Comics Reviews: JLA 169, Superboy & the Legion 254, Jonah Hex 27

JLA 169 coverJustice League of America #169 – “The Doomsday Decision” – Gerry Conway/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with five members of the JLA (Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Red Tornado, and Green Lantern) on trial before the World Court for violating someone’s human rights. No, it’s nothing to do with the rampant mindwiping and personality altering that’s been going on lately. This is about them imprisoning Ultraa in a force cube without any kind of trial or even a hearing. Ultraa was rescued from his prison last issue by a human rights lawyer named Sloane, who’s now representing him in court. The JLAers say they had no choice but to imprison Ultraa, as his power makes him dangerous and he wasn’t shy about using it. The judge says their opinions of Ultraa don’t give them the right to shut him away from humankind. The judge remands the Leaguersriot at the UN into custody and they go along with it, not wanting to ignore the law they’re supposed to uphold. Outside, there are protesters from both sides (pro- and anti-superhero) and they end up fighting, which sparks a riot. The JLA quickly separate the rioters and incapacitate them without harming them. They then turn themselves back over to the guards, which impresses Ultraa. Seeing the way the heroes handled the riot and turned themselves in afterwards, Ultraa now wonders if prosecuting them is the right thing. He regrets his earlier fight with them and wishes they could’ve been friends instead of enemies. His lawyer, Sloane, assures him he’s only looking out for Ultraa’s best interests and prosecuting the JLA is the right thing. As Ultraa leaves, Sloane thinks to himself that Ultraa is a “pliable anthropoid ape”; sounds like Sloane may not be human. On the JLA Satellite, Batman finds evidence that something is affecting Sloane revealedEarth’s atmosphere, so he has the computer analyze it. In a shadowy Manhattan office, someone reports that the predictions of the Over-Complex are accurate, including the effect tampering with the eco-system is having on humans. We see people rioting all over Earth, so I guess the riot outside the World Court was caused by this atmospheric tampering too. The guy in the office transforms into some kind of protoplasm creature and wants to rejoin the Over Complex, but is told he has to retain his anthropoidal disguise a while longer. He obeys and we see it’s Sloane, Ultraa’s lawyer … which wasn’t exactly a shocking revelation. At the united Nations, Wonder Woman notices the water level in the river is lower than usual and Superman busts out the window to check on it. Flash repairs the window at super-speed and Green Lantern uses his ring to project a fake Superman so the guards find nothing amiss when they check on the noise. Outside, Superman sees that the entire ocean level is dropping by a few millimetres per minute, but before he can find what’s causing it,Superman blasted he’s blasted by a wad of protoplasm. The protoplasm is made of neutrino energy, so it’s strong enough to hurt the Man of Steel and he plummets into the ocean. On the Satellite, Batman figures out the atmosphere has too much oxygen, which is causing all sorts of trouble, like fires raging out of control and the crazy riots all over the world. (I guess too much oxygen makes people go wild.) Outside the U.N., Ultraa decides he wants to drop his action against the JLA, but he sees a big blob of protoplasm land nearby and is shocked to see it turn into his lawyer. He vows to follow Sloane and find out what he’s up to, but doesn’t notice a small piece of Sloane’s protoplasm is following him. The trial reconvenes and Sloane gets ready to implement whatever diabolical scheme he’s planning. We’ll see what it is next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • A recurring theme with Ultraa is how easily manipulated he is. This isn’t the last time someone will take advantage of his trusting nature.
  • On the Satellite, Batman says he’s a great detective but no scientist, which is a contrast to his later depictions, where he is a pretty damn good scientist.
  • Wonder Woman mentions that she “used to” work at the U.N.; Gerry must not have been up on his Wonder Woman comics, because in her own title, Diana has just rejoined the U.N. at this point.

