‘It all comes down to this!’ is the name of the final issue of this year-long limited series, ‘this’ being the big blowout between the Justice League International, friend-turned-foe Maxwell Lord and OMAC Prime. It’s sharply scripted by Judd Winick, who gives us such great lines as Max’s ‘People have to see the truth – even if it’s wrapped up in a lie’ and Rocket Red’s less-eloquent, but effective, ‘Scumbag’. He shows us that teen Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes will one day make a fine League leader, and how much faith Batman has in the once-derided team.
And the story is drawn up a storm by Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan, reunited with their old pal Wonder Woman – or rather, the new Wonder Woman whom few know (and fewer like). She doesn’t exactly cover herself with glory here, being easily defeated by Omac Prime. Still, NuDiana looks pretty good, even in the strappy costume. Super-Adaptoid/Amazo homagist OMAC Prime, though, looks blooming silly as he begins growing Wonder Hair and copying her bodice.
There are many good moments in this extra-sized story, comprising two extended fight scenes which eventually come together. It gives us Booster Gold and Max in hand-to-hand combat; Blue Beetle defeating OMAC Prime in the name of Ted Kord; Fire, Ice and Rocket Red in a desperate fight to save Wonder Woman. Power Girl arrives to help but wisely stays back when she learns OMAC Prime might duplicate her abilities and become even more dangerous. Even Batman is around, allegedly – he’s useless, only showing up at the end.
Then there’s Captain Atom, with the power of a god but the curse that when he really cuts loose, he blasts out of the present, to some unknown future with little chance of finding his way back. But here it’s a fate he embraces, sacrificing his place in 2011 in order to bring down Max.
It’s a shame, then, that his gift is rendered meaningless when Max, defeated, surrounded by the JLI, simply teleports away, leaving the heroes blank-faced.
First off, since he had a teleporter, why didn’t he just vanish when Booster attacked?
Secondly … he got away? The JLI had him in front of them, broken and bruised, and let him hit a button and escape? I heard Winick on iFanboy’s Don’t Miss podcast plugging this final issue, saying that this was one of those rare times in comics when a story has a planned ending. He insisted that while there would be the odd loose end opening up further stories, the Generation Lost arc got to have a proper conclusion.
The villain of the peace, responsible for the deaths of thousands, getting away is not a loose end. It’s a travesty. The JLI has battled Max for 24 straight issues. They’ve had some small wins, but more often than not Max has won the day, left laughing as they wound up looking like dupes. But the heroes have shown immense spirit, regrouped, forged a new team. And this was their day to win.
But they lost. Max won the battles, and the war. Batman positing that the JLI forcing Max out of the shadows as a victory isn’t convincing when he slips straight back in again. Yes, Captain Atom persuades Max to let the world remember him, but that doesn’t seem to include the crimes he committed before Wonder Woman killed him a few years back. And the League has lost a good man.
And never mind the JLI, as a reader, I needed to see Max brought to justice. I don’t care if he escapes from prison in three months and returns to bedevil the JLI, for now, I want him hauled before a court. Methinks Winick has fallen in love with his devil a little too much.
I’ve praised this series often in the past few months, and this was in no way a bad superhero comic. It did what it intended to do – set the Justice League International up for a new ongoing while entertaining us, twice a month. But, and you can call me an overentitled fanboy, it should have done something different at the end – it should have given Booster, Beatriz, Jaime and the rest the unequivocal win they deserved.
‘It all comes down to this’? Indeed.