Sunday, April 17, 2011

JLA #94 (Early May, 2004)

Manitou Raven, a shaman displaced three thousand years in time, cast telling stones in the Badlands. On the ground were traced circles with "x"s in them, and their effect was ominous. A flood of bat shadows enshrouded Raven, and carried him off.

Batman investigated the murder of a teenager in a Gotham City alley. He had noted a pattern of missing cases in other cities that disturbed him. Before her death, the girl had drawn a circled "x" in chalk on a wall.

In Metropolis, Superman spotted a robed cult filing into a van. When he tried to ask questions, he was attacked by a massive member that only grunted. Once the thug was down, a girl stood between him and the fist of Steel. Her words allowed her to take mental control of Superman.

In Keystone City, Wally West pursued the trail of missing children at Batman's request.

At the JLA Watchtower on the moon, the Dark Knight gathered Wonder Woman, the Atom, the Martian Manhunter, and the Flash to consider clues. The Caped Crusader had managed to find out that all of the missing kids possessed a metagene, and Princess Diana thought that x-symbol looked familiar. The group split up to pursue angles.

On the abandoned prison island Key Mordaz off the coast of Florida was hidden a high tech laboratory. A seated figure worked a computer bank and a headpiece that allowed him to track people with a metagene. His beautiful young assistant accused a third fellow concealed by a leather mask of allowing a particular person of interest to elude them while sneaking off to party in Miami. A fourth individual with a metal fist demanded to see some action. The seated figure announced he had found something...

Wonder Woman wanted to speak with Manitou Raven about the x-symbol, but he wasn't answering any pages. She rustled up the Martian Manhunter, who spoke with Raven's wife Dawn, and learned of his meditative journey to the Badlands. The two heroes searched the area, and found the point where Manitou had been taken. The Amazing Amazon saw the marks on the ground and signs of struggle. She intended to query the Amazons Archives on Themyscira about the symbol, and told the Alien Atlas to inform Batman of their findings. She hoped a telepathic link to Raven could be established. "Can you not sense it, J'Onn? This is ancient work. And unspeakable evil!

The cultists' van pulled up to a creepy mansion a couple of hours outside Metropolis. The girl led Superman out on a psychic leash, and introduced him to Crucifer, a rather dandy vampire. The girl didn't want to see Superman hurt, but Crucifer had his own influence working. The vampire expected to find the Kryptonian delicious as he sank his fangs in. The girl ran off, and was followed down into her cellar of self-pity by a blue-skinned boy in a skull cap.

The Martian Manhunter brought Manitou Raven's telling stones to the Atom, and when conventional technology failed to detect anything within them, the Tiny Titan shrank down to explore close up. The Mighty Mite vanished into the stones, as J'Onn J'Onzz tried in vain to reestablish telepathic contact.

Faith, black-ops telekinetic, wandered the streets of San Francisco in a tie top shirt like Daisy Duke. She was abducted by the mentally manipulated Superman. At least she only spoke in Spanish when talking to a fellow Latino, but it still smelled like 1976 in there.

"Suffer the Little Children," part one of "The Tenth Circle," was by the famous X-Men creative team of John Byrne and Chris Claremont, joined by the heavy inks of Jerry Ordway. It was not magical. Byrne took top billing, so he presumably plotted the piece and drew it, and as a consequence he gets most of the blame. The story is uninspired and crowded, while the art looks more like Ordway hampered by Byrne's pencils rather than accentuating them. The script by Claremont is long, rambling and funky, with dialogue that doesn't sounds like it belongs in any of the known characters' mouths.


LissBirds said...

Now this is making me all nostalgic...(for a comic I never read when it came out.) I'm going to go see if I have this trade, because I haven't read an Atom appearance in ages.

Professor Frank Diabolu said...

The story is meh, but Byrne and Ordway draw a damned fine Ray Palmer Atom.