WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Justice League #44, by Robert Venditti, Xermanico, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Tom Napolitano, available now.
Justice League #44 has placed the team in dire straits as they try to figure out who released the mythological monsters of Tartarus. Following a distress call from Aquaman in Antarctica, they battle the Scylla, a Griffin and a Manticore, but little do they know it’s not some Greek, Atlantean or Amazon god wreaking havoc on their lives.
Instead, they’re facing the Spectre, and the League isn’t spared the Spirit of Vengeance’s wrath at all. For unknown reasons, the Spectre seemingly manipulates the League’s heroes into fighting against each other, fanning the embers of their lingering, deep-seated resentments into outright open conflict with a nasty war of worlds and buried personal feelings.
After the team incapacitates the beasts, they try to discern the reasons for these attacks. Batman notices that their eyes were green, but he starts to berate Superman for holding a press conference where he revealed his identity as Clark Kent as a force seemingly takes over him. This leaves his teammates wondering where this sudden ego is coming from.
However, this mystical infection from the Spectre quickly spreads to John Stewart, who chides Bruce for always wanting to be the center of attention and needing to be the leader. He says he led the Green Lantern Corps and shouldn’t be acting as a passenger in Batman’s schemes. It’s a clear dig at Batman’s leadership as John feels he’s better equipped to lead and also hates that Batman has a problem with him taking the leadership reins over in Justice League #40.
Superman realizes these monsters were acting on a grudge, as the anger and resentment quickly hits Aquaman. Arthur Curry remonstrates against Wonder Woman for always judging him, while she retorts by mentioning that she’s tired of the team’s testosterone. While Batman and Lantern bicker, Diana’s clearly frustrated at the lack of women aboard the team. While it’s clear that their minds are corrupted, all of these heroes are speaking truths they held deep within and seem to believe on some level.
It reaches fever pitch when Superman drops a bomb of an insult, admitting he always has to carry the team. While no one here reaches physical blows yet, but these words are cutting deep.
There’s a hostile and recalcitrant mentality in the air, but ironically, but it hasn’t quite hit the Flash yet in this scene, which means that Barry Allen might have an answer for breaking out this hold. It better come soon though, because the Spectre seems ready to have the League duke it out to see who’s the strongest member of the crew. While it’s not clear why the Spectre is attacking a team he helped a few months ago, the Spirit of Vengeance wants these heroes to fight each other to see who’ll come out on top in a civil war of words that seems destined to turn violent.
After their latest mission, Batman, Superman and the rest of the Justice League seem like they're ready for a DC superhero civil war.