Title: It Takes a Thief
Release Date: June 2001
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Paul Neary
JLA Members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, the Flash, and Plastic Man.
Guest Stars: Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, John Jones, Wally West, Kyle Rayner, Eel O'Brian, and Linda Park.
Bad Guys: Id and the Cathexis.

So what happens?
Let's recap: Id, a sentient energy wave from another dimension, is granting wishes, both for good and for ill, all over the planet. And certain members of the Justice League have been split into their superpowered forms and their non-superpowered secret identities: Superman and Clark Kent, Batman and Bruce Wayne, the Martian Manhunter and John Jones, Green Lantern and Kyle Rayner, the Flash and Wally West, and Plastic Man and Eel O'Brian. The only two unaffected Leaguers--Wonder Woman and Aquaman--are realizing that the split is causing dangerous alterations in their teammates. But a pair of otherdimensional aliens called the Cathexis claim they can help. Now, on with the story...

The Cathexis reveal that when Id arrived in our dimension, the first wish it granted was back in JLA #50, when Superman told Batman, "We have two lives, most of us, and sometimes I wish vehemently that weren't true." So, BOOM, Id went and split the JLA apart. Normally, you'd expect Superman to feel bad about that, but this time, he doesn't seem to give a rat's ass.

When the JLA responds to an Id-related crisis in San Francisco (a disfigured model wishes no one would look at her and everyone in the city goes blind), the full effect of the split rapidly becomes apparent to Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Plastic Man just won't quit joking, no matter what. Green Lantern won't use his power ring as anything other than a weapon. The Flash is impatient with anyone slower than he is. Superman and Martian Manhunter are both acting cold, arrogant, and alien. And an increasingly sluggish Batman is revealed to be an almost featureless automaton.

Meanwhile, Eel O'Brian is becoming more and more the petty thug he was before he became Plastic Man. He starts rounding up the other split alter egos, including Wally West, now grown over-relaxed and apathetic; Kyle Rayner, slowly going mad because of his inability to express his artistic visions through a power ring; John Jones, who really, really doesn't want to go back to being a Martian; and a very spiffy-looking Clark Kent. In Gotham, Eel pistol-whips an increasingly psychotic Bruce Wayne and persuades Jones that the only way to save Wayne, Rayner, and O'Brian from going completely insane is to reverse the split and get everything back to normal.

Back in Frisco, the Cathexis have finally been able to locate Id, and Flash uses Wonder Woman's lasso to create a superspeed cage to hold it in place. With Id confined, the Cathexis reveal themselves as cosmic villains seeking to capture Id and use it to make themselves all-powerful. After blasting the JLA into unconsciousness, they are busy gloating over their triumph when Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Eel O'Brian, John Jones, Wally West, and Kyle Rayner step out of the shadows, armed only with handguns, baseball bats, and their fists. Normally, I'd say we're all screwed, but I don't think Bryan Hitch would waste a splash page on a bunch of losers...

Cool Moments!
It looks like Mark Waid is getting into the JLA groove, because this was a very cool issue. Almost every single picture of Eel O'Brian, with his red suit, black shirt, gold tie, trenchcoat, and evil sunglasses, whether silhouetted in a doorway, half-lit through blinds, or standing in a pouring rainstorm, is unbelievably goddamn cool; the only glimpse we get of the eyeless, earless, hairless thing under Batman's cowl is really freaky; Bruce Wayne getting his ass kicked by Eel O'Brian was perversely cool; the duplicity of the Cathexis was as good a plot twist as I've seen; and like I said, the final splash page of the unpowered alter egos getting ready to open up a can of whup-ass is both beautiful and inspiring. A damn good issue...

Cool Quotes!
Hey, it's the All-Eel Quote Revue!

Eel O'Brian, describing the thug mentality: "You know the sound a gun butt makes across a guy's skull? It's low and wet. Like a ball bat pulpin' a melon. Haven't heard that noise f'r years. Now it's like a song I can't get outta my head. And I wanna hear it again."

Eel O'Brian, describing the nature of millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne's madness: "Everyone figured that when you split Bruce Wayne and Batman, you get a fop and a lunatic. Which is true. But not like we thought."

Eel O'Brian, pointing out Bruce Wayne's ultimate fate: "All that rage and no place to put it. No training to use it. So it just eats away at ya more and more until they eventually lock you up. Until you and Rayner and me are fightin' over a pudding cup in the psycho ward."

The Cathexis, gloating: "Id is once more ours! Who now dares stand against us?"
Eel O'Brian, flanked by the World's Greatest Alter Egos: "We do."

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