Comics Reviews: JLA 184, Legion of Super-Heroes 269, New Teen Titans 1

JLA 184 coverJustice League of America #184 – “Crisis Between Two Earths or Apokolips Now” – Gerry Conway/George Perez/Frank McLaughlin

Last issue, members of the JLA and JSA were shanghaied to the worlds of the New Gods by Metron, who told them he needed their help. Three members of the Injustice Society were on Apokolips and had helped kidnap most of the citizens of New Genesis for some nefarious purpose. After splitting into teams to investigate different leads, one group of heroes found the Injustice Society members using some kind of ray to bring Darkseid (who’d been turned to stone) back to life. The heroes (Orion, Power Girl, and Firestorm) attack, hoping to stop the villains before they can finish restoring Darkseid to life. Shade gives Orion some trouble, but Firestorm takes him down, and Icicle is decked by a combo from Orion and Power Girl (which probably should’ve killed him,Barda explains love to Crimson since he has no super-powers). The last villain, Fiddler, uses his powers to effect the heroes’ minds, conjuring up nightmarish images that overwhelm their senses and knock them out. Fiddler resumes his original mission, directing the life-restoring ray back on Darkseid. At the orphanage run by Granny Goodness, the heroes (Superman, the Earth-2 Wonder Woman, and Big Barda) are led by the girl they rescued last issue to a chamber deep beneath the city, full of other children who have escaped Granny’s cruel clutches. The kids have formed an underground resistance, using captured and stolen weapons. Their leader, Crimson, is a tough-talking girl who doesn’t trust anyone, but she softens when Barda explains the concept of love. The kids welcome the heroes, but one of them (Playto) knows why they’ve come and that Darkseid will soon be restored. Playto is a multi-cog, a mutant who has a combination precognition/telepathy power that lets him see the past, finding Highfatherpresent, and future. It’s also convenient for story purposes, as Playto is able to bring us up to speed on how the Injustice Society got involved in all this. They were on Earth-2, committing a robbery, when Darkseid used his will power to animate the street around them. He soon broke them to his will and instructed them to travel to Apokolips, kidnap the people of New Genesis, and restore him to life. Crimson mentions that Darkseid’s plan doesn’t stop with his resurrection … he’s planning something else. Crimson doesn’t know what, but says Granny Goodness would know. Barda talks her into leading them to Granny. At the soldiers’ barracks, Dr. Fate, Oberon, and Green Lantern found someone imprisoned in a tower last issue. We finally find out that it’s Izaya, the Highfather, leader of the New Gods. Fate frees him and Highfather says his bonds sapped not only his strength but his willDarkseid's plan revealed power. He doesn’t have time to recover, since he can sense Darkseid getting closer to life and says if Darkseid carries out his plan, it could mean the destruction of time and space. At the Imperial Palace, Batman and Huntress are sneaking in, while Mr. Miracle has taken a separate route. Miracle finds the control room and is startled by what lies inside. When Batman and Huntress join him, he shows them the terrible truth: Darkseid’s plan is to transport Apokolips into Earth-2’s dimension, where there’ll be no gods—old or new—to challenge his mastery of the cosmos. Unfortunately, Apokolips will destroy Earth-2 in the process. We’ll see how the heroes prevent that next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • George Perez is on art this issue because Dick Dillin (who was the JLA artist for a decade or so) died suddenly of a heart attack on March 1, 1980. I thought Dillin’s art was pretty good on JLA, though I know some people don’t care for it, but I love Perez’s art; you can see the difference right away, with different layouts and those big, cool splash pages that Perez is known for.

