October 24, 2003
JLA #80-82: The White Rage 1-3
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: Doug Mankhe
Inker: Tom Nguyen
By Avi Green
Joe Kelly seems to have written a story based vaguely on the case of
Waco in Texas back in 1996, about a supposedly peace and love
advocating ranch called Safe Haven, a camp for youngsters run by a
metahuman couple in Weelo Springs, Oregon. And, having read it, I
can say that it’s not too bad, but still comes up a bit short.
A social worker on a mission to inspect the grounds is denied
entrance to the camp by the man in charge, and when she tries to question his refusal to allow her
in, and says that she wouldn’t want to have to call the police, he
uses psychokinesis to set her car on fire, frightening her away.
The feds are called in soon afterwards, and several members of the
JLA, save for Wonder Woman and Batman, also arrive, hoping to
prevent a possible shootout between the camp staff, who’re armed,
and the authorities, who have no intention of letting them do down
the law, since they don’t want any of the children inside to be
caught in the crossfire.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, things go awry, and the team
must try to stop both the camp personnel and the police from getting
out of hand with a shootout. Finally, things really end up looking
gloomy for the JLA when it seems as if new team member Faith, the
one with the very powerful telekinetic and explosive abilities,
sends the entire camp up in an explosion.
It’s a pretty good setup, but the part where Kelly wrote one of the
camp guards calling out to the police helicopters arriving on the
scene, “and I voted for Gore!”
seemed awfully forced (what, they can’t come up with a fictionalized
version of the former vice-president instead?), even though it was
probably meant to be satirical.
During this time, in Gotham City, Wonder Woman is paying a visit to
Bruce Wayne’s estate on a date. Not that they really take the time
to focus on any possible relationship or romance between them
though, but I guess it doesn’t make much difference either way.
The most interesting part of this is where Plunder, a mercenary who
appeared in the Flash and is a mirror world clone of Keystone City
police detective Jared Morillo, (created in part by the Mirror
Master, no less), is brought up in a discussion between Bruce and
Diana, who had their meeting interrupted by the alert on Plunder’s
presence in Gotham. Bruce of course, this being his city, expects to
be able to deal with the problem himself, and for Diana to stay out
of the way.
Cut to the next part, in a jail in Weelo Springs, where Superman is
being held on suspicion of having led to the deaths of at least a
hundred people, including children, at the Safe Haven youth camp.
Wonder Woman is trying to get through to see Supes, but the officer
in charge refuses to allow her to see him despite her credentials as
As for the rest of the members, such as John Stewart, they’re
missing, whereas Faith and Major Disaster are hiding in a trailer
out in the country, terrified over the fiasco they think they may
have caused, and not knowing what to do, until Faith decides to call
her former boss, Manson, the gangster who leads a South American
drug cartel (and whom I’m guessing is meant to be a takeoff on the
gang leader Charles Manson in real life), asking if she can allowed
to return, and shows Major Disaster how she got to be the metahuman
she is now.
Meanwhile, Manitou Raven is visiting a Las Vegas casino, wondering
whatever happened to the reserve his ancestors grew up on, when he
sees the news on TV, and takes off for the area of the Safe Haven
camp’s wreckage, where Batman, Firestorm, and the Atom are searching
for any dead bodies. With his own psychokinetic powers to feel the
spirits of dead people, he offers to check for any dead spirits, but
turns up none.
And indeed, as we see in another location, the children who resided
at the camp are now at another location, run by the new Axis
Amerika, a metahuman gang of racists who’re sort of like a modern
day KKK clan, which the Safe Haven owners are indeed part of, and
they also have John Stewart there, under some kind of hypnosis,
guarding them all under a power ring shield, as the gang are hoping,
will eventually suffocate the entire group of kids.
As the JLA members who aren’t being pursued by the law approach the
location of the gang in search of the missing children, Batman’s
bat-plane is shot down by the gang, and the rest of the members,
such as Firestorm and Atom, find themselves face-to-face with the
new Axis gang.
As the next issue begins, we see that the Flash has taken briefly
into the Speed Force, apparently on the run too, and ends up in Hong
Kong, puzzled as to why he took off like that. But the answer to why
lies ahead, as you’ll soon see.
Faith and Major Disaster go to meet with Manson, and the latter
insists on being provided with hiding and protection, much to the
annoyance of Manson, who then tries to attack him, and wins the
retaliation of Faith, whereupon they also realize that not only was
he in on the whole frameup plot, but that he also used a
mind-influencing device to manipulate the members of the JLA who
went missing. As for Axis Amerika, they flee from where they’ve been
trying to fight the other members of the JLA, including Superman,
who’s been found not guilty, thanks to some special intervention by
Wonder Woman, thank god, and the missing children’s location is
found, and are rescued along with John Stewart.
Overall, it’s an okay allegory of the Waco incident in Texas, and
while not perfect, it was still enjoyable, and works fairly well in
presenting what are no doubt meant to be another of the JLA’s
adversaries, the Axis Amerika gang.
I figure that these villains will turn up again in time to menace
the JLA, and until then, well, I’ll be waiting to see what future
issues are like after Kelly leaves, as he’ll be doing soon. There’s
to be an issue in time written by Dennis O’Neil, whom many know to
be famous for his work on Batman
and Green Lantern in the
Bronze Age, and Justice League of
America was one of the first books he worked on when he
first began writing in the Silver Age. Now that ought to be quite a
treat to see O’Neil work again on the title that gained him fame in
Copyright 2003 Avi Green. All rights reserved.
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