Comics Reviews: JLA 167, Superboy & the Legion 252, Jonah Hex 25

JLA 167 coverJustice League of America #167 – “The League That Defeated Itself” – Gerry Conway/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts rather dramatically, with Superman punching out Green Lantern on the JLA Satellite. But if you remember the end of last issue, you know these aren’t the real Supes and GL; the real heroes had their minds switched into the bodies of the Secret Society of Super Villains, and vice versa. So this is actually the Wizard decking Professor Zoom. Zoom tries to use GL’s ring against Wizard, but Wizard uses Superman’s strength to shatter the green energy. Floronic Man (in Wonder Woman’s body) applauds Wizard’s show of force, but Star Sapphire (in Zatanna’s body) thinks the whole thing is a bore. Blockbuster, currentlycube breakout residing in Batman’s body, doesn’t seem to care one way or another. We see the real heroes (in the villains’ bodies) in another part of the Satellite, imprisoned in a crystal cube. Superman (in Wizard’s body) is pissed off because he built the cube for the JLA to house criminals and now the Leaguers are trapped there. They all lament their fate, being trapped in bodies so unlike their own, but Superman asks GL to use Zoom’s super-speed to focus all his energy on one corner of the cube. Green Lantern does and the cube shatters. They soon realize the villains are gone, leaving behind Red Tornado, who’s hurt from their attack last issue. We get an interlude of some dude named Sloane (who kinda looks like Tony Stark) arriving by helicopter at an abandoned lighthouse in Nova Scotia. We learn Sloane runs a legal aid society and we see his client is someone trapped inside a crystal cube. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be Red Tornado freaking outrelated to the cube on the Satellite, but we’ll pick up this plot thread next issue. On the Satellite, the Leaguers reactivate Red Tornado, who freaks out when he wakes up surrounded by villains. He attacks before they can explain and does pretty well against them until Zatanna uses Star Sapphire’s gem to freeze him solid. Apparently, she commanded the gem to freeze Reddy in his tracks and it took her literally. Zatanna’s not happy about being stuck in Star Sapphire’s body (though I’m not sure why; Sapphire’s got a pretty nice bod from what I can see), but Batman reminds her the switch was made with magic, so she’s probably the only one who can reverse it. They head down to the Bay Federal Prison on Golden Gate Island (which I’m assuming is a made-up version of Alcatraz) and GL uses Zoom’s speed to run up the wall and vibrate inside. He finds Hi-Jack, a former member of the SSSV and convinces him he’s really Professor Zoom, there to bust him out. Hi-Jack spills the whereabouts of the SSSV’s hideout and GL takes off, leaving the confused (and disappointed) crook in his cell. The Society’s hideout is in the Courtney Building in New York. Zatanna uses Star Sapphire’sbusting into building gem to build a light bridge for her teammates, but the effort leaves her weak, so she stays outside while the others smash into the building. But they don’t just find the SSSV waiting for them; their fellow JLA members (Green Arrow, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Hawkman, and Flash) are also there and Green Arrow knocks them all out with a shock arrow before they can explain about the mind-switch. Apparently, the fake Leaguers called the rest of the JLA to warn them the “villains” would be showing up at the Courtney Building, but when Green Arrow wants to know how they knew that, Superman dodges the question. That makes Arrow suspicious and he vows to keep an eye on his teammates; I guess with Batman out of commission, Green Arrow is the resident cynic. The villains gloat about their plan being foolproof, but we see Zatanna outside, still weak and still in Star Sapphire’s body, so obviously the plan isn’t quite perfect. We’ll see what happens next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • When GL uses Zoom’s speed to shatter the cube, Superman says he knew about the weak spot because he noticed it while he constructed the cube and planned to fix it, but never got around to it. How convenient for them.
  • You’d think the villains would notice one of their counterparts as missing. At the very least, Star Sapphire (in Zatanna’s body) should’ve noticed her own body wasn’t there.

LSH 252 coverSuperboy & the Legion #252 – “Postscript to Holocaust” – Gerry Conway/Joe Staton/Dave Hunt

