Comics Reviews: JLA 181, Legion of Super-Heroes 266, Jonah Hex 39

JLA 181 coverJustice League of America #181 – “The Stellar Crimes of the Star-Tsar” – Gerry Conway/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts out with Green Arrow making a recording for his fellow Leaguers to explain the momentous decision he’s made. We won’t find out what that decision is until later (although it’s pretty obvious from the foreshadowing in the last few issues), but the story plays out in flashback as Green Arrow recounts events leading up to the present. A couple days ago, after a JLA meeting, Green Arrow and Black Canary returned to Star City and Arrow was going on about how he thought the JLA was out of touch with the common people and all that. Canary had heard it all before and told him he can’t change the JLA to fit his personal crusade; Arrow told her the League can’t change him either, and that he was about ready to take a break from the team. Before the argument was settled, they noticed a flash ofCanary blasted light across town (though without any noise or concussion), and headed over to check it out. Meanwhile on the Satellite, the other JLAers were talking about Arrow’s recent attitude. They got an emergency signal from Black Canary and headed down to Star City. The emergency was someone robbing the museum, who started shooting energy bolts as soon as Arrow and Canary showed up Arrow was blasted right away and Canary was forced to take cover behind a van. She used her agility to dodge the bolts until she could get close enough to blast the museum with her Canary Cry. She was trying to knock out the thief with falling rubble, but he vapourized the debris and blasted Canary before shooting off into the sky at lightning speed. Arrow came around just in time to get a look at the thief, who turned out to be the Star-Tsar. The rest of the team showed up and took Arrow and Canary to a hospital. Arrow as fine, but Canary was in shock and had to stay under observation. When Snapper Carr shows up at JLA search the citythe hospital (having heard about the fight on the radio), Green Arrow goes nuts and tries to jump him … an understandable reaction, since Snapper was the Star-Tsar last time the League fought him (in JLA 149 and 150). But Snapper told them he wasn’t Star-Tsar this time; his Star-Tsar costume and weaponry were stolen by someone he worked with at STAR Labs, a guy named Richard Rigel (an apt name for Star-Tsar). Snapper had told Rigel about being Star-Tsar and Rigel claimed he had come up with a way to steal power from the stars. After checking with the museum, they found out Rigel stole a gem called the Star of Delhi, which made them think maybe he was committing star-themed crimes. The League split up to search Star City for Star-Tsar and prevent his next star-crime. But Green Arrow knew the city—and the criminal mind—better than them and figured Rigel would go after a different kind of star: a singing star. Arrow went to a concert at Star City Stadium where a disco singer was performing. Superman noticed Arrow while flying overhead and summoned the restGreen Arrow smogs out Star-Tsar of the JLA, who jumped in when Rigel made his move. Unfortunately, Arrow had lined Star-Tsar up for a perfect shot and his teammates ruined it. Star-Tsar gave them all a tough fight, since his star-stolen powers made him very strong (and allowed him to use red sun radiation against Superman). Arrow finally got a clear shot and did what he’d originally intended … he shot an arrow that surrounded Star-Tsar in smog, cutting him off from his power source, which gave Aquaman the chance to deck him. In the present, Green Arrow finishes his tale by pointing out how he and his teammates have different ways of looking at things, and how he feels it’s time for him to use his talents elsewhere. He says it’s nobody’s fault, but it’s been a long time coming … then he says goodbye and ends the recording. So that’s it for Green Arrow as a Leaguer … at least for now. He rejoins in JLA 200, but in the meantime the League will have to do without him.

Noticeable Things:

  • When the JLA are discussing Green Arrow on the Satellite, they’re kinda trashing him; Hawkgirl calls him “sullen and uncommunicative”, Superman says he’s been acting hyper lately, and Aquaman mentions that Ollie is “quick to criticize authority but he rarely offers alternatives”.
  • The disco star that Star-Tsar tries to steal is named Donna Winter … an obvious reference to donna Summer, although Ms. Winter is white.
  • In case you’re wondering, Green Arrow quitting has no effect on Black Canary’s membership; she’s still a member of the team.

LSH 266 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #266 – “Kantuu” – Gerry Conway/Jimmy Janes/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts out on Wondil IX, a frozen colony planet where settlers eke out a living mining crystallak ore from ice caves. Two of those colonists are rather familiar to us: Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel settled on Wondil IX looking for new challenges after getting married and leaving the Legion, but the technology they use has made the job so easy that Bouncing Boy is a bit disappointed … his grand adventure is turning out to be fairly routine. At least it was, until he runs across a magnetic anomaly in an ice cave while extracting some ore. Whatever it is, it causes the digger’s energy beam to go wild, ricocheting all over the place until it finally destroys the digger. Duo Damsel is worried Bouncing Boy might’ve gotten blown away, but he ends up ping-ponging out of the cave into a snowbank. She drags him away before the fire ignites the power cells in the cave and gives him some mouth-to-mouth … which he rather enjoys.Bouncing Boy saves sled They head back into the cave to check out the magnetic anomaly and find a fancy container encased in ice. Bouncing Boy breaks it free and a huge green genie named Kantuu appears from inside the bottle, speaking Arabic and vowing never to be imprisoned again. Kantuu zooms off toward Earth, almost killing a colonist on a rocket sled. After Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel rescue the colonist, they head out after Kantuu. On Earth, Colossal Boy and Element Lad are wagering on who can move some heavy weights faster, Colossal Boy with his muscle or Element Lad with his transmutation power. Before they can settle it, Duo Damsel calls to tell them about Kantuu. She says he’s a pure plasma being and seems able to tap an unknown energy source. She sends a recording of Kantuu’s opening speech and says she and Bouncing Boy will be there as soon as possible. Colossal Boy and Element Lad head out into space to look for Kantuu. Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy find a hyperspace relay station trashed and realize Kantuu is far more powerful than they thought. With the relay station destroyed, they can’t warn their fellow Legionnaires in time, so they just keep pursuing Kantuu, Bouncing Boy makes a wishwhose trajectory is leading him into inhabited space. Colossal Boy and Element Lad are in the Legion Cruiser looking for Kantuu, but Colossal Boy is human and thinks the whole “genie in a bottle” thing is bullshit. (I guess Christina Aguilera isn’t still popular in the 30th Century.) Colossal Boy wonders if Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are seeing things—or making stuff up to get attention—but he becomes a believer when Kantuu appears and pounds the Cruiser. Colossal Boy now seems to buy into the whole bit, saying Bouncing Boy can command Kantuu to perform three wishes, since he’s the one who freed him. Kantuu kicks the crap out of Element Lad and Colossal Boy, but they delay him long enough for the other two to catch up. Bouncing Boy wishes for Kantuu to go back inside his container, but Kantuu just laughs and says he’s a demigod and doesn’t have to obey such a command. He slaps Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel down and zooms off toward Earth, leaving the vanquished Legionnaires floating in space. Don’t worry, they have spacesuits, but those won’t help them against someone as powerful as Kantuu. We’ll see how they defeat him next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Duo Damsel’s real name is Luornu Durgo, but it’s spelled wrong (Lourna, Lournu) in a few places.

