“…I will always remember my first sight of her. Lois, you’re the most compelling woman I’ve met. But this…is the most magnificent…”
Ra’s al Ghul is once again waging war on the cities of the world and has created a global terrorist organization he has called the Purge. To help him with his plan to dominate, he has released and befriended the Superman clone; Bizarro. Furthermore, a new young recruit to his organization with exceptional fighting skills, a young girl with a hidden past.
Batman thwarts a robbery in Metropolis and comes upon some intriguing clues.
“…(Bruce): Clark, they were after the kryptonite. I found this on one of their members. Something tells me it’s stolen.
(Clark): This is a Lexcorp project’s security disc. Which means they’re also planning to steal something from Luthor. That could get ugly.
(Bruce): At the very least.
(Clark): As I’m sure you know, Luthor’s got his hooks in all manner of advanced military technology. If this Purge gets access to some of that stuff, it could spell bad news indeed. Thanks Bruce. I appreciate all you’ve done. I’ll let you know whatever I discover. But I can take care of myself, you know, even against kryptonite.
(Bruce): Only making sure. And you were out of town, yes?
(Clark): Just a bit of a vacation.
(Clark thinking to himself): I know what he’s thinking. Crime never takes a vacation. But there’re no beautiful sunsets way down in that cave, Bruce…”
Ra’s al Ghul’s plan is darker that either hero is aware of as he has Bizarro capture a nuclear submarine and take the sub and its missiles. In the act, one of the missiles falls and explodes near a hidden island known to few as the island of Themyscira, home to the legendary Amazons. they suspect Superman of the act and send Dianna, Wonder Woman to confront him. She learns that it was in fact Bizarro and when they conclude that it was the super clone in the employ of Ra’s al Ghul, they go to Gotham to include Batman into what is happening.
Though upon first impression, Wonder Woman is offended by Batman’s methods, she agrees to work with him. As Batman and Superman chase down the missiles Wonder Woman infiltrates Ra’s lair where she is subdued by Bizarro and given a vicious beating. when she comes to, she is chained and bleeding. Ra’s gloats over her and tells her he plans to drop her into the Lazarus Pit to heal her wounds, but also because when she comes out of the Pit, she will be susceptible to suggestions. He plans to rape her and use her to his own desires.
There are several things about this book that makes it one of the better Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman stories to be found. It is prior to the Justice League formation and is the first time that Wonder Woman meets the superheroes. Like the current run of Batman/Superman, the story is told in large part through the thoughts of the trio, their observations of their new friends. Ra’s is beyond evil here and there is no nobility to his cause. His attempt to rape Wonder Woman for his own conquest, using the Lazarus Pit essentially as a date rape drug and subsequent plan to enslave the entire population of Amazonians to breed him his army is one of the most despicable moments in comic book history. Matt Wagner handles all of this with style and craft. He never dumbs down his story and in fact elevates it, creating in Ra’s a megalomaniac of epic proportions. I also love the use of Bizarro here, a nemisis that has become something of a clown of late in the Superman stories. Here he is a lonely and desperate for affection that he would do anything to please his new friend in Ra’s. The beating of Wonder Woman is something out of a Berserker rage by Wolverine.
The uneasy alliance formed by the trio becomes a friendship and trust that in the beginning was hard to see happening. It is this relationship that becomes the core of the Justice League one day. The final battle on the shores and seas of Themyscira where the three face off against Ra’s, Bizarro and the Purge is wonderfully written and the entire book, with its throwback artwork, is sure to be one of the most compelling reads for any fan of the DC Universe.