Comics Review: JLA 147, Superboy & the Legion 232, Jonah Hex 5

JLA 147 coverJustice League of America #147 – “Crisis in the 30th Century” – Martin Pasko, Paul Levitz/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

This one’s a JLA/JSA crossover, with the added bonus of the Legion of Super Heroes appearing … it’s some kind of mega-crossover! It actually starts with some of the JSA getting ready to return Psycho Pirate to Earth-2 after chasing him to Earth-1 and capturing him in All-Star Comics #68. But the Leaguers want their friends to hang out, so Green Arrow shuts off the dimensional transporter (almost starting a fight with Wildcat) and the JSA decides to stay and have some fun. Power Girl apparently wants to have a lot of fun with Superman and she ends up getting fingered in the trophy room. That’s not as much fun as it sounds, since the fingers are gigantic, disembodied, and magical. Theyscooped up came through the wall into the trophy room and by the time everyone else responds to the sounds of distress, a whole hand has manifested. Dr. Fate tries to ensnare the hand, but it scoops up a bunch of the JLA and JSA—five from each team, what are the odds?—and drags them right off the Satellite. They get pulled a thousand years into the future and find out their assailant is Mordru. He already has five Legionnaires (Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Ultra Boy, Chameleon Boy, and Shadow Lass) imprisoned in a big hourglass. Mordru explains that he wasn’t trying to grab the JLA/JSA members, he wanted to steal the Red Jar of Calythos, the Green Bell of Uthool, and the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath. (Longtime JLA fans will no doubt recognize Mordru fights backthose names.) They try to fight Mordru, but he overcomes them and imprisons them in an unbreakable magic sphere. He’s about to destroy them, but Dr. Fate casts a Suggestion spell and Mordru decides to use the JLA and JSA to retrieve the three artifacts. He’s planning on using them to resurrect the Demons Three so they can serve him and help him take back control of Zerox, the Sorceror’s World. We get a flashback showing how he captured the five Legionnaires and forced their teammates to go get the three magic items. But the Legion members never returned, so Mordy tried to reach back in time and grab the artifacts off the JLA Satellite. Apparently the Satellite exploded some time between the 20th and 30th Centuries and the artifacts were scattered. He takes Green Arrow and Black Canary hostage to insure the heroes don’t try anything funny, then sends them to bring back the artifacts. First up, the Silver Wheel onstars Antares-II, where Sun Boy and Wildfire are being held captive by the Antareans. They could burn their way out, but not without slaughtering a bunch of the Antareans, which wouldn’t be very nice. Superman, Hawkman, and Dr. Fate show up and rescue them. They notice the Antareans (who are shape-changers) all shifted to match the Silver Wheel, so Fate tells Superman to snatch the Wheel at super speed (so the Wheel appears to be moving on its own) and Fate conjures a bunch of fireworks that coalesce into stars. The Antareans, thinking the Wheel has transformed itself into  stars, do the same. Since they’re now imitating stars, they have no objection to the teams taking the Wheel. Superman patronizingly explains to Wildfire that the Antareans were worshiping the Wheel as a god, since it fell from the sky (good thing it wasn’t a Coke can) and they changed their forms to emulate it; so when their “god” changed into a star, they lost interest in the Wheel. Supes says the adults’ years of experience made them smart enough to figure it all out. Back at Mordru’s place, Saturn Girl says she’d figured out the whole “god as a Wheel” thing too, so there, Superman! space dragonsNext up, the planet Vaxon, where the Bell of Uthool serves to keep some planet-ravaging space dragons at bay. Brainiac 5 and Projectra are negotiating to get the Bell, but the Vaxonians say they can’t lose the Bell or their planet will be destroyed by the dragons. The two Green Lanterns and Batman show up and say the planet needs something else to keep the dragons away—a scarecrow. The older super-heroes again prove their superiority by figuring out that the space dragons’ natural enemy is a gigantic monster that eats them like Twinkies. The GLs carve a big relief of a monster on an empty part of the planet and say that’ll scare off the dragons. The grateful Vaxonians give them the Bell. Finally, we see Power Girl and Flash going after the Jar of Calythos. The Legionnaires Mordru sent to get the Jar found it, but didn’t want him to get his greedy mitts on it, so they hid the Jar by throwing it through a dimensional rift, a place where even the Legion couldn’t retrieve the Jar, since none of them can vibrate into other dimensions. But Flash can, so he and Power Girl zipPG smashes sphere through and find the Jar, which is encased inside a sphere for some reason. The Jar is being guarded by some kind of froggy-looking thing (maybe it’s a Boggard) and PG figures out its a mother that thinks the sphere is her egg. PowerGirl gives the mother a substitute egg (though I’m not exactly sure where she got it from) and smashes the sphere open to get the Jar. Of course, Mordru meant to betray the heroes all along and they anticipated that, so Flash returns without Power Girl and the Jar and forces Mordru to release all the prisoners (well, almost all; gotta watch those baddies, Jay). Mordru agrees and Jay brings Power Girl back with the Jar. Mordru starts the ritual to free the Demons Three and the JLA, JSA, and Legion prepare to attack him. Mordru betraysBut he has an ace up his sleeve … an ace archer, that is. When he released everyone else, he held onto Green Arrow and Black Canary and now he threatens to kill them if the other heroes don’t back off. They have no choice, so Mordru completes the ritual and brings back he Demons Three. But things don’t quite turn out the way he wanted, even after Mordru zaps the JLA and JSA off to parts unknown. The Demons say they won’t work under anyone and blast Mordru with magical energy. They plan to destroy the artifacts and take over the universe. Will they succeed? We’ll have to wait till next issue to find out..

