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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Adventures in The DC Universe #12 - March 1998

Comics Weekend "Cipher Rules!" by Steve Vance, John Delaney, and Ron Boyd.

A few weeks ago, we covered the first issue of Adventures in the DC Universe, which featured all of the JLA battling a bunch of villains under the direction of as-yet-unseen foe.

The book then went on to feature other heroes, picking up the threads of that first issue here, a year later:
Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter save some planes from falling out of the sky when their computer systems fail. Manhunter seems suspicious :
Aquaman tries to stop the launch of the sub's nuclear missiles, but the Captain fires all of them simultaneously, and a few get past the Sea King!

Luckily Batman has been following all this from the Batcave, and he directs the other JLAers as to where the missiles are headed. Each of the heroes accomplishes their mission, and Aquaman has gotten a hold of the Captain to "question" him:
The sub captain reveals he was given official orders to launch the missiles, but in his home country of Luvania they deny giving any such order. Either one of them is lying, or, Manhunter concludes, someone hacked into their communications system!

Turns out Manhunter was right--the villain behind all this reveals himself via a computer screen--it's Cipher, "Earth's New Master"!

He demands the complete surrender of the JLA, or he will launch Luvania's entire nuclear arsenal. As the JLA decides what to do next, they see that riots have already started to break out in panic. A TV Network chairman named Winston McKienney breaks into his own channel, to demand that the JLA prove they "are more than glory-seeking vigilantes" and surrender to Cipher for the good of mankind.

The JLA decide to just that, and agree to have themselves beamed to Cipher's secret HQ:

(I love the above moment with Batman...worthy of Looney Tunes!)

Cipher has his henchmen claim all the JLA's weapons, like Batman's utility belt and Green Lantern's ring. While he decides what to do with his prisoners, he promises to wreak more havoc with the world's computer systems.

He then puts all the JLAers into individual cells, where they are monitored. But when the Martian Manhunter seems to have escaped (really, he just turned invisible), The Flash uses that half-second diversion to help the others escape.

The JLA then fight their way through some of Cipher's defenses, like armed henchmen and giant robots. But that doesn't take them long, and they break into Cipher's lair, only to find:
Back in the base, though, we see that McKinney was just a ruse, and the real Cipher was actually the cowering henchmen they discovered earlier. Thanks to a high-tech body harness, Cipher has the power of shape-shifting!

He then tries to make his escape, bumping right into an invisible Martian Manhunter:
Despite the general light-hearted tone of this series, this issue's ending is grimly straightforward, a nice way to balance the whole story out.

Aquaman gets a decent amount to do, and there's a couple of panels where, despite the cartoony art style, penciller Delaney and inker Boyd use shadows to pull off some really impressive, moody shots of Aquaman in action, like the one with him and the nuclear sub. All in all, a good effort.

The JLA got one more issue of Adventures in the DC Universe all to their own, which we'll see here tomorrow!

1 comment:

BentonGrey said...

Yeah, I have these. They are pretty good fun, and they are mostly free of the bad continuity that makes it painful for me to pick up a modern DC book. These are okay, but the Batman Adventures are downright fantastic. It's a shame we never got an Aquaman Adventures run. It'd be great to see him brought back to basics, no dead son, still a loving husband, etc.