Comics Reviews: JLA 183, Legion of Super-Heroes 268, Jonah Hex 41, New Teen Titans preview

JLA 183 coverJustice League of America #183 – “Where Have All the New Gods Gone?” – Gerry Conway/Dick Dillin/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with members of the JLA (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Firestorm) and their Earth-2 counterparts, the JSA (Power Girl, Huntress, Dr. Fate, and Wonder Woman) preparing to beam to each other’s world via transmatter cube. Naturally, something goes wrong and they end up on an unfamiliar alien world, dominated by a huge floating city … unfamiliar to everyone but Superman, who recognizes the place as New Genesis, home of the New Gods. Superman explains what little he knows of the New Gods and says he felt at home among beings whose powers equaled his own, but returned to Earth because he wanted to use his powers to help humanity. Wonder WomanOrion pounded isn’t too thrilled with the whole “New Gods” thing, preferring the familiar Olympians, but before a theological debate can break out they notice Firestorm is missing. Firestorm was bored with all the talk and decided to check out the cool new world, despite Professor Stein’s warnings. Firestorm finds most of the city deserted, but runs across a weird-looking dude in a park. Firestorm freaks and calls for help right before the guy blasts him. The others come running and find out their opponent is Orion, and he’s in a belligerent mood (which is pretty much the norm for Orion). They team up and manage to knock him out, but feel a bit guilty about getting in a fight so soon after showing up in New Genesis, since they must’ve been brought there for a reason. They soon learn what that reason is, as Metro pops up (flanked by Mr. Miracle, Big Barda, and Oberon) to tell them he’s the one who shanghaied them because he needs their help. Metron heals Firestorm with Darkseid's fatehis Mobius Chair and urges Orion to use his Mother Box to get his shit together. Orion does and Barda tells the heroes that the denizens of Apokolips (evil counterpart to New Genesis) have stolen the entire population of New Genesis. Orion blames himself, since he’s from Apokolips, which is why he was in a shitty mood and attacked Firestorm. Huntress wonders why Metron would grab the JLA and JSA to help against Apokolips and Metron says the Apokoliptians have allied themselves with the Injustice Society, making it a problem for the JSA and their Earth-1 friends. As in all of these crossovers, the heroes divide into multiple teams: Batman, Huntress, and Mr. Miracle are the scouts, infiltrating the old Imperial Palace; Power Girl, Firestorm, and Orion check out a construction facility; Superman, Wonder Woman, and Barda go to the orphanage of Granny GL and Dr. Fate attack guardsGoodness; and Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, and Oberon head to the shock troop barracks. Metron stays behind to coordinate their efforts … and to wonder why Apokolips has made such a bold move. On their spy mission, Mr. Miracle explains to Batman and Huntress why Orion feels guilty; Darkseid (Orion’s father) was trying to pierce the barrier to discover the Ultimate Knowledge of life and death when Orion distracted him and he as blasted. Darkseid fell back to Apokolips, growing all the time, and was shot by the automatic defenses, which turned him into a huge stone statue. At the prison barracks, Dr. Fate and GL dress as guards and pretend to have Oberon as a prisoner, but Oberon starts a fight with a real guard, so the heroes come out blasting. The barracks are guarded by a battalion of troops, so they figure the prisoners from New Genesis might be held there. Dr. Fate’s magic illuminates a certain prison tower, and when GL opens it up he sees … well, we don’’t know who he sees. Gerry’s making us wait until next issue to findsaving an orphan out. At Granny Goodness’s orphanage, Barda explains to Supes and Wonder Woman that she was raised there, in an environment of violence and hate. They find a kid from New Genesis about to be punished (for growing flowers) and rescue her. At the big construction project, it looks like most of the people taken from New Genesis are being forced to work on a gigantic laser projector of some kind. Power Girl recognizes Shade, Icicle, and Fiddler (of the Injustice Society) activating the laser, but it’s the laser’s target that gets Orion’s attention … the laser is focused on Darkseid, and it seems to be returning him to life. We’ll see what happens next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Usually the two teams meet at one of their headquarters, but this time they decided to send half of each team to the other Earth, hence the two contingents being hijacked in transit.

