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Comic Book / Justice League: Generation Lost

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"I thought you should be a team again. The world needs you."note 

Justice League: Generation Lost was a 2010 limited series primarily written by Judd Winick and Keith Giffen, with art by a variety of artists. It was part of Brightest Day.

The plot centers around the return of Maxwell Lord, erstwhile sponsor of the Justice League International, murderer of Ted Kord, and the mastermind behind the OMAC project. Brought back by the White Light Entity with the task of preventing Magog from inciting the events of Kingdom Come, Lord uses his powers to erase his existence from the memories and records of everyone on earth.

He mostly succeeds, but four heroes from the former J.L.I. remember him: Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Fire, and Ice. They soon realize that Lord is willing to sacrifice his alleged friends and innocent civilians in pursuit of his goals, but with him actively working to discredit them, they have to fight not only against the forces of darkness, but their own friends and allies. They team up with legacy characters Blue Beetle and Rocket Red. But are they foiling Max's plans? Or playing right into his hands?

Justice League: Generation Lost contains examples of

  • After the End: Captain Atom is sent into a Future Primitive world caused by Max Lord's present-day villainy. It's a pretty grim place, with a third of the world's population dead, another third turned into OMACs, and the last third ravaged by famine and disease. Superman is helpless to do anything about any of this, since he has spent the last fifty years locked in perpetual battle with an invasion force of Green Lanterns. Oh, and a giant chunk has been blown out of the moon, leading it to hang in pieces in the night sky.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Subverted.
    Booster: You want to break into Checkmate. (...) Crawl through the ventilation shafts and such.
    Fire: Well, all the ventilation shafts have sensors and high-end razor wire every four feet so not like that, but yeah.
  • Apocalypse How: Via either a metahuman war similar to Kingdom Come, or Maxwell Lord's attempts to prevent it.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Gavril is extremely excited about joining the Justice League and meeting Batman.
  • Bad Future: Two of them hang heavily over the book — the first is none other than the Kingdom Come future, which Max Lord has been tasked by the White Lantern Entity to prevent by murdering Magog. The second Bad Future is one caused by Max's own hand, which Captain Atom is sent to twice. Ironically, it is categorically in every way a worse future to the Kingdom Come one.
  • Big Bad: Maxwell Lord plays this role throughout the whole of the book.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Max
    Tora: You’re not God, Max!
    Max: Tora...I can literally control people, I wiped my existence from the memories of everyone on Earth and, oh yeah, I came back from the dead. I'm not saying I'm God...but I am certainly giving the big guy a run for his money, aren't I?
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Varik has a pretty good grasp on English, but edges into this when he tries for idioms and phrases. Usually, he just mixes up the word order. Examples include "bump fist", "right as Maine", and "egg crumbs" (bread crumbs).
  • Broken Bird: At first, Ice still struggles with the trauma of having been dead and then resurrected, barely able to bring herself to join the mission and then nearly begging to quit. She eventually decides to stay and fight on for Fire and all their friends.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Max keeps taunting Jaime even after Jaime escapes. To be specific: he goads a 17-year-old with limited control over extremely powerful and sentient armor which the kid has to talk into taking non-lethal options. He also just can't stop himself from going after Wonder Woman again, even though the last time he tried that literally ended with his death.
  • Call-Back: Max seemingly kills Jaime with a shot to the head, the same way he killed his predecessor. Throughout his imprisonment of Jaime, they both make call backs both verbally and artistically to the story in which Ted Kord died.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The Metal Men are abducted by Max Lord, except Copper, who is completely forgotten. Given Copper's treatment, this is entirely in-character for her.
  • Combining Mecha: The Metal Men form into one of these (which is a clever callback to Kingdom Come as the combined being, Alloy, actually debuted in that series).
  • Control Freak: Max Lord is so much this that even his own mother declares his emergent mind control to be a case of Personality Powers when he first discovers it in a flashback. And while she is a My Beloved Smother through and through, she's right on the money, as the run makes clear in multiple instances.
  • Cross Through: With the main Brightest Day title, and then with Wonder Woman, and her concurrent arc by J. Michael Straczynski.
  • Delirious Misidentification: Maxwell uses this trick frequently. Many of his plans hinge on tricking people into attacking others whose image he distorts.
