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Synopsis "Max'ed Out"
Previously in Justice League: Generation Lost #1: The discovery that Maxwell Lord, the rogue ex-director of Checkmate and the Justice League International, is still alive has spawned a worldwide manhunt involving the Justice League, Checkmate, the UN, and the entire intelligence community. Booster Gold deduced that Lord had returned to the JLI’s New York Embassy. Max ambushed Booster and left him unconscious while he prepared to broadcast a massive telepathic suggestion to the entire world. Captain Atom, Fire, Ice, and Skeets answered Booster’s distress call, but they arrived just as Max was making his broadcast. It overwhelmed them and left them unconscious while Max escaped. Superman answered their signal, but he told them that he’d never heard of a person called Maxwell Lord.
Superman is perplexed as to why the former JLIers have activated the old emergency signal. He repeats that he has never heard of a person called Maxwell Lord. Even when he is shown images of Wonder Woman murdering Lord all Superman can see is Wonder Woman posing with a sword. He just thinks they’re acting weird and recommends that the JLIers “stand down” for the foreseeable future. Booster goes to see Batman, but he hasn’t heard of Maxwell Lord. He has excuses for the history surrounding Max and tells a shocked Booster that Ted Kord (the previous Blue Beetle) committed suicide. Fire talks to Wonder Woman, but she denies ever killing anybody and believes that Fire’s panic is related to her dismissal from Checkmate. And when Ice tries to talking to Guy Gardner he nearly panics and claims that she tried to murder him. They also talk to many other heroes, but they all deny ever hearing of Maxwell Lord and question whether the JLIers are feeling okay.
Captain Atom calls an emergency meeting of his superiors at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. He finds the US Army’s Magog waiting around just in case he happens to “balk” at turning himself in. Atom finds Max waiting for him inside the General’s office and lunges at him, but its another of Max’s “suggestions” and Atom is actually assaulting his superior officer. Magog and the Air Force attack Captain Atom, but keep firing even after he tries to surrender. The Captain survives being blown up and prevents any loss of life before escaping.
Max has discredited Fire, Ice, and Captain Atom, but he hasn’t bothered discrediting Booster because, as Skeet’s puts it, his efforts would be “redundant.” These four were at the epicentre of Max’s telepathic broadcast and were not affected by it. Max has had to made adjustments to isolate them and make them appear mad or “dirty”. They return to the New York JLI Embassy to discuss their predicament. Booster is indignant that Max made Ted’s murder appear a suicide and is fired-up to continue the hunt, but Ice is hesitant and Fire leaves to confront her former employers at Checkmate. Skeet’s announces that he’s found a faint transmission tracking their movements. He traces it to El Paso, Texas where they find that Jaime Reyes (the current Blue Beetle) and his family are under attack from a quartet of OMACS.
- In Maxwell Lord’s version of history it was Bruce Wayne who founded the JLI, Lex Luthor who hijacked the OMAC Project, and Ted Kord committed suicide.
The first issue set-up the manhunt for Maxwell Lord and reintroduced the old Justice League International characters. This second issue takes the conclusion of the firsts issue, the erasing of everybody’s memories of Max, and explores how that works on a practical level. The end of the first issue threw up the obvious question about the physical evidence for Max’s existence. We see that question answered by Superman’s reaction to the now infamous head-twist “photograph” . Max’s telepathic suggestion includes a post-hypnotic suggestion that causes everybody to rationalise away his existence. Read/Rant comments on the premise:
As a result, issue 2 spends a lot of time trying to explain the mechanics of something that is utterly ridiculous. This is one of those comic book concepts that the reader will either choose to except so that they can enjoy the story as it is being told or their inability to roll with the punches will sink the story for them. Dwelling too much on the mechanics of these kinds of things usually just serves to highlight how silly they really are.
The remaining elephants in the room are Bruce Wayne and J’onn J’onzz. The development of how the time-travelling Bruce Wayne reacts to the new status quo will be interesting. He wasn’t around to have his mind altered and even if he was around he’s the one man who is smart enough to notice that his memory has been altered. J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, also wasn’t on Earth – if the chronology of Brightest Day is correct – so he may not have been affected. Max has been able to influence J’onn before so we’ll have to see if he’s been able to do it again.
