Tower of Babel is a Justice League storyline written by Mark Waid with illustrations by Howard Porter. It's published in the JLA series following Grant Morrison's World War III and leading into Waid's The Queen of Fables.
The storyline deals with Ra's al Ghul taking down the League to cause planet-wide chaos. He uses stolen contingency plans made by Batman to take down his teammates, causing the team to distrust Batman. Ra's uses technology to disrupt the language-processing centers of every brain on the planet, making all communication impossible.
Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins launch a multi-pronged simultaneous strike on all members of the Justice League of America. The strike consists of a multitude of bogglingly ingenious attacks that reveal a close knowledge of the leaguers personal lives and vulnerabilities. The JLA is also at the same time forced to deal with an attack against the language centers of all humanity, as Ghul broadcasts a signal worldwide rendering the written language scrambled into unreadable nonsense to the human brain, and throwing the world's governmental facilities and hospitals into chaos.
As the rest of the League falls, Batman, the only physically unaffected member realizes Ra's' plan too late. After the robbery of his parents' graves, Batman had been searching for their bodies; al Ghul, of course, had stolen them as a distraction. When Batman invades his lair, Ra's threatens to drop the corpses into a Lazarus Pit, which would (theoretically) revive them. Meanwhile, in the outside world, Ra's' plan steps up when the second phase of his attack comes into play, scrambling not only the written word, but the spoken word as well.
The other League members manage to together recover from their injuries, and protect their ears from the onslaught, and Batman is forced to reveal the nature of the attacks to them. Worried that one or all of them could go rogue at any time, he had developed contingency plans to put them all out of commission. Talia al Ghul had broken into the Batcave and stolen the files off of his computer, which was how the League of Assassins gained their intel. As the effects of Red Kryptonite wear off, Superman is able to destroy the machine that is causing the chaos. Finally, Ra's also reveals that he is about to release a deadly nerve agent, and spark a war between two atomic nations. As Superman and Batman, and later a restored Aquaman and Martian Manhunter move on Ra's' base, the Flash, Green Lantern, Plastic Man and Wonder Woman are able to prevent the release of the toxin barely in time.
Because of Batman's plans used against the JLA, they're forced to bring his continued membership to a vote. The vote ends in a thin but decisive majority decision on Batman's removal from the team (Wonder Woman, Plastic Man and Aquaman for expulsion, Flash, Green Lantern and J'onn against, with Superman casting the deciding expulsive vote). Already knowing how the vote would turn out, Batman leaves before they can give him their decision. This does not surprise Superman.
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- "JLA Secret Files & Origins #3" goes much further in depth into the formation and theft of Batman's contingency plans. It is included in the storyline's trade paperback.
- When Ra's al Ghul steals Batman's contingency plans to incapacitate any rogue League members, he puts the following Batman plans into action:
- J'onn J'onzz is covered with nanites that convert the outer layer of his skin to magnesium, causing him to burst into flame on exposure to air. He later survived by wearing an airtight suit, then waiting until he had shed enough skin cells to function normally (something Batman had ignored because he had not been trying to kill J'onn).
- Aquaman is rendered hydrophobic with an altered form of the Scarecrow's fear toxin, although he depends on water to survive for more than a few hours. J'onn uses his telepathy to help him overcome the effects of the toxin.
- Plastic Man is frozen solid, then shattered with a hammer by one of Ra's' henchmen.
- Kyle Rayner is rendered blind with his own power ring using subconscious commands while he sleeps.
- Thanks to a nanite through her ear, Wonder Woman is trapped in a virtual reality battle with her perfect challenger that would eventually cause her heart to give out.
- A specially designed "vibra-bullet" strikes The Flash in the back of the neck, causing him to experience multiple seizures at lightspeed.
- Superman's skin becomes transparent after exposure to Red Kryptonite, which causes him to suffer a power overload.
- Even though Batman claimed that the measure began when the Secret Society of Super-Villains swapped bodies with the Justice League with the aid of Agamemno years ago, "Identity Crisis" would reveal that the Justice League had betrayed Batman first, some point after the event by removing his witness of Doctor Light's "mind-wipe" from his memory. Eventually Batman recalls, which would lead him to the creation of the "Brother Eye" A.I. satellite, a much more extreme contingency plan.
- The "Tower of Babel" storyline was adapted in the direct-to-video movie Justice League: Doom.
- No issues listed
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This event or storyline is specifically related to the Justice League of America, or to any other incarnations of the Justice League. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Justice League Storylines category.
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This event or storyline is specifically related to Batman, or to members of the Batman Family. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Batman Storylines category.