Comics Reviews: JLA 179, Legion of Super-Heroes 264, Jonah Hex37

JLA 179 coverJustice League of America #179 – “The Siren Song of the Satin Satan” – Gerry Conway/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts at a really happening disco in New York. A famous model named Sabrina Sultress (aka the Satin Satan) watches a young dancer named Roscoe and gives him the come on look. He follows her out of the disco like he’s hypnotized … which I’m assuming he is. Meanwhile, on the JLA Satellite, the team has just asked a new member to join and he’s pretty excited. Yup, it’s Firestorm, sponsored for membership by Superman. Firestorm’s enthusiasm startles the Leaguers at first, but most of them end up enjoying his exuberance. We get a recap of Firestorm’s origin (which I won’t repeat, since I already covered it back in Firestorm #1) and he gets a tour of the Satellite. Firestorm is bored by all the new infofirestorm happy he has to learn, but Professor Stein reminds him that it might save his ass someday. Green Arrow isn’t thrilled with Firestorm’s attitude, maybe because he reminds Arrow of himself in his younger days; brash, carefree, and blind to the problems of those around him. Red Tornado notices Arrow’s discomfort and speculates that the League has evolved so much since Arrow joined, it may not fit his ideals anymore. Firestorm heads back to Metropolis and says goodbye to some of his fellow Leaguers. Superman reminds him about the JLA signal device and says he’s part of a team now, so he shouldn’t be afraid to use it. Firestorm heads back to his high school dance (he left the dance a few hours ago after seeing a skywritten message from Superman) and splits into his two civilian identities—Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein. Ronnie puts Martin (who’s confused after the transformation, as usual) in a cab and sends him home. Ronnie’s disco ladygirlfriend Doreen shows up, wondering where he disappeared to, and mentions another disappearance. Their friend Cal’s brother (Whose name is Roscoe … sound familiar?) went to a disco downtown and vanished. Ronnie says they should all head down and look for him; even Cliff Carmichael (Ronnie’s insufferable classmate) tags along. At the disco, they find out that Roscoe was there but took off somewhere. A good-looking disco queen clues them in: Roscoe left with Sabrina, the Satin Satan. Apparently she picks up a lot of dudes at the disco and takes them back to her fancy penthouse, but nobody ever describes her place, almost like anything that happens up there is immediately forgotten. Ronnie and friends try to get into Sabrina’s building, but the lobby door is locked. Ronnie says he’ll try around back and changes to Firestorm, puling Professor Stein back just as he was arriving home. Firestorm uses hisFirestorm in trouble molecular powers to melt through the wall, but he’s immediately confronted by Satin Satan. She seems to use her hypnotic power (or maybe just her natural hotness) to lure Firestorm closer and lays a big smooch on him. What is it with Firestorm’s villains kissing him? First Killer Frost, now Satin Satan. He gets more action from them than he does from Doreen. Somewhat like Killer Frost, Satin apparently turns her victims into metallic statues. Firestorm notices a petrified Roscoe nearby and as he feels himself getting numb from Satin’s smooch, he manages to push his JLA emergency signal. We’ll see how the team responds next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Firestorm was co-created by Gerry Conway, so I assume having him join the League was Gerry’s way of keeping he character in view. I guess it worked, since Firestorm does get his own solo adventures again, first as a back-up in Flash, then in his own title … both of which I’ll cover when the time comes.
  • This whole “Green Arrow disillusionment” sub-plot has been brewing for a while and will come to a head in half a dozen or so issues.
  • Ronnie mentions he should have a talk with Professor Stein about Firestorm, so Stein doesn’t think he’s going crazy every time they un-merge. Uh, yeah, Ronnie, you probably should’ve done that a long time ago.

LSH 264 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #264 – “Dagon’s Cavern of Doom” – Gerry Conway/Jimmy Janes/Dave Hunt