  • Distressed Dude: It turns out that Max didn't have the Omac's attack the Reyes household just to pull Jaime into the JLI. His intent was to capture him alive, and he successfully does so in issue #16.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Maxwell asks this of the reformed JLI. They don't agree.
  • The Dragon: Dr. Anthony Ivo, who is both this and the Evil Genius in Max's corner.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: Wonder Woman, who joins in the last few issues.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Captain Atom gets sent to both this and a world After the End when he absorbs huge amounts of energy.
  • Evil Gloating: When Max has Jaime captured he spends a lot of time waxing about his plan, how everything is going according to it, and calling Jaime stereotypical Latin nicknames like Hombre.
  • Evil Is Petty: While Max Lord talks a big game about being a Well-Intentioned Extremist, his Evil Plan at the end amounts to nothing more than petty revenge on Wonder Woman. He even admits this himself.
    Booster: What I can't "understand" is how building a 20-foot tall OMAC to murder Wonder Woman fits into your master plan!
    Max: It doesn't. She flicked her wrists and snapped my neck in front of the whole damn world. She killed me. Now she's gonna die while half a billion people watch from the cheap seats! This is just simple, petty do-dah revenge.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Max refers to the Generation Lost team as his friends, and chats amiably with Jaime as he tortures him.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Power Girl vs. Captain Atom and the JLI. Max Lord causes her to hallucinate that her old friends are Superman, Supergirl, Batman, Hal Jordan and Starfire turned evil.
  • Flanderization: Magog's jerkass tendencies get dialed up every time he appears, though at least part of this seems to be Max Lord's influence at work on him.
  • Foreshadowing: When Max Lord is indulging in his Evil Gloating monologue to Jaime, he specifically mentions that his collective mind-wiping of everyone on Earth is a "one-time deal" that he could not pull off again because "my big ol' brain can only open the flood gates so many times before it starts to take on water." This little bit of exposition is set up to explain why Max does not simply re-erase the world's memories of himself after being forced to restore them by Captain Atom in the final issue.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: with the first four
    • The Cynic/the Realist: Fire and Captain Atom swap these two between them
    • The Optimist: Booster Gold
    • The Apathetic/the Conflicted: Ice
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Sanguine: Booster
    • Choleric: Bea
    • Melancholic: Atom
    • Phlegmatic: Tora
  • Freudian Excuse: Max is given a retroactive excuse as his past is revealed. Apparently his father was murdered by Corrupt Corporate Executive types when he was in his teens and his My Beloved Smother was killed along with millions in the destruction of Coast City, explaining his paranoia and distrust of metahumans.
  • Future Primitive: Captain Atom is thrown into a distant Bad Future, but he initially thinks that it's the mid 1800s from the lifestyle everyone lives.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Captain Atom snaps Magog out of Max Lord's mind control and implores him to help the team, but Max Lord shows up and forces him to kill himself before this can happen.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Deliberately invoked and exploited by Max Lord, who in addition to making the world forget he existed has also modified their memories of the JLI, making them believe that Blue Beetle killed himself, that Captain Atom is a dangerous loose cannon, and that the other members are generally incompetent and untrustworthy.
  • Heroic BSoD: Booster goes through this after Jaime seemingly dies.
  • Hope Spot: Now and then in early issues, it looks like someone is remembering Lord or at least finds something suspicious. Then the mindwipe clamps down again and they completely forget it.
  • Irony: As Max is looking to hunt down and kill Wonder Woman, all traces of her existence vanish from near-everyone's memories, which is nothing to do with him. He acknowledges the irony, and that he hates irony.
  • Hypocrite: Max justifies his actions as a necessity to save humanity from metahumanity yet is both a metahuman himself who readily admits he's killed thousands out of revenge against Wonder Woman all the while boasting he's human unlike them to one of two people on the JLI without any inherent powers.
  • Karma Houdini: Max Lord ultimately escapes at the end, and is shown in the epilogue as having posted a video on the Internet telling the world a self-serving version of what went down at Chicago. He accepts no responsibility for what happened, laying all the blame down on Magog, and claims to just be a "regular guy" who has taken it upon himself to watch the watchmen of the world.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Gavril hates all examples of Western influence on Russian, but he adores the Justice League and is happy to be there, whether it makes him a hypocrite or not.
    Gavril: Hypocrite on Justice League!
  • Kick the Dog: For someone who claims to avoid the pitfalls of a traditional supervillain, Max Lord is quite fond of this, particularly when he captures Jaime.