Jonah Hex 39Jonah Hex #39 – “The Vow of a Samurai” – Michael Fleisher/Tony DeZuniga

This one starts with Jonah Hex on the trail of some outlaws (the Blair Farrow gang), stopping at a small town saloon to wet his whistle. There’s a Japanese guy in the saloon asking questions and the patrons start talking all racist and try to toss him out. But the guy’s a samurai, so he pounds one of his attackers, and before the others can gang up on him, Hex steps in. The two of them trash the place and put down most of the assholes before taking off. Hex asks the samurai for his story and the samurai says his daughter was handmaiden to an ambassadorial delegation from Japan over a year ago. When the delegation was crossing the country by rail, Blair Farrow’s gang robbed the train and kidnapped Heejong. It took the samurai all this time to find out what happened and make his way to America to find (or avenge) his daughter. He says he’s sworn to kill Blair Farrow or else commit seppuku instead. He asks Hex if he’llsamurai vs Native Americans be his second (kaishaku) and cut off his head if he ends up committing seppuku. He believes Hex to be honourable (since he helped him in the saloon) and says a samurai must have a kaishaku. But Hex thinks the whole thing is crazy and refuses. They come across a farmhouse and hope to buy a home-cooked meal there, but find the inhabitants slaughtered inside. The samurai tries to warn Hex that they’re not alone, but lapses into Japanese. Hex gets conked out by a Native American stone axe, leaving the samurai to fight half a dozen attackers by himself. He slices and dices them, which impresses the hell out of Hex when he wakes up. Hex is so grateful to the samurai for saving his life that he agrees to be his kaishaku when he asks again. They track the Farrow gang to a canyon and climb up to eliminate the guards silently. They take Farrow and his boys by surprise and Farrow freaks out when he sees Jonah Hex has found him. Apparently Farrow is the only one familiar with Hex, as the rest of the gang seppukufigure they can shoot it out with him, despite Farrow’s frantic warnings. Hex guns them all down except Farrow, whom the samurai interrogates about Heejong. Farrow calls out, and Heejong appears, holding their son. Seems she’s “grown to love him” over the time she’s been his captive and they’re now married. I don’t know if this is genuine, or some kind of extreme Stockholm Syndrome—maybe a little of both. Either way, Heejong’s father is devastated that she claims to love a killer, thief, and kidnapper. He says there can be no love without honour and disinherits her on the spot. To erase his shame, he decides to commit seppuku and makes Hex promise to follow through on his kaishaku vow, though Hex isn’t happy about it. The samurai cuts himself open with his wakazashi and Hex uses the katana to cut the samurai’s head off. Farrow tells Hex he just wants to leave with his wife and son (while using them as a shield) and warns Hex about trying to shoot him, since he might kill innocent people. But Hex is a dead shot and puts one between Farrow’s eyes. He buries the samurai and rides off, leaving Heejong and her baby to mourn Farrow.

Noticeable Things:

  • Throughout the story, the samurai (whose name we never learn) refers to Hex as his kaishaku, but from what I can tell kaishaku refers to the duty itself; the proper term for the person carrying it out is kaishakunin.
  • During the fight with the Native Americans, the samurai spouts a bunch of Japanese. I tried looking it up online but couldn’t find anything. Maybe it’s a spelling issue, or maybe it’s just a bunch of gibberish Fleisher made up.
  • I know Farrow was a scumbag and probably deserved what he got (and if Hex had brought him in he’d have been hanged anyway), but he sure didn’t do Heejong any favours, wasting her man and leaving her alone with a baby in a strange country.
  • Hex mentions that he’s about to turn 37, which would put this story around 1875. In Japan, the samurai class were on the wane at that point, being slowly replaced during the Meiji Restoration. Also in 1875, the United States started clamping down on Chinese immigration; the Chinese Exclusion Act was a few years in the future, but anti-Asian sentiment was starting to pick up steam, so I’m surprised there was a Japanese delegation visiting the U.S. Then again, the Chinese Exclusion Act didn’t include Japanese or Koreans (at first), so maybe the two countries were still on okay terms.

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