The Story: "The Price of Humanity" by Cary Burkett, Chuck Patton, and Romeo Tanghal. This issue opens on a light moment...Hawkman and the Elongated Man playing some video games aboard the JLA satellite! (No, not Grand Theft Auto.)
As Wonder Woman shows up for Monitor Duty, and Carter is embarrassed to be caught goofing off, something sinister is happening all over the world--mysterious, super-suited beings are kidnapping regular people, like a high school Baseball player, a ballet dancer, and a Hollywood stuntman!
One of them tries to kidnap a slightly harder target...the Black Canary!
As she tries to break free, she hits her JLA Signal Device, and Hawkman, Wonder Woman, and Elongated Man head out to rescue her.
They knock the being out long enough to see its a robot, but while they do this, two others sneak up on them, blasting them, and flying off with Canary in tow.
Later, up at the satellite, the rest of the JLA has met. While Green Arrow is rants and raves about what to do, Red Tornado offers a word of caution:
Elongated Man figures out the one thing all the hostages--hundreds more cases having been reported--have in common is that they are in all excellent physical shape. He bets that more kidnappings might occur at the Metropolis Marathon, taking place this very day!
The JLA agrees, and takes a moment to congratulate Ralph on his fine detective work:
Hawkman, meanwhile, having looked into the one robot they stopped, says he can trace its power source. He figures they might be able to stop all the robots if they can knock out their source of power, and Aquaman and Wonder Woman agree to go with him.
Meanwhile, we see where all the hostages went to: a secret base where a hooded figure tells Black Canary he is the longtime JLA foe Professor Ivo, and he has built a machine that will channel their life energies into him, reversing the horrible side effects he has suffered from by drinking a serum he created to make him immortal (way back in Brave the Bold #30!).
As Canary sees for herself, Ivo has been living all these years, horribly deformed:
...that is one nasty design. Congrats, Chuck Patton, for making the twelve year-old me almost throw up.
Anyway, the robots do appear at the marathon, but they are so powerful they managed to fight the JLA to standstill.
Meanwhile, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman find the robots' power source is a remote island. They've barely set foot on the island when robots there blast them, knocking out Hawkman and Aquaman, leaving Wonder Woman barely hanging on.
Back in Metropolis, the robots are making off with runners left and right, but Green Arrow manages to get off a tracking arrow and hits one of them.
Back at the island, Wonder Woman commands her invisible plane to dive-bomb three of the robots, which gives her just enough time to grab Aquaman and try and hurl him into the ocean. She tries, but gets hit by the recovering robots, leaving Aquaman at the lip of shore.
In Ivo's mountain lab, he is none too happy to see the JLA has followed him there, where he sicks even more robots on them!
On the island, just enough water makes its way to Aquaman to wake him up. Here he hatches an ingenious plan:
...he manages to get into the water, and peels off the robot's suit and puts it on himself.
Betting that the robots are programmed not to attack each other, he emerges, and walks toward the equipment shed without being stopped by the others.
He uses Hawkman's mace to smash everything in site, shutting the robots down. This allows Red Tornado to destroy Ivo's machine, and to take pity on this poor creature, who thought he could reclaim his Humanity by giving up his soul.
Roll Call: Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado
Notable Moments: Like yesterday's fill-in issue by Paul Kupperberg, Cary Burkett delivers a superb, self-contained story. Fast-paced and exciting, it also works as a nice sequel of sorts to the first Professor Ivo story.
Also, Aquaman gets a great couple of moments here, and he saves the day due to a combo of his ingenuity and his particular powers. In fact, Aquaman got to play a central role in both yesterday and today's issues. If #s 217 and 218 were typical of the quality JLA fill-ins would have, I was ready to say let's have nothing but fill-ins!
The reveal of Professor Ivo is truly disturbing, and Chuck Patton's EC-esque background gives it an extra punch.
This issue's cover by Howard Bender and Dick Giordano is unusual, in that it uses yesterday's cover by George Perez as a backdrop. I don't know what it means, exactly, but its unique, to be sure.