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In the wake of Identity Crisis, the JLA decides the time has come to tell Batman that they stole part of his memory. Simultaneously, the League is attacked by the original Secret Society of Super-Villains, whose memories have b

Crisis of Conscience is a Justice League storyline written by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg with illustrations by Chris Batista. It's published in the JLA series between Kurt Busiek's Syndicate Rules and Bob Harras' Infinite Crisis crossover World Without a Justice League. This is part of the "Crisis" anthology as a loose sequel to Identity Crisis, and it's published as part of the storylines in Countdown to Infinite Crisis.


In the wake of Identity Crisis, the JLA decides the time has come to tell Batman that they stole part of his memory. Simultaneously, the League is attacked by the original Secret Society of Super-Villains, whose memories have been restored since their original mindwipe when they learned of the heroes' identities, and are now out for vengeance. As the JLA battles the villains, the Martian Manhunter confronts the alien conqueror Despero, the one behind the villains' memory-restoration.[1] Shortly in the aftermath, Martian Manhunter is incapacitated by a figure who he at first believes to be Superman, who blows up the JLA Watchtower.[2]

Detailed Synopsis

In the Watchtower, The Flash gathers the League within the League[3] to tell them that if they don't tell Batman they wiped his mind,[4] he's going to tell them himself. Green Arrow and Hawkman argue, while Zatanna struggles with her personal guilt. When he finds out, J'onn tells them that Batman already knows, and then leaves to talk to him about it. Meanwhile, the original Secret Society of Super-Villains reforms with the aid of a mysterious benefactor, and begins wreaking havoc on the respective cities of the heroes. They defeat the majority of the League, then travel to Gotham City and confront Batman and the Martian Manhunter, incidentally along with Catwoman. After dumping the unconscious bodies of the other leaguers on the adjacent ground, The Wizard tells the heroes that their mind wipes[5] have been undone, and that the Society now retains full knowledge of each of their private lives and secret identities.

The JLA battles the Secret Society of Super-Villains in Gotham City, but before a clear winner can be shown Felix Faust teleports the Society elsewhere. In the Batcave, Batman tends to Catwoman (who was injured in the battle), but the rest of the League quickly catches up with him and confronts him about the mindwipes.[6] They apologize, but retain that they did what they did because it was what they had to do. They argue, and Batman and Hawkman briefly come to blows. The issue unresolved, the League leaves when they realize that the Society will be after their families next. In the Watchtower, as J'onn tries to figure out who it was that restored the Society's minds, the culprit simply reveals himself: Despero.

Despero expresses his disappointment in the League to J'onn, and the two of them battle. The Flash, while checking up on everybody's families, finds himself with Lois Lane when the Secret Society of Super-Villains attacks the Daily Planet. Superman returns to the League after his absence[7] in just enough time to save Lois, and with the exception of Batman, the League battles the Society. The fight is long and hard, but eventually the Society is subdued, and the League is once again left with the decision of what to do with them;[8] this time with Superman in the equation. Hawkman suggests that, once again, they put it to a vote.

J'onn and Despero's battle leaves the Watchtower, and they plummet down to San Diego where they are joined by Aquaman.

Back in Metropolis, the League has an informal vote on what to do with the captured Secret Society of Super-Villains. Hawkman is adamantly for removing the heroes' identities from the villains' memories, and Green Arrow and the Flash reluctantly agree. Superman, Green Lantern and Black Canary are all sorely opposed, which throws the deciding vote to Zatanna. Zatanna tells them that her vote is inconsequential, as no matter the outcome she would refuse to wipe anymore minds. Zatanna requests that she be removed from the League's roster, and leaves the group.

The League returns to the Watchtower with the Society, having loosely decided to vote with the Martian Manhunter on whether or not he will perform the memory erases. Unaware of the earlier fight with Despero, they are confused to find the Monitor Room in a state of destruction.

