Comics Review: JLA 139, Superboy & the Legion 224

JLA 139 coverThis issue of JLA contains two stories (this was in the “52-page” era), including Englehart’s first JLA story. So let’s get to it!

Justice League of America #139 – “The Cosmic Conspiracy Against Adam Strange” – (Cary Bates/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin)

This issue has two stories, which I’ll deal with one at a time. The first is a continuation of last ish. We see Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Black Canary on the JLA Satellite searching for their teammates (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Aquaman). They can’t find them, but their friends are on the Satellite too, just “out of phase” with this universe … or something. Adam Strange shows up an tells them he can see the missing JLAers. He also explains that his old enemy Kanjar Ro is the one who knocked them out of phase. GL is almost blown up by a malfunctioning gizmo and Flash materializes to save his life. Flash saves GLAdam concludes that seeing his friend in danger shocked Flash back into phase. They get a message from Kanjar Ro daring them to come after him in the 73rd century. They beam the entire Satellite there (with GL’s ring) assuming the other missing heroes will rematerialize when their teammates are in trouble. But it doesn’t work out that way. Kanjar’s future army have devices to analyze and duplicate the JLAers’ powers and the heroes get their asses kicked, while their out-of-phase friends watch helplessly. JLA gets poundedAdam realizes something else must’ve caused Flash’s rematerialization, so he checks the Satellite logs and sees there was a beta energy surge right at that moment. So, he blasts the “ghost JLA” with beta energy, they rematerialize, and kick the shit out of Kanjar’s soldiers (after Supes uses his heat vision to burn out their duplicator gizmos). The 73rd century GL shows up to thank them, but Adam attacks him and it turns out he’s Kanjar Ro in disguise. So, everything’s wrapped up in a neat little package; what? … it is! … sorry, if that sounded sarcastic.

Noticeable Things:

  • Adam says seeing a fellow JLAer in danger shocked him back to the proper dimension and compares it to “the principle of adrenaline”; that seems like a bit of a stretch.
  • GL uses his ring to search the galaxy for his missing teammates, then later uses it to send the entire Satellite into the future. It sounds like GL is basically omnipotent, or at least “plot omnipotent”; having the ring be capable of basically anything just to serve the needs of the plot seems like weak writing to me.
  • In the previous issue, the future Earth was made to sound like a utopia, but here Green Arrow says the entire population is confined to a 100 square mile radius. Some utopia.
  • Apparently the reason the entire Satellite had to be beamed to the future was so Adam could check the records to figure out what made Flash rematerialize; that seems like more plot convenient writing to me.
  • Adam figuring out the future GL was Kanjar in disguise seems like quite the leap in logic; I guess he just had a hunch?

    Adam figures it out
    Tag, you’re it! What? That’s how they play it on Rann!

“The Ice Age Cometh” – (Steve Englehart/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin)This is Steve Englehart’s first JLA story after coming over from Marvel to “save” the JLA title; apparently, sales did go up after Englehart started writing it, even though he wasn’t on the book all that long. Anyway, this one starts with a huge blizzard in Ecuador, right on the equator. It looks like pretty much all the JLA is there (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Geen Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary, Aquaman, Atom, and Elongated Man) to help with the crisis. We get some bickering between teammates (Englehart did just come over from Marvel, remember) as they all pitch in to help the victims or stop the cold spell. Unfortunately, they can’t actually stop the cold. But when they hear that JLA vs cold baddiesCaptain Cold, Minister Blizzard, and Icicle have robbed a museum back in Gotham, they assume there’s a connection. So GA, Canary, Flash, and Wonder Woman head back to see what’s up. The cold-wielding trio of baddies stole the Minerva Diamond (Zsa Zsa would be so upset, dahlings) and everyone’s worried they’ll steal more gems from the exhibit … though not worried enough to move the gems to a safe place, apparently. While the superheroes are there, the three cold crooks show up and they fight (and kinda wreck up the place in the process). The good guys win, but while they’re fighting, the Star of Calcutta disappears … despite the fancy lasers and shit protecting it. The heroes go back to Ecuador and Hawkman figures out Shadow-Thief must’ve been the one who stole the diamond while everyone was distracted by the fight, because Shadow-Thief once claimed the dimensionmeter—the gizmo that lets him turn shadowy—could bring on another Ice Age if used too much. So Hawkman and GL head back to Gotham (with the four JLAers who were involved inPhantom Stranger the fight) and go to the prison holding the recently-captured crooks. They find unconscious guards all over and the three cold-based villains free. The heroes make short work of them and find Shadow-Thief; he’s about to get away when Phantom Stranger shows up out of nowhere and grabs him, removing the dimensionmeter from his wrist. So yeah, that happened. Turning off the dimensionmeter seems to reverse the freezing effects in Ecuador and everything goes back to normal.

