Title: Trial by Fire, Part One
Release Date: Early October 2003
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Tom Nguyen
JLA Members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Martian Manhunter, Manitou Raven, Firestorm, Major Disaster, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Faith, the Flash, and the Atom.
Guest Stars: Scorch, Dawn, Lex Luthor, and Pete Ross.
Bad Guys: Can't tell yet...
Cameos: The Joker, Two-Face, and the Scarecrow.

So what happens?
We start with a bit of an odd interlude, as 20,000 years ago, a caveman carrying a bloody bundle stumbles upon a crashed spaceship which has apparently killed a bunch of other cavemen and a group of the Green Lantern Corps' Guardians of the Galaxy.

Meanwhile, in the present day, the Martian Manhunter is enjoying his newfound immunity to fire--thanks to the help of the supervillain Scorch, he is no longer frightened of or weakened by flames of any kind. While hanging out with Superman and grilling steaks in the backyard of the home he now shares with Scorch, he says that he'll return to the JLA after taking some more time to adjust to his new circumstances and to enjoy the pleasures that have been missing from his life.

Meanwhile, Firestorm is teaching Manitou Raven's wife, Dawn, how to read English, they may be developing romantic feelings for each other, and Raven probably suspects. Batman responds to a call from Gotham's Arkham Asylum and discovers that the maddest, most murderous lunatics in the city are all suffering from attacks of conscience and remorse for their past evil deeds. The meanest inmates at Blackgate Prison have started weeping during episodes of "Sesame Street." Major Disaster, seeing some trashy bimbo out the door of his trailer in Arizona, reveals that he has romantic feelings for Faith and discovers a bunch of quasi-military goons holding guns to their own heads and staring into the sun without blinking. Weird. This doesn't seem like a serious threat, but it's certainly something the JLA feels they should be investigating. The suspicion is that either there is a group of people drugging villains for one purpose or another or one very powerful telepath altering people's minds.

Finally, the Justice League gets a call from the White House. Vice President Pete Ross reveals that President Lex Luthor has unexpectedly become catatonic. This is a more immediate crisis, and the JLA call J'onn back into service, over Scorch's objections, to probe Luthor's mind. While Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Atom review the White House's security tapes, J'onn does a short check on Luthor and learns that a telepath of great power and skill is behind the attack, leaving Luthor conscious but experiencing terrible nightmares. J'onn tells Superman he can fix Luthor back up, but asks him if he really wants Luthor to recover. After all, getting Luthor out of the way permanently would be great news for the Man of Steel. But there's a reason people call Supes a big Boy Scout, and he angrily insists that J'onn help Luthor out of his catatonia.

But when J'onn starts probing Luthor's mind more deeply, some sort of energy force emerges, slaps J'onn, Supes, Bats, and Wondy around and tells them that they should accept what has happened to the villains as a gift "in exchange for what is to come."

And on the surface of the moon, Firestorm, out exploring a few craters, is suddenly attacked by some sort of robot. Somehow, it is able to steal his powers, leaving him defenseless and without protection on the airless surface of the moon.

Cool Quotes!
Wonder Woman: "Have you learned anything from the Arkham inmates, Batman?"
Batman: "Yes... I can still feel joy."
Faith: "That's just wrong."

Final Grade: B

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