LSH 269 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #269 – “Who Shall Name the Dark Man?” – Gerry Conway/Jimmy Janes/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts during election time on Earth. If that fills you with fear and loathing, don’t worry … things are done differently in the future. Computers pick the most qualified candidates (based on skill, competence, and decency) and they’re given only one day to campaign, after which the people vote. Nobody seems to take it too seriously (since all the candidates are supposed to be equally qualified, it doesn’t really matter who wins), and the whole thing just ends up being one big celebration. There’s a bit of debate among the Legionnaires … Shrinking Violet thinks letting a computer select your leader is stupid, and Projectra thinks democracy is overrated (which makes sense since her planet has a monarchy an she’s the King’s daughter). Mon-El and Shadow Lass decide to take off for some sexy alone time and Colossal Boy is surprised to see that his mother (Marte Allon), a university professor, is one of the chosen candidates.election day fun Out in space, a couple of thieves board a ship called the Dragonbane with a component they’ve stolen. The ship is almost deserted, except for a tank full of Sirian sea-apes, and their client, a shadowy figure called the Dark Man. One of the thieves tries to bluster, but he’s soon forced into submission by the Dark Man’s mental powers. The thief hands over the stolen item—a device that will allow undetected passage through Earth’s defenses—and contemplates revenge for Dark Man humiliating him. TheShadow Lass vs Validus thief goes to collect his reward, but the Dark Man is partially telepathic and knows the thief was planning revenge, so he dumps him into the Sirian sea-ape tank, where he’s torn apart. Dark Man concludes the deal with the remaining thief (who leaves unscathed) and installs the device, a tachyon generator that will allow Dragonbane to pass through Earth’s planetary defenses undetected. On Earth, Mon-El and Shadow Lass are about to get busy when they see a fireball crash into a nearby lake. The fireball turns out to be a ship and Validus emerges, raging as usual. Persuader and Emerald Empress pop up too, and Mon-El and Shadow Lass are captured, but not before Shady sends a distress call. Unfortunately, the Legion’s new headquarters isn’t operating perfectly yet, so the distress call isn’t received for a couple of hours. Timber Wolf is on duty and decides to respond to the call himself. At Colossal Boy’s parents’ house, he, Projectra, Wildfire, and Shrinking Violet are Tharok attackscongratulating his mom, even though she hasn’t been elected yet (and she doesn’t expect to be). Colossal Boy’s dad warns him that if Marte is elected, there could be a conflict of interest, since the Legion has been something of a political hot potato lately. Before Colossal Boy can process that, Mano attacks, blasting them back into the house. Tharok is there too, and a wild brawl breaks out. Projectra uses her illusions against Mano, but Tharok (who’s refined his powers since last time he fought the Legion) takes out Violet and Projectra with force bubbles. It looks like Tharok is being directed by someone who causes him intense pain when he starts getting too independent. Tharok grabs Violet and leaves, followed by Mano after he brings half the house down on the Legionnaires’ heads. Mano is picked up by the Dragonbane and we learn that Tharok is working for the Dark Man, though Mano has no idea why. We’ll learn more next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Colossal Boy is shown to be kind of besotted with Shrinking Violet here, even though she’s still (supposedly) dating Duplicate Boy. There may have been vague hints that Colossal Boy was attracted to Violet before, but this is pretty obvious (though I’m not sure Violet notices).
  • Gerry makes a big thing about Timber Wolf being a loner (and points out he used to be called Lone Wolf), but it seems strange he wouldn’t tell anyone about the distress call to headquarters (not to mention leaving monitor duty without telling anyone).

New Teen Titans 1 coverNew Teen Titans #1 – “The Birth of the Titans” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

