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Today in Alternate History
Day in Alternate History Blog
Elseworlds: JLA; Act of God
I was recently lucky enough to discover
a copy of this miniseries from DC. The
idea, while cool, is almost as flawed in the execution as the ‘Stars and
The basic plot is one fine day in the DC
universe; the heroes and villains are fighting and saving lives as always –
and then one day…
All their powers vanish.
The superheroes that had the
metagene – DC-speak for the genes for superpowers – have all been made
human and mortal. No powers,
no flight, no superstrength, no nothing.
Superman, who was trying to save a bursting dam, loses his powers
in time to see the dam collapse and thousands of people die.
The other JLA members have similar traumatic experiences.
The JLA members, now human, meet on their moonbase to discuss the
disaster and conclude that the big guns are down – its up to the smaller
heroes to take over. The rest
of the three issues cover Luthor’s plot to gain world dominance, the
former heroes attempt to face up to their loss and the outcome of the
whole problem. Much to my
surprise, the power loss remains as an ‘act of God’ instead of being
explained and the powers never return.
This series has many good points,
but there are a few logical inconsistencies in the plot.
Superman and the Martin Manhunter were not altered humans, but
aliens. They should have kept
their powers (which would have ruined the point, I admit, but I digress).
Similarly, Green Lantern should have been counted as a tech hero
and the ring should have still worked. The
excuse that it was alien technology does not explain the continued
existence of a fully-powered cyborg or the JLA teleporters.
Further, the reaction of the
heroes does not ring true. Why
would superman leave his wife and become a drunk?
Why would wonder woman take up Christianity?
I admit there would be some dislocation and trauma, but would they
not manage to come to grips with it, take up copies of Steel’s suits,
and continue working?
My final grip is that many of the
possible explanations and plots are missed or ignored.
Oracle says in the first issue that “no one in government or
intelligence services is exactly crying over what’s happened to you”,
which, when questioned, allows Batman to reply “it levels the playing field,
puts the power in their hands!” But,
in the DC universe, is that reaction typical?
Superman saved the Earth more times than I can count and most of the
other heroes are also important. If
I was the US president in that situation, I’ve be beating the intelligence
agencies to find out what happened and how to reverse it before an alien armada
arrived to take over. I can see the
Wildstorm president doing that, the heroes there are often at odds with the
government (see the Coup d’etat series), but
not the DC universe.
And yet that would have made the perfect
plot! The DC government decides to
cripple most of the super powered beings. How,
why and how to recover would have made a superb plot.
Instead, the whole disaster is blamed on a dexs-ex-machinia –or on God.
This could have been great.
In many ways, it was great. But
it fails to go past 5.