JLA: Created Equal
Fabian Nicieza, writer,
Kevin Maguire, artist
(DC Comics, 2000)

A space virus hits Earth and kills every man on the planet -- with two exceptions. Superman is saved by his Kryptonian physiology, and his arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor, is preserved by his own paranoia and the vast amount of scientific resources at his disposal. Meanwhile, the planet is left to redefine itself as a world without men, led in large part by the female superheroes who make up the new Justice League.

Of course, one woman -- Lois Lane -- still has a husband, and the question of repopulating the planet is inevitable. Then, near the terminus of her high-profile pregnancy, Luthor reappears and reveals that Superman's ability to absorb radiation has made him a carrier of the virus -- meaning he will kill his own son if he stays on the planet. He reluctantly leaves, but not before leaving behind a cask of "super-semen" to help restore the species, should his own son survive.

Flash forward 16 years. The Amazons of Paradise Island are overseeing the growth and maturation of countless teen-age superboys and supergirls, each having a different mother but the same absentee father. Count on Luthor, the world's last male chauvinist pig, to throw a monkeywrench in their training.

JLA: Created Equal is interesting for the most part because it shines a new light on DC's female heroes. For a change, no one takes a backseat to their male counterparts, and many evolve under the new circumstances. (Wait 'til you see who becomes the new Green Lantern!) Of course, Diana (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) is left a little teary-eyed, obviously a little unhappy that Lois was around for Superman's repopulation experiment.

Most of DC's Elseworlds books have focused on Batman, and they've done some remarkable things with that character. Many of the attempts to do similar justice to other DC heroes have flopped -- so it's nice to see such a strong contender highlighting the often-overlooked females of the DC Universe. JLA: Created Equal is available in two parts (although I have little doubt a combined package will be released eventually) and they're well-worth picking up.

[ by Tom Knapp ]