Tuesday, July 22, 2014

JLA #4 (April, 1997)

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Inside Z'Onn Z'Orr, Superman finally deduced the Hyperclan were Martians, and because his prolonged exposure to Kryptonite hadn't killed him, that it was in fact illusory. "We thought J'Onn was the only one left. How can this be? Martians. I should have seen it before."

As the Man of Steel faced Protex, Primaid commanded Armek to guard the Justice League, whom she felt could still be eliminated in total. "I don't think so." Armek was revealed to actually be the Martian Manhunter in disguise. "Yours is not the only deception, Primaid. And I left the real Armek in the Gobi Desert. Did you really think I wouldn't recognize this city you've unearthed? Z'Onn Z'Orr, the most infamous name in Martian history?" Primaid screamed, "J'Onn J'Onzz! Betrayer! TRAITOR!"

Meanwhile, the real Armek and Züm were trekking to Antarctica:
"This is what happens when you deal with a Green Martian! They're all the same! What makes him think he can just steal a form I designed? ...I'll kill him!"
"We were going to kill him after he'd betrayed the JLA anyway... So he didn't betray his friends... The rest of the plan's still good."

Primaid lunged at the Martian Manhunter. "Now to finish what we started millennia ago." The Alien Atlas backhanded her across the room. Primaid chided, "You hit like what you are: a Green philosopher. I am a true Martian soldier. I can transform my body into a thousand battle configurations: the Flesh Vortex, the Storm of Hammers..." J'Onn J'Onzz reached a switch to release his teammates from captivity. "Of course you can. That was all the Pale Martians ever had to offer our culture: war and hatred and destruction. We reached out to you. You responded with genoc--UNGH!" Primaid melted her humanoid form into a stream of hail that assailed the Martian Marvel, launching him through the roof and out into the Antarctic.

Left flat on his back, Primaid assumed the predatory appearance of a White Martian warrior. "If you had any self-respect, any pride in your heritage, you would have joined us." J'Onn answered, "The Paratexts spoke at length of your tribe. They told us what you did to the Earth and how you were punished." Primaid snorted, "And this planet means so much to you, is that it? You can never be one of them. The best you can ever hope to be is a Green freak! Who cares for a thing like you? Where are your friends now?..."

Wonder Woman affirmed, "Where we always are. Right here." Flanked by Green Lantern, Flash, and Aquaman, the Pale Martians would finally be met with full vigor. The three males trounced Armek and Züm, while Wally West asked, "What happened to Primaid?" Gazing up into the outer atmosphere, Martian Manhunter replied, "Wonder Woman happened to Primaid. She went up there."

Superman bested Protex, ending the threat of the Hyperclan, but not the White Martian invaders. "We can't waste time. The invasion fleet has already arrived on Earth and Martian mind control has been overridden by terror." Martian Manhunter explained of a lab in Z'Onn Z'Orr, "These cameras are connected to every television set in the world. The Hyperclan intended to broadcast our executions. Everything's set up. Who wants to do the talking?"

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The Man of Tomorrow was the obvious choice. As flying saucers filled the skies and armored aliens set foot on our world, he spoke. "People of Earth! This is Superman. I know it's difficult right now, but try not to panic. You must fight against the invaders. We're on our way but we can't reach everyone in time. It's up to you to defend one another. They're afraid of fire! Use fire against them! Stand firm. Right now, courage is all that can light this darkness!"

Matches... cigarette lighters... these were all it really took to force the Martians' surrender.

In the Still Zone, an other-dimensional limbo where the invaders had been imprisoned thousands of years past, the JLA inspected the Pale Martian mothership. Superman learned that J'Onn J'Onzz knew who they were as soon as Z'Onn Z'Orr was revealed, but kept the information to himself. "Forgive me, Superman. I allowed personal feelings to endanger you and the others. I miscalculated. They were Martians. This is the last relic of the world I lost... I..."

"Forget it, J'Onn. We won. I'm more concerned about what we do now. This is your call. Who else can judge these people?"

"Martians are shapechangers, Superman. We're familiar with a wide range of mind control techniques. There are... methods. Punishments. You may not approve but I must be the final arbiter. You do not know the culture. You were not there."

The JLA visited the Sahara Desert, where the Hyperclan's work to create a new Garden of Eden had crumbled to dust, an unsustainable ecology. To safeguard the world, the JLA built a Watchtower on the moon out of parts mined from the Overmaster's ship, fortified with promethium and advanced technology.

Meanwhile, 70 "humans" in countries all around the world felt like they'd "been lobotomized with a corkscrew." They'd had strange dreams since the invasion, and felt in their guts they had "somehow lost something of infinite value." They worked jobs that brought them into regular proximity with fire, and served a sentence for crimes their memory implants would not allow them to remember...

By Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, John Dell and Pat Garrahy

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

JLA #3 (March, 1997)

Primaid promised that, with the kryptonite radiation pulses under the Hyperclan's complete control, they could subdue Superman indefinitely without killing him. Protex taunted, "Oh, Superman... all those people you've saved over the years: where are they now? No one is coming. No one cares. You are alone, at the end of the world. Completely alone."

