WARNING! LOW SPOILERS AHEAD! WATCH FOR ICE ON ROAD! CONGESTED AREA! RIGHT TURN YIELD ON GREEN!


Title: Rules of Engagement, Part 1
Release Date: April 2003
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Tom Nguyen
JLA Members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern (John Stewart), the Atom, Firestorm, Faith, Major Disaster, and Manitou Raven.
Guest Stars: Dawn and Kanjar Ro.
Bad Guys: Something called "mirror matter" and the Peacemakers.

So what happens?
We start out with the JLA out in space trying to wrangle a chunk of something called "mirror matter", a supposedly theoretical material that, the Atom explains, can reflect all forms of energy, including light. It's invisible and tends to warp space in unexpected ways. And it's headed for Earth, which probably wouldn't survive the impact. It's seemingly carved Superman into random chunks (he's okay, just frustrated with getting warped in so many directions he can't see straight), while Green Lantern and Faith are trying to lasso it, with limited success. Flash is using his superspeed to allow himself and Firestorm to "sidestep the timestream", which allows them to see the mirror matter and have a better chance of dealing with it. Firestorm is able to transmute the mirror matter into normal, visible, non-dangerous matter--but it's still large enough and moving fast enough to be dangerous, so Superman gives it a punch to break it apart. Turns out that it's been changed into marshmallow creme, splattering Supes, GL, and Faith in marshmallow and giving Flash and Firestorm a good hearty laugh.

Meanwhile, Manitou Raven officially joins the JLA, offering his magical weapons (and his wife, Dawn?) for the team's use. And Batman and Wonder Woman are about to set up a dinner date when they're interrupted by an alert forwarded to them by Kyle Rayner out in deep space. Basically, there's this alliance of warmongering aliens called the Peacemakers who are getting ready to invade and slaughter another bunch of aliens called the Kylaq. But they're all about 50 light years away, prompting the sensible members of the JLA to ask, "Hey, couldn't we be meddling in warmongers' affairs here on Earth?" But Superman and Wonder Woman apparently feel like taking a vacation 50 light years away, so off they all go. And of course, they whup ass. No big surprise.

And back on Earth, some big fancy general is talking to Batman on a video-phone and demanding that Faith be returned to the government, but Bats tells him to shove it. (You want my latest theory on Faith? That short-haired chick with the telekinetic powers being pursued by a government that thinks she's literally their property? I think Faith is Tomorrow Woman, from clear back in JLA #5. That's what I think.) Ominously, the general turns to his subordinates and tells them to "call Manson." Oooo, who's he gonna get? Charles Manson? Marilyn Manson? Shirley Manson? I'm scared of all of 'em! Well, Shirley can tear my head off and suck on my bloody stump anytime she wants to, but the others better stay the hell away!

Oh, yeah, and back on Kylaq, the JLA have persuaded the planet's leaders to negotiate for a lasting peace with the Peacemakers. The Kylaq ask the JLA to discuss some strategy with their Minister of Defense--Kanjar Ro, a longtime foe of the Justice League. Can the JLA trust the guy who weilded the Gamma Gong and once enslaved the Silver-Age League on the Slave Ship of the Stars?

Cool Moments!
Firestorm's marshmallow gag was pretty funny; lots of cool little non-verbal bits in this issue: Batman and Atom betting each other whether WayneTech equipment can handle the rigors of JLA emergencies, Wonder Woman glaring at Major Disaster after she catches him leering, Batman grumbling about all the hijinx goin' on... Overall, a pretty decent issue, but these multiple part stories often end up falling apart at the end...

Cool Quotes!
Superman, while getting carved into chunks by the mirror matter: "I changed my mind. I don't want to play 'catcher.'"

Major Disaster: "When it's not 3000 years into the past, it's 50 light-years away--doesn't Giganto just tear up Detroit anymore?"

Disaster, after watching Faith telekinetically demolish a tank: "Marry me?"

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