Noticeable Things:

  • There’s a panel on page 2 where Psycho Pirate looks to be about eight feet tall.big psycho
  • Power Girl seems like she’s ready to jump Superman, which is a bit strange since he’s basically a younger version of her cousin. Then again, Supergirl was kinda hot for him too, so I guess it’s slightly less weird than that.

    PG on the make
    Actually, I’m a lot like Supergirl … we both want to fuck you.
  • If Mordru’s strong enough to reach through time and imprison three teams of super-heroes, why can’t he just get the artifacts himself?
  • I’m not sure about the whole scarecrow thing; don’t birds eventually get used to scarecrows? I don’t think a gigantic carving is going to keep those dragons away forever.
  • The Legionnaires have no idea what a scarecrow is. I can see Projectra not knowing, but wouldn’t master historian Brainy know that?
  • When Jay returns without PG and the Jar, Superman says Mordru has no choice but to free everyone, because if he just killed them he still wouldn’t have the Jar, and all the heroes would be willing to die to stop him. But when Green Arrow and Black Canary were threatened a bit later, the heroes immediately gave in. Wouldn’t Ollie and Dinah be just as willing to give their lives if it meant stopping Mordru?

LSH 232 coverSuperboy & the Legion #232 – “The Disease That Wouldn’t Die” – Gerry Conway/Ric Estrada/Jack Abel