Noticeable Things:

  • The President of Ecuador is on the front lines of the crisis? This really is make-believe.
  • El Presidente uses a lot of fancy words like “burlesque” (as a verb) and “pump-primed”; I’m thinking this is the writer’s voice coming through.
  • When they’re divvying up the workload, Englehart’s voice kinda comes through again, although in a more satisfying way this time: he points out that Green Arrow (man of the great social conscience) is kind of a sexist asshole.GA sexist
  • Then Englehart turns around and has Diana acting all strident; this is resolved (or at least explained) a few issues down the road, but she doesn’t come off too well here.
  • The Phantom Stranger showing up out of nowhere is kind of a deus ex machina ending—almost literally, considering some of the Stranger’s possible origins.
  • The heroes seemed to bicker way more in this issue; I’m thinking that’s Englehart putting a “Marvel spin” on the characters. It is more realistic for them to disagree sometimes, but some of them (Wonder Woman especially) come off as kind of assholes.

Superboy & LSH 224 coverSuperboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #224 – “When Stargrave Strikes” – (Jim Shooter/Mike Grell/Bob Wiacek)

This issue continues from last one, with the Legionnaires (Superboy, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Chameleon Boy, Sun Boy, Star Boy, Karate Kid, and Projectra) trying to repair the rip in spacetime. But they’re attacked by Pulsar Stargrave’s minions, Holdur and Quicksand, who give them a tougher fight than they probably should. Stargrave himself shows up, rather casually fixes the tear in reality, then zaps everyone back to his place for a chat. He tells them he has some all-powerful enemy (Spoiler: it’s Mordru) that even he can’t fight alone; originally he was going to team up with Time Trapper, but after seeing the Legionnaires kick Trapper’s ass last ish, he’s decided to “reward” them by letting them be his partners. They aren’t amenable to it and the two sides end up fighting. The Legionnaires have a bit of trouble at first (with some of them almost being suffocated and Superboy getting punched into space),Superboy punched into space but they eventually get their shit together and take down Holdur and Quicksand. Stargrave is another matter, though; he easily beats all of them except Brainy, who he seems to have some kind of connection with. They talk and Stargrave tells Brainy his secret origin (he absorbed the energy from a collapsing star … as one does).  Brainy later fills his friends in on what Stargrave wants … total control of the universe! Well, Stargrave Brainy and Stargravedoesn’t think small, I’ll say that for him. Back at LSH headquarters, Brainy tries to convince the others to help Stargrave gain ultimate power. Apparently, he’s successful because we later see Superboy eavesdropping on Brainy telling Stargrave the Legion will help him defeat Mordru, but then they’ll turn around and fight him. But Brainy says he won’t fight Stargrave,because Stargrave is … his father! Maybe this is where George Lucas got the idea? Anyway, we’ll have to wait until next issue to see what happens, but in the meantime, check out my newest Lost Girl review on Wednesday, and be back on Friday for Wonder Woman 228 (the first of the Earth-1 World War Two adventures), Green Lantern 93, and Warlord 5.

Noticeable Things:

  • In the first fight, Superboy seems to have a lot of trouble with Holdur, but later he just swats him aside like nothing.
  • When the Legionnaires are fighting Stargrave in his base, they seem to go a little overboard; Sun Boy, Lightning Lad, and Star Boy all use their powers at maximum against Stargrave. It doesn’t work (and I don’t blame them for giving everything they’ve got against a guy who can fix spacetime rips with a wave of his hand), but what if their combined power had been enough to kill him? Seems funny they’d just forget about their “non-killing” policy so easily.
  • Stargrave is quite the fashion-plate.

    Pulsar Stargrave
    Disco Stargrave likes disco music!

2 thoughts on “Comics Review: JLA 139, Superboy & the Legion 224”

    1. Yeah, I think that’s one reason I never warmed to Green Lantern; writers tend to use the ring as a “magic” device to get GL out of trouble—but only when the plot calls for it. If the ring’s that powerful, it should get GL out of pretty much any situation.

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