Comics Reviews: JLA 166, Superboy & the Legion 251, Jonah Hex 24

JLA 166 coverJustice League of America #166 – “The Long Way Home” –  Gerry Conway/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with the JLA still in the hidden city of the Homo Magi, attending the funeral of Zatanna’s mother. The funeral is different from what they’re used to, with nymph-like maidens dancing around the bier and finally absorbing Zatanna’s mother into themselves. Batman is freaked out by all the weirdness, but Wonder Woman and Superman remind him that everyone has different customs and he shouldn’t impose his own beliefs on every culture they meet. The JLA heads for home, Zatanna accompanying Wonder Woman to Paradise Island to recover from her mom’s death. A couple of days later, Red Tornado is on monitor duty at the JLA Satellite and gets attacked when someone appears suddenly in the teleporter. It turns out to be the SecretSSSV entrance Society of Super-Villains—Professor Zoom, Star Sapphire, Blockbuster, Floronic Man, and their leader, the Wizard. The last time the SSSV was seen they were on Earth-2 in the final issue of their own mag before it was canceled. Wizard reveals (in one of those “As you know, Bob …” scenes) that their seeming defeat of the JSA was quickly reversed and they fled. When he and Star Sapphire tried to open a warp to Earth-1, they accidentally ended  up in Limbo. They were stuck there for a while, but eventually managed to tune in to the teleporter’s vibrational frequency (thanks to Zoom) and beam themselves to the Satellite. Wizard reminds them their present condition is “highly unstable” and they’ll soon be dead if they don’t follow his instructions. He looks up an ancient griffin statue on the JLA computer and says it’s in a museum in Israel, so they use the teleporter to head down there. The unauthorized use sets off an alarm that brings the JLA running to investigate. Zatanna uses magic to figure out who invaded the Satellite JLA vs SSSVand Batman finds the computer file on the statue the SSSV accessed. So the League heads down to Israel, but the statue has been moved from the museum to some archaeological dig in the middle of nowhere. An old dude pops up and says he brought the statue for research and asks the Leaguers to join him underground. Batman says no thanks and decks him, startling the others. But Bats has a good reason: his keen deductive mind noticed that the professor (supposedly a native of Israel) had a bad sunburn and couldn’t wait to get into the shade. Of course Batman is right and it was the Wizard in disguise. He calls the other SSSV members, who attack the JLA. Wizard has told the other villains not to kill the heroes, since the Society needs them alive for some reason, but Blockbuster is a rampaging lunatic and almost kills Batman before Wizard can stop him. The SSSV pounds the heroes and we get some more expository dialogue where characters tell each other things they should already know. Of course, they’remind switch really letting us in on the big secret: when the SSSV transported from Limbo they left their life essences (or souls) behind and they’ll die if the Wizard can’t put their souls in the Leaguers’ bodies and switch the Leaguers’ souls into the villains’ bodies. If you’re wondering why Wizard can’t just bring the Society’s souls from Limbo and restore them to the proper bodies, that’s a very good question. Floronic Man wonders the same thing and Wizard says “it’s a necessity of the spell, fool!” I’m glad there’s a reasonable explanation. Anyway, Wizard performs the spell, using the griffin statue as a focus, and successfully switches the villains’ souls into the JLA members’ bodies. Ooh, I bet they wreak havoc and cause all kinds of wacky misunderstandings next issue!

Noticeable Things:

  • I’m not sure if the women dancing at Sindella’s funeral were supposed to be Homo Magi or not. Last issue, it was established that when humans and Homo Magi meet, they’re instantly drawn to each other. But the women at the funeral didn’t seem interested in any of the Leaguers; maybe when Sindella destroyed the Medulla Jewel, it changed things?
  • Wizard says they spent the last six months in Limbo, but I’m not sure how he knows that, assuming Limbo is timeless.
  • The griffin statue is said to be the oldest identifiable human artifact ever found.
  • The alarm on the teleporter that warned the JLA of the Society’s unauthorized use is said to have been Batman’s idea … of course. I’m not sure why it didn’t warn them when the SSSV first teleported in from Limbo.
  • Green Lantern says Red Tornado’s circuits were overloaded by Zoom’s attack, but it looked to me like Zoom just punched Reddy out. Maybe the super-seed punch overloaded his circuits somehow.
  • If Blockbuster’s been in Limbo for six months and with the SSSV before that, I don’t know how he appeared in Batman #309 a couple months back.

