Sue Dibny gently held her husband's arm and hand as Ralph placed a call to a mutual friend. "Look, Iris, it's me, okay? I know I'm just a JLA second-stringer and I'm lucky when I get called to tutor the Teen Titans. But I'm feeling kind of like an outsider here. Where's Barry?" The Flash had been missing for hours, and none of the rest of the League was returning the Elongated Man's calls. "Well, Batman never answers my calls, but..." Ralph had at least placed calls through to Rex and Zatanna...
Aquaman lay still and bloodied on an operating table. Lex Luthor wondered if he was dead, like most of the rest of the Justice League. "Does it matter," answered Brainiac. The Coluan knew Luthor was plotting against him, and said so, but everyone still had their roles to play. Brainiac had a handful of black marble "cities" whose time would soon come...
The Batman had his cave invaded by Captain Marvel and Superman, and when he protested, was decked and tied up with his butler. There were, of course, extenuating circumstances...
Dr. Jonathan Crane used a special solution to allow the blind to see in an impoverished land. Super-villains in civilian guise continued these miraculous acts around the world, while the media (including Vicki Vale) wondered what had become of the status quo enforcing super-heroes who had gone missing. The Joker, left out of the fun, continued his inquiries.
The Martian Manhunter helped Hawkman and Hawkgirl find Toyman in Metropolis.
Batman was bound in his newly amazonian Batcave by Poison Ivy, when he was appropriately rescued by Wonder Woman. However, the Dark Knight was being mind controlled, and return the favor with an electrocution attempt. The Lasso of Truth restored the Caped Crusader's psyche, and he made short work of Ivy. Super-Gorilla Grodd, speaking through the still-bound Alfred Pennyworth, cursed the stupid human animals. "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to dance on your bones. I will feast on your flesh. You have no idea what's coming."
"Shut up, Alfred. Are you okay, Wonder Woman? I'm so sorry." The Amazing Amazon was feeling raw, but Poison Ivy and Batman each had to be secured. "Your lasso is the only thing that's keeping whatever's inside me from controlling me... I need to be free to make sure whatever did this to me pays for it."
Elongated Man called in Green Lantern John Stewart from off screen.
Zatanna was quite busy this issue, despite not actually appearing. She was just in time to magic what was left of Red Tornado off the soon-to-explode League Satellite and send him to Doc Magnus for repairs. Aquaman's location was still locked in the android's head. Zee also guided John Stewart to Ferris Aircraft in Coast City to aid his search for Green Lantern.
The Martian Manhunter fretted as he made his way to the location Red Tornado had determined was Aquaman's last whereabouts. Using J'Onzz as a magical anchor, Zatanna materialized at his location. She remained hopeful against J'Onn's crestfallen pessimism, and was horrified at the state in which they found the Sea King's body. "What have they done to him, J'Onn? What have they done to his brain?"
Batman, still held in check by the Lasso of Truth, flew to the Fortress of Solitude with Wonder Woman. They were forced to wait outside until Superman arrived to lift his massive key.
Outside Atlantis, Aqualad fled the eye lasers of the Black Manta.
As other heroes arrived at the Fortress of Solitude, Batman apologized to Red Tornado for the damage he had wrought. Superman arrived to let everyone inside.
"People of magic should never be required to wait," griped Zatanna to Martian Manhunter at the headquarters of the Doom Patrol. She was concerned that Caulder couldn't "do more than he was able to do for Cliff Steele." Robotman took offense to that remark, while the Chief explained that there was nothing that needed to be done for Aquaman. While Caulder and J'Onzz compared notes on why Arthur had been assaulted in this manner, Zee thought, "The hole doesn't seem so large anymore. Did you replace some of the tissue?" Caulder assured her he had done nothing. Instead of offering a proper answer, the Chief directed his staff to place Aquaman in a healing tank he'd prepared. Zee asked Cliff "Is Niles always like this?" Robotman responded, "What, having three different conversations at once? Yeah, pretty much."