    • He chats amiably with Jaime as he hurts him, cheerfully telling him that he should really just count himself lucky not to be with his team
    • He shoots Jaime in the exact same way he shot Ted Kord, down to the panel style, in front of his teammates.
  • Killed Off for Real: Magog is giving a pretty graphic and brutal death to appease fans, who were flooding the Internet at the time screaming for his head.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Maxwell Lord erases all memories and proof of his existence from everyone in the world (excepting Booster, Bea, Tora, and Adam).
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: While talking to the team early on, Max notes he's leaving Green Lanterns out of the reunion tour because "I think we've had enough of Lanterns by now".
  • Legacy Character: Gavril, who takes the name and wears the armor of the original Red Rocket.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Metal Men are put inside one while in Max's care.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Max is hiding out in what's left of Checkmate and is revealed to literally be behind Checkmate's current Black King, who was actually one of his OMACs the whole time.
  • More than Mind Control: On panel Max Lord's meta ability is titled as "Extreme Mind Control" but in practice it is this, as it is both more and less than straight up Mind Control. He primarily uses it for People Puppets shenanigans and has some limited Charm Person abilities, but is not capable of absolutely controlling a person.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: A common reaction by those Max has tricked into attacking their friends or innocents (including Captain Atom, Fire, Magog, and Power Girl).
  • Never Suicide: In the new version of events, Ted Kord allegedly committed suicide.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: early in the series, from Max, to Booster, with a piece of pipe.
  • Not Me This Time: When they realize that everyone else in the world has forgotten Wonder Woman exists, Booster, Fire, Ice and Captain Atom assume it's because of Max. Max, in turn, accuses them of doing something to hide Wonder Woman from him. Neither group realizes this memory wipe is due to something else.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Max is a Type 2: He claims that his ends are good (wanting the superhero community to be policed by a higher authority — namely him) and he clearly believes that he is not a "black hat", but his insistence that he alone be the watcher of the watchmen blinds him to the reality that all he's really doing is chasing control for his own self-satisfaction (fitting for a Control Freak character like him).
  • Nothing Personal: Max tells Jaime while he's captured that it's "just business".
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Jaime wakes up from his seeming death, Captain Atom, who Jaime hasn't even seen smile before, is laughing. Jaime is extremely confused, since he didn't realize that they thought he died.
    • In a tie-in issue with Power Girl, what finally gets Dick Grayson to realize Ted Kord was murdered? Batman pointing out how Dick is going to any explanation, no matter how unlikely, to excuse the obvious inconsistencies of Ted's "suicide" with Dick realizing that's against all his training and experience.
  • Original Generation: OMAC Prime, Max's ultimate weapon, is this. He's basically a fusion of Max's OMACs and the classic Justice League villain Amazo.
  • People Puppets: Maxwell mainly uses his power to control bodies, not minds (or voices). He can influence people to a degree, though.
  • Popularity Power: Though Batman is initially affected by Max Lord's mindwipe like everyone else, he is apparently Badass enough to break out of it well before anyone else does. Later, he has the balls to climb up on a roof and tell the White Lantern Entity that they need to have a talk about Max Lord. Bats later joins the team proper alongside Power Girl, but is conveniently sidelined from the final battle.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Captain Atom, often a victim of the Seep side of the scale, sees his power levels restored to their original Dr. Manhattan levels in this story. Nothing, not Max Lord, not Magog, not even OMAC Prime, is a threat to him.
    Captain Atom: (while thrashing OMAC Prime) I am not like the rest of them! I am not human! I AM A LIVING BOMB!
  • Power Copying: OMAC Prime can do this just like Amazo (which makes sense as Dr. Ivo built both of them).
  • Power Incontinence: Though Captain Atom's powers put him in a class of his own compared to everyone else, they also have the side effect of launching him through time if he absorbs too much power at once. He'll eventually snap back to his time, though.
  • Playing with Puppets: Some of Maxwell's uses of his powers fall into this. There are usually more practical ways to handle people. Justified in that he allegedly doesn't want to seriously hurt the J.L.I.
  • Playing with Syringes: Max holds up a large, glowing-red syringe directly before a scene cut, with the implication that he somehow uses it on Jaime.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Maxwell forces Magog to do this.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Max gets a bloody nose whenever he uses his powers. In order to make the world forget him, he has to perform a blood transfusion to prevent bleeding out or hemorrhaging. Though oddly enough, he doesn't have to do it again at the end when he is forced to restore the memories of everyone in the world.
