WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League #6 by Scott Snyder, Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez and Tom Napolitano, in stores now.
If the new Justice League arc proves anything, it's that villains are striking back and leaving quite the lasting impression. Lex Luthor has already obtained the key to the DC Universe in the form of a mysterious doorknob, and as he unravels seven mysterious forces to reshape the galaxy, he's recruited some help: A new Legion of Doom.
While Lex is making contact with the Totality (the mysterious entity that escaped the Source Wall), the likes of Joker and an upgraded Grodd are getting their chance to tussle with Justice League members like Hawkgirl and Flash, respectively. However, two popular B-list villains, Black Manta and Cheetah, haven't played a big role in Lex's plan of attack -- until now.
Back in the mysterious Fortress of Doom, the duo decide to raid the mad genius' artifact room, and in so doing they obtain a couple of weapons that may make them powerful beyond their wildest dreams.
As Lex finally defeats Batman, Superman and the Martian Manhunter, he's poised to understand just what the Totality is, which is unsurprising, as we find out in Justice League #6 that his doorknob is actually part of it. Lex's success doesn't stop his allies from seeking power for themselves, though. Cheetah tells Manta it's time to get what they came for, hinting they were playing Lex all along, waiting for the right opportunity to steal valuable items for their own selfish purposes.
With their ulterior motives now revealed, they break into Lex's storage and grab what they need to level up. Manta's clearly jealous of Lex, so he makes up for it by taking the Tear of Extinction. It's a mysterious drop of fluid held in place in some sort of containment unit, and given the reflection in it (quite possibly stars), it might be cosmic in origin. While it's yet to be revealed what the Tear can do, the name alone is ominous -- not to mention that it's serendipitously named to go with Manta's whole vibe, which is a mix of "around water all the time" and "trying to kill Aquaman constantly."
Cheetah, on the other hand, gets a just-as-secretive weapon in the form of The Key to the Graveyard of the Gods. It looks like an actual key, embedded in a block of golden metal, seemingly taking visual influence from the legend of Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone. It could be a sword, an axe or, who knows, maybe a key that takes Cheetah somewhere.
In Issue #1, Martian Manhunter did admit the Legion of Doom was destined to raise evil abominations and ancient gods, with artist Jim Cheung showcasing a shot of a huge door opening to reveal some archaic region, so perhaps Cheetah (who has often brawled with the Amazonian Wonder Woman) is fated to visit this place and power-up for a future battle against the gods.
Almost immediately after their heist, both villains take an underwater vessel and go after after Aquaman and Wonder Woman individually to test out their new toys. This time, though, with their upgrades in tow, the playing field has been leveled. This certainly doesn't bode well for a Justice League that's already spread thin trying to save the multiverse.