Talk about a wallop of a comic.
As mentioned in my previous post, I actually read the first half of this trade prior to reading Superman: Sacrifice. The overlapping moment of the two is the biggie: the moment in which Wonder Woman kills Max Lord in order to free Superman from his mind control. The first half of this comic talks about what led everyone down that path, while the latter half focuses on Checkmate dealing with the aftermath of Max’s death.
The beginning portion of the comic focuses on Ted Kord, alias Blue Beetle, as he does a little detective work to figure out who’s been stealing his fortune. He asks a handful of old allies for help, including Max Lord and Batman, but he gets the brushoff from both. Determined to solve the mystery on his own, the clues lead him to Checkmate, the secret government agency that’s been shrouded in mystery since its inception. Here he learns that Checkmate is no longer operating under the law, but has a much darker, more sinister purpose. Max Lord, head of the organization, has employed Brother I, a monitoring satellite and computer program that Batman designed, and reconfigured it to serve his own needs. Essentially, he believes all meta-humans are a threat to society, and must be wiped out (ignoring the fact that he himself is meta). He offers Ted the “join me or die” speech. Ted refuses, and unfortunately Max keeps his word.
Brutally murdering Blue Beetle, Max continues his quest to purge the world of meta-humans, employing his OMAC fighters to destroy any who stand in his way.
As the JLA learns what has become of Ted, they seek out his killer and slowly uncover the sheer scope of what they’re up against. OMACs have been popping up around the world, killing metas without preamble. We soon learn that these are no mere robots, but innocent people who have been infected with a nanobot virus which allows Brother I to control them, while also giving them superhuman powers with which to destroy any metas they encounter.
And surprise surprise…once again, this is kinda sorta ALL Batman’s fault.
Essentially, nothing is private anymore. Batman designed a security system so tight that every move, every breath can be monitored. It just so happens that the monitor is now the enemy, making it nearly impossible to fight. The element of surprise is out, and seeing as how they don’t want to kill the innocent people within the OMACs, they’re left with few options.
Seriously Batman, could you maybe stop with all of the contingency plans? They backfire on you. Every. Single. Time. Or at least start having contingency plans in place for when your contingency plans go wrong.
No wonder there’s so much crime in Gotham. He probably spends more time planning for worst-case scenarios than dealing with the problems right in front of him.
The team utltimately comes up with a plan, and while a few more metas are lost in the battle, they’re able to stop a vast majority of the OMACs without harming their human hosts. Of course, Brother I is still at large, along with approximately two hundred thousand additional OMACs. Clearly the fight is not over.
Retreating to lick its proverbial wounds, Brother I initiates a new sequence, titled protocol: Vengence. The comic closes with Brother I releasing footage of Diana killing Max Lord for all the world to see.
It looks like my earlier prediction about Max not really being dead was completely wrong. It also looks like Diana is going to have to answer for what she did. Perhaps not in a court of law, but certainly in the court of public opinion which, for a superhero, is arguably even more important. She’s already seemed to have lost the support of the JLA; there’s no telling how the public will react now that their greatest fear has come to light – a meta-human has killed. They don’t know that Max was meta as well, and by the time that comes to light they likely won’t care. The public will turn against her, and there’s no telling how this will affect Diana and the rest of the superheroes in the world.
All in all, an incredibly solid comic. I wish Blue Beetle hadn’t made a sudden reappearance only to be killed off, but at least his death served a purpose in the larger story. These recent stories feel like they’re leading to something big, and although I’m not certain what exactly that is at this point, I have a feeling it’s going to be a major game changer for everyone.