Comics Reviews: JLA 186, Legion of Super-Heroes 271, New Teen Titans 3

JLA 186 coverJustice League of America #186 – “Who Can Stop the Shaggy Man?” – Gerry Conway/George Perez/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts in Siberia, where some Red Army guards are attacked by a furry giant. One of them escapes and gets back to his base babbling about the Abominable Snowman attacking the guard outpost. More soldiers investigate, finding giant tracks and crushed soldiers. They decide to hush it all up, shooting the lone survivor who witnessed the attack. A couple months later, Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny is on the JLA Satellite lamenting that the League never gets to solve any mysteries anymore. As he’s ruminating, a space capsule flits past the Satellite, startling Ralph out of his reverie. On Earth, we see Flash rescuing a race car driver from a near-fatal crash (she’s very grateful) before getting an emergency JLA signal. InRussians ask for help Star City, Ollie (Green Arrow) Queen and Dinah (Black Canary) Lance are getting amorous when Dinah gets a JLA signal. Ollie is pissed off—apparently romance is difficult for two super-heroes on the go—but Dinah says just because he quit the JLA doesn’t mean she can ignore her duty. Atom and Batman also get emergency calls and all four heroes teleport up to the Satellite to find Ralph waiting … with a couple of Russian cosmonauts. One of the cosmonauts (Petra Rostoff) explains they’ve been sent there to alert the JLA about the return of one of their old foes, the Shaggy Man. The JLA figure it’s all bullshit—and Flash is kind of a dick about it—because Shaggy Man is still imprisoned on the Satellite after being miniaturized by Green Lantern in JLA 104. Batman mentions that there were two Shaggy Men originally (way back in JLA 45), so maybe the one that’s menacing the Russians is the other monster. Flash says that’s impossible, since he and Green Lantern fought the second Shaggy Man a year ago. He shows them a JLA vs Shaggy Mantape GL made and we get an extended flashback. GL and Flash were on a fishing trip in Alaska when they heard about trouble in Siberia, so they went to check it out and found Shaggy Man fighting Russian troops. After fighting Shaggy with everything they had and just making him madder, Flash finally decided to freeze Shaggy in the Bering Strait, and that’s where they left him. Batman speculates that a solar flare might have melted Shaggy Man’s icy prison enough for him to escape. Batman says he has an idea how to capture the beast, so the Leaguers head for Russia. Batman can’t fully explain his plan since the Russians are probably monitoring them, so he just has everyone engage Shaggy Man and lure him toward a missile silo. They combine their powers, herding the mindless beast to the silo, where Batman has already programmed the missile. Batman lures Shaggy onto the missile, which shoots off into space on a one-way trip. Batman knew the Russians wouldn’t like him wasting one of their missiles, hence all the secrecy.

Noticeable Things:

  • Petra tells the JLA they flew up to the Satellite because they didn’t want to use the radio and risk broadcasting their troubles to the world.
  • The flashback fight with Shaggy Man took place while the rest of the team was fighting Regulator in JLA 174, which explains why Flash and GL didn’t answer the emergency signal in that issue.
  • Flash is a real prick to the Russians, accusing them of lying, and even of trying to lure Shaggy Man to them so they could use him as a weapon (which is possible, since Flash and GL saw some kind of machinery near the hole Shaggy Man climbed out of in the flashback story). I guess Barry hates Communists, though we haven’t really seen any of that in his own mag. Wally West (Kid Flash) has the same Conservative bent in New Teen Titans … maybe Barry’s politics rubbed off on him?
  • Batman mentions that the other JLA members are still on New Genesis, helping clean up and rebuild after the last three issues.

