Justice League of America (vol.2) #8 (June, 2007)
“The Lightning Saga, Chapter One: Lightning Lad”
Writer – Brad Meltzer
Penciller – Shane Davis
Inker – Matt Banning
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Colorist – Alex Sinclair
Assistant Editor – Adam Schlagman
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99
Considering that we cannot move ahead on out Justice Society re-read until I procure that one Kingdom Come Special I somehow missed, I figure… why not fill in that Lightning Saga-sized hole I left earlier in the run?
I’ve been talking a bit about the Legion of late, so… I guess now’s as good a time as any for some relatively-contemporary Legion Learnin’!
We open on a trio of scenarios. The Justice League and Society are having something of a get-together in order to hone their skills. We see Wildcat assisting in the field training of Red Arrow and Geo-Force in “The Kitchen”, and at The Hall, a blindfolded Mr. Terrific is simultaneously playing Black Canary and Hal Jordan in Chess. While this is going down, we shift to Gotham City where Batman and Black Lightning are examining a young man wearing a curious “L” ring, while cross-referencing him with Superman’s Fortress Files. This fella is Karate Kid from the Legion of Super-Heroes and moments later… when he wakes up, it becomes pretty clear why they call him that!
We check back in at “The Kitchen” to see how goes the field training. This is poised to be a game of capture the flag with Roy and Brion on one side… and Vixen and Hawkgirl on the other. Seeing the ladies’ flag unprotected at fifty-feet, Roy decides to throw caution to the wind and make a head-on mad dash for it… which, c’mon… that’s never gonna be a good idea.
While Hal and Dinah play Chess against Michael, we pop back to the Batcave. We can see that Karate Kid has struck Batman so hard that it cracked his cowl. In fact, the only way for Batman to take him down is to (nebulously) cheat!
We rejoin Roy as he grabs the flag… while Kendra looks on from above. Surprisingly, instead of making another “mad dash”, he rolls the flag up and uses it as an arrow! Everything looks hunky-dory, until we meet Kendra’s secret weapon… Red Tornado (who is back in his robot body)!
Back in Washington, D.C. Dinah scores a “checkmate”. Oddly… at the very same moment, so does Michael! It’s here that we can see that the boards are identically laid out. Instead of playing against both of his pals, he was simply playing them against one another! That’s a pretty neat trick.
We rejoin Roy and the gang moments after he fires an arrow to “cut” Reddy’s cape. This was done to show him that they “weren’t done yet”… and it was also one of the dumber things Roy has done of late. Red Tornado, who doesn’t seem to be the happiest fella you wanna be around right now, unleashes an intense blast of air which sends Roy flying. Right before he hits a tree (at 60 mph), Brion is able to cancel out his gravity… thereby nullifying his momentum. Red Tornado apologizes for his miscalculation.
Back on Earth, Batman has invited the Chess-trio to take a look at their new hostage… Val Armorr, the Karate Kid. Black Lightning reveals that their man is from the “far flung future”, which causes Mr. Terrific to take pause… ya see, he’s got “one’a those” too! He is speaking, of course, about Starman. Someone who Val somehow knows!
We now shift to New York City, in the year 1948. A pair of quarrelsome folks break into the Mount Sinai Hospital with dire news for a Ms. Dolores Winters. Unless she comes with them, she will die the next day from a Brain Hemorrhage. Dolores was, of course, a host for the Ultra-Humanite.
Back with the League and Society… Karate Kid is holding Wonder Woman’s lasso… and it’s proving to be of little help in getting the answers they seek (telepathic fail-safes, donchaknow). Enter: Starman… who walks over and speaks a bit of Interlac, which causes Karate Kid to fall unconscious.
Moments pass, and Val wakes up… suddenly with the all (or, most of) the information we need to move forward. He recalls there being seven of them in total… scattered through time. Someone asks if they’re like the Teen Titans of the future… which Kid appears to take as an insult. No, they’re not like the Titans of the future… they’re like the Justice League of the future. Black Canary and Power Girl decide this pending crisis is big enough for both of their teams to tackle…
… and so, nineteen minutes later, we’ve got ourselves a big ol’ pow-wow of Justice. Hmm… now, I’m not typically the guy who gets bent out of shape by a female hero’s “proportions”, but holy cow it looks like Power Girl is smuggling a couple loaves of bread in her “window” here. Ay yai yai. That’s not even the worst part about this page… that honor goes to Vixen starting to call Wildcat (II) a pretty vulgar name (if you wanna see it, click the image to embiggen). We get it, Mr. Meltzer, you’re edgy. We all read Identity Crisis…
Of interest, Mr. Terrific and Red Tornado have a bit of a chat. Ya see, Michael is invisible to all machines… however, Reddy is able to see him. Michael finds this fascinating, and suggests bringing ol’
John into the lab for some tests. Sounds like a good time, right? Welllll, Superman insists that now is not the time for such a thing, and we get back to the matter at hand… literally. I mean, we’re talking about Legion flight rings right now. They deduce that there are seven currently in the present.
Using the ring, they (and we) learn the potential whereabouts of the remaining Legionnaires… we’ve got to cover five cities, two continents, and two planets… so, it looks like we’re gonna have to pick teams!
Weird… I have like zero recollection of this storyline at all. I’m pretty positive I read it as it came out, but… I guess I may’ve read a another comic or two in the interim. Perhaps this will be an unmemorable affair… or maybe I just didn’t have any Legion-context to commit it to memory. Guess we’ll be finding out soon enough!
I really like how previous (contemporary) JSA rosters were full of “newbie” members… all of whom now feel almost like veterans when compared to some new JLA members. Folks like Black Lightning, Geo-Force, and Red Arrow… despite their having been around for awhile (I mean, Speedy’s been around since the mid-50’s), still feel fresh, new, and young in their League roles.
What we get here is a whole lotta set-up, and that’s fine. The entire issue didn’t revolve around Karate Kid or the Legion, and I feel like that works. Instead, we get a few “basic” Day in the Life training sessions, which all happen to converge on the Legionnaire plot. Well done, and if you were purely a Justice League of America reader (with no interest in the Legion or JSA), you still got some story and character progression.
The art here is… spotty? It starts off really quite strong… but, right around the time we pass the staple, it begins to fall off. Not sure if this was an inking thing… but it gets pretty murky. Plus, there was that whole Power Girl bosom thing… which, I never mention as a problem… but it just didn’t look right. Then again, maybe Davis was trying to live-up to that Michael Turner cover we’ll be seeing shortly. Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it!
Overall… I’m excited to see how this rolls out. It’s hard to believe that this came out over ten-years ago, but I guess that’s one of the reasons why I can’t remember a lick of it! This story has been collected in both Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga (2009) and JSA Omnibus, Volume 3 (2015)… and is, of course, available digitally.