Comics Reviews: JLA 185, Legion of Super-Heroes 270, New Teen Titans 2

JLA 185 coverJustice League of America #185 – “Darkseid Rising” – Gerry Conway/George Perez/Frank McLaughlin

This one opens with Metron giving us a recap of the last couple issues. Basically, most of the people of New Genesis were kidnapped to Apokolips to construct a machine to return Darkseid to life (with help from three members of Earth-2’s Injustice Society). Metron brought the JLA and JSA to help and they split into teams, as usual. One team found an underground resistance of children from Granny Goodness’s orphanage, another found Highfather chained up in a well-guarded barracks, and another team tried to stop the Injustice Society from restoring Darkseid, but got pounded for their efforts. The final team snuck into the palace and found out what Darkseid’s ultimate plan is … he’s going to move Apokolips into Earth-2’s dimension and take over that universe,Highfather fights back destroying Earth-2 in the process. Metron knows what’s happening, but says he can’t do anything to stop it since he’s just an observer. I wonder if he hangs out with Marvel’s Watcher? Now that Darkseid is restored, he returns to his palace to carry out his plan. The Injustice Society point out that not only did they restore Darkseid to life, they also defeated and captured some heroes, including Darkseid’s son, Orion. Darkseid is pissed off that the Injustice Society had the gall to mess with his progeny, but since they brought him back to life, he sends them to Chamber 13 (the prison) instead of blowing them away. As the villains are dragged off, Batman, Huntress, and Mr. Miracle jump the guards. Outside the barracks, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and Oberon bring a weakened Highfather into the city. Highfather knows what Darkseid is planning and says they need to get to Darkseid’s planet Barda surprises Grannytransporter before it’s too late. They’re attacked by Parademons, which Fate and GL fight. Highfather uses his power against the Parademons, but he’s so weak from his imprisonment, the effort almost kills him. In the orphanage, Crimson (the mouthy kid freed by the heroes last issue) leads Superman and Wonder Woman to Granny Goodness’s tower. Crimson wants to waste Granny (and almost kills a guard before Superman stops her), but Superman gives her a speech about not fighting hatred with hatred and all that jazz. They bust in and find a bunch more kids chained up and being “disciplined” by Granny and her guards. Supes and Wonder Woman take out the guards while Crimson frees the enslaved kids. Wonder Woman confronts Granny and it looks like she’s about to kick her ass when Granny takes off, slipping out a hidden door. But Granny’s former “guest” Big Barda, knows all Granny’s secrets and is waiting for her. Unfortunately, we don’t get to seeBatman and Miracle bypass the traps the royal ass-kicking that Barda gives Granny, but I’m sure it was good. Back in the palace, Power Girl, Firestorm, and Orion have joined Batman, Miracle, and Huntress after being rescued. Orion points the way to Chamber 13, but says he’s going after Darkseid. Firestorm and Power Girl decide to go along. There’s some banter between Firestorm and Power Girl here, which is the beginning of their weird flirtation that continues in upcoming crossovers. Power Girl seems amused (or bemused) by Firestorm’s attraction to her and his general goofiness, but she’s not entirely against it either, from what I can see. Firestorm is kinda Gerry’s pet character, so maybe he was living vicariously a bit. Batman, Miracle, and Huntress find Chamber 13, but the Injustice members are held in a cage riddled with traps. That’s no problem for the world’s two best escape artists and they soon find a hidden door. Elsewhere, Fate, GL, Oberon, and Highfather are close to being overrun by Parademons. Metron observes, but still won’t interfere. He does decide to Darkseid blastedgo to the palace and take a slightly more active role in events, though. At the palace, Orion and friends bust in on Darkseid before he can activate his world-transporter. Firestorm uses his power to direct Darkseid’s Omega Beam right back at him, stunning him. Orion is ready to end things, but Darkseid manages to activate the machine; when it fires, Earth-2 will be destroyed and Apokolips will move into its dimension. Outside, Fate, GL, and Highfather are saved by the cavalry … the citizens of New Genesis freed from Chamber 13 by Batman’s team. None of that will matter once Darkseid’s machine blasts Earth-2, but when the deadly beam shoots out, it hits Darkseid instead, disintegrating him. Turns out Metron reprogrammed the machine to target Darkseid instead of Earth-2. That’s basically it for the story; Metron says something about rebuilding New Genesis, but there’s no other wrap-up. It almost feels like the pacing was off and Gerry was forced to end the story in the last page, so he didn’t have room for a real dénouement.

