One of the major plot themes in the Countdown to Infinite Crisis series has been the historical erasing of memory. When super-villain team the Secret Society discovered the JLA’s secret identities, effectively compromising the safety of heroes’ family and friends, fishnet-clad wizard Zatana used a process of magical lobotomy to erase the knowledge from their brains. While this in itself would be enough of an imposition on an individual’s human rights to set a goody two shoes like Batman against the concept, Zatanna made things worse by removing some of the criminals’ desire to commit evil, and also wiped 10 minutes of Batman’s memory when he found out about it.
But you can’t hide anything from Batman for long, and his discovery of the process back in Identity Crisis leads to the situation we get to in this volume, where the League is divided and can barely function, with its current membership unable to trust one another. A few other interesting features of Batman’s recent relationships are also thrown into question, neatly drawing together some loose ends and setting up nicely for the coming full-on Crisis.
With Johns playing chief architect for the Infinite Crisis story that follows this, he’s a good man for this tie-up job. His action is relentless, pitting hero against hero, and the story is mercifully less dense and obscure than some of the other titles in the Countdown series. Despite this, he still manages to raise the tempo, add a few new twists and leave us with an explosive cliff-hanger. All this is partly by virtue of our familiarity with these classic superhero characters, but is also helped by his economical writing style, which maintains maximum plot clarity without compromising on detail. Batista’s artwork isn’t the greatest we’ve seen but it adds a certain dynamism to the physical action, even if the slower moving plot elements look a bit stiff.
Along with The OMAC Project and Identity Crisis, this is one of the must read volumes in the series, both for its enjoyable action with household-name superheroes and its lead-in to the big event that comes next – Infinite Crisis.
Other titles in the Infinite Crisis series: