All Associated Cover/Issue Images
Maxwell Lord: Eventually, the badguys always go down. Time… the universe… our reality… always seems to keep score, and no matter how long a run the black hats might have the good guys will eventually knock them right down the mat. But, that’s the thing, Jaime… You keep thinking that I’m the bad guy.
Booster Gold: Welcome to the party. You want to help?
Power Girl: Yeah. Sign me up.
Synopsis "Old Friends"
Previously: Maxwell Lord’s plan – whatever it may be – is accelerating. He set the Creature Commandos on the JLI as a distraction whilst he kidnapped the Blue Beetle. He arranged for Checkmate to be stood down by the United Nations so that it could be succeeded (in some as yet unknown way) by his New Checkmate. The rest of the JLI followed Max’s teleport trace to Tokyo, but they were blind-sided by Power Girl who attacked Captain Atom. She had come close to uncovering Max’s plans, but his mind control had clouded her mind.
Power Girl’s attack carries her and Captain Atom out of Tokyo and into woodland beside the Tama River. She is in tears as she grapples him, but its clear that she isn’t hearing the Captain’s protestations of innocence. She is hearing a completely different conversation, one created by Maxwell Lord’s mind control. They had assumed that Power Girl was after Atom because she thought that he had murdered Magog, but Max’s twisted illusion makes Captain Atom appear to be Superman. Power Girl believes that he is a rogue Superman who has started killing innocents. The idea of Superman’s betrayal creates a far stronger emotional response in her and makes her less likely to hold back.
At the New Checkmate Maxwell Lord oversees Professor Ivo’s investigation of Jaime’s Blue Beetle armour. The process tortures Jaime, but Max claims the suit had answers he needs. Jaime has been with the JLI because Max attacked his family, but up until now he hadn’t remember Max as the killer of his predecessor. Max admits that the pain of the torture cuts through his mind wipe. He then lets slip how the mind wipe actually works – it’s self-generating, the psychic weight of the people who believe the wipe overwhelms those who try to break it. Max also tells Jaime that he’s mistaken in thinking that he, Max, is the bad guy.
Atom realises that Power girl may be more than he can handle without releasing dangerously high levels of radiation so he signals their location to his JLI team-mates. They come running, but Power Girl sees them as Batman, Green Lantern, Starfire, and Supergirl who she believes have also gone rogue. They are forced to fight her, but their most powerful member – Captain Atom – holds back for fear of what his powers would do to Tokyo if he matched Power Girl’s ferocity. Rocket Red finally manages to make her pause with a massive sonic attack at her sensitive super-hearing. It’s then that Atom’s pleas finally get through to her and Max’s illusions are dispelled. An angry Power Girl then tells them to sign her up for the fight back against Maxwell Lord.
- Max’s global mind wipe is a one time deal and is self-propagating.
- Captain Atom leaks radiation if he uses his powers at their upper range.
- Ice has a new costume.
The end of this comic genuinely felt like one of those “aw’ yeah!” moments. There are some reversals, some victories that your favourite beleaguered characters win which makes you genuinely pleased for them. The Hulkster is out on the canvas, the referee has lifted his arm twice and its dropped limply to the mat, yet the third time he does it Hogan keeps his fist clenched in the air. It’s his sign for the crowd to go crazy because they know that the Hulkster is back in the match. Cough, well… ahem… perhaps you need to be of a certain age for that one.
I really didn’t see the Cap/Superman twist coming. When writing the synopsis for Power Girl #20 and Generation Lost #17 I naturally assumed that Max was telling Power Girl his cover story about Captain Atom – that he was responsible for Magog’s murder – but instead we’re shown that she doesn’t even know she’s fight Cap. It’s Superman she believes that she’s fighting.
Inside Pulse’s Grey Scherl questions this as Max has “been shown to have no problem getting people to achieve his exact goals” so wouldn’t need to use the an illusion like this. I’m not so sure, as it’s exactly what he did to turn Superman in “Sacrifice”. Max’s original power was shown to be more suggestion (a mental push) rather than the current “extreme mind control”. This type of clouding of minds fits better with his established powers than the direct puppetry shown in Magog’s suicide.
I loved JonesDeini description on Comicvine of Max as
…an evil, egomanical bastard with a messiah complex that makes Reed Richards and Tony Stark seem as meek and humble as Augustinian monks, and I couldn’t love him more for it.