Or not, as the Batman had survived his crash, deduced the Hyperclan's secret, and invaded their base. Flash fought a winning battle against Züm and Zenturion. Green Lantern defeated Armek.

Flash and Green Lantern entered the Gobi Desert watchtower, and the Fastest Man Alive learned to work their technology well enough to discover their orbital mind control transmitters were extra-dimensional. The heroes were then captured by Zenturion and Armek, who transported them to Z'Onn Z'Orr. As the pair were being prepared to join the rest of the JLA in being tortured to death, Armek explained, "When they realized their comrade was a traitor, the fight left them. It was easy." Protex continued, "You hear that, Superman? J'Onn J'Onzz, your faithful 'Martian Manhunter,' has betrayed you." Armek added, "Everything is ready for broadcast. The Martian Manhunter will join us shortly, to denounce his comrades as enemies of Earth." Of Wonder Woman, Protex stated, "It seems almost a shame to destroy this one... Still. The whole world is calling for your deaths, Superman, and we intend to oblige. Then, when you are gone, we will show our true faces to the world. Our ships will come from the skies. And the rivers will run red with the blood of mankind."

A-Mortal found that five defense drones had been disabled, and when he investigated, was humbled by the Dark Knight. Fluxus, Tronix and Zenturion followed, finding A-Mortal down and Batman waving a box of matches. "Super-strength, flight, invulnerability, shape-changing, mind control: You're Martians, aren't you? And when you brought down my aircraft you didn't dare search the wreckage because of the one thing which robs your people of their powers. Fire." The Hyperclan realized too late that they were standing in a circle of gasoline, and went down in a ring of fire. As they panicked, the Caped Crusader spoke to an unseen party, "Ready when you are."

Protex couldn't believe the trouble one powerless man was causing. He backhanded Superman, and called out orders to his fleet. "This is your commander! Emergency code T'ann T'azz! Target Earth cities! Initiate Operation Hard Rain. Seventy more of us, Superman! All with the power to level mountains! Seventy more! The gods have come to lay waste the world! We win! WE WIN!"

By Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, John Dell and Pat Garrahy

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

JLA #2 (February, 1997)

Taylor Mills reported for WGBS News from the Antarctic Ice Fields, which had been revealed to host "the global headquarters of the Hyperclan," the team had previously thawed out. Lisa Haymore was assigned to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier "Triumphant," in the Pacific Ocean near Midway Island, where the Hyperclan constructed another mammoth base in the blink of an eye. The same was observed by Dave Trimble in Mongolia's Gobi Desert. Back in Antartica, Primaid and A-Mortal were present with Protex, who said, "Call them Watchtowers. We intend to divide our forces into three groups, each of which will be permanently stationed in one of these headquarters. We want to be able to respond to any emergency as quickly as possible. This planet is destroying itself. Your people need help to build a paradise and that help has arrived. The Hyperclan is here to stay. You can print that."

Superman and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner could find no sign of mind control transmitters, but determined the flying saucer over Washington D.C. was just a sophisticated projection. Lantern asked for Batman's plan, but the Dark Knight deferred to Martian Manhunter. "We do what we always do; divide our forces and investigate the threat. Destroy their transmission facilities if need be. I suggest Batman and Superman travel to the Antarctic nerve center-- and perhaps you'd like to take a trip to the Pacific, Wonder Woman. [Kyle Rayner] and Flash can accompany me to the Gobi Desert. Superman complimented, "Good choices, J'Onn." With a smirk, J'Onzz requested as the groups set out, "Try to take this seriously, Green Lantern.

Wonder Woman flew from Rhode Island to the international date line in "just over an hour at the speed of Hermes-- currently Mach Three," to the Pacific watchtower. She noticed that the Coriolis force was not correctly impacting on a counterclockwise whirlpool below her, but not in time to prevent a geyser of Fluxus from striking her. The gray ghoul threatened the Princess and her world, so she sent him flying with a devastating punch. Meanwhile, a late arriving Aquaman turned up riding a whale, having previously disregarded JLA alarms. When Diana questioned the Sea King, he became aggressively petulant with his harpoon hand, which she seized. "Don't dare point that thing at me-- I've known you too long." Diana asked him to stop posturing, said she needed his help, and that world conquering aliens were unlikely to stop short of the ocean.

The discussion was interrupted by Tronix, who Diana chose to deal with while ordering Aquaman to try to stop the underwater transmission of the signal that was clouding humanity's minds. The Sea King was battered spectacularly by Fluxus, who charged in the form of a whale. Wonder Woman saw his plight, and it proved enough of a distraction for Tronix to blast her with laser vision. A steaming, blackened Amazon form fell limply from the sky. "'Wonder Woman'! Ha! I was looking forward to a fight!"

In the Gobi Desert, Flash and Green Lantern were overtaken by Armek, Zenturion and Züm after being seemingly abandoned by Martian Manhunter, who was having a secret meeting with Protex in orbit above Earth.

