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Title: Trial by Fire, Part Five
Release Date: Early December 2003
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Tom Nguyen
JLA Members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Faith, Manitou Raven, Major Disaster, the Atom, and Plastic Man.
Guest Stars: Scorch, Dawn, Luke McDunnagh, and the Martian Manhunter.
Bad Guys: Fernus the Burning.
Cameos: Linda Park, Robin, Batgirl, Alfred Pennyworth, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White.

So what happens?
Fernus, the evil, fire-resistant version of the Martian Manhunter, has hypnotized the world into trying to kill the loved ones of the Justice League, but that's just to distract them while he works on his real plan: launching nuclear missiles all over the world so he can turn the whole planet into a ball of flame and use all that fire and human suffering to reproduce himself! Just about all of the JLA are busy smacking down missiles, but with every nuke in the US arsenal flying around, is there any way they can catch all of them?

While Fernus keeps an increasingly reluctant Scorch at his side, Batman tries in vain to get "Ralph Johns" to snap out of his amnesia and remember that he's Plastic Man. Bats is convinced that only Plas has a chance to stop Fernus, and he confides in Plastic Man's son, Luke, that he thinks his desire to be a good, devoted father caused him to voluntarily hypnotize himself into believing he was a normal man. But with no way to snap Plastic Man out of his spell, Batman has to leave to fight Fernus with the rest of the Justice League.

Meanwhile, at Stonehenge, Manitou Raven and his wife, Dawn, are trying to magically find Fernus, while the Atom and Major Disaster, using some equipment provided by Green Lantern's power ring, are tracking missiles and trying to convince world leaders not to start launching their own nukes. Raven senses something strange and draws Disaster and Atom into a spiritual plane called the Dreamwalk, where the Martian Manhunter's soul has been bound by the Burning's soul. The Leaguers try to free J'onn, but when Fernus' soul notices them, he attacks them, using all of the human identities J'onn has acquired over the years. And back in Chicago, Luke is able to use his own shapeshifting abilities to finally break Plastic Man's amnesia.

Elsewhere, Batman has tracked the JLA and Fernus to Japan, but when he arrives, he discovers that Fernus has already telepathically paralyzed Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Faith to keep them from stopping the last nukes. He blows up the Batplane in midair and leaves Batman to plummet to his death. But luckily, Plastic Man has arrived on the scene and catches Bats in time. Fernus scoffs--a living wad of Silly Putty vs. a monster who's taken down the JLA's heaviest hitters? But it turns out that the Martian's telepathy can't affect Plas! As the Flash zooms in to help, Batman reveals that his suspicions were correct--Plastic Man's brain is no longer organic, rendering him immune to telepathic attacks! (Buh? I know, but let's roll with it) On top of that, Plastic Man is a better shapeshifter than Fernus is. With Plas around to counter Fernus' shapeshifting and telepathy, the Martian is a lot more vulnerable to the rest of the League's attacks.

But the League's problems aren't over yet. They've missed one nuclear missile headed for a major metropolitan area. And Superman isn't fast enough to stop it. That mushroom cloud is really going to wreck property values...

Cool Moments!
'Scuse me for quite blatantly cheerleading for my very favorite comic book character, but... PLASTIC MAN!

Cool Quotes!
Batman, explaining to Luke how important family can be: "My parents were killed, right before my eyes. I was three years younger than you. I've felt that loss every single day of my life. If someone told me that I could go back in time and undo that one horrible night--at the cost of all the good I've done as Batman... I can't honestly say that I wouldn't let the world burn."

Plastic Man, regaining his memory: "They tell me Plastic Man is supposed to be funny. I don't know any jokes."
Luke: "I do. The first one you taught me... 'Why did the absurdist cross the road?' 'Seventeen fish sticks.'"
Plastic Man: "Heh."

Plastic Man, shapeshifted into Marvin the Martian as he catches Batman: "Where's the kaboom? There's supposed to be a Bat-splattering kaboom!"

Final Grade: A

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