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Miss Martian: I don’t think I’ll live much longer. But I’ll keep speaking to you until I die.
Starman speaking through Miss Martian: I see a room within a room. Floor, ceiling, four walls… and five sides. Five sides. I see a deadly dancing French girl. I hear the roar of canons, but what I see is dogs on fire. It’s autumn in Geneva. Funny little men with fierce eyes. Light dances before me, shades of malice. Butterfly lock and key. Tick, tock.
Power Girl: Was I like that? Man.
Congorilla: You were less eloquent. But oodles more fun.
Synopsis "The Dark Things Part Two"
Previously in Justice League of America #46: An emerald shadow has descended across the Earth. The Starheart – the relic into which the Guardians of the Universe bound the remnants of chaotic energy/magic left over from the early universe – has come to Earth. It has possessed Alan Scott (the original Green Lantern) and his son Todd Rice (Obsidian) and its baneful influence is causing temporary insanity to magic users, elementals, and those with power over light or shadow. The JLA and JSA have teamed up to rescue Alan and Todd and to stop the Starheart.
Faust has led the JSA’s Flash, Wildcat and Doctor Mid-Nite to the home of the Shade – the shadow casting immortal whose powers closely resemble Obsidian’s own – in the hope that he might be able to lead them to Obsidian, but they find the front door ajar. Upon investigating further they discover Obsidian and Doctor Fate who have just attacked the Shade. Fate had been missing, but it is now obvious that he too is under the Starheart’s control. Fate and Obsidian capture their former allies and leave through a shadow portal. Dr Mid-Nite had been outside advising on the treatment of the meta-humans affected by the Starheart. He arrives to see the closing shadow portal and dives through it after them.
Meanwhile, Mister Terrific is working on a device to nullify the Starheart’s vibrations. Hourman and the JSA-All Stars (Judomaster, Cyclone, Wildcat III, Citizen Steel, Stargirl, and Sand) have joined the battle against the heroes and villains who have been overcome by the Starheart’s chaotic power. When checking up on the Shadow Thief Lightning and Mister America are called upon to capture a prison guard called Larry Burke. He was a latent meta-human until he went insane and suddenly started controlling gravity. Batman worries about the magnitude of their problem if the Starheart is now magnifying people’s latent powers.
Batman had sent Starman to investigate the Starheart’s citadel on the dark side of the Moon as he was only one of them who could survive in space and was not vulnerable to the Starheart’s energies. Starman was to allow himself to be captured and then telepathically relay information about the citadel’s defenses to Miss Martian of the Teen Titans. His message is cryptic and overwhelms Miss Martian, turning her temporarily insane. The Starheart injured Starman by ripping his crystal off of his chest and Batman decides to stage a rescue attempt. He orders Power Girl, Supergirl, Lightning, and Congorilla back to Earth least they also fall under the Starheart’s power. He, Donna, Jade, Mister America, Jesse Quick, and Hourman will press forward to the Starheart’s citadel. They will be joined by Mister Miracle (Shilo Norman) who Batman has brought in to help them pass the Starheart’s defenses.
- Jay Garrick cannot run faster than the speed of light.
- Larry Burke is a guard at Alcatraz Federal Prison who rates 0.002 on the Hoshi Scale.
The second part of the “Dark Things” sees this story switch to the JSA and to the Golden Age material that made James Robinson such a popular writer. I don’t know if it is because of that, or whether the creative team are being careful to look after somebody else’s book, but this issue does feel like a bit of a step up from the usual JLA run. Doug @ CBR, who always has a nice turn of phrase, puts it down to a good dose of nostalgia,
Those appearances are moments that call back to the summers of my childhood laying in front of a box fan poring over thirty-five-cent or half-dollar gems like “Marvel Team-Up” and, well, “Justice League of America.” Each page turned revealed a surprise, or a new favorite, or a character that made my imagination soar.
The issue opens with a change of pace JSA segment as the Society’s core team is abducted during their visit to the Shade’s home. I’m curious to the Wildcat’s defeatist attitude. I always remember him as having a bit more spark, but he is consistent with the insensitive Wildcat from the first part of this cross-over (the one who questioned Jade’s identity).
I was surprised that Obsidian could take out Jay Garrick with just his first attack – you’d have thought that a speedster whose enemies included the Shade would have learnt a thing or two about fighting shadows. As to the shadow casting immortal himself, one presumes he will be okay as Robinson has hinted that he’d like to do another Shade project or mini-series. The appearance of Shilo Norman was a genuine and welcome surprise. He’s become an interesting character under Grant Morrison’s reins. It can’t be a coincidence that he’s shown up in a title that has already shown us evil parallels to the New Gods. I wouldn’t mind if the character stayed around, but part of me would like him to join the reformed JLI group (for old time’s sake).
There is a reason I write annotations for some of these stories and I think this issue shows why. Some of us spend far too much time reading comic books and we’re up on the various JLA/JSA/All-Star members. Robinson is careful to name check new characters as and when they pop-up. New readers then don’t have much problem just accepting that they’re another bunch of heroes, but the specifics for most of them aren’t important. As an aside, what this story could do with is one of those old-fashioned mug shot galleries on the first splash page – the type that shows each team and lists the name under each character.