I wasn’t too taken with Lopresti’s art last issue. The result of his pencils over Keith Giffen’s breakdowns was serviceable, but in hindsight not a bad match for the old JLI style. This time around, Joe Bennett’s pencils over Giffen’s breakdowns aren’t so good. The rotating art teams are necessary to keep a fortnightly title on time, but it does produce some issues as to continuity. Greg @ CBR observes that
The differences between the first two issues aren’t huge, but they’re also hard to ignore. We’re seeing hair styles shift from one artist to the next (Bennett is giving Fire a nasty case of flat hair, compared to the full and curly styles from Lopresti), and the size of the atom logo on Captain Atom’s chest is growing and shrinking as different artists tackle it.
The body types don’t quite seem right. Captain Atom always works as the buff metal man, but I find it odd when Fire and Ice are drawn stick-figure thin (Image/Mike Turner-eque) rather than a more rounded style (Kevin Maguire/Adam Hughes). It didn’t work for the mid-1990s issues of JLA and it doesn’t really work here.
Dan at IGN made an observation that intrigued me.
What’s most disappointing about Generation Lost so far is its shortage of humor. Considering the cast’s rich comedic history and the involvement of Keith Giffen, one of the writers responsible for that rich comedic history, it’s shocking to see this series provide so few laughs. Come to think of it, the only truly funny moment in this issue is a brief exchange between Dick Grayson and Booster Gold that highlights Judd Winick’s strong grasp on Dick’s voice more than it shows any real understanding of Booster’s sense of humor.
I’ve been wating for it myself – for the fun to start- but maybe that isn’t the intention. Judd Winick can be funny, but you get the feeling that this is a very reserved script, almost as if the writers are trying not to seem like those bwah-ha-ha guys.
The addition of the new Blue Beetle is welcome. He was the only standout character (sorry Dr Choi fans) to emerge from the Infinite Crisis and his creative, if not commercial, success partially validates removing his predecessor. His now defunct series could have ignored Ted Kord’s JLI legacy, but it instead grasped it with both hands. Guy Gardner was one of the first heroes he interacted with and he earned Batman’s trust from the start. His addition could be the kick start this book needs.
A good, if not outstanding, second issue. It does a lot of the set-up and premise exploration that hopefully will allow the next few issues to concentrate on plot and not exposition.
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Greg McElthatton||2/5|
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A lost less to annotate this issue as we’re more or less done with the introductions.
- 1.1 Maxwell Lord has previously messed with Superman’s mind. Immediately before Infinite Crisis, there was a four-part crossover called “Sacrifice” that span out of the OMAC Project. It ran through the Superman titles and Wonder Woman. The Superman issues showed Superman fighting more and more dangerous foes. What he didn’t realise was that Lord was controlling his perceptions so that he was actually attacking his friends and allies and not his enemies. Years before, Superman had executed a parallel universe version of General Zod and the Martian Manhunter theorised that Superman’s guilt had left a defect in his mental armour which Lord used to gain deep access to his mind. The universal realignment that took place during the Infinite Crisis erased Superman’s execution of Zod and presumably the mental defect that let Lord dominate him.
- 1.2 As mentioned last time, the only way for Wonder Woman to free Superman of Max’s mental domination was for Wonder Woman to snap Max’s neck. Brother Eye, the AI that Lord had stolen from Batman, recorded Max’s murder and broadcast pictures of it to the world’s media – it’s those images that the JLIers are trying to show Superman.
- 2.1 Captain Atom’s boots continue to be red.
- 4.6 Last issue: Captain Atom, Fire, and Ice were part of a Checkmate/US Military expedition in Yemen chasing a lead on Max when they discovered one of his traps – a nuclear bomb. Captain Atom absorbed its explosion, but had to fly into orbit to safely discharges the absorbed energies.
