WARNING! SPOILERS IN EXCELSIS DEO! HALLELUJAH!


Title: JLA: Earth 2
Release Date: January 2000
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Frank Quitely
Inker: Frank Quitely
JLA Members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter.
Guest Stars: Lex Luthor.
Bad Guys: The Crime Syndicate of Amerika (Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick) and Brainiac.
Cameos: Commissioner Thomas Wayne, Boss Gordon, Jimmy Olsen, Cat Grant, and a certain American President eagerly anticipating getting degraded by Superwoman.
Special Features: First Appearance of the Crime Syndicate in DC's Post-Crisis continuity; first hardcover JLA graphic novel.

So what happens?
The JLA tries to rescue a crashing plane, but it looks like everyone on board died long before they hit the ground. And something weird's going on, too: the victims' money has pictures of Benedict Arnold on the dollar bill, the corporate logo on the plane reads "KKK Southern", and the victims' hearts are on the right side of their bodies instead of the left. The airplane's flight recorder includes a reference to Lex Luthor, and when the JLA pay him a visit, they find him giving his employees huge raises and donating money to charity. Curiouser and curiouser...

Luthor reveals that he's actually a renegade from an antimatter universe. There, good is evil, left is right, and Luthor is the last surviving superhero in a world ruled by supervillains. He has temporarily replaced the usual evil Lex Luthor to ask the JLA to help him get his universe back on the right track; Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash agree to travel to the mirror universe in Luthor's cross-dimensional ship to help out, while Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter stay behind to guard against any emergencies.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the mirror, an emergency meeting of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika is held. And who is the Crime Syndicate? There's Ultraman, a former astronaut named Clark Kent who gets his powers by eating a substance called anti-Kryptonite; Owlman, the little brother that Bruce Wayne never had, who blames his father, Gotham police commissioner Thomas Wayne, for the deaths of his mother and brother; Superwoman, whose real name is Lois Lane and who should've been named Superslut--she's stringing along both Owlman and the insanely jealous Ultraman; Power Ring, a very nervous punk with a power ring on his finger and a Tibetan spirit called Vulthoom in his brain; and Johnny Quick, a junkie who relies on a drug to get his superspeed. Along with their Brainiac robot slaves, they have the whole world under their control, and they're glad Luthor is gone. With him out of the way, there's no one around to mess up their schemes.

Once the JLA get to the mirror universe, Batman tries with limited success to clean up Gotham City. Superman disguises himself as the mirror Clark Kent (he wears a cheesy fake mustache) to lure out Superwoman, who gets slugged by Wonder Woman and then transported to the Syndicate's Panopticon on the moon. Once all of the Crime Syndicate is on the moon, Green Lantern uses his ring to trap all of them there.

The JLA quickly start doing good deeds, like rebuilding slums, distributing food to the hungry in Amerika and third world nations like Britain, and cleaning up corruption in Gotham. But the Crime Syndicate is able to escape to the JLA's Earth--it appears that once someone crosses over to the mirror universe, they have to leave within 24 hours, or their counterparts get bounced back across the dimensional barrier to keep the balance between the two universes. So the Crime Syndicate gets to pound the hell out of Washington, DC...

But things aren't working out for either the good guys or the bad guys. The people of the Crime Syndicate's Earth don't want to live in a world of freedom and justice, and Commissioner Wayne enforces the peace in Gotham by instituting a brutal law-and-order dictatorship. On the JLA's Earth, Aquaman stabs Power Ring through the arm with his harpoon, the Martian Manhunter easily beats a weakened Ultraman, and Owlman loses his faith when he discovers that his father is no longer alive to be tortured. In the JLA's universe, evil always loses, and in the Crime Syndicate's universe, good always loses--both teams have been made completely ineffective...

And then Luthor and the JLA discover that Brainiac has become sentient and has been using the cross-dimensional technology to weaken the barriers between the matter and antimatter universes--he plans to crash the two universes together, providing enough spare energy to allow him to upgrade himself into a super-intelligent, pan-dimensional being. The only solution? The JLA has to lose. So they desert the Crime Syndicate's world. The Crime Syndicate gets back home in the nick of time, pounds the stuffing out of Brainiac, and saves the day. So the JLA rebuild Washington, the Crime Syndicate goes back to looting and pillaging, and all is right with both universes...

Cool Moments!
Well, first of all, there weren't nearly as many as you might expect. The only JLA/CSA counterparts who meet each other are Wonder Woman and Superwoman, and then it's one punch and the fight's over. Bleah. A major disappointment that way.

Other than that, the Crime Syndicate is very cool, as are many of the details of the mirror universe, like the male Venus de Milo and the female David, and the bit about the British colonies rebelling against the Amerikan monarchy); Martian Manhunter turning into a monster to beat Ultraman was neat; Ultraman picking Brainiac's brain apart was brutally nifty; the numerous interrupted trysts between Owlman and Superwoman, Ultraman's jealousy, and Power Ring's terror of his teammates were all well-done, too; there were also a number of neat Silver Age touches, like the antimatter Luthor's costume.

Cool Quotes!
Green Lantern, casting his vote for traveling to the mirror universe: "I mean every superhero's got to make at least one trip to the antimatter universe, right?"

Ultraman, making threats: "One of these days you'll go too far, Owlman, and you won't come back."
Owlman: "Sure. Until then I have the negatives, remember?"

Owlman, threatening Johnny Quick: "And call me 'smartass' again, I'll cut your speed powder with horse laxative. You'll be the fastest skid mark alive."

Superwoman, bargaining with Martian Manhunter: "We could rule this world together, I could teach you things..."
Martian Manhunter: "We are from different species."
Superwoman: "I'll try anything once. Ask anyone."

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