LSH 251 coverSuperboy & the Legion #251 – “The Man Who Destroyed the Universe” – Paul Levitz/Jim Starlin/Dave Hunt

You may remember last issue Brainiac 5 turned out to be nuts and summoned a celestial creature called Omega that’s fueled by hatred. Most of the Legionnaires went to fight Omega, who’s marching inexorably through space toward Earth. At Legion headquarters, Karate Kid and Projectra try to reason with Brainiac 5, to get him to explain why he created the creature and why Omega is heading for Earth. Brainy says he’s saved the universe countless times and figures the cosmos owes him its existence. He rants on about how Omega feeds off the hate that’s in everyone and once it reaches Earth, it’ll find some weapon that will enable it to destroy all life. Brainy’s ravingspace fight gets to him and he keels over, making Karate Kid and Projectra even more certain that something’s affected his mind and drove him nuts. Out in space, the first wave of Legionnaires (including Dawnstar, Superboy, and Ultra Boy) meets Omega. They do their best to stop him, but Omega pounds them and keeps advancing toward Earth. At Legion HQ, Projectra tries to use her illusion powers to get through to Brainy, but without much luck. Karate Kid says they have to use the Miracle Machine against Omega. The Miracle Machine is basically a machine that allows people’s wishes to come true; obviously that could be very dangerous, even for well-meaning users, which is why they don’t use the Machine. Wildfire is reluctant, but Karate Kid says they may not have a choice. Brainy wakes up and says he can still save the universe from Omega if Colossal stompthey let him rule the universe afterward. They play along and he tells Wildfire to get Matter-Eater Lad there as soon as possible. Omega reaches Earth and attacks Legion HQ, where he’s met by Colossal Boy, Star Boy, and Timber Wolf. He makes short work of them and invades the HQ. Brainy takes Matter-Eater Lad to do something very important and Wildfire tells Karate Kid and Projectra to slow Omega down a bit, then clear the HQ. Dream Girl predicted Wildfire and Omega would face off inside the HQ, and Wildfire is apparently fine with that. Projectra casts an illusion of a second Omega and Karate Kid tries to strike Omega’s weak point, but he gets pounded. Projectra drags him outside and Wildfire confronts Omega, letting all his cosmic energy escape from his containment suit. The resulting energy surge blows the top level of Legion HQ to shit, but Omega is unaffected. Omega advances underground and meetsHQ blown up Brainiac 5. We learn that Brainy used the Miracle Machine to create Omega and if Omega gets a hold of the Machine, he’ll be powerful enough to destroy the universe. But Brainy says that since he created Omega, he can un-create him as well. Omega starts fading away, freaking out, and Brainy reveals that the destruction of the Miracle Machine has spelled the end for Omega. How do you destroy an omnipotent Machine? You have Matter-Eater Lad eat it. Yup, Matter-Eater Lad chowed down on the Miracle Machine, destroying it—and Omega—for good. Unfortunately, that kind of high-powered snack was too much and Matter-Eater Lad is completely whacked out now. Brainy’s ready to begin his rulership of the universe, but the other Legionnaires just grab him and drag him off to the nuthouse. Later, Wildfire (he found a new containment suit) and Superboy discuss the state of things: the headquarters is fucked up, as is part of Metropolis, the United Planets Council is pissed off about all the destruction and is talking about moving the Legionnaires off planet, and two of their members are stark raving mad. Aside from that, everything’s great. We’ll have to wait and see where they go from here, but I don’t think things could get much worse.

