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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 Stripes’ series. 

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.

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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.


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