Justice League of America #10

by

Or – “We Were All Wrong…”

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Back in the day, DC had a crossover called Armageddon 2001, wherein one of the heroes of the DCU was revealed to be ready to turn into a totalitarian super-dictator within a few years. Throughout the crossover, all signs pointed to Captain Atom as being the one to turn, but legend has it that the reveal was leaked on the then-nascent internet, and DC changed their minds. Changing the super-secret plot point made the entire series make even less sense than before, and surprised people in a bad way. This issue also throws us a curve, but I suspect that this time, the false leads were intentional… Who lives, who dies, and who gets a great big hug? Read on…

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Previously, on the Lightning Saga: The Justice League defeated a coalition of their foes, but were surprised to find one of them was a hero in disguise… Only Superman knew that this was the Karate Kid, member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and it was quickly revealed that he wasn’t alone. New Justice Society member Starman was unmasked as Legionnaire Star Boy, and the combined JLA/JSA teams tracked Wildfire, Dream Girl, Dawnstar, Timber Wolf, and Sensor Girl. The seven Legionnaires managed to outwit and outplay the Justice friends, but their hand was tipped when Superman recognized the lightning rods they carried back into the past with them as identical to those used to resurrect Lightning Lad when he was a Legionnaire years ago. Unfortunately, Sensor Girl’s illusion powers allow the LSHers a clean getaway, frustrating both teams…

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Even as the Justice League and Society figure out they’ve been duped, the Legionnaires have reached their locations: Tokyo. Central City. Smallville. San Francisco. Gotham City. Keystone City. All locations that don’t make sense to resurrect Lightning Lad, Kal-L, or even Redd Foxx. Putting those locations together, however, DOES lead us towards a certain red-uniformed vizier of velocity… The Legionnaires, willing to give their lives for their cause, are ever-aware of the time factor.

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And there we have our answer… In this Legion timeline, Karate Kid DID die, his wife became Sensor Girl, and then he came back! And I can’t help but wonder if the “cheered three times” doesn’t refer to the mysterious ‘Legion of Three Worlds’ case that Superman mentioned last issue. At her station, Dream Girl speaks aloud, “I know you’re arriving.” As the words leave her mouth, The Flash appears at her side, following tracers hidden in their uniforms by Batman. He tries to reason with her, telling her that he’s been doing time travel longer than any man alive, and it doesn’t work that way… The JLA and JSA will stop them from recklessly sacrificing themselves. “That’s a fair point,” says Dreamy, “Unless, of course, my job is to stall the one person who’s actually fast enough to stop this from happening.” Jay processes that, then smiles… “We fought HITLER, sweetie… You really think I’m the fastest member on these teams?” As he speaks, Power Girl, Green Lantern, Red Tornado and Superman arrive at the other locations. Kal tries to reason with Sensor Girl, scanning her closely to make sure it’s not another illusion, but one thing convinces him…

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With only seconds to impact, Batman and Mr. Terrific track down Starman and Karate Kid’s signals, in Gotham City. At the same moment, Green Lantern and Batman realize they’ve been in their respective locations before. Batman remembers the spectre of Barry Allen reaching out to him, while Green Lantern recalls the chemicals, struck by lightning and dousing Barry. At that moment, the Justice friends attack, only to find that the flight rings are generating a force field. Even Jay can’t vibrate through them, and Dream Girl tells him, “Brainy made them impenetrable.” Jay calls to Black Canary, in the League Satellite Watchtower, and gives the signal.

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I’m going on record as saying that Nura Nal (Dream Girl) hasn’t even the slightest notion who “Hitler” is. Maybe I’m wrong, but her comeback there is pretty cute. The LSH takes their last moments to say their goodbyes, and it’s heartbreaking. Dawnstar and Wildfire declare their love for one another, Sensor Girl prays to her makers to protect her, and Timber Wolf simply whispers, “I’m coming, Ayla.” Batman realizes that Karate Kid has tricked them, and that Starman is carrying KK’s tracer. Suddenly, Sensor Girl calls out to her husband, realizing that he’s preparing to sacrifice himself.

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He speaks the code-phrase (“Lightning Lad.”) and the bolt arcs through him… And now you know who’s getting fried at the top. The other six Legionnaires teleport away, as Flash, Power Girl, and Superman use their super-speed to find KK’s location: Blue Valley, Nebraska. Suddenly, I think we’re getting swerved, folks. “Dear God…” says Superman. “You brought them all back.” Them? Not HIM? Who is it???

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I was wrong… But I’m not at all upset about that. Hearing Wally’s claim of being the fastest, a voice rings out, “No, you’re not.” Karate Kid rises, miraculously alive, and teleports away. At the same moment, in Gotham City, Starman tosses his ring away to Mr. Terrific, insisting that he has to stay, but that “I’m not the only one who has to help the past. The other Legionnaires arrive in Superman’s fortress, and they hustle into the time portal. Suddenly, ANOTHER time portal opens, and a voice calls out “Val, wait!” Karate Kid steps back, as Sensor Girl calls out for him to hurry…

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Y’know what? I’ve said over and over that hitting the reset button on Bart’s Flash career would be a bad idea, but I’m still happy to have Wally (and his entire FAMILY) back safe. It’s sort of like Ice’s resurrection, I don’t like the CONCEPT, but the execution totally sold me. Red Arrow and Green Lantern both teleport in, intent on greeting their pal, and Wally compliments Arrow on his new look. “Family business?” Wally asks, and Roy replies, “And family name…” While the congratulations and welcome backs continue, we see Wildfire reporting to Brainiac in the future. When he hears WHO they resurrected, Brainiac replies, “West? Curious.” Oddly, Batman shares his confusion.

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“I ducked.” Heh. I like that, for some reason, and also like that Starman and KK will be sticking around for a bit. Also, that looks a lot like a female form with Karate Kid. Is it another Legionnaire, or someone entirely unrelated? The JLA and JSA mull over what has happened (and Wally is confirmed as the missing eleventh member, which I truly love) but in the future, Brainiac and Wildfire are still talking. Holding one of the rods in his hand, Brainiac says “All I really care about is that we got WHO we wanted.” A face, seemingly wearing Flash wings on it’s head, is seen in the lightning rod Brainy carries. So, maybe they DID bring back Barry, and Wally was just a curious side-effect of tapping the speed force? And exactly WHAT does Brainiac need with him, if indeed that is him? This is more maddening than Skrullektra!

There are some rough spots in Benes’ art this month, but you hardly notice with the speed of the plot. Bits of dialogue throughout the issue are also a tad unclear, requiring a rereading to tell who was speaking which line. But, overall, I greatly enjoyed NOT having the big mystery all figured out, and being surprised, and the return of Wally and Linda (and their seemingly-now-pre-teen twins) excites me to no end. With Flash returning to the numbering of Wally’s series, it’s obvious that something is going to happen in Flash #13 (which I’ll review immediately after finishing this one, just ’cause I don’t want loyal Spoilerites to have to wait a day biting their nails.) The resurrection, plus Karate Kid staying, plus a mystery, plus the eleventh member NOT being Geo-Force (I very much enjoy that the two-page Justice League spread in Countdown last month was a red herring) combine for an excellent 4.5 star rating… And the interlac title of this issue? “The Villain is the Hero in his Own Story.” A fitting epigram, wouldn’t you say?

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