LSH 271 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #271 – “What is the Dark Man?” – Gerry Conway/Jimmy Janes/John Calnan

Over the last couple of issues, a bunch of Legionnaires were attacked by the Fatal Five and Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl were captured. Timber Wolf and Light Lass recruited Blok (from the League of Super-Assassins) to help find the Fatal Five, who were hiding in their starship (Dragonbane), currently skimming over the Atlantic Ocean. Timber Wolf invaded the Five’s ship and found the guy calling the shots (the Dark Man) is a dead ringer for the Five’s leader, Tharok … except Dark Man is all flesh instead of half cyborg like Tharok. Timber Wolf’s surprise allows Dark Man to escape, though Wolf learns the villain has telepathic powers. Timber Wolf is caught by automated defenses and Light Lass runs into Emerald Empress while looking for him. Light Lass manages to escape, while Blok wanders the ship aimlessly. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are still captives, but Saturn Girl uses her telepathy to contact Tharok and force him to cut powerDark Man's origin to the ship. Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the other Legionnaires (Wildfire, Projectra, Shadow Lass, Colossal Boy, and Mon-El) have escaped the neutron sphere they were held in and summoned a Legion Cruiser to pick them up. They quickly realize the Cruiser landed farther north in the Atlantic and assume their teammates must be there. On Dragonbane, Light Lass finds a computer room and plays a tape showing Tharok’s origin: he was a thief who got half-vapourized on a planet called Zadron, then the ruined half of his body was rebuilt with mechanical parts, but the work was rushed and Tharok decided to get revenge for being turned into a monster. But there turns out to be more to the story; a Zadronian scientist took a sample from Tharok’s brain and it somehow gained sentience while he was experimenting on it. The brain sample forced the scientist to put it in a cloning chamber where it Timber Wolf confronts Dark Maninstantly grew to maturity as the Dark Man. But Dark Man needs to feed on life energy in order to survive, so he killed the scientist. As Light Lass watches the tape, Dark Man sneaks up behind her. Blok frees Timber Wolf from his restraints and they head for the computer room. The Fatal Five actually rescue Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, hoping they can help Tharok, whose headaches have gotten worse and who’s now having some kind of seizures. Of course, Saturn Girl has already made contact with Tharok’s mind, but she doesn’t mention that; instead, she deepens the contact, closing off the darkness within his mind that’s causing the pain. Tharok realizes his true enemy is the Dark Man, so he and the Fatal Five forge a temporary truce with the Legion to fight their common foe. The other Legionnaires find Dragonbane adrift and start busting in, just as Timber Wolf and Blok track Dark man and Light Lass to the hydroponic garden on the observation deck. Dark Man uses hisDark Man and Tharok annihilate each other telepathy to force Light Lass to attack her teammates. Timber Wolf avoids some grasping vines and goes after Dark Man, who tries to seize Wolf’s mind telepathically. Wolf is freaked out by the soul-searing contact, but before Dark Man can control him, Blok knocks down the tree they’re in. Dark Man falls and Timber Wolf catches Light Lass before she splatters. The Fatal Five show up and Tharok attacks his doppleganger. When the two of them come together, they explode and both disappear. The Legion take the rest of the Five into custody. Later, we learn that Colossal Boy’s mom has been elected President of Earth and is looking forward to a brighter future. Yeah, that’s what all the politicians say.

Noticeable Things:

  • I really like Jimmy Janes’ art; I wish he’d done more Legion stuff.

