Friday, November 07, 2008


Unlimited Chapter 4: Unleashed (DC)
Justice League of America #15 When: January 2008 Why: Dwayne McDuffie How: Ed Benes

The Story So Far...
The matrimonial union of Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen -- better known to the world as Black Canary and Green Arrow -- should have been one of the happiest occasions on the Justice League calendar. Instead, it was to initiate a new incarnation of the Injustice League into being, marking another in a long line of personal attacks suffered by the heroes in recent years.

Organized as an "unlimited" version of the team by Lex Luthor, Joker, and Cheetah; the League of criminals forms as a response to the dissolving Society of Supervillains. With motives of widespread corruption and protection of crooks, the Injustice League strikes with startling success.

Having captured the JLA, the Injustice League holds their nemesis in captivity with the intent of executing them, but despite their consumate planning they failed to take into account the legacy of an atomic hero called Firestorm!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Superman 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Lex Luthor 6 (Genius)
Speed: Superman 6 (Mach Speeds)
Stamina: Shaggy Man 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Shadow Thief 7 (Unlimited)
Fighting Ability: Deathstroke 7 (Living Weapon)
Energy Power: Green Lantern 7 (Cosmic)

- The Justice League of America are: Black Canary, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Red Arrow, Hawkgirl, John Stewart, Geo-Force, Vixen, Hal Jordan, and Firestorm.

Born of necessity; the Justice League represent a coordinated effort by the world's finest heroes to protect and serve in the many iterations of their regional representation, and on a global scale. Boasting some of the planet's most powerful humans and extra-terrestrials, the League is equipped to combat any threat that should overwhelm the individual efforts of their member, or conventional defenses of the world's nations.

The League is classically defined by the core membership of it's founding members, affectionately referred to as the big seven. Overseen by stalwarts, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, they are; Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. Several of these members would come to be succeeded by others baring their name, Wally West and Kyle Rayner, while many other heroes would come to be prominently listed with the group; Hawkman, Atom, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Zatanna, Elongated Man, Firestorm, Captain Marvel, Red Tornado, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, and others.

- The Injustice League are: Lex Luthor, Dr. Light, Giganta, Shadow Thief, Mr. Freeze, Fatality, Killer Frost, Gorilla Grodd, Poison Ivy, Deathstroke, Cheetah, Joker, Chesire, Shaggy Man, and Volcano Man.

Formed originally by a bored alien despot, Agamemno; the Injustice League exists as a none-too-subtle counter response to the premiere superhero collective of the DC Universe, the Justice League. Their original membership consisted of Kanjar Ro, Lex Luthor, Catwoman, Sinestro, Penguin, Dr. Light, Chronos, Black Manta, Felix Faust, and Mr. Element.

Sometime after his interdimensional doppelganger galvanized the criminal community as The Society, Lex Luthor reformed the League with a large group of villains, intending to utilize their powers as a protection unit. His true motives behind the formation of the team remain secret, but when the Earth's villains are banished to the planet Salvation, Luthor is prepared to lead them to safety.

Math: Injustice League (Ttl) Justice League (Avg) Ranking: Batman (#2)

What Went Down...
Lex Luthor, armed with powersuit and kryptonite knife, looms over a battered Superman with victory seemingly imminent. That is, until Firestorm arrives to transmute the life-sapping alien shiv into a harmless carbon-based toy!

Unaware of the young hero's efforts to free an imprisoned Justice League, Luthor gloats over the numerical superiority of his collective. Killer Frost is the first to strike, firing ice that easily countered with Firestorm's nuclear heat.

Dr. Light joins the femme fatale to lend a little extra power, but Firestorm is not without his own impending back-up... Having freed himself and the team with a ballpoint pen supplied by Firestorm - Batman marches the JLA into a rematch with their sinister counterparts!

Acting team leader, Black Canary, immediately makes her presence felt, dissipating Shadow Thief with the blasting echo of her canary-cry.
She promptly turns her attentions to grappling with Cheshire, while some members of the Injustice League opt to make an escape, left to run free in favour of strategic grouping by the JLA.

Canary tosses her opponent into Cheetah, leaving Chesire to attempt an escape into the surrounding swampland of her own. Hawkgirl borrows some of Red Arrow's hollowpoints to account for the absence of her mace, suggesting the archer might be going soft on his former flame.

Told not to pursue Mr. Freeze or Deathstroke; Wonder Woman takes the initiative to swing back around to aid Firestorm with a knock-out blow to Killer Frost!

Still unconscious, Black Lightning finds himself with the talon-like fingernails of Cheetah at his throat. Seemingly out of the game, the hero awakens, responding to Cheetah's threats with an unforgiving electrical charge!

Green Lantern joins the fray, forming a green force bubble to fend off the combined attack of Fatality's yellow Qwardian powerring, and Dr. Light's light manipulations.

Red Arrow lends the assist, firing a warning arrow into Fatality's hand with the promise of a second to the forehead. Undeterred by the hero's threats, it's Firestorm who puts the Xanshian warrior down by using his matrix powers to turn the Qwardian ring's energy against her!

Wonder Woman turns her Amazonian super-strength to Gorilla Grodd, swatting him into submission with a devestating three-fist combo! Alas; the attention required by the Gorilla leaves her wide open to a sneak attack by the Shaggy Man! Meanwhile, Wonder Woman's arch-nemesis, Giganta, challenges Black Canary to a one-on-one tussle.

The Canary narrowly vaults over Giganta's giant piledriving fist, using her bodyweight to snap back on the fifty-foot woman's oversized thumb! Having the proportionate dimensions of a skyscraper turns out to be a horrible disadvantage when Black Canary unleashes her sonic scream on the giant-woman's eardrums. As she passes out, Lex Luthor narrowly avoids being crushed by his ally.