Zatanna goes to Themyscira, and finds the council of both Wonder Woman and Supergirl. Wonder Woman, still in semi-exile after murdering Maxwell Lord,[9] sympathizes with her.

Back in the Batcave, Batman continues to repair Red Tornado's body, while Catwoman stays with him. The cave is invaded by Despero, who has managed to get both Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter in his mental thrall. The two mind-controlled heroes subdue Batman, and Despero gains control of his body as well. Catwoman is left alone in the Batcave facing all four of them.

In the Batcave, Despero and his mind-controlled Leaguers have surrounded Catwoman. Turning down his offer of an alliance, she uses the Batcomputer's emergency JLA communicator to summon help. However, Despero steadily mesmerizes some of the new arrivals. In this way, he divides the team between those who supported the mindwipes and those who opposed them. In forcing them to fight, he plays on their own insecurities, as individuals and as a team. Soon, the only members left are Superman, Zatanna and Hawkman. Despero gloats that Superman cannot resist his powers, but he is suddenly blown back by the arrival of Red Tornado, who is immune to his powers. The remaining Justice League is about to kill Superman, Zatanna stops them, releasing them from Despero's powers, and berating them for "using Despero as an excuse to kill each other". Fixing Wayne Manor with her magic, she teleports away to deal with the Felix Faust's Secret Society.

Zatanna brainwashes the villains, but Batman still doesn't believe in her methods. J'onn wonders how the League will cope with these events, and Hal Jordan points out that most of the heroes present are not current members of the team, and that most of the current members have left due to the events of the recent past; the League now consists of John Stewart, Superman, Martian Manhunter and the Flash - and the Flash needs time off to deal with his two new kids. It is agreed that J'onn will try to create a new Justice League roster. Going to Batman, he realizes why the Secret Society case enraged him so - Catwoman was a member before they disappeared, and he worries that her current status as an ally was not her own choice.

In the watchtower, J'onn and John Stewart are discussing possible members. J'onn remarks that Ted was worried about a conspiracy. Since Ted's death, the Justice League is fractured, the magic of the DCU is being destroyed by the Spectre, half the heroes are in a war zone in space, the villains have united, and superhuman cyborgs are attacking superteams all over the world. He wonders at the identity of the mastermind behind such a far-reaching conspiracy. Suddenly, the teleporters register Superman arriving. J'onn turns around to greet someone in a Superman costume, but he reacts strangely - the new arrival is not quite Superman. Suddenly, the Watchtower explodes.




  • The historical antecedents of the event began with the mind-wipes of various villains by Zatanna, as well as the mind-wipe of Batman. The Secret Society of Super-Villains, including The Wizard, Floronic Man, Star Sapphire, Reverse-Flash, and Blockbuster, captured JLA members Superman, Batman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Zatanna and Wonder Woman and switched bodies with the heroes, which caused them to learn the JLA members' secret identities. At the conclusion of the adventure, Zatanna erased the villains' memories of the incident and the secret identities.[10]

Recommended Reading

Links and References

Zatanna 014
Mindwipes Storyline
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The events from this issue or series are related to the Mindwipes Storyline, and/or any of its surrounding events, including the League That Defeated Itself, Identity Crisis, and Crisis of Conscience. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Mindwipes Storyline category.

Identity Crisis 001
Identity Crisis Crossover
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The events from this issue or series are related to Identity Crisis, a crisis in themes of morality and identity for the Justice League of America, beginning when a mysterious killer starts targeting the families of heroes. This template will categorize articles that include it into the Identity Crisis crossover category.

Infinite Crisis
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The events from this issue or series are related to Infinite Crisis, and/or any of its surrounding events, including Villains United, the OMAC Project, Rann-Thanagar War and Day of Vengeance. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Infinite Crisis crossovers category.

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This event or storyline is specifically related to the Justice League of America, or to any other incarnations of the Justice League. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Justice League Storylines category.
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