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The Devil’s Greatest Trick

June 22, 2010

Not everyone brought back at the end of Blackest Night was a good person.  Notably, there were two pretty bad people who came back (meh on Captain Boomerang): Professor Zoom and Maxwell Lord.  So as a part of Brightest Day, Maxwell Lord gets the story of his return told, and the old members of Justice League International are on the receiving end of all his new dirty tricks.  In Justice League: Generation Lost #s 1 and 2, everything starts off with Max forcing two police officers to kill each other.  Superman calls on every superhero, government agency, etc. to search for Maxwell Lord, and they’re looking everywhere.  Booster Gold, however, is off in Moscow, Russia, getting in the way of coordinated efforts.  Ice is in her room, trying to be alone and brooding.  Fire wants Ice’s help, and Ice comes out to meet her and Captain Atom to check out an explained energy wave in Yemen.  As Booster Gold figures out that Max is still in New York City because he’s just that arrogant, Captain Atom discovers that the energy signature is a bomb.  He absorbs the energy, then flies into the atmosphere to explode.  Booster arrives at the old International embassy in New York, and lo and behold, Max is there.  Max beats the crap out of Booster while telling him that he’s doing what’s right, not what he wants to.  Before he passes out, Booster sends out a JLI distress signal, which Skeets picks up, then calling Atom, Fire, and Ice.  In the next room, Max uses his powers to make the whole world forget he ever lived.  Superman arrives in the embassy late, but when they remind him about the manhunt for Max, he doesn’t even remember who Max is.  Later, when he’s shown the footage of Wonder Woman killing Max, he just sees Wonder Woman holding a sword.  When Booster talks to Batman about it, Batman just says that Blue Beetle committed suicide.  Fire talks with Wonder Woman, but Wonder Woman likewise doesn’t remember a thing.  Instead, she tells Fire that she can understand that she’d be upset that she was dismissed from Checkmate.  And Guy Gardner thinks that the last time he saw Ice, Ice tried to kill him.  When Atom wants to meet with the military, Magog is called in to force him to turn himself in.  When Atom goes in to meet with the military, Maxwell Lord is right there, but the moment he attacks, Max turns into a general.  Magog attacks and Captain Atom blows up yet again.  Seems Max is trying to discredit everyone, but he doesn’t feel the need to discredit Booster, since he’s already a joke.  Booster gets really pissed off about being told that Ted Kord committed suicide, and Ice says that she wants no part of this.  Fire goes off to check out Checkmate, and the other three get a transmission from the JLI systems that Ted Kord is in trouble.  Of course, the person who’s really in trouble is the current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes.

One of the biggest controversies surrounding Infinite Crisis and its buildup was the decision to make Maxwell Lord a bonafide villain than an amoral businessman struggling to do good.  Since I never read any of Maxwell Lord’s old stories, all I can say is that I am sad that there was such a change forced upon the character in principle.  However, I find him compelling as a villain, and this series is clearly reestablishing him as one of the most dangerous bad guys the world could ever face.  Superman really makes that clear at the beginning of the story, stating that he’s the only one who ever got close to defeating the entire superhuman community.  The whole discrediting of the JLI team, which is considered one of the biggest jokes in Justice League history, is superb, and I love the individual ways in which he does it.  Especially that he doesn’t feel that he needs to do anything to Booster.  Of course, the main writer on this story is Keith Giffen, one of the two classic writers of Justice League International, so he really has a great grasp on these characters.  It’s clear how much he loves them, and even though he never wrote Lord as a straight-out villain, he’s embraced it now.  I guess Judd Winick is a good compliment for Giffen, but I’ve never really read Winick’s work, so I can’t exactly pin down his voice in any particular spot.  It’s also nice to see that this book is getting some superb artists.  Aaron Lopresti and Joe Bennett both do superb work in each of their individual issues.  I’m glad to know that they’re a part of the rotating art team, even if the third member is Fernando Dagnino.  I don’t know why Fernando keeps getting more work, but whatever.  At least the other two artists are awesome.  So even though I had no prior emotional involvement with any of these characters save Booster, I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series.  This story is deliciously evil, and I just can’t wait to see what Maxwell Lord has next up his sleeve.  And I’m happy to see Blue Beetle take the place of his predecessor.  Yay new Blue and Gold!

Plot: 8.6      Art: 9.1      Dialogue: 8.8      Overall: 8.6

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