These recent comics are really stepping up their game as they lead up to Infinite Crisis, not only in terms of story content but also the way in which various titles intersect. Superman: Sacrifice directly ties into the story begun in The OMAC Project. More specifically, it takes place concurrently, which meant I had to put down OMAC halfway through and read this so as to read the whole story in order. God bless Mistah J and his numerous post-it notes dictating when I’m supposed to switch back and forth between trades. He’s nothing if not diligent in making sure I read the stories in the order in which they were intended.
Superman: Sacrifice builds upon the already unsteady world our superheroes have found themselves in. Feeling off-kilter as of late, Superman begins to question how the world perceives him. Do they view him as a hero, or do they fear them as a potential threat to their safety? Compounding this worry are strange visions Clark has been having, imagining that Lois is being manipulated by Brainiac or Darkseid. After finding himself in the JLA watchtower covered in blood with no recollection of how it got there, we learn that clearly something is very wrong with Superman.
This feeling is only further cemented when it’s revealed whose blood stains his hands.
Clark showed up at the watchtower, where Batman was working alone, and inexplicably began attacking him. Bruce took quite a beating and was lucky to survive. Clark, unsure what caused him to attack one of his closest friends, is met with fear and uncertainty by the rest of the JLA. After probing Clark’s mind, J’onn J’onzz learns who has been tampering with Clark’s mind: Maxwell Lord, the head of Checkmate and the individual responsible for Blue Beetle’s murder.
With the cat out of the bag, the JLA knows they have to track down Lord and stop him. Unfortunately, with the help of the Brother MK I technology, Lord has been listening to the League’s entire conversation, and chooses that moment to once again take control of Clark’s mind. Believing that Diana is Doomsday and that she has just killed Lois, Clark begins a violent attack that has no end in sight. Their fight moves from the watchtower to Earth, and with each being so evenly matched, there seems to be no end in sight. Diana knows that Clark won’t stop until she’s dead, and vowing to find another way, she brings the fight directly to Max Lord.
With her lasso binding him, she demands to know how to stop his mind-control over Superman. Lord explains that there is no way to stop it, save for her to kill Lord himself.
With no preamble or pause, Diana does just that.
In one swift move she snaps Lord’s neck, breaking the control he had over Clark and freeing Superman’s mind.
Shocking? Yes, and not without consequences. Diana shows no remorse for what she’s done, and while she attempts to defend her actions, she soon learns that both Superman and Batman no longer view her as a friend or ally. Having done what they all swore they would never do, Clark and Bruce ostracize Diana for crossing that line. The wide-swept affect of her actions have yet to be felt, but no doubt there will be repercussions for this act, no matter how noble it may have been.
The rest of the comic focuses on Superman’s continued feeling of “otherness”, a sense that he is completely separate from the rest of humanity. He even begins to question whether past events were his own doing, or actions spurred by Lord’s mind control.
It’s unsettling to imagine Superman not being in control, and even more so when you consider that so much of his life could have been altered due to Lord’s power. The comic creates a shaky world for the reader, leaving us unsure of how much of our heroes’ actions were true and how much were coerced by an outside force.
With that in mind, there’s a part of me that wonders how much of what I read was real. Did Wonder Woman really kill Max Lord, or was this all part of his plan to tear apart the JLA and create a sense of uncertainly and fear in the public eye? Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part because I don’t want to believe that Diana is so flippant about murder, but it seems unlikely that Max Lord would be taken out so quickly in the story. I could be wrong, but he seemed like a pretty key player, and to eliminate him at this point felt off. Then again, all of these issues lately have felt a bit off, so who knows what’s right or wrong? What I do know is that I’m extremely interested to see how it all plays out, so while the storyline might be throwing me for a loop, it’s also so compelling that I can’t help but hold on for dear life just to see where it all goes.