Comics Reviews: JLA 170, Superboy & the Legion 255, Jonah Hex 28

JLA 170 coverJustice League of America #170 – “While a World Lies Burning” – Gerry Conway/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

You’ll remember last issue, five JLA members were sued by Ultraa for unlawfully imprisoning him and agreed to be taken into custody by the United Nations. But Ultraa’s lawyer is actually a weird protoplasmic creature, part of a hive-mind called the Over-Complex that has invaded Earth and is somehow increasing the oxygen content in the atmosphere and lowering sea levels. This is having disastrous side effects, like fires raging out of control and people rioting all over the globe. Ultraa figured out that his lawyer wasn’t human, but one of the protoplasm creatures observed Ultraa at the same time. This issue starts with Batman lamenting being stuck on monitor duty on the JLA Satellite while everything goes crazy on Earth. He uses the Satellite computers to try and figureUltraa's reveal out what’s causing the increased oxygen and depleted sea levels, and if there’s a remedy. At the UN court, Ultraa is called to testify against the JLA, but he recants at the last second and attacks his lawyer. The JLAers assume he’s gone nuts and try to stop him, but he manages to hold off Flash, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern. Superman disappears, since he was just a projection of GL’s ring. (The real Superman snuck out to investigate the lowering sea levels and got blasted by the protoplasm creature last issue.) Red Tornado decides to reserve judgment and allows Ultraa to explain his conduct. Ultraa exposes his lawyer as a mass of protoplasm, which says the JLA are idiots for screwing around at the trial while their planet burns. The protoplasm tells them Superman is dead and floats off to merge with the Over-Complex. Flash tries to stop it, but gets blasted for his trouble. Red tornado and Ultraa go after the alien plasm, GL takes Flash to a hospital, while Wonder Woman goes to check if Red Tornado fights fireSuperman is really dead. On the Satellite, Batman gets an answer from the computer on how best to destroy the Over-Complex and dons a space-suit and takes off on a space scooter. Red Tornado and Ultraa find a bunch of humans about to be burned to a crisp, so Reddy uses his powers to extinguish the flames. By the time he’s done, Ultraa and the aliens are gone. Wonder Woman finds Superman in the ocean and drags him to the surface. He’s mumbling about the lower sea level and the higher oxygen level in the atmosphere, saying the oxygen is coming from the oceans. Wonder Woman figures out what he’s babbling out and realizes what the Over-Complex has been doing. In Earth orbit, Batman finds a rogue asteroid which is actually a disguised spaceship. He finds a secret hatch and boards the ship. On Earth, Wonder Woman tells her teammates that the Over-Complex are harvesting hydrogen from the oceans by electrolysis, lowering the water level and leaving behind an excess of oxygen.underground explosion Green Lantern says his ring can reverse the process and starts sweeping the area where Ultraa and the aliens were last seen. The ground explodes, tossing Ultraa to the surface and Red Tornado belatedly mentions how volatile hydrogen is, which you’d think GL would know. I’m not sure if GL’s energy beam is what caused the explosion, or something the aliens did; either way, their underground base is blown to shit. There’s another explosion in the atmosphere, which turns out to be Batman sabotaging the fake asteroid’s propulsion systems, sending it blasting away from Earth. Batman’s rocket sled is damaged, so Wonder Woman goes to pick him up. The whole Ultraa situation is left unsolved, but we’ll be seeing him again in future issues.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you’re wondering why no other JLAers responded to such an emergency, Batman mentions that Hawkman and Atom are surveying Jupiter’s moons. We see a brief shot of the other Leaguers (plus Supergirl) saving people all over the world from the fires.
  • Wonder Woman found Superman in the ocean because his JLA signal was somehow activated when he got zapped by the Over-Complex last issue. Rather convenient, I’d say.

LSH 255 coverSuperboy & the Legion #255 – “The Super-Spectacles Swipe” – Gerry Conway/Joe Staton/Vince Colletta

