Libra (DC Comics)
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|First appearance||Justice League of America vol. 1 #111 (June 1974)|
Len Wein (script)|
Dick Dillin (art)
|Alter ego||Justin Ballantine|
Libra is a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Justice League of America #111 (May–June 1974), where he formed the first incarnation of the Injustice Gang (though there had been other villain groups with similar names, like the Injustice Society and the Injustice League). Libra made his return with a leading role in Final Crisis in 2008.
Libra's only major appearance, prior to his appearance in Final Crisis, was in Justice League of America #111–112, in 1974. In 2004, he made a brief cameo in the JLA/Avengers crossover (#4) by Kurt Busiek and George Pérez.
The reason I chose them was because Libra came from my favorite ever run of 'Justice League of America' and he's never been used again. He was a character who had stolen all the powers of the Justice League, but then couldn't handle it and ascended to some kind of screaming godhood where he became a million transparent body parts spread across the sky. So I thought if I was doing a thing about the New Gods, he'd be an interesting guy to bring back because I needed a masked mystery man to start a new recruitment drive for the Secret Society of Supervillains (sic), because they become almost a terrorist sect. Under Libra's guidance, they start doing quite bad things, even to superheroes' wives and families, crossing the line. So there's that element to the story and I needed a masked guy, who people didn't really know that well. And I remembered Libra and the fact that he is connected to this ascending to godhood thing tied him in really quite nicely. What's really going on under the hood will be revealed later in the series.
In May 2008, his appearances were reprinted in DC Universe Special: Justice League of America at the same time as he was reintroduced, along with the Human Flame (a Martian Manhunter foe who appeared in Detective Comics #274), in Justice League of America #21. He returns, apparently retaining the full might of his godlike status, to lead a new and final incarnation of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, this time offering to every villain, from simple costumed crooks to major ones, the realization of his/her fondest wish.
The full origins of Libra and the connection between his original appearance and Final Crisis was then made apparent in a one-shot story by his original creator, Len Wein, in Final Crisis: Secret Files & Origins in December 2008.
Fictional character biography
In Final Crisis: Secret Files #1, it was shown that Libra was born Justin Ballantine, who lost his mother at the age of eight due to an alcoholic pharmacist mismeasuring medicine his mother needed. Soon after his father turned to alcoholism himself and brutally abused Justin regularly. Justin would later use all the money he had to buy a telescope so that he could stargaze and imagine a better life among the stars. His father threatened to beat him with his telescope one night but he lost his balance and fell to his death, which led Justin to see the importance of balance in the universe. While attending university, his physics professor was Ted Knight (Starman).
Libra was a secret founder of the group of super-villains named Injustice Gang, given control by a mysterious benefactor. He constructed an unusual device, the Transmortifier, basing it on copied plans of Ted Knight's Cosmic Rod. The device enabled him to steal half the powers or energies of a given person. By the end of the first appearance, it was revealed that their entire operation was a massive feint by their organizer, Libra, to test the Transmortifier. A series of "Plan A" devices the villains had been given in case the JLA defeated them absorbed half of the heroes' powers and transferred them to Libra. Satisfied with these results, he then turned his device upon the universe itself, hoping to become a god. Instead, Libra was absorbed into the universe itself, effectively disintegrating him and spreading his essence across the cosmos. He spent years drifting through the cosmos, until he was brought back to cohesion on Apokolips, by Desaad. There he encounters his initial benefactor, Glorious Godfrey, and his master, Darkseid. He promises eternal loyalty to Darkseid. Morrison has implied that this means Libra has become a New God.
Libra returns in Final Crisis controlling an army of super-villains and threatening the entire Multiverse. He is identified in Justice League of America #21 as an alien warlord, although no such origin was indicated in his initial appearance, or subsequently in Final Crisis: Secret Files #1. During the events of Final Crisis #1 he kills the Martian Manhunter with his staff, granting the Human Flame's greatest desire. Before he died, the Martian Manhunter revealed that he knew how this would end. He told Libra he and his kind would fail, that they always fail. He also told Libra that defeat was his destiny, now and forever. To prove his claims to Lex Luthor when he requests to draw Superman to him, Libra then sends Clayface I to bomb the Daily Planet Building, severely injuring Lois Lane. Later, when the Human Flame thanks Libra for his revenge, Libra begins to discuss what the villain owes him. In follow-up to this, Libra gives him a new base at the former swamp headquarters of the Legion of Doom and then gives him a new upgraded outfit. When Libra shoves a helmet (which turns out to be a Justifier helmet) on Human Flame, he is transformed into a mindless slave to the Anti-Life Equation. Libra then reveals himself as a prophet of Darkseid.
