JLA: Crisis of Conscience
by Geoff Johns,
Allan Heinberg, Chris Batista
(DC Comics, 2006)

A lot of good material came out of DC Comics' recent Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis storylines. While I don't like a lot of what the company has done in the aftermath, this book, Crisis of Conscience, falls right between the two, and it captures perfectly the tensions that have built between superhero factions.

The basic plot is this: several members of the Justice League in previous years used Zatanna's powers to erase certain memories and personality traits from several villains. Their motive was beyond reproach -- the bad guys had discovered the secret identities of numerous heroes, and Elongated Man's wife, Sue Dibny, had already been raped because of the breach in security.

But for some heroes, mind alteration is going too far, and Batman in particular acted to stop it. He, in turn, was "changed" slightly through Zatanna's magic, and he lost 10 minutes of memory.

But now the truth is coming out, and several members of the JLA are furious. Others are righteously defensive. And some are regretful. And the JLA is being torn apart.

It's a bad idea for the team to falter, as the villains involved have regained their memories and other villains are taking advantage of the subsequent mayhem to attack. Batman trusts no one and withdraws from the group. Hawkman is ready to beat to death anyone who crosses him. And Superman is ... conflicted.

There are countless books on the shelf that focus on the importance of teamwork in the JLA. Watching it all fall apart in this tightly drawn story (by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg) is shocking -- but it's impossible to look away. The story he tells here could have repercussions in the DC Universe for years.

We can only hope that the stories improve from here, although the first several weeks of DC's One Year After line have been disappointing at best.

by Tom Knapp
26 August 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.