You may remember, last issue Brainiac 5 had a mental meltdown and tried to destroy the universe (starting with Earth and Legion Headquarters) with a being of pure hate called Omega. Matter-Eater Lad ate the Miracle Machine, which made Omega fade away, but drove Matter-Eater Lad nuts. So now he and Brainiac 5 are being treated in the mental ward of the United Planets Medi-Center on St. Croix. Brainy seems to be somewhat better off than Matter-Eater Lad; at least Brainy is basically lucid, whereas Matter-Eater Lad is a raving maniac, confined behind an unbreakable glass wall. Brainy suggests Projectra place an illusion inside Matter-Eater Lad’s mind toDream Girl in Matter-Eater Lad's mind soothe him, so Dream Girl can enter his psyche and try to bring him back. The illusion calms him briefly, but when Dream Girl tries to make contact, he pulls her into his nightmare scenario and she barely gets out of his head in time to save her own mind. Superboy gives Brainiac 5 shit and Brainy starts ranting about how they’re all jealous and trying to trick him, proving he’s still nuts too. As the Legionnaires leave the Medi-Center, they run right into an attack by a bunch of weird aliens on flaming horses. The aliens are attacking the cargo port, stealing a bunch of crates, and Projectra says the same aliens once raided Orando … they’re called the Starburst Bandits. The Legionnaires tackle the bandits, but the raiders have energy fighting banditsweapons that can affect everyone—even Superboy—so the Legionnaires get their asses kicked and the Bandits take off. During the fight, Superboy gets a look at what’s in the crates the Starburst Bandits are stealing; we don’t learn what it is yet, but I don’t think it’s candy. We get an interlude with R.J. Brande (Legion founder and backer) at his corporate headquarters and we find out he’s bankrupt and the creditors are all over his ass. This is a sub-plot that’s been brewing for a while, but it ain’t over yet. Back at Legion HQ, Mon-El and Shadow Lass are trying to clean up the rubble of their headquarters building. The others return and tell them about the Starburst Bandits and Shadow Lass mentions they once attacked her planet, Talok VIII. Thee guys really get around. Superboy says he knows where they’ll strike next, so the team takes their last Legion Cruiser and heads for the sun. Superboy noted the Bandits were stealing neutronium earlier and since the sun is packed with neutronium, he figuresship ramming they’ll go there to gather some. His hunch is right and they find the Starburst Bandits draining neutronium from the sun’s core, which will cause a chain-reaction and blow the sun—and the solar system—to hell. The Bandits don’t care, as long as they get the neutronium, but the Legion can’t let them proceed much farther. Superboy says the Bandits’ weapons use red sun energy, to which he’s vulnerable, so he can’t just go pound them. Lightning Lad puts the Cruiser on a collision course and smashes into the Bandits’ ship, shutting down the power drain. Sun Boy uses his powers to repair the damage to the sun’s core, averting disaster, and the Legionnaires pick up the dazed Bandits … and wonder how the hell they’ll get home.

Noticeable Things:

  • During the first fight with the Starburst Bandits, Wildfire admires Dream Girl’s skill and it kinda sounds like he has a romantic interest in her. In later issues he and Dreamy are always arguing, so it’s weird to see him having the hots for her here.
  • The Legionnaires mention that R.J. Brande can supply them with another Cruiser, but as we know, he’s bankrupt, so they might be shit out of luck.
  • It seems like Gerry Conway is trying to inject some gloom into the Legion’s existence; he’s got them moping about their destroyed HQ, wondering if they make a difference in the galaxy, and their financial source is about to dry up. It’s almost like a Marvel comic.

Jonah Hex 25 coverJonah Hex #25 – “The Widow Maker” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Romeo Tanghal

This story takes place in Lawrenceville, Kansas in 1876. Jonah Hex rides into town to find the local newspaper office on fire. The editor, Nate Ashin, is an old Army buddy of Hex’s and the guy he came to see. Hex runs into the burning building and pulls Nate from under a fallen beam, then they crash through the window. A guy named Simon Nader, who runs the hardware store, comes to see if Nate’s all right and Nate introduces him to Hex. Nate says he suspects the Black Hat Boys are the ones who burned him out because he’s been writing diatribes against them lately. Nate takes Hex home to meet his family and have dinner, but his wife isn’t happy about Hex being there. Seems Nate has been talking shit about the Black Hats in his newspaper, denouncing theirdynamite thieving and violence and he asked Hex to come help him get rid of the outlaws. Nate’s wife figures having a gunslinger on their side is likely to get her husband killed, even more than his crusading. Apparently, she’s right because the Black Hat Boys start blasting outside the house. Hex notices them and tells everyone to hit the floor. He sneaks out the back window and circles around, climbing a cliff behind the Black Hats. He tosses some dynamite (!) at them and kills four. The others take off and Hex tracks them to a lonely shack, but he gets conked out when he goes inside. Guess who the leader of the Black Hats is? Yup, it’s Nate’s pal, Nader. Nader ties Hex behind a horse and tells a couple of his boys to drag Hex to death over some rocky ground, then dump the mangled corpse on Main Street as a warning. Nader takes the other two thugs to kill Nate and his family. As Hex is being dragged, he reaches the Bowie knife in his collar and cuts the rope. He then throws the knife and kills one of the thugs, bashing the other guy’s head in with a rock.escape from dragging He grabs a horse and the bandits’ guns and heads for Nate’s place. But Nader is already there and he fools Nate into opening the door. When Nader and his thugs come in, Nate finally realizes his “friend” is the Black Hat leader. Nader’s boys see Hex coming and trywidow maker to run, but Nader guns them down. He tells Nate to go outside and tell Hex he killed all the bandits, including Nader. Nate goes out, but hits the ground and yells that it’s a trap. Nader shoots him in the back and Hex gets pissed off and comes after him. Nader freaks out and tries to shoot Hex, but can’t hit him and Hex advances relentlessly. He drags Nader to a tree and hangs him, but when he tries to talk to Nate’s wife, she freaks out. She gives him sit, saying he can get his reward for killing the bandits and ride off into the sunset, but she and her kids have still lost Nate. She calls Hex a widow maker and he leaves, with some part of him probably agreeing with her.

Noticeable Things:

  • From what I can tell, there was never a real town called Lawrenceville in Kansas. There’s a Lawrence, Kansas, but it doesn’t seem like there was a newspaper published there in 1876 (and I can’t find any Courier-Sentinels that were published in Kansas), so I’m assuming this story isn’t based on any real events, though plenty of newspapers in the West got burned out (or worse) because they pissed off the wrong people.
  • Does Hex really carry sticks of dynamite in his saddlebags? I thought dynamite was  unstable; he’s lucky he hasn’t blown himself to shit yet.
  • When Hex is on the cliff behind the bandits, he says they’re out of pistol range, but he throws the dynamite right on target. I’m no gun expert, but I think a pistol can shoot farther than a person can throw.

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