Saturday, October 18, 2008

JLA: Incarnations #5 (Third Story, Nov. 2001)

The lead story in the December, 1988 issue of editor/publisher Tully Reed's Meta Magazine was intended to cover the murders of Steel and Vibe. "J'onn J'onzz, the alien acting as head of the allegedly disbanded League, denied that either of the former members were acting on its behalf and maintained that the League had disbanded. The murders, the Martian maintained, were carried out by robots created by Professor Ivo... G. Gordon Godfrey, the voice of the anti-metahuman movement sweeping the country, released the following statement through a press secretary: 'I am saddened by the deaths of these two young men, mislead into a life that they were clearly ill suited for by the false promise of glory and fame. Inadequately trained, they fell before ruthless foes. This is part of the reason for my crusade- to save our children! How many have been hurt already simply by tying towels around their necks and jumping off roofs while pretending to be Superman or some such?"

Tully Reed looked over the article, and asked himself, "What have I done? What am I doing?"

Reed's former editor was Roz Leung, whose scathing article on the Detroit League had triggered angst and strife in the group. It wasn't the kind of magazine Reed, a hero-loving Phil Sheldon type, wanted to publish. "Sure it is, sweetie! We cover the metahuman scene but we do it with attitude. I mean, who can take these steroid queens in their underwear pounding the poo out of each other seriously?" Reed loved Roz, but argued against her cynicism. As the couple embraced, Reed made clear "'s my magazine, Roz. And we're going to do things my way." Roz smirked, "Over my dead body, sweetie."

During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Elongated Man, Vixen, Vibe and Gypsy were shown battling Shadow Demons and rescuing citizens in the chaos. Tully Reed was trying to calm the hysterical Roz Leung down on a ravaged New York street, but she was hysterical. "We're all going to die! ...This is one of my recurrent dreams! The red skies and black shadows and in the end everything goes black!" Tears in her eyes, Roz tore loose of Tully's grip and ran aimlessly, only to be killed almost immediately after by a Shadow Demon. Just as quickly, an unseen Green Lantern blew the demons away, and Vixen arrived to see if the couple was alright. Reed cradled Roz's body and cursed at Vixen for not arriving five seconds sooner. He felt his faith in heroes had been betrayed.

"I'm sorry for your loss but we couldn't be everywhere at once! Despite what you think, we are only human! We've saved as many as we could! ...We didn't betray you. We just couldn't be what you wanted us to be. Excuse me. I'm needed elsewhere."

Later, Reed met with G. Gordon Godfrey, who wished to use Meta Magazine as another soapbox for his crusade against super-heroes. After all, since his girlfriend's death, Reed had turned the magazine from a cheerleader to skeptic of metahumans...

Still staring at the printer's proof alone in his office, Tully Reed called to have the entire run pulped. "Yeah, I know what it'll cost. You're right. We probably will lose advertisers. Do it anyway." Reed realized he'd allowed grief to cloud his judgment. "And that creep Godfrey played me like a violin. Vixen was right. They're only human. I was the one who wanted them to be legends. They're not perfect but they are heroes and I'm never going to forget that again."

"Doubt" by John Ostrander, Eric Battle and Keith Champagne.

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