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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #117

JLA #117

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 10, 2005

Cover date: October 2005

Writer: Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg
Penciller: Chris Batista
Inker: Mark Farmer

"Crisis of Conscience" - Part Three

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

Despero taunts J'onn about his teammates' decision to mind-wipe Dr. Light, the Secret Society, and Batman. Despero and J'onn lunge at one another.

J'onn communicates with Despero telepathically as they recount Despero's long history with the JLA. Despero tells J'onn "Thanks to me, Zatanna's victims remember everything." Despero has restored the memories of the mind-wiped villains. J'onn and Despero continue to fight.

All over the DCU, Wally West runs around as the Flash - checking on the JLA members and their loved ones. Arriving in San Francisco, he finds Zatanna in a trance searching for the Secret Society. When Wally asks about Zatanna's loved ones, Zee tells him that her only family, since her parents died, is the JLA - she mind-wiped the villains not out of concern for her secret identity and personal life, but to safeguard her friends in the JLA and their secrets and loved ones.

Zee's magic shows the Daily Planet building under attack in Metropolis. Flash super-speeds to Metropolis and Zatanna contacts the JLA.

(Note: The first panel that takes place in Metropolis infers that this story takes place around the time of the events in "Villains United #4" in which Firestorm has been kidnapped by the organized cadre of bad guys led by Lex Luthor).

The Flash interrupts Lois, Jimmy, and Perry and whisks Lois to the Janitor's closet. Wally tells Lois it's an emergency and asks about Clark. Lois explains that Clark is on his way back from Geneva and that he'd asked her to bring a complete 'Clark Kent outfit' for him to change into. Just as Wally begins to tell Lois about the Secret Society, an explosion rocks the Daily Planet.

Several minutes earlier, in the Batcave, a recovered Selina Kyle brings tea to Batman, who is working on rebuilding the Red Tornado. A monitor shows the explosion in Metropolis. Selina urges Batman to contact the JLA; Batman refuses. Instead, he tries to contact Superman, who is rushing toward Metropolis - but Superman doesn't answer Batman's call.

Back in Metropolis, the Secret Society discusses who they might attack after they've finished with Lois Lane. The Wizard rattles off names like Iris Allen (Flash's aunt), Tim Drake (Robin), Barbara Gordon (Oracle), and even Jean Loring (Atom's ex-wife, currently inhabited by the Spirit of Eclipso over in "Day of Judgment").

Meanwhile, Lois hangs onto a flag pole high atop the Planet building. Flash offers to help her, but Matter Master liquefies the metal flag pole. Lois plummets toward certain doom.


Big Blue catches Lois and then flies off to face the Society - who refer to Superman as "Mr. Kent" and "Clark".

As Chronos and Matter Master attack the Man of Steel, the JLA has arrived to join the fight. It's Hawkman, Zatanna, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Green Arrow, and Black Canary.

The Justice League make quick work of the bad guys. Jimmy Olsen tries to get pictures. Perry White pulls him out of harm's way as the Flash races off to take down the Wizard. Wally grabs the Wizard's stone and they both plunge to more certain doom. Superman catches them. Felix Faust attacks Superman with red solar energy, but Zatanna uses her magic to knock Faust out. That's when Superman realizes Faust called him "Clark". Zee tells him they need to talk.

As Green Arrow explains to Superman what readers learned about in "Identity Crisis", Superman reveals that he always knew what the League did and chose not to say anything to them. Superman tells them that Batman told him he was mind-wiped too and quit the JLA. Superman says he is tempted to quit as well.

Unaware of J'onn's battle with Despero, the rest of the team doesn't know how the Secret Society got their memories back. But now they must consider what to do with a group of villains who know all their secrets. Hawkman says: "We vote."

To be continued.

5Story - 5: When I sat down to read this issue, I was surprised to find one page in the book folded over on itself and slipped underneath the staples holding the book together. Prepared to put the interests of Superman Homepage readers ahead of my own on a moment's notice, I pulled the staples out of the book and unfurled the folded-over page - all so this review could be complete for you the reader. You're welcome.

Ironically, I didn't miss the folded-over page on my initial read-through of the comic. It happened to be the page where Flash is super-bee-bopping all over the DCU checking up on his super friends and their friends. As I read the story, it skipped right from the fight between J'onn and Despero to Wally arriving in San Francisco to check on Zatanna. The story flowed better and paced faster sans the missing page.

Aw heck, let's be real - I'm just nitpicking. This issue is virtually flawless.

Actually, my only genuine nitpick with this issue is whether it takes place before or after the events of "The OMAC Project #4". It appears to be taking place afterward as Wonder Woman isn't around - but Batman appears too fit for someone who'd just been treated like a squeeze toy by a mind-controlled Superman.

It's rare that the things that really matter in Superman's life take place outside the core Superman titles. For that reason alone, this is an important story - and one that's been brewing since "Identity Crisis".

Superman knew what the League did to Dr. Light and the Secret Society. This was inferred by Green Arrow's narration in "Identity Crisis" and now it's clear. But at least he's not happy about it. It does seem as if the only real moral choice for Superman next issue is to resign from the JLA. Still, if Superman's unprepared to vote to mind-wipe the Secret Society again, doesn't that put a big, bright target on Mrs. Kent?

Up till now, those who believe the JLA sinned in its decision to mind-wipe the villains (and Bats) could only implicate the Man of Steel by omission - Superman was, at most, an accessory after the fact. That could all change next issue.

5Art - 5: In an issue featuring the most iconic representations of DCU heroes, it doesn't pass notice that Batista's Superman is drawn much like Jerry Ordway drew the character in the early 1990s over in "Adventures of Superman". As Clark caught a falling Lois (and let me say that no one falls out of a building like Lois Lane), I half expected to see Cat Grant and Gangbuster in the crowd below.

My only qualm was with Lois's wide smile. I suppose she'd be happy to see her husband and that she'd be pleased to not be dead. And the Daily Planet building is demolished and rebuilt on virtually a weekly basis. But with Perry and Jimmy still in danger, the smile makes Lois seem a bit self-centered and unconcerned with others. Or is she just that confident in her husband's presence being the beginning of the end for the bad guys?

Overall, this is a very pretty book that looks as if it was a lot of fun to draw. Almost everyone who matters - other than Wonder Woman - is on hand. The fight scenes are beautiful and much less claustrophobic than last issue. The artwork doesn't detract from the story, but adds a sense of reality and urgency to it.

5Cover Art - 5: The Wizard takes the worst of it from Superman even as Star Sapphire, Felix Faust, Matter Master, and Floronic Man extract their pound of steel. Though I never thought it could happen, this cover actually makes me wish that I were Chronos - not only is he just standing there while all his teammates do all the work and/or take all the punishment, he's finally found a use for the "Direct Sales" box: as a replacement for spandex super person undies. And he can lift his leg really high - and, I suspect, he can lift it even higher but he's just trying to stay out of the caption's way. This proves there is room for manners and super-villainy - even when your day job involves a white hood, green jumpsuit, and yellow cape.

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