JLA: The Nail

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For the 2009 film about boxing, see The Nail: The Story of Joey Nardone.
JLA: The Nail
Cover for JLA: The Nail #1, by Alan Davis.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Limited series
Publication date August – October 1998
Number of issues 3
Main character(s) Aquaman
Flash (Barry Allen)
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Martian Manhunter
Wonder Woman
Creative team
Creator(s) Alan Davis
Mark Farmer
Collected editions
JLA: The Nail (US edition) ISBN 1563894807
JLA: The Nail (UK Edition) ISBN 1840230649

JLA: The Nail is a three-issue comic book mini-series. It was published in the United States by DC Comics as part of its Elseworlds imprint. It is a self-contained story by Alan Davis that is set outside the mainstream continuity of the DC Universe.

In this fictional universe, Jonathan and Martha Kent's pickup truck has a flat tire caused by a nail. This prevents them from discovering the spaceship outside Smallville with the baby Kal-El, negating Superman.

The story's theme is set in the first paragraph:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost.
So it was a kingdom was lost – all for want of a nail.


Twenty-four years ago, farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent missed the arrival of a Kryptonian spacecraft due to a flat tire on their truck. This prevented them from discovering the infant Kal-El and raising him as their adopted son.

Without Superman, the Justice League consists of Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash (Barry Allen), Hawkwoman (Shayera Thal), the Atom (Ray Palmer), Martian Manhunter, and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan). However, the League is not a united team as it lacks a moral compass due to Superman's absence.

Xenophobia against metahumans is fueled by the propaganda conducted by journalist Perry White, mayor of Metropolis Lex Luthor, deputy mayor Jimmy Olsen and former hero Oliver Queen (Green Arrow). Queen became a bitter paraplegic after a battle with Amazo which resulted in the death of Hawkman (Katar Hol) and now claims that the Justice League are aliens who are conspiring against humanity. Metahumans are eliminated or captured one by one: first the supervillains, then superteams such as the Doom Patrol and the Outsiders.

The Joker liberates Arkham Asylum with energy-generating gauntlets which he uses to trap Batman and kill Robin (Dick Grayson) and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon). Catwoman attacks the Joker and frees Batman, who then damages the Joker's gauntlets before snapping his neck on the roof of Arkham on live television as Arkham explodes. Batman retreats to the Batcave with Catwoman and collapses from post-traumatic stress. The killing tarnishes the superheroes' reputation and Batman becomes deeply depressed.

Metamorpho is brainwashed into killing Perry White and the Thinker and dies while trying to tell J'onn what happened. Green Lantern discovers a gradually strengthening force field around Earth that prevents anything from leaving the planet. Seeking a mastermind behind the attacks, the Flash saves Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins from an attack by Amazo.

Wonder Woman is framed for the destruction of the White House after it is destroyed in an explosion. Riots erupt soon afterwards, and Lex Luthor establishes a totalitarian state, with platoons of strong, flying masked robots known as the Liberators enforcing the law. Members of the Justice League are captured by the Liberators (who are shown to be Bizarro clones) until only Batman, the Flash and the Atom remain.

Lois Lane, a journalist covering the anti-metahuman campaign, suspects a cover-up. At a metahuman research facility, Lois meets Dr. Lana Lang, who sends her to Smallville, where the Kents help shelter escaped metahumans. Lois confronts Jimmy about her discovery and is captured by him. Jimmy reveals to Lois that LexCorp discovered Kal-El's empty spaceship and found traces of his DNA on it, creating Bizarro clones and grafting the DNA onto various test subjects, including Jimmy. The DNA graft transformed Jimmy into a Kryptonian who is determined to replace human life with Kryptonian life. Metahumans have been imprisoned for their DNA in order to convert humans into a Kryptonian society ruled by Olsen.

Batman, Batwoman (formerly Catwoman), the Atom, and the Flash free the Justice League captives and destroy the Liberators, only to be confronted by an insane super-powered Olsen. Olsen defeats the League due to their inexperience with Kryptonian powers. The fight spreads to an Amish community. As Olsen is about to kill Batman, he is stopped by a farmer who tries to reason with him; Olsen tries to incinerate the farmer with his heat vision but fails.

The farmer is revealed to be Kal-El, who was found as an infant by an Amish couple and raised by them. Olsen tries to persuade Kal-El to join him but Kal refuses, unable to ignore his conscience. Angry, Jimmy kills Kal-El's adoptive parents in front of him with his heat vision and engages Kal in a fight. Evenly though the two of them are evenly matched, the stress of the fight causes Jimmy’s DNA graft to fail and his body to disintegrate. With Olsen and the Liberators defeated, the Justice League (without Batman, who resigns from the League after his acquittal for the Joker's murder) regains public confidence with the help of its newest member: Superman.

Another Nail[edit]

The story was followed by a sequel, JLA: Another Nail, which wrapped up several loose ends from the original mini-series such as the aftermath of the war between New Genesis, Apokolips, and the Green Lantern Corps and Oliver Queen's public betrayal of the Justice League.

Collected editions[edit]

The three issues were collected into a trade paperback published in 1998 by DC Comics and 1999 by Titan Books.[1][2]


In 1999, JLA: The Nail was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Davis, Alan (1998). The Nail: an Elseworlds tale of the Justice League of America (1. printing ed.). New York, NY: DC Comics. ISBN 1563894807. 
  2. ^ Davis, Alan (1999). The Nail: an Elseworlds tale of the Justice League of America. London: Titan. ISBN 1840230649. 

External links[edit]