September 15, 2009

JLA: Tower of Babel

The majority of the stories in the trade center on Ra’s Al Ghul’s attack against the JLA. This is one of my favorite JLA trades.

The trade starts with an almost Silver Age-type weird one-short. The Atom is helping doctors to perform eye surgery on a young man and finds that the infection is actually a colony of intelligent bacteria inside the boy’s brain. He enlists the help of the JLA so that they can try to persuade the aliens to move. The JLA shrinks down and travels to the boy’s brain. Wackiness ensues. Written by Dan Curtis Johnson and drawn by Pajarillo.

I was a bit disappointed who very conservative the bacteria were. So, they look like bugs but their civilization is almost a straight copy of our own. Otherwise, it’s entertaining and the three last panels are especially weird.

Then, the Tower of Babel starts with a bang when the Batman arrives to his parents’ grave only to find out that their bodies have been stolen. Then J’onn experiences a weird attack. Later, Flash and Wonder Woman are trying to extinguish a wild fire and find out, to their horror, that the flaming man in the middle of the forest is J’onn. They take him to the Watchtower and try to help him. Apparently, J’onn skin is covered with nanites that turn trace elements of his skin to magnesium and so, ignite his skin whenever his in contact with air. The JLA has no choice but to put him into a water tank.

Then the Aquaman and the Plastic Man are attacked in the middle of a peace conference. The Plastic Man is frozen and then shattered. The Aquaman is subjected to gas that makes him mortally afraid of water. The Green Lantern woke up blind. The JLA is in disarray and the attacks against them only continue.

Alas, the rest of the world isn’t in much better shape: it appears that people can no longer read. People are in panicking.

Meanwhile, Batman is following the trail of Ra’s who took his parents’ bodies. When Batman finds Ra’s hideout, Ra’s offers to bring the Wayne’s back to life through the Lazarus Pit. As always, Ra’s goal is to pare down humanity to a manageable size so that the planet and nature can continue to exist.

The story is fast-paced and full of surprises. Perhaps the JLA manages to overcome their problems a little too easily but otherwise the story is very entertaining. There’s even character development!

There was a nice moment between Flash and Wonder Woman when they had a friendly race and the voting at the end was true to each character. I found the issue with Talia as the narrator to be well done and interesting. The short scenes between Batman and the other character were nice but perhaps a bit too late. There should have been more in the previous issues so that the final revelation would have had more sting.

The epilogue consists of three shorter stories. One is about how Batman’s actions hurt the people around him. In the second story Batman is investigating a murder and all of his clues point towards… Superman. The third features Diana and Aquaman, and I felt it was very much out of character.

Overall: Excitement, betrayal, angst, loss… very nice!

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