The Justice League Almost Destroyed Reality with Three Words

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Identity Crisis reveals that the JLA has been mind wiping people with Zatanna’s magic, including Batman, which leads directly into Infinite Crisis.

Everyone knows that words have power, but in the DC Comics universe three single words spoken by Zatanna to Batman caused the dissolution of the Justice League, a major crisis, and came close to destroying all of reality. Identity Crisis, a famously controversial comics event from 2004, saw a major retcon take place in DC continuity that led to Batman descending into paranoid distrust, eventually leading to the event Infinite Crisis that very nearly saw the destruction of Earth and the entire Multiverse.

Zatanna is an incredibly powerful magician in the DC Universe, and has been an on-again off-again member of the Justice League and the Justice League Dark, using her backwards spoken incantations to create mystical spells that can warp reality. She is a member of the magical species Homo magi and is often considered one of the most powerful magicians in the DC Universe, but even her immense power was not enough to overcome Batman’s pure will and driveIdentity Crisis at first focuses on the brutal murder of Sue Dibny, the wife of the Elongated Man, but quickly devolves into a series of revealed secrets that break the bonds and trust between the Justice League.

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The big reveal of Identity Crisis – written by Brad Meltzer with art by Rags Morales and Michael Bair – is that years ago the Justice League, which at the time included Atom, Black Canary, Hawkman, Green Lantern, and the Flash, unanimously decided to allow Zatanna to mindwipe Doctor Light after he sexually assaulted Sue Dibny. Apparently Batman walked in on this happening and was outraged, furiously attempting to stop them, which then led to the Justice League deciding that Zatanna had to mindwipe this event from Batman’s mind as well. And thus, Zatanna uttered the incantation “Ecurb Enyaw… Tegrof…” erasing this moment from Bruce’s head, which would eventually lead to Infinite Crisis, an event that almost destroyed all of reality.

Zatanna’s mindwipes are apparently more prevalent than anyone thought, and the previously close relationship Bruce and her had dissolves once he finds out about the mind altering, especially after it is revealed that Catwoman’s turn from villain to reluctant hero was initiated by Zatanna altering her memories. In response to this massive betrayal by the Justice League Bruce begins to have serious trust issues with the Justice League, even Wonder Woman and Superman. He then creates the Brother Eye program and install the Brother MK I satellite in orbit around Earth to keep track of superhumans’ movements. Classic Batman villain Maxwell Lord secretly gets control of the satellite and releases the OMACs (Observational Metahuman Activity Constructs) to take down the world’s heroes, leading to Brother Eye terrorizing the planet. This directly leads into Infinite Crisis, which sees the characters Kal-L, Superboy Prime, and Alexander Luthor of the Crisis on Infinite Earths event return to Earth and attempt to take over because they believe the dark and fractured present reality needs to be wiped clean.

Infinite Crisis does not end up destroying reality, but it does end up changing DC’s reality forever, with the Multiverse restored by Alexander Luthor, and it gets frighteningly close to full destruction. Deception and mistrust has led to many major events in the DC Universe, such as Batman’s back-up plans for defeating his teammates being used against them in JLA: Tower of Babel, but never before or since have just three simple words caused so much Multiversal damage. While Identity Crisis remains a controversial and often derided event, it set up Infinite Crisis, which informed much of the current era’s mood and perspective, so make sure to go back and read how Zatanna’s simple incantation on Batman destroyed the Justice League and almost wrecked all of reality throughout DC Comics.

More: Marvel’s Justice League Had Their Own Identity Crisis

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About The Author Alex Schlesinger (259 Articles Published)

Alex Schlesinger is a freelance Comics News writer for Screen Rant. While his career is in social work, one of his biggest passions is reading and writing about comic books. While Alex loves to write about all things comics, the X-Men will always hold a special place in his heart. Alex lives in Seattle with his fiancé Zach and their two cats Jasper & Harley. When not writing Comics News he is cooking, baking, reading science fiction, and travelling around the Pacific Northwest.

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