Synopsis for "Injustice League, Chapter 4: Puppet Strings"
With Jessica Cruz lying unconscious, with the Ring of Volthoom still on her finger, Lex Luthor is sure that Dr. Niles Caulder intends to recruit Jessica to his Doom Patrol, despite the ring's propensity for evil. Lex intends to prevent that - and to take the ring, once he hands her over to the Justice League. Fortunately, the League is aligned with him in his plan to get the ring, because it is the only remaining source of information about the coming threat that has already destroyed Earth 3. The Doom Patrol, though, stands in their way.
With Caulder locked in his grip, Lex chides him for deceiving his current team about his intentions. He reminds that Caulder's previous experiments were failures, and that former Doom Patrol members have faked their own deaths in order to escape the secret of what the Doom Patrol really is. Caulder insists that he is merely a life-counsellor, whose intentions are to help those who are abnormal; to elevate those who are incapable of standing beside the gods and goddesses of the Justice League.
The ring, meanwhile, attempts to cajole Jessica into wakefulness, preying on her fears and making members of the League appear to her as the mobsters who had tried to kill her and chased her into hiding, causing her agoraphobia. Overwhelmed by the stress and emotion, Jessica unleashes a powerful blast from the ring - a blast so powerful that it alerts the Anti-Monitor to the existence of Earth.
Batman spots Luthor and demands to know what he's doing there, given that he's not a member of the League. Lex responds that he's come to help, explaining that the power ring's technology operates similarly to Green Lantern's ring - via emotions. He hopes that by disrupting Jessica's emotional connection with it, Lex hopes he can shut the ring down, insisting that the League merely keep the Doom Patrol out of his way while he does so.
Lex approaches Jessica, and electrocutes her, hoping that the ring will be vulnerable while her synapses are scrambled. Caulder attacks him, though, warning that shock therapy is rudimentary. He sees only one course of action: psycho-surgery. He disables Lex's exo-suit to prevent interference, but Lex's weapons remain functional, and he retaliates. The ring uses Lex and Caulder's feuding to fuel her fear, pointing out that they only wish to harm her.
Batman tries a different tack. He warns Jessica that the more afraid she is, the more control over her the ring has, telling her not to fear him. He assures her that only criminals should fear him, but she is a victim. He was a victim too, watching people die in front of him with no way to save them. And the darkness in the world frightened him then. He realized, though, that it would consume him - and it will consume her too, if she doesn't summon the strength to face it. The ring tries to convince her that she needs its light to face fear, but Jessica believes Batman, and she reaches for his hand. He hugs her, and urges her to let go of her fear. When she does, the ring's power is sucked back into the ring, and she returns to her normal self. Sternly, Batman turns to Lex, and points out that his efforts were not required today. Lex insists that they will be, one day.
After reporting back to his companions about how the results of their battle are resolving themselves, Batman warns Superman and Wonder Woman that their best course of action would be to ask Lex Luthor to join the League. Superman is skeptical, reminding that Lex had tricked Metropolis into thinking he was their Bruce Wayne - but he very much was not. Luthor fed off the city like a parasite, and now he wants to do that to the world using the League's resources. Diana agrees that Lex will surely turn on them. Bruce responds that he is well aware of that - but the choice is now whether to refuse him and let him to whatever he's going to do, or to let him join the league and keep an eye on him. And while giving Lex access to the League's information base is dangerous, they will have access to LexCorp. Still, Bruce suggests that they not go through with it unless the others are on board.
Soon, the League is inducting Lex Luthor - but there are ground rules to go over before he can be called a true member.
Appearing in "Injustice League, Chapter 4: Puppet Strings"
- This issue is reprinted in Justice League: Injustice League.