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“Seeing Red”

  • Writers:  Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
  • Pencils:  Kevin Maguire
  • Inks:  Al Gordon
  • Colors:  Gene D’Angelo
  • Letters:  Bob Lappan

The Millennium crossover event began on September 15, 1987 with the publication of Millennium #1.  The first week it crossed over into Firestorm #67, Flash #8, Outsiders #27, Wonder Woman #12, and Justice League International #9.  It began with  the Guardian of the Universe known as Herupa Hando Hu and his consort, the Zamaron, Nadia Safir arriving on Earth and announcing that they want the super-heroes of Earth to protect a group of Chosen humans – a group that will help to usher in a new era of humanity.  Each hero then realizes that someone close to them is a sleeper agent of the Manhunters (a race of robots that were created by and oppose the Guardians of the Universe).  In Captain Atom #10, we learned that Harry Hadley, a high-ranking member of Project Captain Atom, was a Manhunter agent.

This issue of JLI begins with the Justice League flying to their Paris embassy after having met with Herupa Hando Hu and Nadia Safir at the Green Lantern Citadel in California.  Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Booster Gold, and Martian Manhunter are flying alongside the JLI shuttle, which is carrying Blue Beetle, Mr. Miracle, Rocket Red #7, Black Canary, and Batman.

Just as Rocket Red addresses everyone on board the shuttle, Beetle and Miracle notice that the controls aren’t responding and they are on autopilot.  Rocket Red wastes no time in telling his team-mates that he is a Manhunter.  He has been studying them all and would like them to join his group.  Batman seems quite taken aback by this proposal.

Back at the New York embassy, Oberon informs Captain Atom that he’s lost contact with the shuttle.  They were heading for Paris but their trajectory seems to be aiming them towards the Middle East now.  Cap takes off to check it out while Oberon says he’s calling back-up.

On the shuttle, Rocket Red is trying to convince the JLI that the Guardians are liars and manipulators who are tampering with the fate of the universe.  Batman still isn’t buying this b.s.  Mr. Miracle, meanwhile, has sneaked around behind Rocket Red and is tampering with his battle suit with a screwdriver.  Blue Beetle fogs a window of the shuttle with his breath and writes “help” in it with his finger, hoping the league members outside will see it.

Clearly, the JLI isn’t going to join the Manhunters.  Rocket Red removes his visor to reveal his true face beneath.

Mr. Miracle is knocked back by a shock from Rocket Red’s armor.  Black Canary again asserts their refusal to join the Manhunters.  Rocket Red pounces on Blue Beetle.  Outside the shuttle, Guy Gardner sees the ruckus through a window and assumes Beetle and the others are just joking around.  The melee causes Red to slightly lose his control over the shuttle, and those outside are finally clued in to what is going on because of the shuttle’s erratic movements.

Rocket Red flies out of the shuttle, sealing the hatch behind him.  From atop the shuttle, Red begins blasting at J’onn, Guy, and Booster.  He tells them if they don’t leave, he will detonate his armor, killing everyone on the shuttle.  To make matters worse, Booster notices they are flying into Bialian airspace.  That must be one hell of a craft, to get them from California to the Middle East in such quick time, and never flying over the ocean (unless the story began while they were over Spain or something… I guess that is conceivable…).

Red’s plan is evidently to kill the JLI anyway, as he is aiming for an oil refinery.  He says that the Justice League will be disgraced when it is discovered they caused an incident like this in Bialya.  The shuttle plummets closer and closer to the refinery until it suddenly stops short and Rocket Red flies from the roof and into the refinery himself.  The shuttle was caught and held back at the last second by the rest of the Rocket Red Brigade (real Russians and not Manhunters).

Captain Atom shows up, too late to help.  Guy is containing the fire with his ring.  Rumaan Harjavti (despotic ruler of Bialya) shows up, threatening to notify the Soviets of the JLI breaching his country’s borders for a second time.  A Rocket Red points out to Harjavti that his Soviet allies are already aware, which shuts him up.

The skeletal, robotic remains of Rocket Red #7 emerge from the wreckage.  He has one missile left and intends to use it.  When he fires, it does no damage because Booster Gold surrounded the Manhunter with a force field.  Harjavti orders them off his soil, and Batman remarks they are going to have trouble from the dictator some day.  J’onn suggests that the League members with families and loved ones should return home to find out if they, too, have been infiltrated by the Manhunters.

In New York, at the Lord Building, Maxwell Lord is watching Manhunters reveal themselves to super-heroes around the country via his monitors.  He and his supercomputer are working on the problem when his assistant, Ms. Wootenhoffer, enters his office.  She shoots Lord, saying, “No man escapes the Manhunters,” as she does so.  Then Max Lord’s supercomputer retaliates off-panel.  It seems gruesome.

There is another backup story in this issue that again features Jack O’Lantern and a meeting he has with Rumaan Harjavti just moments before Rocket Red #7 crashed in his refinery.

Well.  This really should have been in the Cameo Appearances section of this blog.  Captain Atom was only in four panels.  I guess I thought it should get the whole review treatment because Cap’s officially a Justice League team member now.  Again, this is beautifully drawn and written.  There were a few funny quips.  I wish they’d utilized Cap more.  He has yet to live up to his full potential with the League.  Still, I give this an A.