DC Comics (September, 2001)
“Terra Incognita” Part 2: “Harvest”
WRITER: Mark Waid
PENCILER: Mike S. Miller
INKER: Dave Meiks (another issue I bought from him at Brass City Comic Convention years ago)
COLORIST: Dave Baron
LETTERER: Ken Lopez
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Steve Wacker
EDITOR: Dan Raspler
Superman scans the local atmosphere and finds the fires that suddenly went out are the result of an atom-like thing attaching itself to oxygen atoms to keep fires from burning. Meanwhile, Flash, Green Lantern, Plastic Man, and Wonder Woman stop two people from turning the crowd against them with mind control. When they escape Diana recognizes their language as Martian. The White Martians are back and they’ve taken J’onn prisoner. Batman, using a mind-reading blocker, goes after him and the White Martians and finds the villains have been altering and harvesting human brains to boost their own telepathic abilities. The White Martians find him but thanks to J’onn Batman manages to escape. Meanwhile, Superman gets Firestorm’s help in trying to clear the oxygen and finds the first station spraying out the atom, and goes in with his comrades, only they’re White Martians in disguise!
Note that this these are the White Martians from the first JLA story arc and are not a commentary on white people like you’d probably see out of this story today. I know someone out there is going to be concerned but this is 2001. Social commentary overload and politics weren’t ruining everything yet.
What they got right: The plan by the villains is a pretty good one, with the atoms that stop combustion. The White Martians were a good threat before and they are in this issue as well. There is also an explanation for their return that informs longtime readers but doesn’t lose new readers. For those of you who think continuity is the problem I think this issue put that point of view in question.
What they got wrong: I don’t remember the White Martians being brain eaters. I think Waid was inspired by the wrong science fiction monster movie on this part of the idea. Also, do they not call themselves the Hyperclan anymore? At least two of the same group show up in this issue and it’s a more interesting villain name than “White Martians”.
Recommendation: Going by this issue alone it looks like a good story. I don’t have the full four-part arc but based on this issue it’s worth at least looking into.
I do have this collected in a JLA trade and it’s one of my favorites (I feel like that JLA run was always great when the w.martians were involved). Definitely recommend the run.
Spoiler warning (you’ll thank me) but it LITERALLY goes nowhere. It’s never referenced again in the arc nor comes up again. Just like in the first arc when one w.martian had a line about them messing with human DNA.
Favorite moment (and it should be that issue IIRC): When we hear that the w.martians have a special term for Batman. All the superpowered, non-human heroes on the JLA, and BATMAN is the one they have slang for. (well him and J’onn, but the latter you would expect)
I remember Batman being called the “hated one” or something along those lines.