LSH 254 coverSuperboy & the Legion #254 – “A Madman Shall Lead Them” – Gerry Conway/Joe Staton/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Superboy showing up at the hospital on St. Croix to ask Brainiac 5 for help. You’ll remember last issue five of Superboy’s fellow Legionnaires were seemingly killed by a group calling themselves the League of Super-Assassins. The Super-Assassins blame those Legionnaires (and Superboy) for destroying their world, so now they’ve taken revenge. Superboy says Brainy is the only one who can help him, but Brainy’s still in his megalomaniacal nutcase mode, so he’s not inclined to assist. He changes his mind when the Super-Assassins smash into the hospital and Lazon apparently kills Superboy by transforming into a green kryptonite energy beam. Brainy captures a reading on Lazon before he takes off, and summons some guards, saying he has a proposal for the hospital’s director. On R.J. Brande’s private asteroid, a contingent of Legionnaires has come to beg him for more money. He tells them he’sBrainy gets help from the Subs bankrupt, so no new headquarters and space cruiser for them. Speaking of headquarters, we see the Legion’s old clubhouse, now home to the Substitutes. Polar Boy is giving some kind of lecture on tactics to the other Subs (Night Girl, Fire Lad, Chlorophyll Kid, and Color Kid; I’m not sure where Stone Boy is). Polar Boy’s boring lecture is interrupted by Brainiac 5, who brings in the six “dead” Legionnaires in stasis chambers. Brainy’s asking the Subs for help? He must be crazy. If you’re wondering why he’s walking around loose, Brainy made a deal with the hospital administrator that he’d be let out to help the Legion against the Super-Assassins, but there’s a computer remote that follows him everywhere. If the remote thinks Brainy is doing anything dangerous, or trying to escape, it’ll sound an alarm and Brainy will be pounded into submission by a burly guard (who kinda looks like a Sontaran, except all white). Brainy Superboy faking his deathexplains that the Legionnaires aren’t totally dead, they’re just mostly dead. He says on examining Superboy’s supposed corpse, he found it was in a state of suspended animation. He used his computer brain to reconstruct what happened; Superboy struck himself with his own x-ray vision, activating a substance inside his body which put him into suspended animation. So when Lazon’s green K energy hit him, it had no effect since he was already in suspended animation. You’d think green K would be harmful to Superboy no matter what, but who am I to argue with Brainiac 5? Brainy figured the other Legionnaires were probably attacked too, and went around collecting their bodies. He figured Superboy must’ve done super-speed flybys, using his x-ray vision to put them all into suspended animation, thus fooling the Super-Assassins into thinking they were dead. Brainy used the security devices in the wrecked Legion headquarters (which were still operative), to review the Super-Assassins conversation after their triumph; he learned about them blaming the Legionnaires forSubs vs Assassins part 1 the destruction of their world, and that they received their powers from someone called the Dark Man, who they now have to serve. You’re probably wondering what miracle substance was present in the Legionnaires’ bodies that allowed them to be put into suspended animation in the first place; Polar Boy asks the same question. Brainy mentions the two clubs the Legionnaires visited last issue, one where they danced in a sensory-deprivation liquid and the other where drugs were pumped into the air to enhance the holographic projections at the club—including a drug used for suspended animation for long space voyages. Superboy knew the chemicals were still present in the Legionnaires’ bodies, so he gambled he could activate them with his x-ray vision and cause them to go into death-like trances. Night Girl wonders how to bring them out of the suspended animation and Brainy says they have to capture Subs vs Assassins Part 2the Super-Assassins. The Super-Assassins are celebrating in their hideout when the place starts icing up. They break out to the surface but are soon attacked by giant plants, firestorms, more freezing cold, and large patches of darkness. Inside the darkness, Night Girl uses her super-strength (which only functions in darkness) to pound the Assassins. Neutrax freaks out and crashes his flying chair into some rocks and Titania loses her shit, clawing her way through the plants, fire, and ice, only to get decked by Night Girl. Mist Master is choked off by a force field and Silver Slasher tries to escape by whirling through the ice, but she finally succumbs and ends up frozen. Lazon turns into pure light, but keeps slamming against force fields everywhere he turns until he finally exhausts himself. Blok, still feeling guilty over supposedly killing the Legionnaires, doesn’t even try to fight and Polar Boy ices him up with no problem. Brainiac 5 uses Lazon’s energy to reverse the suspended animation effects and everyoneSubs vs Assassins Part 3 wakes up feeling great. Superboy explains that he turned back to see if Colossal Boy wanted to go with him to the hospital (Remember when Superboy hesitated last issue? I figured that would have some significance.) and overheard the Assassins plotting to kill all of them; he couldn’t warn them without tipping off the Assassins and he couldn’t attack without getting wasted by Lazon’s kryptonite energy (which he conveniently bragged about), so he followed and pulled the suspended animation trick. Superboy vows to help cure Brainiac 5’s madness, since he saved all their lives. We’ll see how that goes next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • I have to say, it makes the real Legionnaires look like losers when they got taken out so easily by the Super-Assassins, but the Subs pounded the Assassins with no trouble. They try to cover by saying the Assassins took the Legionnaires by surprise, and the Subs took the Assassins by surprise, but I think the Subs are just better fighters than they’re given credit for. I guess Polar Boy’s boring tactics lectures paid off.
  • In case you’re wondering about Color Kid’s contribution to the big fight, he’s the one who created the darkness for Night Girl; I guess he colored the air black or something.
  • Apparently the Super-Assassins were from a planet called Korlon, which these Legionnaires helped evacuate during a disaster a few years back. The Assassins somehow got it into their heads that the Legionnaires caused the disaster and wanted revenge. The Dark Man gave them powers to accomplish that; we’ll be hearing more about him in upcoming issues.