The specifics of which character is which could confuse people with a slightly deeper knowledge of the JSA. As Shawn at Comic Bulletin observes…
They regroup in the “mainly demolished” moonbase of the League, and as there is no score card and I’m not a regular reader of the title, I’m not sure which Thunderbolt we’re dealing with, whether Jesse Quick was recently Liberty Belle, et cetera.
People who are familiar with the JSA from a few years back (say pre-Infinite Crisis when it was actually really good), but haven’t been keeping up have grounds for being confused. Using Shawn’s example, a large spikey figure in the JSA would logically seem to be Johnny or Jakeem’s pet Thunderbolt, but she’s Lightning, a completely unrelated character. If we still had any of Brad Meltzer’s League around they could name check her as Black Lightning’s daughter, but there isn’t, so they don’t. As for Jesse Quick – I don’t know that one. She turned from Liberty Belle to Jesse Quick in Flash: Rebirth, but has been running around in her Liberty Belle costume for a while in the JSA All-Stars backup feature.
A number of reviewers have picked up on one thing about this issue. As Mart @ Too Dangerous For A Girl puts it the “big revelation this issue is the artwork”. Mark Bagley is fast and is perfectly able to cope with the JLA’s normal 30-pages per issue, but for this crossover he’s dialed it down to 20-pages so he can handle the art on both titles. That means that it’s now possible for a single inker, in this case Norm Rapmund, to handle an entire issue. That combination really seems to be appreciated by reviewers. I don’t know whether it’s Norm and Mark in particular, or whether it’s just a single artist team on an entire issue, but this issue looks great.
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Doug Zawisza||4/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comics Bulletin||Shawn Hill||3/5|
|Community Reviews||Comics Vine User Reviews||Av. of 4 reviews||3.75/5|
|Community Reviews||iFanboy||299 Pulls||3.4/5|
|Character Site||Supergirl Comic Book Commentary||Anj||B/B+|
|Reviews Blog||Comic Book Bin||Herve St-Louis||7/10|
|Reviews Blog||Comics Per Day Reviews||Timbotron||Fair|
|Character Site||Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||3/5|
1.1 The inclusion of Miss Martian so prominently on the first page of this issue is an interesting choice. She is M’gann M’orzz, a White Martian girl who shapeshifts to look like a green Martian Manhunter. This is the issue that was on the stands when it was announced that M’gann would be part of the starting line-up for the Young Justice cartoon.
Also, and chillingly, the cliff hanger to Brightest Day #6 shows the Martian Manhunter discovering Megan’s unconscious (possibly dead) and bloodied body (as shown above). So her line “I don’t think I’ll live much longer” seems to have two meanings.
2.1 The narrator of this particular section is the Wildcat. Ted Grant, one of the trio of original JSA members who are still active (the others are the original Flash and Green Lantern). He was originally a boxer, a world heavyweight champ in the DC Universe, with no superpowers. This is the guy that taught Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle how to box so he’s no push over.
2.1 The Shade’s home. The Shade was one of Jay Garrick’s old foes during the Golden Age of comics, but he was revealed to be much more than that during James Robinson’s run on Starman. The Shade is an amoral immortal. He’s more than happy to play the role of villain as long as it entertains him and its outside of his adopted home of Opal City.
The Shade is rather protective of Opal and has of late spent more time helping heroes than villains. Although, he can be contrary where both are involved. In Cry For Justice he warned Jay Garrick about Prometheus’s attacks on cities (including Opal). He also provided the means for Green Arrow to reach Prometheus extra-dimensional headquarters. Then in Rise and Fall he gave up the evidence to Hal Jordan and Barry Allen that showed that Green Arrow had murdered Prometheus.
2.1 Jamie Reyes is the Blue Beetle. He’s currently starring in Justice League: Generation Lost.
4.1 Obsidian and Doctor Fate. This Doctor Fate is Kent Nelson, a relative of the original Doctor Fate’s Kent Nelson. He hasn’t been Fate for very long and was pretty green when he began. However, he’s rapidly progressed in experience and is now in full-blown Doctor Fate mode.
6-7.3 Capsule version: Nabu was a Lord of Order, an alien sorcerer/entity that came to Earth during the Egyptian age. He eventually poured his power and intelligence into the Helmet of Doctor Fate passing on his power and resources to whoever wears it (provided they are worthy).
8-9.7 “Let’s see how good my vision is in this kind of darkness.” A medical accident means that Doctor Mid-Nite’s superhuman vision is very sensitive. He can see in almost total darkness, but requires heavily fogged goggles in order not to be blinded by daylight.
10.1 The JSA-ALL Stars are a breakaway group from the main Justice Society. The JSA had grown steadily larger by embracing more and more young legacy heroes and it eventually reached a critical mass. A generational gap opened between with the older more established heroes(the JSA) and the younger heroes (the JSA All-Stars). Power Girl and Hourman work with the younger group. Hourman is the husband of Jesse Quick.
