Comics Reviews: JLA 149, Superboy & the Legion 234, Jonah Hex 7

JLA 149 coverJustice League of America #149 – “The Face of the Star-Tsar” – Steve Englehart/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with Dr. Light finding one of the JLA’s teleporter devices that they use to travel to the Satellite. Before Light can do anything, he’s jumped by the Privateer. Light kicks Privateer’s ass, but before he can finish him off, Privateer sends a distress signal which brings the JLA (all of them—well, almost: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Red Tornado, and the Hawks) down via the teleporter. Light takes off and they chase him, but he uses his light-warping abilities to escape the notice of Batman and GL. He’s spotted by the Hawks and Red Tornado and Reddy, still wanting to prove himself as good as a human,Reddy fights mirage tackles Light. But it turns out he was only fighting a mirage—which makes him feel like an asshole, natch. As the real Dr. Light strolls away casually through the park, he runs into a guy calling himself Star-Tsar. Star-Tsar says he’s going to be the one to take down the JLA, which gives Light a laugh. But when Light zaps the Tsar, he just shrugs it off and zips away, too fast for Light to follow. Light immediately starts making plans to take care of this new rival. Back where this all started, Privateer gives a quick version of his origin: he was Mark Shaw, a prosecutor who got tired of the revolving door justice system, so he jumped at the chance to join the Manhunters when they approached him. He trained with them and loved delivering “justice”, but eventually realized the costume they gave him was addictive, making him crave combat. After finding out the Manhunters Reddy upsetwere robots trying to take over the galaxy, he broke the addiction and helped the JLA fight them, then changed his identity (and costume) to the Privateer so he could serve justice for real. The Leaguers seem impressed by his story and agree to work with him against Dr. Light. Red Tornado’s a bit jealous that Privateer was accepted so readily. Elsewhere, Star-Tsar and his gang are getting ready to rob the Belgravian Embassy of its Crown Jewels, but Dr. Light has tracked them and fucks up their robbery by attracting the attention of the cops. The JLA hears about the robbery and goes after the thieves, kicking their asses easily. The JLA assumes Dr. Light was behind the robbery, but the cops tell them it was Star-Tsar, who they’ve never heard of before. Flash and Superman head out to look for him, but Flash finds someone else in a nearby alley … Snapper Carr! We get a recap of Snapper’s history: he hung out with the League, betrayed them to theLeague pounds robbers Joker, and sort of made amends when he helped them against Anakronos. They’re a bit suspicious and ask him about Star-Tsar, but he says he doesn’t know anything. Superman and Flash do one of their high speed races to find Dr. Light and Star-Tsar and they do find Light’s hideout. Snapper takes off and the JLA goes after Light, but we see Snapper talking to someone on a two-way radio. The League busts into Light’s hideout, but he’s ready for them. He traps them inside a deadly sphere, then uses something called a Spectriminator to split their bodies into pieces and shunt each piece to a different dimension. He takes off, leaving them to their torment, but Green Lantern manages to reconstitute his body, since his ring’s energy was unaffected spectriminatorby Light’s device. As for getting out of the Death Sphere, they get a little help … from Star-Tsar. He says he’s out to conquer the world and wants to eliminate all who stand in his way, like Dr. Light. He figures by freeing the JLA, they’ll take care of Light for him. He takes off right before Light comes back (where was he for so short a time? Did he go for a shit?). Light tries to use the Spectriminator again, but it’s deflected and blasts the wall to hell. Hawkman decks Light (once again proving he’s not such a threat) and they get out of the collapsing base. Outside, they find Star-Tsar unconscious, apparently having been hit by flying debris from the blasted wall. They also find his mask has been torn off and guess who he is? Yup, the Star-Tsar is Snapper Carr.last page We’ll see what’s up with that next issue, which is also Englehart’s last one as writer.

