Friday, October 4, 2013
Justice Volume One (2006)
The Earth was in its final minutes when the Sea King threw his hands up, ordering a crowd of frightened people back. Just as the planet's cities had burned, its oceans boiled away, leaving nothing but a burial mound for sea life the world over. Batman guided children down into his network of underground caves, hoping to escape their inescapable ends. "We all fall down. Ashes. Ashes."
Black Manta sat up in bed, sweating, cupping his face and neck. "Not again." The nightmare kept coming, and his fellow villains in the Legion of Doom shared it.
King Arthur's wife and infant son slept more peacefully, in the serene depths of their Atlantean palace. After his mother died, Aquaman promised his father he would use his powers to defend the world above and below the ocean. "I have to remind myself why I have to be anything other than a husband and father." The Sea King was restless, and explained to his queen Mera that he sensed something amiss in his domain. After playing with Aquababy for a moment, the hero excused himself to pursue his grim intuition. "If there is anything in this life I would choose again, Mera, it's you. When I need a reason to return to Atlantis, I think of you and Arthur."
Astride a giant seahorse, Aquaman surveyed his kingdom and beyond, coming upon a massive ebony dome. Suddenly, Black Manta and his men were attacking, firing lasers and clutching at limbs. Ultimately, the troop proved ineffectual, but a host of sharks ignored Aquaman's commands and set upon him. Manta taunted his foe as Arthur succumbed, then saw Aquaman into the dome. Lex Luthor shared Manta's nightmare, and as their common foe lay unconscious in the Hall of Doom, they plotted with their compatriots to save the world from the super friends...
The Riddler, garbed in a goofy-collared trench coat with an even more ridiculous interior illumination, was directing his gang on a heist. In an inspired move, the crooks had broken into Wayne industries to use its singularly powerful computer network to hack the Bat-computer. The security system detected Bruce Wayne himself rushing toward their control center, but it was in fact the Batman who would send them scurrying.
As the Batmobile pursued the Riddler’s vehicle, the Dark Knight received word from Red Tornado that Aquaman was missing. The android detailed, “Mera is accustomed to the dangers her husband faces. He’s gone missing before. But that does not make this easier.” Batman replied, “Of course not. No one wants to consider losing a part of the family. Arthur’s a friend, of course. I’ll do whatever I can.” The Caped Crusader suggested that the Martian Manhunter investigate, since the Riddler had gotten away with the identities of the Justice League and the schematics of their satellite. “I’ll devote myself to finding Aquaman once I’ve retrieved what the Riddler stole. This won’t take long.”
A grappling hook snared the van the Riddler’s crew was riding in. The Dark Knight pounced on the overturned vehicle, striking at the goons while the Riddler himself ran to “The Batcave.” Rather than the Caped Crusader’s secret headquarters, this was a Batman-themed bar in Gotham. The Riddler doubled back on Batman and swung with his question mark cane, but the blow was absorbed by way of armored gauntlet. Riddler’s men caught up with the pair and swarmed Batman, but batfan club kids pulled the goons off. The Riddler opened his coat to reveal blinding green light and a mix of holographic and material question mark throwing blades. Edward Nigma escaped, but by compulsion, left a clue behind.
Meanwhile, potions administered by Dr. Jonathan Crane allowed the infirm to walk again, Pamela Isley produced fruitful trees in the desert, and the media ate it all up.
The Dark Knight Detective used Riddler’s clue to track and capture Nigma in a local graveyard. Nigma began choking, but managed to recover, wondering “…what’s… wrong with me?” Delivered to Arkham Asylum, Nigma was harassed by the Joker, who was intrigued by tales of the apocalyptic dreams he’d been missing out on. “I deserve to be part of this…”
Batman couldn’t let go of the night’s case back at the real Batcave. “Why a cemetery?”
Aquaman awoke to find himself strapped to a gurney, an overhead light shining in his eyes. Lacking real peripheral vision, the Sea King was startled when an albino monkey landed on his chest, an electronic box wired into its skull. A voice explained that the monkey was less a pet, and more of a broken toy. Brainiac enjoyed his grisly little experiments, and as he approached Aquaman in his blood splattered surgeon’s uniform and bone cutting tools, the alien fiend expressed his desire to “get inside your head.”
Aquaman remained bound on an operating room table. Brainiac thought Aquaman was an enviably remarkable being, even by the standards of the Justice League, but the Sea King wouldn’t stop pestering him with questions. “Don’t interrupt me. It’s not befitting someone of your mental sophistication.” Brainiac felt there were two ways to deal with his envy: acceptance, or merely taking what he wanted.
Martian Manhunter had been assigned to find Aquaman, as he had remained missing for weeks. The search would not fare well, thanks to Gorilla Grodd.
Aquaman threatened that he would get free, while Brainiac expressed his disgust for humanity and its predisposition toward violence. The Coluan menace explained that we were born from chaos, but still longed for design-- for order. “That’s where I come in. The truth is that I’m only bringing you the very thing you’ve wanted.” Scalpel in hand, he continued, “Come now, Aquaman. Have an open mind.”
Edward Nigma was still an inmate at Arkham Asylum, constantly badgered by the Joker to be allowed into his scheme. From out of a purple haze, Lex Luthor materialized, the Riddler’s hat and coat in hand. Luthor was a bit put out by Riddler’s tipping his hand to Batman, but Nigma was unrepentantly his own man, which Lex could respect. “We all gloat in our own ways.” The Riddler told the Joker his goodbye as he vanished with Luthor, but the Clown Prince wasn’t prepared to give up that easily.
Aquaman was a major part of Brainiac’s plan. One continued his telepathic outreach while the other made his deadly incision. “You have no idea who it is who just killed you. You’re my hero, Aquaman. You really are.” Off the coast of Argentina, sea life formed crosshairs to direct the JLA Satellite to Aquaman’s location, but it would only do good if there was anyone left to look. Using Riddler’s stolen data and Gorilla Grodd’s telepathy, the Legion of Doom were striking out at the League. At that moment, the Scarecrow plotted outside the apartment of Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance, while ever more heroes were placed in crosshairs of their own…
"Justice, Vol. 1," collecting the first four issues of the 2005 mini-series, was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.