LSH 268 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #268 – “Life After Life After Life” – J.M. DeMatteis/Steve Ditko/Bob Wiacek

This one is basically one long flashback, as Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl view a tape of Cosmic Boy recounting his recent adventures in space. In case you forgot, Cosmic Boy and a contingent of Legionnaires (Karate Kid, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Colossal Boy, and Dream Girl) are out in space helping R.J. Brande recoup his fortune by going back to his first job … creating stars. (And when I say creating stars, I don’t mean like American Idol or the Voice; I mean literally, he uses a huge spaceship to create or rejuvenate stars for systems that need them.) Everyone was chilling out after a successful job when Dream Girl started screaming. She was having a nightmare about Karate Kid and Chameleon Boy being zapped by some kind of energy, and herself strapped down about to be sliced by some freaky-looking dude with six arms. Since Dreamy’s powers aremeeting Mayavale precognitive, she’s pretty worked up about maybe seeing her own impending demise. Brande calls them to the bridge to show them an anomaly plowing through space … a subway car. Yup, a genuine 20th Century New York subway car (complete with graffiti) is barreling toward them. They head out in space suits to investigate and Chameleon Boy, Karate Kid, and Dream Girl end up being pulled inside the subway car, while the others are pushed back to Brande’s ship. The subway car zips away at top speed, but the others can’t follow, since Brande’s ship is encased in a force field that holds it fast. The subway ends up on a weird planet that’s made up of bits and pieces of many different cultures, from many different time periods, all thrown together willy-nilly. They meet their host, a weirdo named Dr. Mayavale (who just happens to have six extra arms), who greets them as if they should know him. In fact, he seems to think they’ve known him for centuries. Karate Kid wants to kick Mayavale’s ass and has to defeat a Yeti and a Khundian P’o’lik. Cham calms Mayavale inhales too much sacred misthim down and Mayavale tells them he’s from the planet Avatanda, which Cham thought was only a legend. It sounds like Avatanda is a planet of Buddhist types, who dedicate their lives to meditation and trying to become one with the cosmos. Mayavale was a disciple who found his spiritual path blocked, so his fellow disciples took him to the Chamber of Lives, where he inhaled a sacred mist that revealed some of his past incarnations. Unfortunately, Mayavale ODed on the mist and the resulting flood of knowledge of his past lives broke his brain. Of course, he thinks he’s perfectly sane and has found the key to cosmic awakening: since all his past incarnations were dedicated to doing good, he figures he has to be an evil bastard in his present incarnation to balance the karmic scales. Before the Legionnaires can protest, he gasses them and they wake up in a stylized re-creation of the Old West. Mayavale says that each of them betrayed him in a past incarnation and now he’s going to even the score. Cham was a Native American who betrayed his tribe—of which Mayavale was chief—to theChameleon Boy tied down whites for some gold. So Mayavale ties Cham down in front of a cavalry charge and leaves him to die. The gas Mayavale used renders the Legionnaires helpless, so Cham can only watch as the cavalry horses get closer, and Karate Kid and Dream Girl are helpless to break away and save him. Karate Kid’s turn is next; apparently he was Brutus to Mayavale’s Julius Caesar, but Mayavale turns the tables and convinces the other assassins to kill Brutus instead of him. He drags Dreamy away as Karate Kid finds himself beset with knife-wielding assassins. Dream Girl turns out to have been a the girlfriend of Mayavale’s vice cop on 1969 Earth, but she was actually working for a gangster and set Mayavale up to be blown away. He lets her get shot down, but she wakes up tied to a couch, Red Nails style (complete with sexy outfit, just like in her dream). Mayavale says the Dream Girl in bondagegangsters’ bullets just put her to sleep; he has to sacrifice her in order to complete his spiritual journey. Mayavale is shocked when Cham and Karate Kid interrupt the ceremony. Cham explains that he assumed Mayavale’s gas ha affected his brain cells, making him unable to act in his own defense or escape. But they didn’t keep him from changing shape, so he changed to a snake to get out of the way of the cavalry, then tried to hide as a totem pole. The cavalry guys detected him right away and he realized they were robots, so he changed to a bison and smashed them to shit. Karate Kid used his martial arts discipline to free himself from Mayavale’s mind-altering gas, and pounded the assassins … which also turned out to be robots. They soon found Mayavale and Dreamy, but before they can help her, Mayavale catches them in a molecular disruptor beam. Dream Girl recognizes that from her dream as well and it galvanizes her into action. She’s so pissed off at beingDream Girl pounds Mayavale Mayavale’s victim, she busts free of her restraints and kicks the shit out of him. She releases Karate Kid and Cham and Mayavale recovers quickly. Instead of attacking again, he says Dream Girl’s courage surprised him and he needs to go away and “study the ways of darkness” some more, but promises to return. His cobbled-together world disappears, leaving Chameleon Boy to wrap himself around his friends (and a small pocket of air) long enough for Brande’s ship—which was released when Mayavale disappeared—to find them. Afterward, they wonder if Mayavale’s tale of reincarnation could be true or if he’s just some kind of nut … or maybe a little of both. They’re not even sure if he’s truly evil or just really misguided. The ending makes it sound like he might return in the future, but as far as I know, he never did.