Noticeable Things:

  • Light finding one of the League’s teleport booths was bound to happen; they should move them to random locations every so often.
  • Throughout this comic, Dr. Light is referred to as one of the JLA’s deadliest foes and it’s reiterated over and over how dangerous he is. I always thought Light was kind of a joke? Maybe Englehart was trying to build him up into a credible threat?
  • When Privateer sends his distress signal, almost the entire JLA shows up; were they having a meeting or something? And later, the Satellite computer alerts them to the Embassy robbery, but what happened to always having someone on monitor duty? If a computer can do it, then why bother with monitor duty at all?
  • Batman asks Privateer where he got a JLA signal device. Apparently, Privateer built it himself after seeing the Leaguers use theirs in previous adventures. Is it really that easy? Maybe every kid with a crystal set can pop down to Radio Shack and cobble together a JLA signal.
  • Red Tornado’s inferiority complex is on full display here and it gets a bit tedious by the end. A little of his mopiness goes a long way.
  • When Reddy goes after Dr. Light, he introduces himself with the line “I’m the Red Tornado … I clean up!” Is that a White Tornado reference? Who knew Reddy had a sense of humour?
  • The stuff about Mark Shaw’s Manhunter costume being addictive is new … as far as I know it was never mentioned before. Also, the Manhunters are referred to as the Shan, another thing that wasn’t mentioned in the original stories, a few issues back.

LSH 234 coverSuperboy & the Legion #234 – “Wanted Dead or Alive: The Composite Legionnaire” – Gerry Conway/Ric Estrada/Jack Abel

We start this one with a good old dragon hunt … space dragons, that is. Superboy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Shrinking Violet, and Colossal Boy are hunting a space dragon near Violet’s home planet of Imsk. They trap one the only way possible, by using five tractor-rays to surround the dragon in an electro-net. This continues the plotline of Imsk wanting to extend their interplanetary hunting territory that was introduced last issue. Violet tells her friends the reason Imsk needs the dragons is a big secret, but before we hear what it is, we get an interlude on a desolate planet. Some loser-looking guy is grilling meat over a fire when he’s jumped by a guy named Bounty. You can probably guess what he does for a living; yup, he’s a bounty hunter and he’s after this guy, who apparently escaped from a prison planet thirty years ago. The reward’s still good andViolet in space Bounty catches the guy pretty quickly and seems to enjoy his fear. So, Bounty is kind of a prick. Back near Imsk, Violet tells her friends that her race actually settled Imsk after coming from a different planet. They enjoyed life there, but one day the planet (and all the native flora and fauna) started to shrink, leaving the colonists as giants who’d soon starve to death. A scientist extracted some radioactive stuff from the native rocks and used it to shrink the Imskians along with the planet. The planet grew back to normal after ninety days, and the Imskians shrinking ability became hereditary, but they still need yearly doses of the radioactive stuff, otherwise they’d be screwed when the planet shrinks again. (The planetary shrinking and expanding follows a ten-year cycle.) They keep it secret because the planet would be vulnerable to attack during the ninety days when it’s shrunk. What do the dragons have to do with all that? Good question, but we have to wait through another interlude before we find out. Back on Earth, Wildfire is bitching out the President of Earth because he recently supported a bill before the Earth Council to have United composite legionnairePlanets “oversight” of the Legion. Phantom Girl explains it’s just politics; the President needs to curry favour with the Council, so he supported their oversight bill. Wildfire sees her point, but he’s still pissed off about it. Back at Imsk, we learn the other part of the secret. The space dragons ate all the radioactive rocks on Imsk hundreds of years ago, and the rocks are still digesting in their guts like a Sarlaac. So the Imskians harvest scales from the dragons to get their radioactive shit to renew their shrinking ability every year. Seems pretty convoluted, but whatever. They start harvesting some dragon scales (with crowbars!), but Colossal Boy gets too rammy and the dragon freaks out and blasts them. For some reason, the blast causes the four non-invulnerable Legionnaires to merge into one grotesque being … the Composite Legionnaire. Compy blasts Superboy and steals the Legion’s cruiser and heads for Earth. Back at Legion HQ, Chameleon Boy, PhantomLegion vs Composite Girl, and Duplicate Boy are hanging out (Wildfire’s off brooding, as usual) when the cruiser returns. Cham and Phantom Girl get their asses kicked and the Composite Legionnaire starts rampaging through Metropolis. Duplicate Boy and Wildfire join their shaken friends and they go after the Composite Legionnaire, but they don’t do too well and Compy gets away. The next day, Wildfire, Phantom Girl, Duplicate Boy , and Projectra are in the Earth Council chambers, giving the President shit. He’s slapped a reward on the Composite Legionnaire and called in Bounty to collect it. Wildfire accuses him—and the Council—of using the Composite Legionnaire’s rampage as a political cause to get re-elected. I thought the President was chosen by computer? Maybe the Council is elected. Anyway, the Legion storms out and goes after Compy themselves. They get slapped Superboy shows uparound and Superboy shows up to help. He tells them to stop attacking and come with him, and they do. Bounty is watching nearby, and attacks the Composite Legionnaire right after they leave, but gets his ass kicked. Superboy tells the others about the space dragon blast causing the Legionnaires to merge, and he figures the same radiation might be able to split them apart. Bounty goes after Composite Legionnaire again, using his fancy tech to fight it and does better this time around, managing to snare the behemoth in a steel net. Near Imsk, Superboy and the others use their powers to lure some pace dragons to them. They use the tractor-rays to snare one and Wildfire drains its energy into himself, which knocks him out. On Earth, the Composite Legionnaire escapes Bounty’s net and he’s so pissed off he wants to killBounty gets pounded the monster, so he uses a small nuke. Superboy intercepts the nuke and decks Bounty, reminding him that nukes are illegal, so he’s now a filthy perp like all the criminals he hunts. The Legionnaires drop a tactical strike of their own, using Wildfire as a bomb against the Composite Legionnaire. The energy he absorbed splits the trapped Legionnaires back into their individual bodies, but Wildfire is almost dead from the shock. We’ll have to wait until next issue to find out what happens to him.