This one starts out with Superboy, Shrinking Violet, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl doing the frug on a space liner. Why? Because it’s Klordny Week, of course. As for what the hell Klordny is, I have no idea. There’s no real explanation given, other than it’s a “festival”. Whatever it is, everyone seems to celebrate it by partying like crazy—I’m sure there was plenty of poontang to go around, but no mention of that in a Code-approved book. But not everyone’s in a Klordny mood; Violet gets hassled by some loudmouth about her planet (Imsk) threatening to secede from the United Planets if they don’t get their space territory extended. Superboy’s about to pound the dude when the liner is attacked by pirates.Superboy pounds pirates The Legionnaires kick their asses pretty quickly and Saturn Girl learns the pirates were bribed to hit the liner at that exact time. The Legionnaires figure it must be a diversion of some kind and they’re right. We see a guy sending an assassin down to Earth to find Rene Brande and kill him. On a space station out beyond the orbit of Pluto, we see Colossal Boy and Cosmic Boy celebrating Klordny with Colossal Boy’s cousin and a bunch of Science Police officers. The station is swept by a weird wave of space spores and everyone on board starts shrinking. Colossal Boy contacts Lightning Lad to tell him what happened. The asshole who was bugging Violet before overhears and blames the Imskians for sending the shrinking plague. Superboy teaches him some manners and the Legionnaires take a pirate ship and head for the stricken station.Superboy wails on asshole On Earth, Shadow Lass finds someone (the assassin who was beamed to Earth earlier) breaking into Legion HQ. She confronts him and calls for back-up; Timber Wolf, Brainiac 5, and Mon-El show up and the guy (who calls himself Immune) says he’s looking for Rene Brande. The Legion tells him Brande doesn’t live at their HQ (duh) so Immune evades them, conks out Chameleon Boy, and gets the coordinates of Brande’s private planetoid. On the space station, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy and the Science Police are still shrinking.shrinking Violet’s a little touchy because she thinks everyone’s looking at her a bit sideways, and that persecuted feeling gets worse when the United Planets tell them the Imskians must be behind the shrinking cloud. They order the Legionnaires to head for Imsk and force the Imskians to give them the cure. Now Violet really feels like shit, but she’s determined to go with them to her home planet. Saturn Girl has a mind-fuck moment when the shrinking plague sweeps past Saturn, affecting the people on her home of Titan. They tell the other Legionnaires where they’re heading and Brainy wishes them luck, but says his team is headed to Brande’s planetoid to stop the assassin. When they get to the planetoid, Immune attacks again and he and Mon-El mix it up.Mon-El pounds assassin We learn why he’s called Immune—his immune system is so strong that any physical attack on him is instantly compensated for, rendering him basically invulnerable. He tells them Brande developed a biological weapon that wiped out everyone on his home planet and gave him his super-immunity. So now he wants Brande dead. Out in space, the Legionnaires get mugged by a spaceship just before reaching Imsk. It turns out to be Dr. Regulus’s ship and he takes them all captive, usingSun Boy wastes Regulus special devices to counter each of their powers. He also has Sun Boy unconscious; apparently, he bagged him a few days ago. On Brande’s planetoid, Immune is kicking the shit out of the Legionnaires and Brainy realizes there’s not much they can do against someone who’s immune to any attack. Then he gets an idea and makes a desperate call for help. On Regulus’s ship, Sun Boy wakes up and pounds the villain. Turns out Saturn Girl and Shrinking Violet had previously switched identities (to protect Violet in case her fellow Imskians came after her) so their powers weren’t really neutralized. Saturn Girl woke Sun Boy telepathically and he wasted Regulus. Violet’s still in a shitty mood though. On Brande’s planetoid, Brainy accuses Immune of being a fraud. He says Immune is affected by the shrinking plague just like everyone else and sure enough, Immune starts shrinking. He freaks out and orders his body to protect him, which stop short circuiting yourselfliterally blows his mind. Brainy used the old Star Trek move of getting the guy to destroy himself; once Immune thought his power wasn’t working, his body turned on itself and shut down his brain … or something. Of course, Immune wasn’t really shrinking … that was Colossal Boy disguised as Brainy and using his growing power. How did he manage that when the last time we saw him he was shrinking at an alarming rate? Who knows? I guess he just using his growing power to counteract the shrinking for as long as the plot needed it. So, all’s well that ends well … except Shrinking Violet is still pissed off because the United Planets and even the other Legionnaires were ready to believe the Imskians were the ones who sent the shrinking plague. She leaves, saying she needs to think things over—alone.

Noticeable Things:

  • This story has a lot more of a “political” lean to it than most Legion stories. I assume that came from Gerry Conway, as he tended to like those types of stories. I like it too; the galaxy is a big place and it makes sense there’d be all sorts of political intrigue going on.
  • Turns out Regulus was the one behind the shrinking plague and he was the one who lied to Immune about Brande starting it. I’m not exactly sure why—just to capture some Legionnaires, I guess.
  • I don’t know who that guy was on Brande’s planetoid, but it sure asnot Brande hell doesn’t look like the R.J. Brande I’m familiar with. Maybe he was using his Durlan shapeshifting ability? Although I don’t think that had been established yet, so more likely Estrada just had no idea what Brande looked like.
  • I get the feeling Ric Estrada was an “ass man”; there are a few rear-view shots of the female Legionnaires. Not that I’m complaining … just pointing it out.

 

 

ass triptych

 

Jonah Hex 5 coverJonah Hex #5 – “Welcome to Paradise” – John Albano/Tony DeZuniga (framing sequence–Michael Fleisher/Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez/Romeo Tanghal)

This is a reprint of Hex’s first appearance in Weird Western #10; I won’t go into depth since this is a reprint, but I’ll give a brief synopsis. It starts with a framing sequence about Hex getting help from Mrs. Thornton, a woman he met years earlier in Paradise Corners. She keeps him hidden from the sheriff, who she distracts by telling him the tale of Hex’s first visit to the town. In the original story, Hex was hired by the town of Paradise Corners to apprehend Big Jim and his gang, a band of outlaws. He killed each member of the gang, then chased Big Jim himself. The outlaw took a woman hostage, forcing Hex to drop his gun. When Big Jim made a run for it, Hex pulled a knife and killed him.
Hex returned to town for his bounty, then tried to buy a house in the area, but the town council refused his purchase. He went back to the farm where he killed Big Jim and the woman he saved took a shot at him. She was pissed that her son now idolized Hex, sort of like Ron Howard in the Shootist, or that kid in Shane. Hex knew he wasn’t wanted, so he took off. Back in the present, the sheriff leaves and Mrs. Thornton and Hex part ways.

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