I don’t quite understand the marketing of this mini-series. It’s as though the marketing team thought it would be a great idea to throw around names that might draw a crowd, but that actually have nothing to do with the actual story. I’m not sure what’s more baffling: the fact that it’s lumped together under the “JLA” banner when only ONE member of the JLA (and not even a current member, at that) is even present in the story, or the inclusion of Poison Ivy on the trade cover when she doesn’t even appear anywhere in the comic. Do the artists and writers not communicate these things? I kept waiting for Ivy to show up, thinking she’d have at least a somewhat significant role seeing as how she’s on the cover and everything, only to reach the final page and learn that there isn’t a single reference or image of her anywhere to be found.
Moral of the story: market your material a bit better, DC. This is just kinda sloppy.
Anyway, on to the story that does take place here. As previous storylines alluded, the world’s villains are being systematically rounded up, with no one seeing or hearing from them again after that. What’s happening to them? Where are they being taken? This trade provides the answer: every single one of them is being sent off to a far-distant planet, where they are to be exiled so that they can no longer pose a threat to society.
The groups are sent in waves as they’re caught, but those who arrive soon learn that the planet is not the deserted oasis they were promised. Instead, danger lurks at every turn, with various sorts of gruesome monsters just waiting to devour them. Even more interesting that that though is the revelation that this was all orchestrated by an outside party, who is observing the group from afar:
It turns out that one of these observers is none other than Desaad, Darkseid’s loyal and sadistic henchman. Just like that, the story becomes a lot bigger than it first seemed. Desaad uses this planet to train parademons, and hopes to use the villains as an additional obstacle for his newest recruits to overcome.
None of this is known to the criminals, of course, who are far too busy fighting for their lives. Rival factions form, headed by Lex Luthor and Joker. Each has an entirely different view on how things should be run, and as would be expected, the pair butt heads on multiple occasions.
Tensions are high, and even though they split up, it still seems likely the groups will annihilate one another sooner or later. At least, that seems to be the case until it is revealed that J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, had been secretly living among them and reporting back to Earth via a communicator. Capturing him and entrapping him within a fiery prison unites the foes for the time being. Before they can go at each other’s throats again, parademons swarm the planet, and the villains must battle for their very lives. Miraculously, at the same time Lex announces that the machine he’s been building is up and running, and can transport everyone back to Earth.
Of course, this comes at a price, as the reader learns that Lex captured and used a handful of his fellow villains to power the machine, leaving them behind to die as he flees into the teleporter. He doesn’t bother telling his fellow escapees this information, and their fates seem fairly certain given their precarious situation…as, too, does the fate of the still-captive Martian Manhunter.
I can’t decide how I should feel about this closing image. If such a mainstay character as J’onn was to be killed off, would it really happen in a tie-in mini-series? Would they ever really kill him at all? Then again, this is all leading up to another crisis, so maybe he’ll die only to return during that event? Am I reading way too much into this?? Probably. I’d imagine similar questions ran through readers’ heads when this storyline was coming out, so at least I can feel like I’m a part of that experience, even all these years later.
JLA: Salvation Run (or as Mistah J calls it, super-villain “Lord of the Flies”) was a nicely written story that finally elaborates on what’s been going on with all the missing bad guys. Now that they’re presumably returning home (we don’t actually see them get back to Earth in this trade, so who knows what happens?) they’ll likely be looking for revenge. I have no doubt that Luthor will be spear-heading that campaign, and his fellow rogues will no doubt follow his leadership after he returns them home. I’m not sure how a super-villain uprising will play into everything else that’s been going on, but at the very least it will be additional problems the heroes will have to deal with. Given the super shady way in which they were forcibly removed from the planet, I’m sure there will be plenty of hell to pay for everyone involved with sending them there.