LSH 270 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #270 – “Who is the Dark Man?” – Gerry Conway/Jimmy Janes/Frank Chiaramonte

Last issue, we saw a bunch of Legionnaires get pounded by the Fatal Five, who turned out to be working for someone called the Dark Man. As this issue opens, we find out the Legionnaires weren’t just defeated, they were captured. Wildfire, Mon-El, Projectra, Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet, and Shadow Lass wake up in a neutron force bubble and soon realize they’ve been deposited at the bottom of the ocean, which is filled with monstrous creatures (one looks like a Kraken). Neither Mon-El’s strength nor Wildfire’s energy can penetrate the solid neutronium bubble around them, and it blocks their emergency signals too. Despite a pep talk from Shrinking Violet, things look pretty grim. Luckily, Timber Wolf got an emergency signal last issue and decided to check it out, though it would’ve been nice if he’d bothered to tell any of his fellow Legionnaires about the call for help. But his original code name was “Lone Wolf”, so I guess it’s not out ofEmpress and Mano attack character. Timber Wolf finds evidence of the fight on the shore (where Mon-El and Shady were grabbed last issue) and reluctantly calls headquarters to report it. Lightning Lad is pissed off that Timber Wolf answered the emergency alone, but finding their missing teammates is their first priority, so he sends Wolfie to the Allon household. The Allons are Colossal Boy’s parents and his mom (Marte) was nominated for President of Earth last issue. Light Lass comes in (wearing some pretty revealing nightwear) and tries to defend Timber Wolf, but Lightning Lad’s not having it. He tells her to go to the Allons and keep an eye on Timber Wolf while he and Saturn Girl check out the seashore. Before they even get out of headquarters, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are jumped by Emerald Empress and Mano. They’re taken out rather easily, but Saturn Girl does manage to glean some information from her foes’ minds, learning that Tharok has ordered the Fatal Five to capture the Legionnaires, Blok decides to helpand that Tharok is working with someone called the Dark Man. Saturn Girl warns Light Lass telepathically, so she’s ready when Persuader and Validus bust in. She gets Validus mad enough to attack Persuader and takes off. Tharok is outside and tries to blast her, but she escapes and heads to the Allon house. Timber Wolf is already there, sniffing around (literally) for clues and getting info from Marte Allon, who overheard Tharok talking about the Dark Man. Light Lass shows up to tell them about the attack on headquarters. On the Fatal Five’s ship (Dragonbane) over the Atlantic, we see the villains talking to the Dark Man, who congratulates them for having bagged ten Legionnaires so far. Tharok wonders when they’re getting paid, but the Dark Man activates some kind of pain inducer, causing agony in Tharok’s brain. The Dark Man says they’ll be paid when he’s ready, and if they disobey they’ll suffer for it. In the Himalayas, Timber Wolf and Light Lass head to a maximum security prison to see the League of Super-Assassins. In case you don’t remember, the League is a bunch of pissed off villains who tried to get revenge on theColossal Boy punches out a sea serpent Legion for destroying their home planet (in LSH 253). The League claimed they got their powers (and information about their planet’s destruction) from the Dark Man, so Timber Wolf and Light Lass figure they might have answers about where to find him. But the League still blames the Legion for their planet’s destruction, so they refuse to help … except for Blok. He was always reluctant to kill the Legionnaires, even for revenge, and he agrees to help them look for the Dark Man now. They’re not sure how far they can trust him, but they don’t really have a choice. In the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, Colossal Boy tries to break the neutron bubble by growing, but that doesn’t work either. Projectra reasons that if the bubble is made to withstand force from inside, maybe force from outside will break it. She projects an illusion that attracts one of the monsters f the deep (a sea serpent) and it crushes the bubble. They head for the surface (after Colossal Boy punches out the Dark Man revealedsea serpent). In orbit, Timber Wolf and Light Lass search for a certain frequency that Blok told them about and locate it over the Atlantic. On Tharok’s ship, Mano is getting frustrated over the mysterious Dark Man and his hold on Tharok. Before the Fatal Five can puzzle things out, the entire ship rises to the surface and everyone aboard starts floating. Light Lass has used her anti-gravity power to shake everyone up and follows Timber Wolf and Blok as they invade the ship. Timber Wolf jumps ahead, as usual, and runs a gamut of security devices, his agility getting him through. He ends up in the control room, where he finds the Dark Man, who turns out to be … Tharok! But not the half-man, half-robot Tharok we know; this Tharok is all flesh, with no robotic parts. Who is this guy and how is he related to the half-robot Tharok? And why does he want to capture all the Legionnaires? We’ll find out next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • The League of Super-Assassins are also shown freaking out when asked for help and trying to break out of the holding cell to attack Timber Wolf and Light Lass … but wouldn’t they know that was futile? They must’ve tried to break out before. Also, when they’re led back to their own cells, they have power-dampening restraints on, so why were the restraints removed when they were in the holding area?