Rarely has a villain been such a compelling character. Countdown to Infinite Crisis turned Maxwell Lord into a generic black hat (that plot wasn’t even shaped around him, he was just air dropped into a blank villain shaped space), but Judd Winick has been at pains to reconcile the pure evil Max with the wit and sneakiness of the old JLI Max.
Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan do a spectacular job with the art this issue and it may be the best looking issue of this series so far. I particular like the way that they show the JLE Cap and PG on the first page with their correct hair styles and then later closely match Power Girl to the same that Sami Basri draws her in her own title.
|Reviews Portal||IGN||Dan Iverson||7.5/10|
|Community Reviews||Comics Vine User Reviews||Av. of 3 reviews||4.5/5|
|Community Reviews||iFanboy||468 Pulls||4.2/5|
|Reviews Blog||Comics Per Day Reviews||Timbotron||Good|
|Reviews Blog||Inside Pulse||Grey Scherl||6/10|
|Character Site||Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||4/5|
Page 1 – This is a flashback to the time that Captain Atom and Power Girl were in the Justice League Europe. It isn’t stated when this happened, but it appears that it’s when Atom – who was the leader of JLE – had been recalled to the New York Embassy for some sort of meeting with Max and PG is there to give moral support. If this is a specific published moment that I’d guess its from around the time of Justice League Europe #5 (August 1989) when the Captain was recalled from Paris for a review that eventually saw him elevated in standing to equal with J’onn J’onzz (the leader of the JLI’s American team). It’s either that or its a social call, at the very least it has to have happened before Justice League Europe #15 (June 1990) when PG stopped using that version of her costume.
What is more confusing is the subtext that Power Girl is offering to skip dinner to keep Cap company as he doesn’t eat. The good Captain, at least during this era, was fully capable of switching back to an entirely human form which could eat. The development of him losing his humanity is a retcon introduced for this series.
Page 2 – The events there are discussing occurred in issue #13.
Page 4- Now this is interesting, very interesting. In the “Sacrifice” storyline Maxwell Lord mind controlled Superman. It wasn’t so much that he was using him as a puppet, but he was manipulating Superman’s perception of reality in order to make him do what he wanted. Superman almost destroyed the Justice League in the belief that he was attacking Brainiac, Doomsday, or Darkseid. That mind control was the result of a lot of work over many weeks by Max. Now he’s done the same thing to Power Girl – giving her the illusion of an opponent which makes it easiest to manipulate her perception of reality. For Power Girl that person is Superman. Not only is he a fellow kryptonian, but he’s probably the closest she has to a relative. His betrayal would hurt the most and cloud her judgement the most.
Page 5 – Ice has a new costume – well a tweaked one at least. She must have put it on last issue before they teleported to Tokyo. Looking back you can see the light-blue neck, but she isn’t shown beneath the neck. I’ve shown her two JLI costumes, her JLU costume, and new costume above. This new version reverses the colouration of the old costume (with the white stripe in the middle) and lightens the colour blue.
The ugg-boots are kept and a chest emblem is added – one from Ice’s Justice League Unlimited costume. However, where JLU went with the Power Girl chest window route Ice’s new costume keeps the shape, but fills it in. One thing to note about the above image is that while it is the only full-body panel showing her new costume it also shows her with bare arms whilst all the other panels show her with long gloves. Alan Kistler’s Agents of Style has quite a good retrospective on Ice’s costumes.
Page 11-12 - Max explains just how his mind-wipe works.
The basic premise is that the global mind wipe that makes people forget him is self-propagating. People who believe his version of reality exert a psychic force on the people around him. One or two people may be able to reason their way into making themselves believe that Max exists, but the overwhelming psychic weight of the forgetters around them would eventually force them back into line with the group delusion. We’ve seen this with both Batman and Power Girl who have both broken the mind wipe only for the weight of the group delusion to overwhelm them again.
The only way the mind wipe could then be broken would be if enough people could be simultaneously convinced that Max existed such that the psychic weight of the believers out weighted the psychic weight of the forgetters.
Max also describes the mind wipe as a one time deal. The implication is that it can’t be re-establish it if it is broken. He also mentions something that came up in the latest Justice League of America arc – that is the narrative laws of the DC Universe. Some characters are meta-textually aware that on average the good guys win in their universe just as, on average, the bag guys win in the Anti-Matter Universe. However, Max implies to Jaime that he is actually the good guy here. He told Booster something very similar in issue #1:
Page 16 - Booster hints at something new about Captain Atom’s powers in that if he uses his powers at full stretch he leaks dangerous radiation. So he has to hold back when there are innocent civilians around.