Wednesday, December 21, 2016

JLA Secret Files & Origins #3


D. Curtis Johnson • Writer
Pablo Raimondi • Penciller
Claude St. Aubin & David Meijis • Inkers
Tom McCraw • Colorist
John Costanza • Letterer
Tony Bedard • Editor

Cover art by Dave Ross & Dan Adkins
All color separations by Digital Chameleon

Our cover shows Batman looming ominously over the newly reduced roster of the JLA — Superman, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, Green Lantern, Aquaman and the Flash. This matches the theme of the stories inside well, as the JLA recently learned that Batman had been keeping secret contingency plans against his fellow teammates, and these plans had been stolen and used against them.

Like all other Secret Files & Origins issues, this comic is comprised of one big story, several shorter stories, and a bunch of profile pages. There's a brief look back at the history of the JLA, but everything else deals with the current status of the team moving forward. Of interesting note, one of the side stories is drawn by Ethan Van Sciver, who might have done this during one of his breaks on Impulse. Speaking of Impulse, he actually makes two brief appearances in this issue.

The main story details how Batman began to create his countermeasure files on each member of the JLA, and how Talia al Ghul stole these plans. But, perhaps of most interest, we get to see what these plans actually contained. We only care about Impulse and the Flash, so let's just skip to that part.

In a flashback, we see that Batman began working on a vibra-bullet to stop a speedster shortly after Barry Allen died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Alfred was uncomfortable with this, but Batman notes that Wally is now taking over the Flash's mantle and both Johnny Quick and Jay Garrick could get back in the game someday, so there is still a need to have a way to take down speedsters. To Batman's defense, he does explain that he's only doing this in case of mind controllers, body swappers, Amazo clones or other such events.

Subject: Flash

The vibrational characteristics of Wally's superspeed at full strength are very nearly the same as Barry's. The countermeasures I devised for Barry should continue to suffice. They may also have application against other speedsters, if this vibrational pattern set is common.

Addendum: Recent developments hint at some sort of unified "Speed Force," which would explain the similarities between the various speedsters I've observed. More data on the phenomenon will have to be gathered.

I believe these vibrational characteristics can be mimicked, which suggests that countervibrational artifacts could be created which could not be vibrated through safely. Active countermeasure barrier materials could be used to create an inescapable cell, for example.

Even more interesting are the possibilities suggested by introducing these countermeasures directly into Wally's central nervous system. Seems like a good general-purpose incapacitation with, hopefully, no permanent side effects.

And that's all we see of Impulse in the main story. Of interesting note, the story is called "Blame" because Talia asks herself who's to blame for this tragedy. Is it her dad, Ra's al Ghul for telling her to steal the plans? Is it Batman, who made the plans in the first place? Or is it the JLA, who put so much trust into Batman?

Lost Pages

Mark Waid Writer
Steve Scott Penciller
Mark Propst Inker
John Costanza Letterer
Tom McCraw Colorist

This short story begins with Flash visiting Nightwing at Titans Headquarters. Wally tells Dick that it was Superman who cast the deciding vote to kick Batman out of the League. Wally voted to keep Batman in, but he admits he made that vote against his better judgment. He explains to Dick that the while the Titans have always felt like a family, the JLA is a diverse group with a lot of major differences. And because of these differences, its necessary for them to trust one another implicitly. Nightwing angrily says he's trusted Batman with his life since he was 8, and Wally notes that it's worked out well for him, but now Nightwing's teammates on the Titans are wondering just how much information Batman trusted him with. If Batman kept anti-JLA files, did he also keep anti-Titans files?

This same question is being tossed around in Young Justice, who are battling Team Turmoil at the moment. Superboy asks Wonder Girl if Robin has anti-Young Justice files, but Cassie doesn't think this could be true. Impulse then tries to vibrate one of the villains into a wall, and Robin tells him not to, since his powers don't work that way. Bart repeatedly asks Robin how he knows this.

When Robin angrily exclaims, "I just know!" Superboy and Wonder Girl exchange a worried look. Oracle is also worried, and she tells Batman that both the Titans and Young Justice are now suspicious of Nightwing and Robin. But Batman refuses to say he's sorry or not sorry from this fallout, and he hangs up on Oracle. She then sends a video of that conversation to Superman, who is also pretty broken up by this whole situation.

And that's it for Impulse's involvement in this issue. This was an interesting first look into what will be an ongoing point of contention for all characters associated with the "Bat family." I think overall, it's a really good ethical debate. Was Batman right to keep these files on his teammates? Was the JLA right to kick Batman off the team? And the beauty here is there's no right or wrong answer. It's all relative.

I am glad that Mark Waid got to write Impulse again, even it was for only a couple of panels. However, it seems like he hasn't been paying attention to the evolution of Bart's powers. In the pages of Young Justice, Bart was able to vibrate himself and his teammates through the floor of a building. And Robin was one of those teammates, so he should know that Impulse is fully capable of vibrating a bad guy into a wall. I get what Waid was going for here, but he should have chosen a different ability for Robin to harp on.

Naturally, there aren't any letters to the editor, so let's check out the new ads:

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A DC subscription ad, showing you could get 12 issues of The Flash for $19.95.

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Introducing new Sour Skittles.

Greenday Warning: The new album.

And you thought you were good at raising a little Hell. Spawn world broadcast premiere on TBS.

Next time, Impulse and Young Justice will make another quick cameo in Superman #163.

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