Noticeable Things:

  • When Dream Girl goes wild and pounds Mayavale, the captions say she’s always felt like her power—seeing the future—was too passive and she wondered if she was too weak to be part of the Legion. Later, Dream Girl will be considered one of the best fighters in the Legion, so maybe this is the genesis of those martial skills.

Jonah Hex 41 coverJonah Hex #41 – “Two for the Hangman” – Michael Fleisher/Dick Ayers/Tony DeZuniga

This one starts with the Jody Randolph gang on the run, thinking they’ve lost their pursuer, Jonah Hex. But Hex is the best bounty hunter in the West, so he’s waiting to ambush them. Hex takes them into town, where he’s told the trial will take place as soon as Judge Harrow—known locally as “Hang ’Em High Harrow”—gets back from her court circuit. We see Judge Harrow returning home and it turns out she’s a rather distinguished-looking woman. We learn that she’s no softie on crime, nor on her son, Rodney, who drinks too much and hangs around with a dance-hall floozy named Vanessa. Rodney wants some money to buy Vanessa a present, but his mother says she’s already advanced him too much money, so if he wants to buy presents for his trampy girlfriend, he’s have to earn the money himself. When Rodney tells Vanessa, she’s gets veryRodney kills the deputy emotional (and manipulative), which makes him ready to do anything to soothe her. And whaddaya know, she just happens to have a suggestion; when she was delivering a meal from the saloon to the jailhouse for the Jody Randolph gang, she got a note promising her $10,000 if she helped bust them out. She talks Rodney into helping her, but when she tries to sneak a pistol in with the evening meal, the deputy spots it and grabs her. She yells for help and Rodney comes in and clubs the deputy to death with his gun. They all take off, but when Rodney asks Randolph for the ten thousand dollars, it turns out that was all bullshit; Vanessa is Randolph’s woman and she told Rodney that so he’d help bust her lover out of jail. But now that Rodney’s killed a deputy, he’s in the shit just as deep as the outlaws, so he has no choice but to tag along. In town the sheriff tries to put a posse together and Hex figures he might as well go bring Randolph and his gang in again. He tracks them to their camp swingin partyand takes out a couple of outlaws, but the others hear him. He charges the camp, blowing one outlaw away before Randolph wings him. Randolph prepares to finish Hex off, but Hex puts a camp axe right between his eyes. Rodney and Vanessa are the only ones left, and she urges Rodney to blow Hex away, but Hex tells him he’ll find a way to kill him before he gets up the courage to pull the trigger. Rodney hands Hex the gun and Hex takes him and Vanessa in. Rodney and Vanessa are found guilty and sentenced to death … by Rodney’s mother. He pleads for mercy (which earns him more contempt from Vanessa), but Judge Harrow is unmoved. As Hex rides away, we see why she was called “Hang ’Em High Harrow”.

