Title: The Golden Perfect, Part III
Release Date: May 2002
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Tom Nguyen
JLA Members: Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, the Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, the Flash, and Plastic Man.
Guest Stars: The Riddler, Vishnu, and Hal Jordan.
Bad Guys: Rama Khan and the pervasive power of belief.
Cameos: The Atom.

So what happens?
Lo and behold, Kelly and Mahnke drag this monstrosity of a storyline to a fairly satisfying conclusion.

First, Batman's back. Whoo-Hoooo! Second, the death of Truth is still allowing unfettered Belief to run rampant worldwide. Essentially, the longer beliefs have been held by the most people, the more powerfully they are returning: the moon is now made of green cheese, the South is rising again, Vishnu is about to signal the end of creation, the Riddler's riddles are completely unsolvable--even by himself. Soon, reality will break down so much that it will be shaped by each individual's perceptions and beliefs--chaos on a cosmic scale. While the rest of the Justice League is trying to shut down the individual crises, Wonder Woman (draped with a collection of oversized, grody insects representing the lies devouring the world) returns to Jarhanpur, the magically isolated nation visited at the beginning of this storyline, to beg the Rama Khan to help her end the unreality plague. He is unsympathetic--Jarhanpur is unaffected, and as long as Jarhanpur remains untarnished by the outside world, he is happy with the way things are.

When Diana tries to appeal to the Rama Khan's young heir to consider the fate of his mother, who is not protected by Jarhanpur's magical influence, the Rama Khan attacks her; when the rest of the JLA arrive to help, they have all been changed by how the world perceives them. Superman is a massive demigod; the Martian Manhunter is an alien weirdo; the Flash is aging at superspeed (due to people's faulty understanding of relativity); Plastic Man is a clownish buffoon; Batman is a jagged shadow; Green Lantern is Hal Jordan. But they can't make any headway against the Rama Khan, who is all-powerful within Jarhanpur's borders.

And after that, everything goes back to being confusing for a while. Wonder Woman finally realizes that this whole gruesome episode was her own damn fault for doubting her ability to interpret the truth and her own heart (You can almost hear writer Joe Kelly saying, "Hey, chicks gotta be true to their hearts, right? All chicks are into that heart stuff, right? Sex? Yeah, I've heard of it, but jacking off must be more fun, right?"), so she asks Jarhanpur itself to forgive her. After that, Truth comes back, Wonder Woman becomes the Guardian of Truth again, the grody bugs go away, the magic lasso mends itself, the Rama Khan gets mad at the JLA for interfering, Jarhanpur destroys itself--all pretty much free of any coherent explanations. The Rama Khan's heir is reunited with his mother, with the understanding that someday, he will become the new Rama Khan and Jarhanpur will rebuild itself. It all ends with a bunch of talking and philosophy, which isn't bad for a comic book--I just wish it had been a bit more believable philosophy...

Cool Moments!
Green Lantern's appearance as a Hal Jordan/Kyle Rayner composite was nifty, as was Batman as a shadowy urban legend made flesh.

Cool Quotes!
Plastic Man, lulling Vishnu to sleep: "Rock a bye Vishnu...in the tree top...when Holi comes...the Kasbah you'll rock..."

Batman to Superman, after trying to explain why Diana's lasso broke: "Maybe next time I tell you how much I hate magic, you won't give me that look."

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