DCAU #227: Cipher Rules

IN THIS ONE... Cipher accepts the JLA's surrender.

CREDITS: Written by Steve Vance; art by John Delaney and Ron Boyd.

REVIEW: Took a while, but finally a rematch between the entire Justice League and the villain created for this series, the highly uninteresting Cipher. I like his comedy henchmen (last seen in the Flash/Grodd story), but him not so much. He turns out to be exactly who I thought he would, even of the book successfully manages to fake me out a couple times. Once because he's using his chameleon suit (introduced in the Blue & Gold story); once because the script cheats and shows ye olde media mogul's assistant panicking about Cipher's plans. The bit where he frames the media mogul? I didn't buy it for a second. The saving grace is that even if Cipher is a cipher, his plans are pretty effective. He almost nukes a number of cities, gets the JLA to surrender, and almost gets away with it. It's in how the JLA reacts, however, that truly makes the issue shine.

You wouldn't think the JLA were so sneaky! Kyle palming his ring and letting a decoy be confiscated, J'Onn creating a diversion with his invisibility then playing Superman's part, the Flash surveying the entire facility between tenths of seconds... It's great fun to see them essentially turning the tables on someone who's main shtick is deception. And Kyle as the one who gets the plan rolling, on his own initiative, is just great. Not only did he start the issue with a near-failure that could have cost dearly (the only one who reached a nuke late), but in the previous issue, he was the insecure hero who didn't think he belonged with heavy-hitters like the League. It feels like he's arced.

Not everyone gets as much play, with Wonder Woman perhaps the clear loser, and Aquaman's bit with the sub almost shoe-horned in, but they have enough presence you won't really notice. As a unit, they come together well anyway, either fighting the good fight, or coming to the realization they must surrender for the greater good, a moment justly played with heavy silence. I may not have rated Cipher highly, but it doesn't rob the Justice League of their merit.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: The cover is a play on Justice League of America #147's splash page, when Mordru grabs members of the JLA and JSA out of time and brings them to the 30th Century.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - The end of Cipher is welcome, but this is nevertheless his best appearance and a strong Justice League action story.

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