Jonah Hex 27 coverJonah Hex #27 – “The Wooden Sixgun” – Michael Fleisher/Vicente Alcazar

This one starts in typical Jonah Hex fashion, with Hex blowing away an outlaw and his companions to collect a bounty. A kid (Timothy Walker) sees Hex’s performance and is pretty impressed, even though his father warns him not to make a hero out of a killer like Hex. That night, Hex is camped outside of town when he hears some noise in the bushes. It turns out to be Timothy, whose hero-worship has compelled him to run away from home and track Hex down. Timothy tells Hex he wants to be a gunslinger when he grows up; he even has a wooden gun, which prompts Hex to tell Timothy a story of his own childhood, when he too had a wooden six-gun. We get an extended flashback that starts with Hex running around playing gunslinger with his wooden gun. His father, Woodson (who we’ve already seen, and who we know to be a total prick) calls young Jonah over to give him shit for neglecting his chores. WoodsonWoodson being a prick slaps Jonah around and says he’s going to take care of some business and wants Jonah to do all the chores. Jonah promises he will, but starts playing with his wooden gun again as soon as Woodson leaves. Jonah stumbles across a wounded man behind the homestead, helps him back to the house, and treats his wounds. The guy gives him ten bucks (which astounds Jonah) and Jonah confesses that he recognizes the guy as Bart Mallory, famous stagecoach robber. Mallory notices Jonah’s wooden gun and gives him some advice on being a gunfighter. Someone hammers at the door and it turns out to be a Sheriff named Harper and his posse, looking for Mallory. Jonah bullshits them, saying he hasn’t seen anyone and Harper proves himself to be kind of a crooked bastard when he tells Jonah he’ll give him a whole five dollars (out of a $5000 Mallory has some funreward) for any info on Mallory. After Harper leaves, Mallory figures Jonah is a good luck charm and invites him to come along as he robs a bank. Jonah reluctantly agrees and they stop by to see Mallory’s “friend” Lily on the way. I’m not sure if Lily is a hooker or just someone Mallory bangs; either way, he nails her and he and Jonah head for Haverville to rob the bank. But a couple of the Sheriff’s men are watching Lily’s place and report to the Sheriff that Mallory was there. Sheriff Harper threatens to hang Lily if she doesn’t tell him where Mallory’s headed. She says she doesn’t know, but at the last minute she mentions the bank in Haverville. Harper (being an asshole) hangs her anyway and he and his posse head for Haverville. In Haverville, Mallory gives Hex a real gun and tells him to fire some warning shots if he sees any lawmen. Mallory tries to rob the bank, but Harper and his men are laying for him behindbank ambush the counter and shoot him. Harper threatens to kill Jonah too, but with his last breath, Mallory says he forced Jonah to help him and Harper lets him go. Jonah gets home as fast as possible and hides his gun under the floorboards. Woodson shows up drunk only minutes later and slaps Jonah around again because he didn’t do any of the chores. Jonah practices his fast draw in his room, this time with a real gun. The flashback ends and we see Timothy has fallen asleep listening to Hex’s riveting story. Hex returns him to his parents, telling them not to be too hard on Timothy, since all boys try to grow up faster than nature intended.

Noticeable Things:

  • The flashback is set in 1849, when Jonah had just turned eleven, meaning Jonah was born in 1838. Fleisher was always pretty consistent with dates in these stories.
  • Mallory gives young Jonah some practical gunfighting tips, like where to place his thumb while drawing, and to wear his holster lower on his leg.
  • Apparently Mallory’s bank robbing idea was pretty revolutionary for 1849, as editor Ross Andru informs us that the first successful daylight bank robbery actually took place during the Civil War, almost fifteen years later.

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