Noticeable Things:

  • Bounty’s features and attitude remind me of Punisher; maybe not a coincidence, considering Conway co-created him?punisher clone
  • I have no idea why Duplicate Boy is hanging around Legion HQ. Was he dating Violet at this point? If so, why wasn’t he with her at Imsk? It almost seems like he’s dating Phantom Girl here; were they an item?
  • Wouldn’t people notice if Imsk shrank every ten years? How the hell do you keep something like that a secret?
  • With all their 30th century technology, the best way they can come up with to harvest the dragons’ scales is with crowbars?
  • The whole “incredible shrinking Imsk” and space dragon thing is scientifically dubious at best. Who’s Who in the Legion treats it as possibly apocryphal, which I take to mean Levitz doesn’t regard it as canon.

Jonah Hex 7 coverJonah Hex #7 – “Jonah Hex—Son of the Apache” – Michael Fleisher/Ernie Chan/Noly Panaligan

This issue gives us some of Hex’s origin. But first we get a scene in a saloon in Hennessy, Texas. A drunk cowboy tries to put the moves on a woman and a French dandy stands up to him. The French dude challenges him to a duel—with swords—and disarms him pretty quick. When the cowboy tries to shoot him in the back, Frenchie skewers him with the sword. The crowd vouches for the French dude and when the sheriff asks what he’s doing in town, Frenchie says he’s hunting the most dangerous man in the West … Jonah Hex. Hex is still wanted for the triple-murder in Wyandott, since no one knows it was a set-up. Elsewhere, we see Hex getting hired by a guy named Vanden to find his daughter Laura, who was stolen by Apaches. Vanden asks Hex how well he knows the Apaches andHex saves chief we get our extended flashback of his origin. When Hex was thirteen (in 1851), his father was a drunk who beat the shit out of him. His father sold him to Apaches for enough furs to head West and try his luck in the Gold Rush. Hex became a slave to the Apaches and had a shitty life for the next couple of years. But when he was fifteen, he saved the chief by killing a mountain lion, Tarzan-style. The chief freed him from slavery and basically adopted him. Hex learned all the Apache ways and became the best hunter, tracker, and fighter in the tribe. That pissed off the chief’s son, Noh-Tante, who was jealous of the way his father seemed to favour Hex. There was also a gal Hex jumps Kiowa guardnamed White Fawn, who Noh-Tante was hot for, who wanted to jump Hex’s bones. When Hex and Noh-Tante turned sixteen, they were sent with nothing but knives to steal horses from the Kiowa, to prove their manhood. Hex took out the guard and Noh-Tante got the horses, but Noh-Tante knocked Hex out and left him behind. He told his father Hex was a shitty fighter and got wasted by the Kiowa. We see Hex waking up, pissed off at Noh-Tante’s betrayal. Unfortunately, he’ll have to wait for revenge as he’s currently surrounded by Kiowas. We’ll see how he gets out of that next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • I like how Fleisher uses real dates for everything. Since this all took place in the past, there’s no need to worry about the hero aging too much, and it makes things more realistic to have actual dates for the major points in Hex’s life.

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