New Teen Titans 2 coverNew Teen Titans #2 – “Today … the Terminator” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with Deathstroke, the Terminator (a master assassin with a crazy fashion-sense) in a HIVE base. HIVE wants to hire him to kill the New Titans, but he insists on being paid in advance. When HIVE refuses, Terminator tries to leave and they attack him. He fights his way past their defenses (showing that he has enhanced speed, reflexes, and strength), but his adversaries turn out to be holograms, so he just takes off. The real HIVE members were observing the fight and scanning Terminator so they could replicate his bio-engineered skills on another person … one who’ll be completely loyal to them. In New York, Grant Wilson is getting shit from his girlfriend (or ex-girlfriend I guess) Carol about the company he keeps. Carol mentions Grant’s father and brother are bad news too and worries he’ll turn out like them. Grant starts roughing her up and gets blasted when Starfire and Wonder Girl show up. They’ve been helping setfighting robots at the docks Carol up in a new apartment, since her old one got trashed in a fight with the Gordanians last issue. Grant gets even more pissed off and says he and his new friends will make the Titans pay. Kid Flash shows up to let Wonder Girl and Starfire know there’s a mission on down at the docks. They zip down there and meet the rest of the Titans, watching some weirdos in red outfits load contraband in trucks. The Titans attack, pounding all the guys (who turn out to be robots) and destroying the trucks. Starfire incinerates the robots, which pisses Robin off since he was hoping to analyze them for clues. When Robin tackles Starfire, to stop her robot massacre, she responds by giving him a huge smooch. I’m pretty sure there’s tongue involved, especially since she immediately starts speaking perfect English afterwards. Turns out she was absorbing English through close contact with Robin (the kiss wasn’t a necessary part of it, it’s just more fun that way). One robot survived the fight and Robin suggests they get Cyborg’s father to analyze it at STAR Labs. Cyborg says no way; he’s still pissed off at his father for turning him into a cyborg freak. Terminator has been watching the fight and is somewhat impressed by the Raven in other dimensionTitans. He contacts his aide-de-camp, Wintergreen, asking for info on HIVE. Speaking of HIVE, it looks like they’re the unsavoury friends Carol was worried about; we see Grant Wilson at the HIVE base in the Atlantic about to undergo an operation that’ll allow him to tap 100% of his brain’s capacity (as opposed to the 10% used by most humans, and the 90% that Terminator uses). We get an interlude with Raven in some freaky dimension, asking a gigantic pair of eyes for forgiveness. The crazy eyes tell her to get lost and blast her. I guess it was just her astral form, because she wakes up in Kid Flash’s room in Blue Valley. Kid Flash returns home and tries to ask Raven if she did something to influence him to rejoin the Titans (since he was dead set against it earlier), but she just takes off before he can voice his concerns. Out in East Hampton, the Titans hang out at the gigantic mansion of Gar (Changeling) Logan’s adoptive father, Steve Dayton. Donnaat the pool convinces Starfire (who we learn is named Koriand’r) to wear a bikini, to keep the guys (and the Comics Code) from losing their minds. The bikinis Kory and Donna wear are pretty skimpy (Donna calls them “strings with a gland condition”), so the guys are pretty blown away anyway. At STAR Labs, Victor (Cyborg) Stone’s father can’t learn anything from the robot he brought in, and he and Vic start arguing again. Vic blames his old man