I’ve really been looking forward to this series; I’ve read it before (more than once), but it never gets old. Wolfman’s characterization and Perez’s great art mesh perfectly to give us one of the best series of all time … at least in my opinion. The story starts with some action. A golden-skinned girl named Koriand’r (or Starfire, as we’ll soon come to call her) is fleeing from some lizard-like aliens called Gordanians. They’re slavers and she’s trying to escape. She steals a small ship and zooms away, chased by the big Gordanian slave ship. Since they want her alive, she manages to warp away before they can catch chase On Earth, Dick (Robin) Grayson is having a dream … one he’s had before, about fighting an extra-dimensional amoeba-creature with a group of Teen Titans, several of which he’s never met. He wakes up and finds one of the strangers (Raven) in his room. She tells him she invaded his dreams because evil forces are at work, necessitating the formation of a new Titans group. Dick is skeptical, but seems to trust Raven … at least enough to listen. SheTitans gathering tells him to talk to Wally (Kid Flash) West and hands him the phone; Wally (predictably) says he wants nothing to do with the Titans anymore, since he’s trying to have a normal life. Raven says she’ll take care of recruiting Wally and sends Robin to get Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy. He’s not sure where to find her, but sees an astral raven (like in his drams) and follows it. Wonder Girl is at the house where she was rescued from a fire (by Wonder Woman) as a baby, wondering who her parents might have been. she’s so wrapped up in thought, she almost decks robin and is surprised to find another visitor, a green bulldog who turns out to be Gar (Changeling) Logan, apparently directed there by Raven’s influence. Kid Flash shows up, surprising Robin. Who tells them what Raven said and about his weird dreams. They all decide to team up and head for New Jersey, where Raven is recruiting another aliens attacking the UNmember, Victor (Cyborg) Stone. Vic is a tortured soul, pissed off at his father for turning him into a cybernetic freak. Raven says he can be with others like him and when the rest of the team shows up, he says he’ll join them. Raven says their last member is approaching Earth, but she’s in trouble and they need to move fast to save her. The head for the United Nations Building, where the Gordanians are in full attack mode. Raven says she hasn’t quite located the last member yet, but has to rest because her astral self has been out of her body for so long. Kid Flash seems worried about her … maybe a little too worried, since they just met. We see Starfire in an apartment not too far away, with a guy named Grant Wilson. Grant tells his girlfriend Carol that Starfire just fell out of the sky, injured, and he’s trying to take care of her. Carol is skeptical—seems Grant has a history of screwing around on her, and lately he’s been hanging around with some questionable friends.Gordanians grab Starfire Raven pops in and tries to use her empathic power to heal Starfire, but the Gordanians bust in and knock everyone out. They take Starfire and the Titans show up too late to stop them, but just in time to almost get pulled into a space warp conjured by one of the aliens. Using teamwork, the Titans get out of the warp, but Raven says they have to go after Starfire again. Grant Wilson is pissed off that his place has been trashed, and gets more pissed off when Carol points out it’s kinda his fault for bringing Starfire there in the first place. The Gordanians take Starfire back to their ship and argue over who gets paid for retrieving her (and who gets docked for losing her). The Titans invade the ship and we see Kid Flash is very defensive whenever anyone criticizes Raven; makes you wonder exactly what she did to suddenly change his mind … after all, she can manipulate emotions. The Titans are already starting to work as a team (and Robin’s happy to be out of Batman’s shadow) and they find Starfire.on Gordanian ship Raven asks Vic to use his scientific knowledge along with his cybernetic enhancements to sabotage the ship, but it’s too complex even for him. Changeling (who’s spouting an endless stream of jokes to distract himself from how scared he is) turns into a mouse and goes inside the power core to sabotage it. The Titans bail out and the ship explodes. The Gordanian mother ship isn’t too bothered; the commander was pissed off at the other ship’s captain and has plenty of other slaves to sell … though he does say his superiors will probably send a fleet to wipe out Earth. In New York, Starfire is fine and Raven tells the Titans they will soon face an evil that only their power can overcome. Nearby, Grant Wilson watches the Titans and tells someone he wants them destroyed. We don’t see who he’s talking to, but it’s a member of HIVE (a worldwide criminal organization) who says the Titans will soon be taken care of.

Noticeable Things:

  • The Titans getting together and suddenly deciding to form a team seems a bit precipitous, but we’re promised that each of them has their own reason for joining, and we’ll see what those reasons are in good time.
  • When Raven is in Dick’s room, he changes into Robin right in front of her; I guess he’s not shy.
  • Gar has to remind the others several times that he’s called Changeling now, not Beast Boy. Personally, I like Changeling way better and I don’t know why they later went back to the stupid “Beast Boy” moniker.
  • We find out that if Raven’s soul-self is separated from her body for more than five minutes, bad things will happen.
  • This is a great start to the series, bringing the team together, giving each member a bit of background and personality, and some mystery too. Plus those great Perez action scenes … I can’t wait for next issue!

2 thoughts on “Comics Reviews: JLA 184, Legion of Super-Heroes 269, New Teen Titans 1”

  1. Glad you’re covering the New Teen Titans here. I’m currently finishing up the first TPB collection of the title; haven’t read these books since the amazing 80’s. Nice to read them again; and you’re right- the book did get off to a great start. And, the quality kept up for a good while…

    1. Yeah, I’ve read the whole run a couple times before, but it’s one of those runs that I never get tired of. Perez’s art doesn’t look dated at all, and Wolfman balances super-heroics and the Titans’ personal lives really well.

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