NTT preview coverNew Teen Titans preview – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Dick Giordano

This is a preview that was inserted into certain DC mags in October of 1980, giving us a preview of New Teen Titans (which debuted in November). We start in New York, where terrorists have taken over STAR Labs. They’ve seized a new solar converter (invented by a STAR scientist) and are threatening to detonate it if their fellow terrorists aren’t freed from prison and given safe passage from the country. Robin shows up to help, but before he can make a move to infiltrate the building, he’s hit with a dizzy spell and keels over. He suddenly finds himself standing with ex-teammate Wonder Girl, outside a building styled to look like a big T. Wonder Girl says they’ll be late for the Titans meeting, which confuses Robin, but he’s even more confused when he gets inside and sees the rest of the team. He recognizes Gar Loganmeeting the New Titans (though Robin calls him Beast Boy instead of his current name, Changeling), but Cyborg and Starfire are all new to him. He tells them he has no idea who they are or what’s going on, which doesn’t actually seem to bother them that much. Kid Flash shows up (another person Robin knows) and Raven appears in a burst of smoke to tell them their mission. A scientist at STAR Labs has opened a portal to another dimension and a protoplasmic creature has come forth. Unfortunately, the creature needs to breathe methane to live, so it’s started converting Earth’s atmosphere to methane, which will kill everyone on the planet. Robin still doesn’t know what the hell’s going on, but he knows he has to help against this creature. By the time they get to STAR Labs, the creature has grown outside the confines of the building. fighting the creatureRaven tries to use her empathic powers on the creature, but her astral self gets trapped—which will be fatal if it isn’t reunited with her physical body soon. Starfire tries to blast the protoplasm as Robin races up toward the roof of the building. Before he gets there, he has another dizzy spell and finds himself back at STAR Labs during the hostage crisis. He figures he must’ve had some kind of weird dream and scales the building to go after the terrorists via the roof. But he has another dizzy spell and winds up back with the New Teen Titans fighting the protoplasm. The creature is immune to all their attacks until Cyborg blasts it with white sound. It retreats back to STAR and the Titans follow it to the lab where it was spawned … a lab Cyborg finds familiar, and he isn’t too happy about it. The creature attacks and the STAR scientist who opened the dimensional rift tells them he has a way to force it back through the portal. Starfire stays behind with the creature as the others leave; all the air is pumped out of the sealed lab and the creature gravitates toward the methane-filled atmosphere in the portal. Starfire pushes it through and blasts the computer, sealing the portal. Cyborg freakscreature banished Cyborg mad out on the scientist, saying he destroys everything he touches and he never wants to see him again. Turns out the scientist is cyborg’s father. Robin wakes up again back in the present and a cop tells him they defeated the terrorists by pumping all the oxygen out of the lab they’d commandeered … an idea they got from Robin’s mumblings as he was unconscious. Robin meets the scientist who developed the solar reactor and it turns out to be Dr. Stone, Cyborg’s father. That really freaks Robin out and he wonders if he’s going crazy or it was all just a weird dream. We see Raven watching him, thinking to herself that Robin’s experience was no dream, but a glimpse of the future. This is kind of a goofy way of introducing the New Teen Titans, with the future-hopping dream and all, but it does establish the basics of the comic; we meet the new characters, see the headquarters, and get an idea of the team dynamic (Changeling is a mouthy goofball, Cyborg is tormented and blames his father for turning him into a freak, Kid Flash has the hots for Raven but she doesn’t seem to notice). I’m looking forward to reviewing the ongoing comic.

2 thoughts on “Comics Reviews: JLA 183, Legion of Super-Heroes 268, Jonah Hex 41, New Teen Titans preview”

    1. Yeah, his death was so sudden it took everyone by surprise. Kind of like when Don Newton died while working on Infinity Inc. (which I’ll get to in a few years). I know some people don’t like Dillin, but I always thought his JLA work was solid; of course, he’s no Perez, but then who is? 🙂

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