that spark was overwhelmed: horrified, disgusted; and struggling futilely... to break free." Whispers the Spectre to himself.

The story begins on the moon. Spectre has placed the entire league into a comatose state. Now transported to imaginal space where they intend to fight the Trans.

As soon as they arrive, within minutes, the league begin to disperse unable to maintain substance until that is, Kyle Rayner-Green Lantern, master of willpower, helps them control their forms on the metaphysical plane.

Mental doorways then begin to open and each of the league are transported to a mental paradise even the mighty Spectre succumbed to these visions... Batman however saw something... and it was shocking enough for him to break the hold imaginal space had on them. Before any discussions could take place the Trans attack.

The Trans couldn't be perceived in their true form they pulled together a hideous zombie-like form to battle the league.

Plastic man fights well but is surprised from behind and is absorbed inside the essence of the Trans.

Superman hurls himself into the Trans like a torpedo and pulls out a weakened Plastic man. The Trans vanish without a trace... and the Man of Steel and the Man of Putty collapse.

The Spectre uses his amazing abilities to heal the heroes and the league begin to celebrate the defeat of the enemy.

Superman halts their cheering. The enemy they fought was NOT the Trans, it was merely a thought- and echo of the real thing...

The Trans WERE imaginal space and the league were now trapped there!

The five humans meanwhile were being used by the Trans in the real world to conquer the Earth in the real world.

In the meantime Rachel arrived on the moon desperately attempting to fight the Trans influence over her and attempting to kill the sleeping bodies of the league.

The Trans in imaginal space attack the league again and one by one capture the souls of the greatest heroes.

As they had done with Plastic man, the Trans use J'onn as a vessel and imprison Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Plastic man, Green Lantern, Flash and even the Spectre.

Batman, the only free combatant confronts the essence of the Trans.

In the real world the Trans have been successful and have begun to absorb the consciousness of the planet. On the moon the final killing blow has been struck as the life support machines are destroyed by DeCarlo.

Batman rage helps him defeat J'onn's body and free the Spectre.

Spectre tells Bruce he needs Batman to fight in his absence while he fights the Trans influence. He hands Batman a magical parting gift and vanishes.

Spectre re-emerges in the real world and channels his supernatural power through the five psychics freeing the enslaved planet.

Using his influence he made psychic projections of the league for the world to believe in. Suddenly the planets consciousness supercharged the projections. The embodiment of all they aspired to all they valued. Using the power of positive thought Spectre sent this energy through into imaginal space supercharging the league and readying them for battle.

The Trans however, instead of fighting retreat and warn that when they can find a way to defeat humankinds strong will that they will return.

The league basque and a victory of sorts it's over... Wrong.

The life supports were destroyed. The souls of the league have been lost.

As soon as they reappear in the real world they all die and their souls fade... The Spectre has lost his 'family.'

DeCarlo apologises, now free of the Trans influence she tries to explain that her body was being controlled when she was forced to kill them all. In a rage Spectre 'jumps' into all the league members resurrecting them. The Spectre however is not able bring back the dead... not without a price... surrendering his soul to oblivion.

The league awaken and realise the friend they had doubted had given them a second chance at life. They immediately plan to use what they have learned and experienced during their battle with the Trans and imaginal space as a way to bring Spectre back. Using the mental power of Rachel, the world psychics, the league and the will of Green Lantern they hold a sance to bring Hal back. It works for but an instant and almost as quickly as he appears Spectre is hurled back into oblivion.

A weak link exists in the league. One that did not believe, one that didn't have faith in the Spectre explained Rachel. Suddenly the 'gift' he was given kicks in.

Earlier in imaginal space the league had experienced a vision of perfection through doorways. Batman's 'gift' from the Spectre was that he could re experience it when Hal had died. The vision was a meeting with the Wayne's on the mental plane. Here Batman was able to finally say goodbye to the dead and lay the murder of his parents to rest. Bruce reawakens and they hold another sance this time Batman takes more than an active part and ORDERS Hal back to life telling him to let go of his guilt and shame over past mistakes. Oblivion releases Hal from his prison.

Spectre and Batman make peace, laying to rest a long time fued finally Spectre is accepted as the hero is. And the JLA smile over a happy ending.

3Story - 3: The hook of the previous issue had me eagerly awaiting the conclusion. Sadly picking up this issue I found myself wondering why I bought either... The story was hard to take in and it just seemed to me it was like they were crushing too much of a story arc into just two issues. I found myself reading and re-reading the story, not for any of the right reasons. It was just a very confusing 'non event' of a story. It's only saving grace was the fact Bruce finally made peace with Hal... this fued has been going on since Coast City was destroyed. Oh and Bruce FINALLY got over the murder of his parents... 60 years on but at least that long arc is over!

3Art - 3: The art was mediocre this time round. The inking was very heavy and the pencilling seemed hasty. Despite the artwork for the book Darryl Banks designs for the Trans were very good. For some reason it seemed all the really good work went into the first issue.

2Cover Art - 2: The cover is not good- sorry guys. It just does nothing for the buyer. It is not composed well and though it shows the league... the Spectre is nowhere to be seen despite him being a key player in the title. It is pencilled, inked and colored extremely well on a plus side. Why didn't I give it a higher rating? The JLA/Spectre logos... and again as with the first I just felt they were put in as an afterthought...

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2003

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