Last issue, an armoured nutcase named Dagon kidnapped a bunch of the Legionnaires’ parents to hold them for ransom. Since Dagon seemed to have inside information on how to bypass their security (and some of the newest security devices didn’t work properly) they speculated that Dagon might be a former member of the security company that helped refit their new headquarters. The fact that Dagon blames the Legion for R.J. Brande losing his fortune (which ended his contract with the security company) seems to confirm their suspicions. This issue opens with a contingent of Legionnaires (Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Dawnstar, Wildfire, Shadow Lass, and Light Lass) flying across Metropolis behind Dawnstar, who’s using her tracking ability to find Dagon. After almost causing an aircar crash, Dawnstar leads them to an abandoned tidal energy plant. Dawnstar gets sick as they approach, almost passing out. The others attackLightning Lad goes batty the plant, which is equipped with some pretty intense weapons for a disused tidal station. Lightning Lad and Shadow Lass take out the laser cannon before being swarmed by mutated bats. Wildfire sends the bats into space, but when they get inside the Legionnaires find out it was a dead end; their parents aren’t in the energy station and apparently never were. Dagon is watching on a monitor, gloating to the captured parents that the Legion will never find him because he’s in the last place they’d think to look. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he’s at (or near) their new headquarters. Of course, Dagon knows the Legion won’t (and can’t) pay the ransom, but he’s playing out his little game to make their agony that much worse when he slaughters their parents. Back at HQ, Shadow Lass speculates that Dawnstar’s sudden malady might’ve been her subconscious telling her that Dagon had found a way to short-circuit her tracking ability. Wildfire blastedLight Lass mentions the three suspects who used to work for the security company and says they should check each one in case one of them is Dagon. Saturn Girl wonders if Tyroc could help them, since his power once allowed him to find a hidden bomb in Metropolis. Wildfire is still pissed off that Tyroc left last issue, but Dawnstar and Shadow Lass volunteer to go ask him for help. The others check to see who had access to their Security Storage Chambers and narrow it down to one ex-security employee named Wezil Yondor. They go to check the Security Storage Chamber and realize they’re on the right track when Wildfire gets blasted upon opening the door. (Don’t worry, he’s fine; Wildfire can exist as pure energy, his suit just gives him humanoid form. He’s even learned to vibrate air molecules a certain way so he can speak while in his energy form.) Lightning Lad destroys the gun that blasted Wildfire and the Legionnaires see that the Storage Chamber has been thoroughly looted; Dagon’s been using their own security tech againstDagon taken down them. Saturn Girl quickly figures out where Dagon is hiding and the Legionnaires head off to confront him. Dagon’s surveillance device was blown away by Lightning Lad, so he can no longer monitor the Legionnaires. He decides it’s time to kill their parents, but his first shot is blocked by Wildfire’s energy form. Dagon wraps Wildfire in a negative ion net, but before he can resume his killing, Lightning Lad shows up and zaps him. The Legionnaires free their parents and explain that they saw Dagon had stolen plans for an emergency security bunker that could burrow underground and construct itself, so they figured he must’ve constructed such a bunker … right under Legion HQ. Meanwhile, Dawnstar and Shadow Lass have found Tyroc on the island of Marzal, but he refuses to accompany them back to Metropolis. He says they should leave before it’s too late, but as he’s speaking the entire island starts phasing out. Tyroc refers to it as the “Brigadoon Syndrome” and says they’re all stuck there until Marzal phases back into Earth’s dimension … in 200 years. Are Shady and Dawny really stuck in Marzal for two centuries? No, of course not; but we’ll have to wait until next issue to see how they escape.

Jonah Hex 37 coverJonah Hex #37 – “Stonewall” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Danny Bulanadi

This one is a quasi-historical tale, set during the Civil War when Hex was fighting for the South. It mixes some real history in with pure fiction; I get the feeling Mike Fleisher is a Civil War buff and enjoyed weaving Hex into the real-life aspects of this story. We start with Hex paying his respects at a gravestone in a cemetery. A kid and his grandfather watch from nearby and the grandfather tells the kid the grave is that of famed Southern General, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. We then get the story in flashback, told by the grandfather to the kid. During the Civil War, Hex fought for the South and was scouting out a possible ambush site when he saw a Southern officer being chased by Union troops. Hex rides to his rescue and blows away the Yankees. He’s startled to find he just saved the famous Stonewall Jackson and for once in his life is at a loss for words. Jackson invites him back to his field headquarters and offers Hex awaterfall surprise special assignment. Jackson is tasked with taking Harper’s Ferry in anticipation of General Lee’s attack on South Mountain. Jackson wants Hex to dynamite a bridge over the Potomac River to isolate Harper’s Ferry from reinforcements. Jackson has heard that Hex spent time among Native Americans and figures he can slip down the river in a canoe and mine the bridge. Hex accepts, but finds the river a hell of a lot wilder than he’d expected. After almost getting smashed in the rapids and going over a waterfall, Hex mines the bridge and blows it up. Jackson congratulates him and sends him back to his old outfit, telling Hex to look him up after the War. Seven months or so later, Jackson and General Lee are at Chancellorsville, preparing an attack. Lee makes a feint in front and Jackson comes around from the side, routing the Union troops. Jackson decides Hex shoots Jacksonto pursue the fleeing Federal soldiers, even though his aids warn him it’s too dangerous. A few miles away, Jonah Hex and his outfit hear about the big victory at Chancellorsville and want to go check it out. Hex says their orders are to stay put, but decides to take a few men and set up ambushes at a nearby pass in case any fleeing Yankees come by. Meanwhile, Jackson and his fellows have gotten lost in the darkness trying to return to their own camp and blunder into Hex’s ambush. Hex is the one who shoots Jackson and that brings us back to the cemetery where Hex finishes paying his respects to the man he accidentally killed. The grandfather and kid watch as Hex rides away.

Noticeable Things:

  • Just a couple issues ago, Hex was shown to have had a crisis of conscience after the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves; he didn’t want to keep fighting for an unjust cause, so he left the Confederate Army and turned himself over to the North, which led to the Fort Charlotte Massacre. But the Emancipation Proclamation was issued January 1, 1863 and Stonewall Jackson was shot on May 2, 1863 (and died eight days later). So if Hex quit the Army immediately after the slaves were freed, how was he still around in May to shoot Stonewall Jackson? Maybe Hex wrestled with his decision for a few months before making up his mind?
  • Jackson being accidentally shot by Confederate troops after Chancellorsville is a historical fact, but Fleisher has changed a few of the details. Jackson was returning to camp when he was shot by troops from the 18th North Carolina Infantry. They challenged him (something Hex didn’t do, which is strange since Hex would’ve had orders to take prisoners not just blow people away), but when he answered, one of the soldiers yelled that it was a “Yankee trick” and they kept firing. Jackson wasn’t killed outright, he was hit in the right hand and left arm (which ended up being amputated). Jackson ended up contracting pneumonia and dying of that eight days later.
  • Previous stories mentioned Hex being in the 4th Cavalry, but here Hex claims to be part of the Seventh Confederate Cavalry; I’m not sure if Fleisher had a real unit in mind or not. There was a Seventh Virginia Cavalry (and a Seventh Arkansas Cavalry Regiment) so maybe that’s what Fleisher had in mind, or maybe it’s just a quasi-historical unit he came up with.

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