At this point, Lex Luthor tries to kill Libra, having concluded that Libra's effectiveness makes him too dangerous to be left alive, but the newer villain instead surrounds him with more Justifiers. He offers Luthor a choice to either swear an oath to the God of Evil (Darkseid) or become a mindless slave. At the time Libra is leading the Secret Society of Super-Villains at a public execution. Some savant with access to the Society's computers has been breaking codes for the Resistance, and Libra has condemned Calculator for the action. Lex Luthor is silent on the matter, but has been picked to lead the rearguard action against the heroes at Blüdhaven. He assumes it is an honor, but he does not look very pleased. A hole in the sky opens over the hanging, and as Libra tells the Society of the "night of anguish that lasts forever", Darkseid gains the fullness of his power. Libra, having discovered, at this time, that Lex Luthor was the actual mole, attempts to kill him only to have Doctor Sivana use a device to disable the Justifiers. Luthor blasts Libra, seemingly killing him. Lex Luthor reveals that Libra was a living embodiment of the Anti-Life Equation.
In Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge, Libra is shocked when he hears that the Rogues declined membership into his Secret Society. Many times and in many ways he attempts to recruit them, including threats against their families and revealing that Barry Allen had returned from the dead, but failed. As they walk away, Libra shouts that evil will win.
In Final Crisis: Revelations, Libra is confronted by Crispus Allen, the third Spectre, who has come to judge him for the murder of the Martian Manhunter. Not only was the Spectre unable to learn Libra's real identity, but the villain was able to fight off the Spirit of Vengeance and drive him away.
In other media
- In the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, there is a character called Equinox (voiced by Oded Fehr) with similarities to Libra including the interest in "balance". An orphan boy raised from birth by the Lords of Chaos and Order (similar to Marvel Comics' In-Betweener), Equinox was granted powers by both, and charged with the task of supporting the balance between good and evil. However, this proved too much of a burden; he left the masters and sought his ideal balance, opposing Batman, but occasionally aiding him.
- He first appears in the teaser of the episode "Mystery in Space!", when he tries to eliminate Gorilla Grodd (an agent of evil) and the Question (an agent of justice) at the same time to keep balance. But Batman intervenes and Equinox faces him for the first time. He evades Batman and the Question and promises they will meet again.
- In the episode "When OMAC Attacks!", he appears as the mastermind of a terrorist plot: a village was destroyed in another country due to the actions of a peace-keeping organization. To keep everything in balance, he plans to destroy the city where the organization is based by overloading a nuclear power plant using Shrapnel. However he is distracted by Buddy Blank while Batman stops his plan. In the end, however, he saves Batman's life by healing him after he nearly dies of radiation exposure from shutting down the nuclear reactor, for Batman's death would be an imbalance. He then escapes.
- In "The Fate of Equinox!", Equinox's origins are revealed after he tricks Batman into ensuring the villain's ascent to godhood with the intent to unmake the universe and create it anew, taking his masters' powers to do so and becoming Equinox-Prime. Doctor Fate borrows the powers from a number of heroes and gives them to Batman in an attempt to stop him, Plastic Man dubbing the new being Bat-Monolith. When Equinox' new powers prove too strong even for the combined might of Batman and his allies, Batman turns the tables by presenting to Equinox the revelation that he himself is unbalanced as he hates the Lords of Order and Chaos, which disillusions the villain long enough for Batman to send him to oblivion by knocking him into a vortex he had begun to create to destroy the universe so he could re-make it in balance.
- In "Time Out for Vengeance!", it was revealed that his consciousness was shattered into a dozen fragments and scattered throughout time and space. Each aspect embodied a part of Equinox-Prime's mind. His hate arrives in the far future and enters a computer which it uses to create and animate a group of robots to form a Batman Revenge Squad, sending them to erase the Batmen from the Time-Space Continuum. Rip Hunter discovers this and alerts the Justice League International who split into pairs. Once the Batman Revenge Squad robots are defeated, the Justice League International arrive in the future where Equinox is, having captured a robot Batman. Equinox' consciousness merges some of the remaining robots into one giant robot that Equinox' mind can inhabit. But the captured robot Batman frees himself from Equinox's control and summons three Batmen from other times to help him fight Equinox. The four Batmen neutralize Equinox and the Batman of the present returns to existence, but it is implied that Equinox will return.
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
Through the words of scripter Len Wein and the art of Dick Dillin, the masked menace of Libra established himself as a grave threat to the World's Greatest Heroes.
- "ALL STAR GRANT MORRISON I: Final Crisis", Comic Book Resources, 15 April 2008.
- Eason, Brian K. (5 June 2008). "Final Crisis Flashback: Libra & Human Flame". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
- "A Brief History (because that's all there is) of Libra" Archived 2009-08-22 at the Wayback Machine., Newsarama, 1 May 2008.