  • Quit Your Whining: Booster calls Atom out with this after Atom declares that he will kill Max for the fiasco in Chicago. Booster tells him that they'll go about it the right way (although said "right way" involves beating the crap out of Max).
  • Retcon: Tora's history is infamously retconned. Originally the princess of an isolated tribe of magic-wielding Norsemen, that was retconned into a lie, with her real parentage apparently being a tribe of Romani (of the stereotypical thieving variety, no less).
  • Revenge Before Reason: Maxwell risks detection after giving the entire world Laser-Guided Amnesia by activating a giant army of OMA Cs to kill Wonder Woman in revenge for her killing him.
  • Roguish Romani: In an issue, Ice suddenly has been retconned to be a member of a Scandinavian Romani offshoot that is all con men and thieves except for her immediate family, who fled the lifestyle to prevent her grandfather from using her ice powers for robbery. This flatly contradicts everything we know about Ice's past, including previous appearances of the immediate family.
  • Sensory Overload: In order to break Power Girl free from Lord's mind-control, Red Rocket fires her sonic blasters at her. The intense pain is enough to disrupt her brainwashing and allow Captain Atom to reach her out.
  • Separated by the Wall: The JLI is separated from Jaime and Max while Max shoots Jaime in the head.
  • Shout-Out: Captain Atom can no longer turn back to human, and is feeling increasingly detached from humanity. Can't imagine where they got that idea.
  • Sixth Ranger: Gavril, then Batman and Power Girl when they learn what's going on.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: The new costume Ice started wearing halfway through when her second one was ruined after unintentionally going into overdrive doesn't have any.
  • Smug Snake: Max, while a very high functioning one of these who has moments of reaching loftier heights, is ultimately revealed at the end to be one of these.
  • Spiritual Successor: Of a sort to Kingdom Come, as it both references several elements of that tale (Magog, Alloy, the meta war) and definitively closes the possibility of it ever happening in the "regular" timeline.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Jaime, after he is captured by Maxwell Lord
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Although it is not evil so much as uncontrolled, Tora seems to think of it as such, since it comes with a load of bad repressed memories.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Max Lord calls Jaime "hombre" and "chico" while torturing him, echoing his sarcastic way of referring to Wonder Woman as "Princess" right up to the moment she snapped his neck. Like Wondy, Jamie has the last laugh in the end.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Tora. See Superpowered Evil Side
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Magog is this twice over, first by being the apparent cause of the Kingdom Come future (even though the actual For Want of a Nail moment of that series was The Joker murdering Lois Lane) and then by unwittingly destroying a good chunk of downtown Chicago when his lance explodes after Max forces him to kill himself.
    • Max Lord is a quasi-witting Instigator. Unlike Magog, he knows full well what he is doing, but he is trying to bring about a metahuman free age on Earth. Instead, his actions are shown to cause a Bad Future that sets the human race back centuries.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Magog again. He thinks he's hunting down the dangerous renegade Captain Atom on the orders of the US military, when he's actually being played like a fiddle by the man who means to kill him.
  • Villain-Beating Artifact: Jaime's scarab is what ultimately allows the Generation Lost team to take down OMAC Prime, as after absorbing its power Prime because vulnerable to it.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Though Max keeps a pretty cool head through most of the series, he does have a pretty bad breakdown in issue 15 after finding out that no-one knows who Wonder Woman is but him.
  • Wham Shot: After a quantum explosion, Captain Atom finds himself in a rural area with no technology and assumes he's been sent back in time to the Old West. Just as he's settling in at night, he looks up...and sees the moon broken in half. This leads him to realize he's actually in a Bad Future.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Power Girl to Captain Atom after the disaster in Chicago.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Captain Atom angsts about this, as his winning the Superpower Lottery has caused him to be Cursed with Awesome and outlive everyone he'll ever care about (which admittedly is not so awesome).
  • Would Hurt a Child: In addition to indirectly killing thousands of civilians, including children, in his plans, Max directly tortures 17-year-old Jaime Reyes and shoots him in the head.
  • You're Insane!: The Black King's response to the White King and Max's suggestion that Checkmate should continue even after its charter was revoked.