Noticeable Things:

  • I’m not sure how they got Matter-Eater Lad from Bismoll so fast. I don’t know how far away Bismoll is, but even with space warps it should’ve taken longer, especially since Omega was pretty much on Earth when Brainy first mentioned Matter-Eater Lad.
  • Matter-Eater-Lad left the Legion and went back to Bismoll to take part in the planet’s politics (which is compulsory for all Bismollians), so how does Bismoll feel about the Legion making one of their politicians crazy?
  • Wildfire speculates that all the “strain” Brainiac 5 has been under lately fucked him up, and losing the leadership election pushed him over the edge. But it was months ago when he framed Ultra Boy for murder (a murder I’m assuming Brainy actually committed), so what kind of strain was he under way back then? Actually, we do get an explanation for Brainy’s behaviour eventually, but I’m not sure if it’s one that was planned all along or a retcon.
  • Jim Starlin uses the pseudonym “Steve Apollo” again on this story, as he did last issue. I’m not sure why he wanted his name removed from the credits, but there is a big resemblance to Starlin’s Thanos/Warlock stuff at Marvel. A cosmic entity wants to destroy the universe, while feeding off hate. Even some of the visuals are similar, like the stars in Matter-Eater Lad’s eyes after he goes nuts. Maybe the editors forced Starlin to retread the Thanos stuff and he wasn’t happy about it.

Jonah Hex 24 coverJonah Hex #24 – “Minister of the Lord” – Michael Fleisher/Luis Dominguez

This one starts with Hex keeping some strange company; he’s riding along the trail with a preacher. They fell in together by chance, but Hex is tracking an outlaw named Sam Bronson and his gang, who ambush him and the preacher in a narrow pass. They take cover, but the preacher gets shot and Hex is pinned down. He switches clothes with the dead preacher and props the corpse up with a rifle to distract the outlaws. Hex dons the preacher’s garb and sneaks around behind the ambush. He kills some of Bronson’s men, but the noise of the shots starts a rock slide. Hex is buried and Bronson and his remaining men take off. Not long after, Hex digs his way out of the rocks. Miraculously, he’s not dead, or even hurt; more miraculously, he has amnesia. Luckily he’s wearing arock slide preacher’s outfit and just happens to have a letter in his pocket asking Reverend Julian to come to Fort Onondaga to be the new chaplain there. Naturally, he assumes he’s Reverend Julian and heads for the Fort. Hex’s amnesia is apparently quite selective, since he seems to know exactly where the Fort is. But when he gets there, the place is surrounded by Apaches, who don’t look like they’re there to trade blankets. Hex heads for the Fort and just makes it inside, impressing the Captain with his riding skills. Hex thinks he has a way to get rid of the Apaches, so he makes a kite and attaches a bunch of fireworks (which the Fort has, for some reason) to it. The Captain thinks he’s nuts, but Hex leaves the Fort and climbs a nearby mesa. He knows that Apaches believe that Koishisa, the Serpent Bird, sometimes appears to foretell doom, so if he can convince them the fiery kite is Koishisa, they might leave. Of course, Hex has no kite flying fake outidea where he came by this knowledge; as I said, very selective amnesia. Hex gets jumped by an Apache on the mesa, but one of the soldiers in the Fort makes a miraculous shot (there’s that word again) and kills the Apache. Hex lights up the kite and flies it and his plan works; the Apaches freak out and take off. The soldiers are thrilled with Hex and he settles in as their chaplain. A few weeks later, one of Sam Bronson’s men is scouting the Fort so the gang can rob the Army’s payroll. When he sees Hex, he almost shits himself, but Hex introduces himself as Reverend Julian. The thug goes back and tells Bronson about it and Bronson figures Hex is either amnesiac or he’s bullshitting because he knows they’re planning to rob the place. Either way, Bronson decides to take Hex out, so he and his men go into the Fort and drag Hex out into the street. They soon realize Hex really has lost his memory and Bronson thinks that’s hilarious. Bronson straps a couple of pistols on Hex (who insists he’s a peaceful man) and gets ready to have a showdown with the “preacher”. But when Bronson starts counting down, it triggers some primal instinct in Hex and he blows Bronson and his men away. Now that Hex’s memory is back, he goes out to the pass to bury the real Reverend Julian.showdown

Noticeable Things:

  • Would an Army Fort that’s under siege from Apaches really open the gate to let one guy in, even if he was a preacher?
  • The soldier who shoots the Apache menacing Hex says the shot is almost impossible, then proceeds to make it perfectly … and in the dark, to boot.
  • Why the hell would an outlaw gang want to rob a Fort full of soldiers? There have to be easier targets.
  • I don’t know where all the soldiers were when Hex and the Bronson gang were having a gunfight is the Fort. Nobody was around and nobody even came to investigate the shots.

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