As part amphibian, Aquaman could regenerate the portion of his brain that had been removed. "He really is a man of untapped potential. Extraordinary." While Beast Boy covertly brushed against Zee's legs in cat form, the Sea King was revived with a name on his lips. "Mera...?"
Aqualad made his way to the royal palace to warn Mera about Black Manta, or so it seemed. Instead, Garth punched the queen out cold, then took her infant son from her arms. Clearly under someone's mental thrall, Aqualad fled the city to deliver Arthur Jr. to his father's greatest enemy. "I can't tell you how happy this is going to make Brainiac."
Still under the influence of the Lasso of Truth, Batman explained to Superman that there was little difference in their methods, only their effectiveness. Since Superman makes a point of letting everyone know how omnipotent he is, nobody in Metropolis wants to commit a crime based on the assumption the Man of Tomorrow knows all. The Dark Knight tried to make a parallel to the League's false assumption of safety, but Kal-El blew him off to chill out in space. Once there, he recognized the handiwork of Brainiac in the black sphere cities.
The Flash delivered Captain Cold to the Fortress of Solitude for questioning. While the rogue sat in a Plastic Man chair, sweating under a light, Batman threatened the icy villain with his own pistol. When Batman extorted information out of Cold at the potential expense of his larcenous digits, the lasso made clear it was no bluff.
Elongated Man bounced into a meeting elsewhere in the fortress to announce Batman's findings, as well as to enlarge an eye to inspect one of Brainiac's mind-controlling worm creatures under study. "Hmmm. Carter found this? Leave it to a bird to find a worm. And can someone tell me why I
wasn't attacked? What's wrong with me? I
have a lot of power. I'm
In a conference hall, Batman explained that the Legion of Doom had suffered reoccurring nightmares abut the world coming to an end despite (or perhaps partially because of) the Justice League's best efforts. "And so, our enemies have formed an alliance to either stop the coming end of life, or prepare a remnant of humanity to survive it." This involved killing off the heroes, seizing power, and "healing" people through the mind-controlling worms.
Zatanna materialized at the fortress, with Martian Manhunter, the Doom Patrol, and the revived Aquaman in tow. The Sea King immediately chastised the heroes for hiding in the fortress...
The Joker, pretending to be some sort of Amish preacherman, managed to score a ride to one of the black sphere floating cities.
Elongated Man decided to confront Plastic Man about his non-League presence. Eel retorted, "...Another one of those
talks, is it? I'm sorry you're not the only stretchy guy... I
wasn't attacked either. Maybe none of us are important. Feel better now?" Plastic Man kept trying to chill Ralph out, but Elongated Man kept insisting that the League didn't need this particular two of a kind. Eel rightly refused to leave, pointing out the similarities between Captain Marvel and Superman. Ralph insisted on being a jerk, while Plas thought maybe Elongated Man could take the form of "something the League actually needs one of these days."
Mera had Lord Yuko govern Atlantis while she searched for her missing son, beginning at the Fortress of Solitude. Elongated Man helped Mera inside, where she was reunited with her husband. Learning about the kidnapping, Superman wondered which other loved ones of the super-heroes were in danger.
Zatanna had asked the Phantom Stranger to find the missing Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and both returned from the furthest reaches of uncharted space. Zee thanked the Stranger for his aid. "It was a privilege, my dear. Perhaps now he really will be the greatest Green Lantern of them all one day." The Emerald Gladiator used his power ring to extract all the worms from Batman's body.
Aquaman stated his pleasure about everyone else being all right, but worried about his kid being in the hands of the enemy. "J'Onn told me that he had learned that Brainiac cut me open in an attempt to discover a means to control Grodd." The Sea King was furious with the Coluan and his war on all life. "He's a machine. Only a machine. And maybe that's for the best. Because I'm going to kill him."
Meanwhile, Aqualad had joined other mind-controlled teen heroes in kidnapping the supporting casts of heroes that matter (i.e. not the Martian Manhunter.)
"Justice, Vol. 2," collecting issues #5-8 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.