not just for turning him into a cyborg, but for his mom’s death as well. Dr. Stone tries to tell Victor that making him a cyborg was the only way to save his life, but Vic won’t listen and walks out. He’s jumped by Grant Wilson, in a weird costume reminiscent of Terminator’s. Wilson is still raving about making the Titans pay, but Cyborg knocks him out with some white noise. Cyborg gets jumped again, this time by Terminator, who slaps an energy damper on Cyborg and takes off with Grant. At the mansion, Starfire tells he others she Grant fights Cyborg at STAR Labsmisses her home planet, but can never return. Before she can elaborate, Cyborg shows up to warn the team about Grant. At Terminator’s place, Grant recovers from his fight with Cyborg, but Terminator warns him that his enhanced body is feeding off its own energy and that could kill him if he overdoes it. Grant refuses to listen, saying his father told him Terminator was the best mercenary in the world, but he’s turned out to be a big pussy. Grant takes off and Terminator prepares to follow. Grant goes to the mansion to attack the Titans and is joined by Terminator. We see HIVE are observing from afar and it turns out they’d planned this all along, knowing that Terminator would go after the Titans—for free—if they got Grant involved. Terminator and Grant do pretty well for a seven-on-two fight, but Terminator’s warning ends up being true … Grant burns himself out during the fight, aging to the point of death. Raven teleports in and says the fight is pointless. She gives Grant what he wants (a vision of the Titans lying dead)Grant overdoes it and dies right before he dies. Terminator blames the Titans for his death, even though HIVE are the ones who powered him up, and vows to finish Grant’s contract by killing the Titans. At Grant’s funeral, we find out why Terminator is so invested in all this … Grant was his son. He vows to finish what Grant started, which makes HIVE very happy, even though they know he’s doing it for his own reasons. HIVE figures Terminator’s hate for the Titans will be motivation enough; it seems to have worked for Grant, although I’m not really sure where all Grant’s maniacal hate came from. It just seemed to be plot-driven (which Wolfman even acknowledged in a caption during the story).

Noticeable Things:

  • The kissing thing with Robin is a bit strange; I know it’s supposed to be funny (and it sets up the romance between Dick and Kory), but if Starfire could absorb language by touch, why did she wait so long? I’m not sure how long she’s been on Earth at this point, but it’s been a while. She should’ve learned to communicate sooner. It looks like she’s been hanging out with Donna, so I’m surprised she didn’t absorb English from her. (Not necessarily with a kiss, although that might’ve been interesting.)
  • It’s nice to see Kid Flash questioning his sudden change of mind. The others were wondering if Raven was influencing him last issue, but he seemed to dismiss their concerns.
  • We learn that the accident that mangled Victor up and forced his dad to cyborginize him to save his life, is also killing his father somehow.
  • There’s a scene where the team discusses secret identities and Donna mentions that nobody’s ever connected her with Wonder Girl, even though she’s never worn a mask. I guess people in the DCU are all idiots.
  • Starfire’s tendency toward violence is shown here, and Robin is worried when he finds out she literally doesn’t know the meaning of compassion.
  • After the fight with Grant and Terminator, Raven says the threat she brought them together to face is coming soon. We’ll see what that threat is in future issues.

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