10.2 Cyclone is the grand-daughter of Ma Huckle – the original, non-android Red Tornado. She is sometimes described as a weather witch. The woman in yellow and red is the current Judomaster. They are fighting Devastation, a Wonder Woman foe who was created by Kronos (Zeus’s father) of the Green Titans (the gods not the teen superheroes) to be an evil, reverse Wonder Woman.
10.3 Another All-Star, Wildcat, the son of the original. Unlike his father this one is a werecat and has the ability to turn into superstrong and fast human/big-cat hybrid. He is fighting Livewire. She is a Superman foe, a former radio shock jock who gained electrical powers. Like Harly Quinn, she first appeared in the DCAU cartoons and was later introduced into the comics.
11.1 Citizen Steel, Nathan Haywood, is a member of the All-Stars. He is the cousin of the Steel (Hank Heywood) who was a member of the Detroit JLA and who recently appeared as Black Lantern Steel in the Blackest Night JLA issues. He is wrestling a figure I’m having a hard time placing. The tattered trousers and skin tone made he think it was Joshua Power (he appeared briefly in JLA #42), but I’d have thought he’d be in his rock form. The swirls are a bit like Shift (a Metamorpho clone), but the colouring is off.
11.2 Stargirl is Countney Whitmore, she uses the modified version of Ted Knight’s Cosmic Rod which was originally used by Jack Knight (the Starman from James Robinson’s Starman series). She is fighting Yellow Peri, a very obscure Superboy villain, she found a magic book that she used to plague Superboy.
11.3 This is Sanderson Hawkins alias Sand, alias the Sandman – the former Golden Age sidekick of the original Sandman (Wesley Dodds). The framing sequence of Kingdom Come had Dodds suffering from dreams that foretold the war between the different generations of heroes. He passed those dreams on to a Priest who then served as the point-of-view character for the series. In the DC Universe proper, Dodds still had prophetic dreams and upon his death they were passed on to the still youthful Sandy. I assume that is why is babbling about dreams becoming nightmares. Sandy has the ability to turn himself into sand and it looks like the Starheart’s power is causing him to fall apart.
12.1 Two Islands are visible. On the left is Alcatraz Island and in right is Titans Tower (the headquarters of the Teen Titans). Alcatraz, colloquially known as “The Rock”, is one of the most famous prisons in the world and housed criminals like Al Capone before it was shutdown in 1963. In the DC Universe it was reopened as a maximum security prison for superhumans.
12.3 The Shadow Thief (Carl Sandy) used a Thanagarian shadow generator to become a supervillain. He can merge with shadows and was last a threat to the League when he teamed up with the stellar vampire Starbreaker to seize control of the Shadowslide – a teleportation gateway used by Milestone’s Shadow Cabinet in Dwayne McDuffie’s last JLA arc (there are a lot of shadows in comics).
12.4 Mister America is Jeffery Graves. Lightning is Jennifer Pierce, the eldest daughter of the former Outsider and Justice Leaguer Black Lightning and the sister of Thunder.
12.5 “I’m all ears.” You’d never heard Bruce Wayne cracking a joke like that.
13.3 The Hoshi Scale of Meta Ability has to be named after the secret identity of Doctor Light (Dr Kimiyo Hoshi). She is on leave from the League and has returned to her say job at STAR Labs Metropolis (as shown in recent issues of Supergirl). I believe there is also a Palmer Scale.
13.5 “…our problems just quadrupled.” — implication is that 75% of all metahumans only have latent powers which in the DC Universe would include spoon benders, psychic grannys, and most fortune tellers.
16.4 A new romance?
17.1 This it the Justice League’s second Watchtower. The first was destroyed by Lex Luthor’s Injustice Gang and was rebuilt in a second configuration while the League were split from their alter egos by the Id. That in turn was destroyed by Superboy Prime in the run up to Infinite Crisis when he kidnapped the Martian Manhunter for Alexander Luthor. The last time this Watchtower was visited was probably when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman met here in Infinite Crisis #1. The lunar Watchtowers were superseded by the current satellite Watchtower.
17.4 This is the cliff hanger to JLA #46.
18.1 This is where we came in.
18.4 Cryptic. We’ll wait to see what this means as I haven’t a clue.
19.2 As mentioned, Miss Martian is a White Martian. This is what her people usually look like – you can understand why she thinks people won’t accept her on Earth looking like this. Humans have accepted the stern Pale Martian form of J’onz J’onzz so that is who she emulates to fit in.
20.2 Congorilla is a danger because Congo Bill’s power to originally switch minds with the Golden Gorilla was magical. Supergirl and Power Girl are both a threat because their powers derive from the sun and the Starheart is affecting powers of light and dark. Lightning is a threat because of the “light” part of Lightning. Erm, whatever Batman says.
20.3 There are six of them. Count them. It’ll make the quip on the next page make sense.
21.1 Shilo Norman. The third Mister Miracle. The original was Thaddeus Brown, the human circus escape artist from whom Scott Free of New Genesis inherited his persona. Scott Free was one of the New Gods, but Shilo Norman – his apprentice – is human. Shilo has become the active Mister Miracle following Scott Free’s disappearance/death/resurrection as part of the fall/resurrection of the New Gods during the Final Crisis. He was one of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers.