Comics Reviews: JLA 151, Superboy & the Legion 236

JLA 151 coverJustice League of America #151 – “The Unluckiest League of All” – Gerry Conway/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

This is Gerry Conway’s first issue of JLA, which he’ll be scripting for the next five and a half years. The action starts early, with Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Hawkgirl on the JLA Satellite doing monitor duty. Apparently, the men are all attending Ray (Atom) Palmer’s bachelor party. A weird energy bolt comes through the Satellite window and zaps Wonder Woman, knocking her out briefly. When she revives, she’s acting really strange and we can tell by her glowing eyes that she’s been hypnotized. I guess Dinah and Shayera don’t read many comics because they don’t seem to know what Wonder Woman’s problem is; the Amazon leaves and webachelor party check in at the bachelor party, which actually looks pretty tame. Everyone is congratulating Atom … except Green Arrow, who’s going on about how Ray will regret getting married and how dames ain’t nothing but trouble blah, blah, blah. (As we know in hindsight Arrow’s right, but not for the reasons he thinks.) Hawkgirl and Black Canary bust in and try to tell the guys about Wonder Woman, but Green Arrow basically tells them to fuck off (and none of the other guys object), so they decide to handle things on their own. Black Canary goes after Wonder Woman while Hawkgirl stays on monitor duty. We see Wonder Woman landing her robot plane on an uncharted Pacific island. There’s a villainous-looking compound there, so she’s expecting trouble. She has a small bit of bad luck, getting her boot caught in a crack. Things bondageget worse as she’s jumped by a robot; she totals it, but has more bad luck and manages to knock herself out. A shadowy dude shows up and gloats about her bad fortune. Black Canary uses the Satellite teleporter to go exactly where Diana went, which turns out to be Hawaii. She realizes the robot plane was there not long before and heads for Pacific Fleet HQ to see if they can track it. Back on the island, Wonder Woman wakes up and we get a gratuitous bondage shot. Professor Amos Fortune emerges, whining about his past defeats and saying he’s figured out a way to defeat the JLA for good. He spins his big fortune wheel and directs the energy through Wonder Woman’s body like a prism, creating a light spectrum. Fortune says the seven energy beams will seek out the seven luckiest people on Earth; he’s not a hundred percent sure how the beams will affect them, but he’s willing to see what happens. He explains that most of the JLA got their powers scientifically—through chance, in other words—but Wonder Woman’s powers came from magic. So he figures the combination of his Wheel energy and her magical residue will give the seven luckiest people in the world extraordinary powers. We see one of those “lucky” people, an English Lord, getting blown up in his house. dude blows upNot so lucky after all, huh? In Central City, Flash and Elongated Man are pounding some bank robbers; apparently the bachelor party was boring as hell. As they’re fighting the crooks, Flash feels incredible pain and starts losing his super-speed. He’s understandably freaked out, but Ralph tries to calm him down. In Hawaii, Black Canary gets help from the Navy in tracking where Wonder Woman’s plane went, but Dinah loses her canary cry (and almost loses her voice) making her wonder what the hell’s going on. I’m sensing a pattern here, which continues in Gotham where Bruce Wayne is dancing with silver St. Cloud and suddenly loses all his sexual prowess; actually, he loses his sense of rhythm and agility, tripping and falling on top of Silver—accidentally, of course. On Fortune’s island, luck leaguethe seven lucky people show up and tell him about their powers; it seems they’ve been imbued with the powers of Flash, Black Canary, Batman, Aquaman, Atom, Red Tornado, and Superman. That explains why the heroes are losing their powers, but these “lucky” people haven’t gained the superpowers themselves, they’ve gained the ability to bestow each power on normal people. Fortune tells them they’re under his control, calls them the Luck League, and orders them to go destroy the JLA. We see Superman and Batman hanging around an airport and confiding to each other that they’ve been feeling kinda shitty lately. They’re attacked by some of the Luck League and don’t do so well; Batman is knocked out by a Batman conkedshrunken dude and Superman catches two of the villains by melting the tarmac beneath them, but almost causes a plane crash. He saves the plane, then keels over from having his strength drained. Black Canary finds Fortune’s island, but she keels over too, from her sonic cry being drained out of her. Fortune has been observing and realizes what we’ve known for a while: the Luck League are draining the superpowers from the JLA, not just duplicating them. Wonder Woman is worried that if the powers are drained completely from her friends, they may die. Fortune doesn’t seem to give a shit. On the Satellite, Aquaman gives Hawkgirl shit for not letting them know about Wonder Woman and Black Canary, but she reminds him that they tried. On the monitors they see Flash and Ralph getting pounded, soFlash and Ralph Red Tornado and Aquaman go to help, but they get their asses kicked too. On the island, Fortune is gloating about his success, but the sun comes up and Wonder Woman uses reflected sunlight from her tiara to hypnotize Fortune. In New York, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Atom are recovering from the party; Arrow is pretty hung over and feels like an asshole for all the anti-woman bullshit he was spouting. They get attacked by a couple of powered-up strangers, but when Atom crashes into the wall it falls outward and buries the two Luck Leaguers outside. I guess their fortunes have turned. And not just theirs; in Central City, Hawkman and Hawkgirl are beating the shit out of the rest of the Luck League. In Gotham, Superman and hypnosisBatman wake up to find the last two Luck Leaguers locked themselves in a plane somehow. Wonder Woman shows up with Black Canary, Fortune, and an explanation. After she hypnotized Fortune, she commanded him to spin his Wheel in the opposite direction, so the JLA had good luck on their side. I guess it restored their powers too, although they don’t really mention that. Right at the end, Green Arrow apologizes to Black Canary for being a dick … get used to it, Dinah; there’s plenty more where that came from. I guess this was okay for Conway’s first JLA script, but the pacing was way off. He spends the whole story establishing the threat, then everything is cleared up in the last two pages, mostly off-panel. Let’s hope Gerry’s timing improves, otherwise we’re in for a long five years.

Noticeable Things:

  • I don’t know why they bother concealing the villain’s identity when he first takes Wonder Woman down; the cover already shows us who it is.
  • I’m not sure how Red Tornado’s powers can be affected by Fortune’s Wheel; Reddy is an android, so he doesn’t have a “luck gland” and his powers are basically artificial.
  • I have no idea how the seven new super-beings had time to get costumes and come up with code names so fast.

LSH 236 coverSuperboy & the Legion #236 – “A World Born Anew” – Paul Levitz, Paul Kupperberg/James Sherman/Bob McLeod

This issue actually contains three stories which I’ll review one at a time. The first one is about Brainiac 5 feeling inadequate because he’s just the “smart guy” on the team, who always seems to get left behind on monitor duty. Superboy tells him to smarten up and we shift to Braal, where Cosmic Boy, Night Girl, Cos’s brother Pol Krinn, and Pol’s girlfriend are playing magno-ball. The girls seem to be kicking some ass, which makes Cos feel like shit, since he (literally) used to be a magno-ball champion. But the game has to be called on account of natural disaster—the ground starts melting. They find out weird shit has beenCosmic Boy vs Worldsmith happening all over the planet; new seas forming, mountains turning into plains, new mountains popping up inside cities. Cos calls the Legion to investigate and Superboy, Projectra, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, and Element Lad head for Braal. Brainy is left to monitor the HQ. On Braal, Cosmic Boy and Night Girl find what’s causing the planet to go cuckoo-bananas; some freaky-looking guy in a spaceship is rearranging the land-forms. They tackle him and get slapped down just as the other Legionnaires show up. The weirdo’s name is Worldsmith and he was apparently hired by someone to terraform the shit out of Braal. The Legion use Projectra’s illusions to make Worldsmith think Cosmic Boy has superior world-shaping powers and Worldsmith finally gives up and takes off. When Projectra drops the illusion so the Legionnaires can start putting the planet back together, they find some very familiar-looking statues. Easter IslandSuperboy speculates that Worldsmith must’ve visited Earth a long time ago. It’s as good an explanation as any, I suppose.

Noticeable Things:

  • The cover has three subtitles (Action, Adventure, and Young Romance) rendered in the style of each of those comics.
  • Apparently, the Legion monitors can keep track of members almost everywhere, as Brainy is watching Cosmic Boy and Night Girl play magno-ball of Braal. I wonder if he watches them bang too? All in the name of science, of course.
  • I’m not sure why Brainy’s so worked up about always being left behind. He actually goes on quite a few field missions and gets way more of the spotlight than a lot of Legionnaires. If Tyroc was there, he’d tell him to shut the hell up.

Mon-El vs Khunds“Mon-El’s One Man War” – Paul Levitz/Mike Nasser/Joe Rubinstein, Rick J. Bryant

This is just what the title says; Mon-El fights alone against some Khunds who are raiding an experimental star mine. The energy being mined is so new, nobody even knows how to use it yet, which makes Mon-El wonder why the Khunds want it. He realizes they must have a way to use the energy, so he disables the engines and weapons on their ships, leaving them stranded in deep space.

Noticeable Things:

  • I think this story is basically just set-up for the Earth/Khund War that’s coming up.

Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad“Words Never Spoken” – Paul Levitz/James Sherman/Joe Rubinstein

This is another set-up story, this time for Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. He proposes to her, but Legion rules say married Legionnaires aren’t allowed, so if she says yes they’ll both have to quit the team. She’s dithering about what to do, so they go to Titan and take part in some weird Holodeck-style psychic experiment. The Sensa-Comp stimulator cancels Saturn Girl’s psychic powers and puts the two of them in some simulated situations that are supposed to help her make up her mind. But like all Holodeck stories, something goes wrong; the Simulator fucks up and they get into a life or death situation where they can’t speak to each other. inside simulatorBut because they’re so in love with each other, they can almost read each others’ minds and manage to cooperate and defeat the simulation. That makes Saturn Girl realize what her answer has to be … and we’ll see what it is next issue. (Ah, who am I kidding? She says yes and next issue is the wedding!)

Noticeable Things:

  • On Titan, Saturn Girl meets one of her old professors, but judging by his greeting they were more than just teacher and student.humping prof
  • The art in these stories is different, but it’s all pretty good. Rubinstein seems to ink Sherman much heavier than McLeod did in the first story. Some of he faces in the first story look a bit weird to me, especially Night Girl (though I have to say, I do like her outfit!)Night Girl

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