This one’s kinda goofy … it reads like an inventory story, probably just meant as filler before the ongoing storyline about Brainiac 5’s insanity is continued. It starts with Superboy returning to his own time and dropping in at his dad’s store. Pa Kent gives him shit for just flying in without looking and says what we’ve all been thinking, that a pair of glasses isn’t much of a disguise. Clark defends his choice, saying there’s more to his masquerade than just the glasses. He’s so distracted that he carries an armload of heavy boxes into the store and of course Lana is there to wonder why he’s so strong. He somehow knocks the contents of the boxes down through the floor (silently, apparently) and hands the now-empty boxes to Lana, which assuages her suspicions for the moment. Clark wishes he could get rid of his glasses and his secretClark's glasses melt identity, and while he has them off a freaky-looking alien teleports in and switches them with a fake pair. At school the next day, Lana is wondering why Clark was toting empty boxes around when Clark notices an emergency across town; a construction worker is about to get crushed by a runaway tractor. Clark can’t fly off to rescue him with Lana standing right there, so he uses his heat-vision to melt the pavement and stop the tractor. But his heat vision also melts the lenses of his glasses, which should be impossible since they’re made of indestructible Kryptonian glass from his space capsule. Clark pretends to bust his glasses so Lana doesn’t see the melted lenses, but before he can figure out what’s up with his specs, the Legion shows up to tell him there’s a big emergency in the future. The Legionnaires (Cosmic Boy, Wildfire, Shadow Lass, and Shrinking Violet) explain that there was a theft of a time-ray projector from the Superman Museum and they couldn’t figure out why someone would take that with so space fightmuch other valuable stuff there. The next day, Tokyo was attacked by a strange ray that made its population disappear. Cosmic Boy thought it might have been a Phantom Zone ray, so he used the Phantom Zone projector from the Museum to try and rematerialize the missing people. It was only partially successful, allowing the people to be visible but not corporeal. Then the weirdo alien (named Gorgli) popped up, saying he was holding the missing people in some kind of limbo and unless he was given ten thousand humans for him to sell as slaves, the missing people would die. The Science Police and the Legion attacked Gorgli’s orbiting spaceship, but it was surrounded by an impenetrable force field and they almost got blown away (and ended up losing their last Legion Cruiser). Then the Legionnaires remembered the missing time-projector and followed the chronal trail to Superboy’s time. Through a huge leap in logic, they figured Gorgli must’ve stolen Clark’s Kryptonian-lensed glasses and that’s what he’s using to modify his ship’s shields and the dimensional projector. Superboy goes to the future, but Gorgli’s modified shields are too strong evennew lens for him and Gorgli’s weapon is powerful enough to knock the Boy of Steel back to Earth. Cosmic Boy gets another brilliant idea and they travel back in time to Krypton before it explodes (Superboy understandably skips that trip) and go to Jor-El’s lab. In a scene that’s much less dramatic than the one on the cover, they steal another indestructible lens and are caught by baby Kal-El. Fortunately, he seems infatuated with Shrinking Violet (she is the hottest Legionnaire, after all) and lets his future teammates leave without a fuss. They return to their own time and use the Kryptonian lens to make Superboy invulnerable to Gorgli’s rays. The two lenses cancel each other out and Gorgli’s ship blows up. Superboy gets his glasses back and uses them to bring the people of Tokyo out of limbo. He has a flashback of Shrinking Violet and she has to explain his awkward baby crush on her. Next issue we’ll get back to the crazy Brainiac 5 story … I hope!

Jonah Hex 28 coverJonah Hex #28 – “Night of the Savage” – Michael Fleisher/E.R. Cruz

This one starts with Jonah Hex riding toward a town called Bartonville. He’s been hired as protection by four guys named Stults, Marshall, Gabler, and Jenkins, but there’s a torrential rainstorm and Hex can only travel so fast. We see Mr. Stults holed up in a cabin with a bunch of gunslingers. He’s pretty freaked out, worrying about an Indian who’s coming to kill him. We see the Indian in question on top of the cabin, shoving a blanket in the chimney. When the smoke backs up, everybody runs out of the cabin and the Indian puts an arrow into Stults’s chest and rides off. Hex shows up the next day to find one of his clients is already dead. The other three guys tell him they bought a small piece of land off this Indian for the right-of-way to a railroad spur, but the Indian decided they hadn’t paid him enough so he’s started killing them off. They claim they offered him more money, but that sounds like bullshit to me. Before hisMarshall is hanged murder, Stults got a note from the Indian warning him, and now Marshall has received a note as well. Hex says he’ll stick close to Marshall to protect him. Later, they’re riding through the forest and Hex spots a pit trap with sharpened stakes in the bottom. He’s so busy admiring his own cleverness that he doesn’t notice the Indian lurking in a tree. The Indian strangles Marshall and leaves him hanging from the tree, which surprises Hex when he finally turns around. He goes back and tells the remaining two guys about Marshall and a spear flies through the window with a note on it saying Jenkins is next. Hex is pissed off about losing all his clients, so he vows to stop the Indian before he can finish Jenkins off. That night, they hole up in a cabin and some shots come through the window. Hex sees the muzzle flash on a nearby mesa and heads up there, hearing more shots as he crawls closer. But he’s been outfoxed again and finds the Hex faked outIndian has tossed some cartridges into the fire, to make Hex think he was still firing from the mesa. Hex hears Jenkins’s death scream and sees the Indian riding away. Hex’s pride is really wounded now and he tracks the Indian to a campsite. But when Hex tries to jump him, it turns out to be a dummy and Hex gets conked on the head. When he wakes up, the Indian tells him (in sign language) the real story: the four white dudes wanted his land, so they got him hammered and tricked him into signing it over for a fraction of what it was worth. After he passed out, the drunk white men killed his wife. When he woke up a realized what had happened, he fasted for a week to cleanse his spirit and asked for guidance. He had a vision that said he had to make a great sacrifice, then take vengeance on the men who wronged him. So he cut out his tongue as the sacrifice and started wasting the white dudes. He tells Hex he has nothing against him, but if he gets in the way when he goes after Gabler, he won’t hesitate to kill him. The Indian leaves to go after Gabler and Hex uses his hidden Bowie knife to cut himself loose.Hex confronts the Indian but he escapes He sympathizes with the Indian, but figures his own reputation (and business) will suffer if he lets his clients get killed without doing anything. Also, his pride is stung by the Indian constantly out-thinking him all the time, so he decides to go help Gabler. The Indian has found Gabler in a cabin and is ready to kill him when Hex shows up. He says Gabler should be arrested for swindling the Indian and might even hang for it, but the Indian isn’t ready to trust white justice. Hex has the drop on him though, so he busts the lamp and escapes in the darkness. Hex takes a shot, but misses—probably on purpose. Hex tells Gabler he’s taking him in for fraud, then he’s going to hunt down the Indian and bring him in for the murders he committed. I’m not sure if that’s ever followed up on … it isn’t in the next issue, anyway.

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