NTT 3 coverNew Teen Titans #3 – “The Fearsome Five” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Starfire (who’s now sharing an apartment with Wonder Girl) pointing out Vega, the star where her home plant of Tamaran orbits. Starfire is all mopey, wondering if she’ll ever see home again. Elsewhere, we see a couple of super-villains (Mammoth and Shimmer, who are brother and sister) answering an ad in the Underworld Star (!) about joining a criminal team. Their new teammates—Gizmo and Psimon—welcome them (after trying to kill them as a test of their power) and the leader (Dr. Light) says the team’s mission is to kill the New Teen Titans. Back at Donna’s place, Starfire recounts her origin. On Tamaran, her people live in harmony with nature and give full rein to their emotions. Tamaran has been in a war with beings from the Citadel for a hundred years.Starfire tells her origin Finally her father (King Myand’r) decided to broker a peace. Unfortunately, the price was him turning Starfire—his heir—over to the Citadel. She spent a couple years with them before being sold into slavery and bounced around the Vegan system for another four years. She finally escaped and made it to Earth, but wishes she could go home and see her family. Raven pops in to interrupt Starfire’s story, saying she has a mission for them. When Robin questions her, Kid Flash decks him (lending credence to the idea that Raven used her powers to screw with Wally’s mind somehow). Wonder Girl calms them down, saying they should at least listen to what Raven has to say. Meanwhile, the Fearsome Five are arguing about how stupid it is to attack a Titans lose to Fearsome Fivesuper-hero team. Dr. Light figures wasting the Titans will remove an impediment to their activities and get them some street cred. Psimon informs them they may not have a choice, since the Titans have tracked them down and are about to attack. Sure enough, the Titans bust in and go after the Fearsome Five, but the villains actually do pretty well for themselves, managing to knock all the Titans out. But they all take off, even though Dr. Light admits he doesn’t know why. Considering Psimon’s sly smile and treacherous thoughts, I think we can assume he compelled his teammates to retreat with his mental powers. We see Raven in the same weirdo dimension as last issue, arguing with the same disembodied entity, who we learn is called Trigon. She asks if the Fearsome Five are his minions and Trigon sends a deadly force bolt at her. She disappears before it hits andgathering at new headquarters Trigon wonders to himself why he gave her time to escape. In New York, Cyborg talks to his father, who he still blames for turning him into a freak. Cyborg admits that being with the Titans makes him feel better about himself, but he still can’t forgive his father. Dr. Stone wants to tell Cyborg he’s dying, but Victor won’t give him a chance. Victor finds an invitation to the opening of the titans’ new headquarters, on an island in the East River. The next day, Changeling heads out to the island, finding everyone else already there. All of them are puzzled at who built the headquarters and why; something that fancy doesn’t come without strings attached. Raven shows up to tell them they have a mission against the Fearsome Five. Robin still wants answers and this time, Raven’s prepared to give them. She says she studied mysticism at the Temple of Azerath and learned that an other-dimensional Psimon's origindemon known as Trigon wants to invade and destroy Earth. Raven had a precognitive flash telling her that the JLA would accidentally unleash a monster that would kill them and pave the way for Trigon to destroy Earth. Raven brought to Titans together to oppose the JLA, but her mystic abilities tell her the Fearsome Five are somehow involved too. In the Jersey Palisades, the Five are talking about tricking the Titans into fighting the JLA for them. Even though Dr. Light came up with the idea, he’s not sure why. But he soon learns, when Psimon mentally bitch-slaps him and says he’s taking over as Fearsome Five leader. Psimon explains that he was a scientist trying to pierce the dimensional barrier when he made contact with Trigon, who gave him amazing mental powers. Trigon wants Psimon to go after the Titans for him, so Psimon answered Dr. Light’s ad, figuring his new teammates could help him. Psimon sends the Titans a message, saying the Fearsome Five areTitans pounded waiting on a ship in the Hudson River. Raven isn’t interested, thinking their resources are better served trying to convince the JLA of the threat Trigon poses. Kid Flash stays with Raven (naturally), but the others head off to fight the Fearsome Five. The Titans make a piss-poor showing again, getting their asses kicked. Raven is monitoring them and Kid Flash zooms to their rescue, but it’s too late; he and the others are all defeated. Psimon mentions that his master plan is similar to Dr. Light’s original plan, except Light only wanted to destroy his enemies, while Psimon wants to destroy a world. Raven sees her teammates defeated and decides she has to go see the JLA on her own … which we’ll see for ourselves next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Changeling mentions that his adoptive father, Steve (Mento) Dayton, is still out looking for the Brotherhood of Evil, who killed Steve’s wife and the rest of the Doom Patrol. Changeling also mentions his tendency to goof around is his way of coping with stress, which is fine but I think he goes overboard sometimes. Even Spider-Man didn’t make that many wisecracks.
  • Raven mentions that she hasn’t told the Titans everything about Trigon; we’ll learn more in upcoming issues.
  • Psimon seems to be more powerful than everyone else put together; he can knock the Titans out psionically and boasts that anything he conceives of becomes reality … so why does he need teammates? He should be able to beat the Titans (or the JLA, or anyone) without even working up a sweat.

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