The World's Finest duo were attacked by the Hyperclan stationed in the Antarctic. Batman's plane was shot down, and he was left to die in the smoldering wreckage. Protex produced a Kryptonite nugget, and dragged the lame former Man of Steel off to torture him. "Every last detail of this operation was carefully planned. Including this... Batman is dead. Wonder Woman is dead. The Flash. Green Lantern. Aquaman. All dead. There's only you, and us. And a whole world on its knees."

By Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, John Dell and Pat Garrahy

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

JLA #1 (January, 1997)

In Washington D.C., the President of the United States was complaining about a variety of things, including Firehawk getting sick and being unable to serve as his superhuman escort in his meeting with "El Presidente or whatever it is this jumped-up bandit calls himself." Suddenly, a flying saucer appeared, a mile across, projecting a light onto the White House. Members of the recently decommissioned "Justice League America," headquartered in a space ship once used by the Overmaster, received a call concerning the matter. "How did we miss it? Freakin' thing came outta nowhere. We're talking major camouflage here." Metamorpho complained about the new JL "A-Team" and their egos pushing his group out of the way, while Nuklon studied the saucer and Icemaiden noted Fire had called in sick."

Superman arrived on the White House lawn just after eight large silver "eggs" had landed, from which exited a varied group of costumed super-heroes. "People of Earth! Greetings. Allow us to introduce ourselves... I am Protex. We are The Hyperclan. We've come to save the world... We have journeyed through space... for a world like this one. A world where we could succeed where we failed before. We are here to house your homeless. We are here to feed your starving and to repair the damage you have done to your biosphere. We are at your disposal. Bring us your problems and we will give you solutions in return. And if any of your native superhuman community wish to help us, we... welcome them. We would like to show you what can be done when the will is strong, the heart is pure and the mind is clear. Thank you for your attention." Both humans and superhumans watched this televised proclamation in awe, including Princess Diana in Gateway City, working at the museum with Dr. Helena Sandsmark and her daughter. A wide-eyed Cassie Sandsmark mooned over Protex. "He looks like Jim Morrison, Diana! He's gorgeous!"

Through their combined powers, the Hyperclan brought rain to the Sahara Desert and the appearance of potential for vegetation. However, Superman noted, "The Sahara is green today but can it be sustained or are people being given false hope in the name of spectacle? Is humankind really willing to become the pampered lapdog of superhuman beings and squander its own potential?" The question raised ire the world over, as people believed Superman and his fellows were jealous of the Hyperclan. Protex teased his willingness to discuss the matter with the Man of Steel. "If he wants to know where to find me, I'll be out 'fixing' the world." The worm really began to turn when the Hyperclan started executing super-villains like Judgment, which saw instances of "metacrimes" plummet, but alerted the JLA to the severity of the Hyperclan's threat.

Wonder Woman and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner returned to Overmaster's former ship, from which the Amazing Amazon had commanded the immediately prior incarnation of the League. Humanoid lifeforms in red space suits attacked the ship from the outside, crippling it with an electromagnetic pulse before breaching the hull with their fists. "Diana" asked GL to join her in space to confront the attackers, and to call her by her first name, as they were now in the same League. "Says you," Kyle muttered, " I can't handle this. It's like playing with the Beatles..." The other heroes aboard were trying to escape, but without functioning away craft, were forced to improvise. Metamorpho was left in an "inert" state from saving his fellows as they reentered Earth's atmosphere and crash landed. Lantern and Wonder Woman continued to battle their aggressors, who displayed super powers, but were neutralized still. However, Rayner and the Princess were distracted by an ultimately futile effort to save the Overmaster ship, and lost track of the guilty parties.

Meanwhile, Protex was in the Antarctic with his seven cohorts, who fired energy beams to melt the ice around a hidden city. "How long has it been? How long since we stood here for the first time? What was the human species then? No more than dormant potential in the genetic material of jellyfish! How little they have changed. But remember the barges heaped with spices and precious metals? Remember the music of the brass gongs and the toiling of the warmills? Life was good then. Life will be better. Join with me! Tear open the ice with your gaze! Unearth the ancient of days! Behold the glory of Z'onn Z'orr!"

The next day, the new JLA began coming together in a makeshift club in Rhode Island. Despite the blow they'd received, public opinion was still against their group, incensed at the slightest implication the Hyperclan might have been involved. "Protex, named 'the sexiest man in the universe' by readers of 'Sunday Planet Magazine,' answered, "The Justice League seems hellbent on manufacturing a confrontation. I pray it needn't come to that. I would rather we were allies in the service of this world and its people."

Martian Manhunter greeted Flash upon the speedster's arrival, a man who had issues with the already present new Green Lantern. Wonder Woman was also around, while Superman followed Flash in, and knew at this point Protex was lying. Green Lantern thought the indictment against the League's not having done enough for mankind might be true, but J'Onn J'Onzz affirmed, "They've taken lives. They've created superficial displays of power..." Batman was the last to arrive, but the first with the conclusion that the Hyperclan were broadcasting globally at the 7Hz wavelength of the human brain to control the population's minds. "This is a planned invasion. We're facing an unknown, immensely powerful enemy. We don't know how many there are and we don't know what they want. First blood goes to them but now it's our turn. This is war!"

By Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, John Dell and Pat Garrahy