My first read through of this issue left be a bit bored and empty. It felt like there was not much that happened, but er a second read through, the brilliance of this issue lies in its simplicity. The story telling success doesn’t lie in great revelations or subtly ingenious points. It lies in the simple straight-forward story.
The covers are again very well done, but they fail to match anything within the comics. At no point is Superman posing over a crowd like a god, and at no point does Jason Todd or his death relevant. Enjoy their quality and then forget about them.
Once again we have a series of confessionals. This time we hear from Booster Gold, Commander Steel, Solstice, The Protector, and Harley Quinn. With Booster we are given some evidence of a past trauma that haunts him. Steel is wrestling with what in means to have died multiple times and is somehow brought back. His soul is being ripped apart. I do not know the backstory on Solstice, but she too is suffering a major trauma that is also ripping at her very being, and then The Protector talks about a drug issue that has long haunted him,making his life one big hypocrisy.
The last testimony is Harley’s. Between her own book and this title, I think Harley is truly one of the best heroes/characters in DC right now. In her confessional, where the others may have been sad or moving, Harley reveals the horror of walking alongside Mr J. Her testimony starts as a simple exchange of jokes, but then the nightmare. Joker starts wailing on her for no reason other than she is there. The beauty of this, if you can call it that, is in her body language. She has no problems staring down the camera…until she has to admit to the abuse. She has to star off to the side, and the during the confession itself, her eyes close. It is so easy to feel her pain.
The Story Continues…
The story of this issue is essentially broken into two pieces. The first part contains the story. This is really the only section that moves the plot forward.
We get a great page of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle interacting, showing their comradery. Together they are trying to figure out the next step to solving Sanctuary. Booster then comes up with the most brilliantly stupid plan. When facing the smartest people, attempt the dumbest plan that has already failed because it’s so stupid they will never expect it.
The next couple pages are Batgirl doing the hardest thing in the comic universe – Lying to Batman and trying to get away with deceiving him. Her goal is to gain possession of Skeets and use him to track down Booster. Batman’s one weakness seems to have always revolved around modern computers. Tim Drake took that role when he became Robin and Batman often turns to allies for computer information. Batgirl uses this weakness to convince Batman to let her borrow Skeets. Batgirl gets lucky.
The next page is the transition into the second half of the story, where the plot stalls, but the meaning does not. Lois and Clark are at home. Lois is trying to get Clark to come to bed before he gets called out for his next emergency. The problem is that Clark is struggling with the doubt that the knowledge of Sanctuary is causing amongst the general population. What are you supposed to think when even the gods are cracking?
We jump back to Batgirl and Skeets. Batgirl’s “lair” is a simple playground. Skeets calls her bluff. Can she really do what is necessary to crack Skeets. No, she cannot, but then again she doesn’t need too. She has an ace in the hole, one who can cross lines – Harley.
This next page is perhaps the greatest of the issue. Enter Harley in typical Harley fashion. A clever little rhyme and in dances Harley with her trusted mallet. Then down in the very bottom corner we get a small, circular insert of Skeets, realizing exactly how screwed he is. His response – “OH $%^@”
As stupid as Booster’s plan is. it actually works. Even he can’t believe it worked. Thus ends the story.
From here on we do not get a story. Superman, accompanied by Wonder Woman, addresses the people of the world. We get a mix of pictures, both from the past and the current Sanctuary mission, but all is underlain beneath Superman’s speech.
His speech is too long and deep to attempt to cove here. It must be read with the pictures in the background to add even more meaning. He essentially humanizes super powered gods. They are not above fault. They are not above failure or pain but “This is my home. It is in my care, and though you would seek its destruction, I am here. And today — today, by god, it will not fall.” A speech like this given during a movie would have the audience in tears and cheering wildly.
Even Superman is forced to pause, overcome with emotion. We see Wonder Woman’s hand rest on his shoulder. His speech continues a bit further, and there is a touching scene of the rose Harley threw from the bridge in issue 2. A red gloved hand scoops it up. One would think it Harley, yet the silhouette does not match.
The Men in Blue Vs the Women in Back and Blue…and red…and white
The final page before Harley’s testimony we get the set-up for issue 6. Harley and Batgirl versus Booster and Beetle. The banter between Batgirl and Harley is quite entertaining. Harley promises not to kill, but fails to realize all her other ideas are just synonyms to killing.
Issue 6 should be quippy and fantastically fun battle royale!