Vixen, having absorbed the powers of Superman, launches into battle with Volcano Man, withstanding the burning sear of his rocky body to deliver a two-fisted polish hammer! The Volcano Man gets a taste of the Earth as the mimicking hero uses Kryptonian power to grind his head into the ground with a super-fast boot, before returning the powers to their original vessel.

Armed with the razortips of two red arrows, she easily slices through the animated fauna at the command of Poison Ivy. Not so easy, however, is the renewed assault launched by Fatality on Red Arrow and John Stewart!

While Black Lightning and Firestorm tend to a damaged Red Tornado, Gorilla Grodd launches a charging assault spotted by the legless android. Firestorm creates a brickwall to slow the charge, but Grodd easily pounds through it. Just as the rampaging beast reaches his prey the ground suddenly opens up by the will of Geo-Force, who entraps Grodd by closing the chasm!

With the tide definitively turning, Cheetah seems to come to the aid of an unconscious Dr. Light, but as soon as he gets to his feet, it is Cheetah who rakes her claws through the doctor's back!

Light's past comes back to haunt him at the least likely of moments, but before Cheetah can deliver the killing stroke to the sex offender, Wonder Woman intervenes to deflect the slash. The Amazon talks her arch-villain down, only to have Firestorm swat her unconscious with an energy blast.

Meanwhile, with his powers restored, Superman interrupts an aerial skirmish between John Stewart and Lex Luthor, to challenge his arch-nemesis.
Hal Jordan arrives to join his fellow GL Corpsman in gripping the kryptonite gauntlets on Luthor's suit with the energy of the power rings, giving Superman the chance to deliver a knock-out blow.

The defeat of founding members, Luthor and Cheetah, puts an end to the Injustice League's antics. Batman, who had been conspicuously absent from the fight, arrives with the final member of the founders, the Joker, having ignored a direct order from the team's newest leader, Black Canary.

With the unconscious collection of the villains at their feet, the question of what to do with them becomes the JLA's most pressing concern. It's then that Amanda Waller leads her ragtag team of reformed villains into the room, waving an official warrant in the generation direction of the heroes!

The Hammer...
Okay, you probably figure it's a pretty clear case of the Justice League taking the victory here, but the end of the issue includes an additional twist. For the villains who appeared to escape, a seven-issue maxi-series earns them an off-page defeat at the hands of Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad for the assist!

Unbenknownst to Bane, Deadshot, Blockbuster, Plastique, Count Vertigo, Bronze Tiger, Multiplex, and Captain Boomerang, a good number of them are slated to join the captured villains on a prison planet called Salvation. All part of the Salvation Run event that defined much of the DC villains' 2008.

For November on the belated Infinite Wars, this issue made for a great opportunity to stop in with a good many playable characters from Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. While we can't help but offer a somewhat damning assessment of the final product, we are still quite enthusiastic about the properties surrounding the game. Of the heroes and villains appearing in this issue, you can so far play as: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Deathstroke, Joker, and Lex Luthor. Downloadable characters may emerge before the end of the year.

With the Infinite Wars a horrid two weeks behind schedule once more, our unforgiving agenda quite naturally lands us with an epic battle between two mammoth teams. I'm sure there was a lot of commentary that could've made for some interesting and ponderous discussion, but as has been a bit characteristic of our second-half of 2008, you might have to make do without the best of us.

I wouldn't be quite as harsh on the heavily editorialized nature of the series, but would have to agree with some other reviewers' sentiments that the Meltzer-reboot of JLA as a series has failed to really present the A-list title you would expect. Marvel's New Avengers has suffered a similar deterioration, but holds on stronger to the focus of it's characters and an independent story.

In the end the biggest negative is the burden that seems to filter through to McDuffie's script. I'd like to think it isn't his public acknowledgment of frustration that's colouring this interpretation of the issue which feels much less inspired than other superhero skirmishes we've seen from McDuffie, or other writers. The team and adventure feels like a restrictive checklist of required beats.

At the end of the day, a sizable portion of the mainstream audience has been reacting negatively to this editorial vision. While it might not be benefitting JLA as much as one would like, Dan Didio's corporate ship feels cohesive and logical. I simply couldn't fault the issue for being connected to events that contribute to the saga of the DCU and the League as a vital component of that Universe.

Cheetah's sudden betrayal of Dr. Light reads like an awful pro wrestling plot twist, but as described in our Final Crisis #1 review, is an appreciated acknowledgment of a major event that's felt like the elephant in the room every time Dr. Light makes casual appearances in titles like Teen Titans, Green Arrow, or Superman/Batman. Light, of course, suffered a more torturous penance for his sexual assaults under the vengeful gaze of The Spectre -- a fate befitting of one of the most vile criminals DC has seen, depending on when you've read him (post-Identity Crisis). Wonder Woman's speech feels as ham fisted as Cheetah's attack, but with that vital acknowledgment of his crimes, it feels much easier to respect and enjoy Light's tumultuous career over the past few years.

The Infinite Wars will be back again with more Mortal Kombat and DC Universe features in the coming days, including the follow-up to our MK spotlight, this time with the characters from the DCU portion fo the recent game. Stay tuned!

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 4

Christmas is coming and with comics a conscious part of the zeitgeist, why not gift a full story? The Infinite Wars offers a range of titles easily purchased online via Amazon. Not only do they have great prices, but by visiting the store via one of the links on the Infinite Wars before your purchase, you help sponsor the website! Need some ideas? The Infinite Wars has an extensive catalogue of reviews that can be purchased in the Gift Shoppe! Not a Christmas celebrant? Fret not! All holiday makers are welcome!

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