- 5.1 The Batcave. This Batman is called the “New Dark Knight” because he is Dick Grayson, the first Robin, who has taken over as Batman while Bruce Wayne is believed dead. Booster Gold keeps his work for Rip Hunter secret from most of the superhuman community, but Batman – the Bruce Wayne Batman – deduced that Booster was up to something more serious. The Batcomputer shows images of an OMAC, the JLI (Booster’s costume should have collar on it in that “photograph”) and an alien called a Dominator. Max gained his telepathic ability after a Dominator detonated a “Gene-Bomb” designed to kill all those with the gene that allowed humans to gain superpowers. Its effects were reversed, but it revealed the presence of the genetic factor in many people that didn’t yet possess superpowers.
- 5.6 The costumes behind Booster appear to be the first Bob Kane look, the Year One look, and a Michael Keaton movie style costume.
- 7.1 Fire refers to the events of Blackest Night #8 and Brightest Day – the companion fortnightly title to his one.
- 9.1 In the top-left hand corner is a dove, a bird of peace, an odd symbol to be shown near Guy Gardner. Guy is a Green Lantern – “Rambo with a ring” was how one of his JLI team-mates sardonically described him – and a founding member of the JLI. He’s mellowed (relatively) since then and is a senior ranking GL, part of the Honour Guard responsible for duties on Oa. Guy was one of the lead character of the Green Lantern Corps series and is, at the time of publication, moving across to a new title called Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors. He has been Ice’s boyfriend since their JLI days – baring a long break when she was dead – and a lot of humour has been made of the timid, sweet Tora taking the brash, macho Guy on various disastrously amusing dates. Therefore the idea of Ice trying to kill Guy is rather strange.
- 10 These heroes are l-to-r, t-to- b, the Flash (Barry, Wally’s eyes are green), Captain Marvel (Freddy Freeman), Power Girl, Hawkman, Oracle (Barbara Gordon), Plastic Man, Black Lightning, Zatanna, and Mister Terrific.
- 11.1 Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is real. It’s situated about 5 miles outside Tuscon, Arizona.
- 11.3 A version of Magog first appeared in Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come. This version was introduced to the JSA by Geoff Johns and Alex Ross to foreshadow events during a visit by the Kingdom Come Superman. He is Marine Lance Corporal David Reid, a grandson of a US President, and he was given superpowers by a surviving Old God (the predecessors to the Jack Kirby’s New Gods) called Gog. Magog joined the JSA, but was instrumental in splitting them into two teams (the JSA and JSA All-Stars) before Power Girl kicked him off of the JSA All-Stars. His ongoing title is written by Keith Giffen.
- 13.2 Captain Atom’s superior officer. It always use to be Wade Eiling, but he went rogue. This general isn’t identified.
- 18.1 Max hasn’t attempted to undermine Booster because his public image is already rock bottom. That would imply that Max is ignorant of Booster’s connection to Rip Hunter and the time steam.
- 23.1 Jamie Reyes is the third Blue Beetle. The first Blue Beetle was Dan Garrett, an archeologist who used a magical scarab he’d discovered to become a Golden Age era mystery man. Dan was a mentor to Ted Kord, the rich son of an industrialist. Ted swore to continue Dan’s work after he was killed and his scarab lost. Ted used his money and genius to invent his own non-superpowered version of the Blue Beetle. It was Ted’s Blue Beetle who was a founding member of the JLI and Booster Gold’s best friend. Ted was killed by Maxwell Lord, but Dan’s scarab resurfaced in El Paso, Texas. It turned out that the Scarab was actually an infiltration unit from an alien race called the Reach. These were sent to planets to prepare them for invasion. With Dan and Ted gone the Scarab has become bonded to an El Paso school boy called Jamie Reyes. Jamie has learnt to live with the Scarab and work with the alien intelligence contained within. Together they were able to prevent the Reach from using them as a bridge head on Earth and they have made contact with some of Ted’s old friends. Jamie’s own title has recently finished – it was written originally by Keith Giffen and John Rogers – and he had a back-up feature in Booster Gold written by Matthew Sturges..