Comics Reviews: JLA 187, Legion of Super-Heroes 272, New Teen Titans 4

JLA 187 coverJustice League of America #187 – “Proteus Says: All Things Must Change” – Gerry Conway/Don Heck/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with Zatanna on the JLA Satellite, in a pensive mood. Flash sticks around after the latest meeting and they start talking about how the League has changed since its founding. Zatanna tells Flash she’s made a decision and magics up a new costume. She says her old costumes were reflections of her parents’ styles, so now she wants something that fits her own personality more closely. It is a pretty cool-looking outfit. She and Flash get closer, sharing dinner; the pot on the stove is shown boiling over … maybe that’s a metaphor for something, hmmm? In Metropolis, a shock wave threatens to collapse the Metropolis Trade Center building until Superman shows up to stop it. He quickly figures out where the shock wave originated and burrows into the sewer system where he’sAquaman jumped confronted by a weirdly dressed villain who looks a bit like Marvel’s Chameleon. But this guy is called Proteus, and he blasts Superman with some kind of ray that knocks him out. The next thing we see is some chunky construction worker named Bart McClusky nursing bruises and a hangover in his crappy apartment. We’re told this actually is Superman, but without the Man of Steel’s memories. At a marina down the coast, Aquaman responds to a call from Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny, but it turns out to be a trap. Proteus is waiting and he knocks Aquaman out, then changes his body into a nondescript guy, much like he did with Superman. Proteus tells his men to “relocate” Aquaman in his new body, and goes to work changing Ralph. Six fake JLA members (Superman, Aquaman, Elongated Man, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Zatanna) emerge from hiding, asking Proteus if it’s time for them to go into action yet. Zatanna surprisedProteus assures them he just has a couple more stops to make and everything will be ready. In Washington, Proteus suckers Wonder Woman by pretending to be a suicide jumper. He knocks her out and takes off with her in a helicopter. In Gotham, Proteus knocks Zatanna out and transforms her body into that of an old lady. Proteus’s Zatanna doppelgänger contacts Flash on the Satellite, saying there’s an emergency at a jewelry store in Gotham. Flash is suspicious, since this version of Zatanna is still wearing her old costume. We see Proteus relocating Zatanna as a bag lady in the subway and we learn his power comes from something he calls the Identi-Factor. The Identi-Factor lets him change people physically and mentally, giving them completely new identities and personalities. He used the same technology to create the fake JLA, but it can’t recreate their powers, only their appearances. Flash showsreal JLA in wrong bodies up at the jewelry store, but he called ahead to get the jeweler to challenge the ersatz JLA to prove who they really are. To Flash’s surprise, they all exhibit their usual powers, making him think he must’ve been wrong and that Zatanna just decided to switch back to her old costume. But we soon see Flash was right all along, as Superman’s construction worker saves someone from a falling girder by instinctively punching it to pieces. That brings back Supes’ memory (though not his original appearance) and he flies off to track down Proteus. Elsewhere, we see Aquaman, Elongated man, and Wonder Woman all regain their memories too, and everybody ends up on Proteus’s yacht (where he Flash ambushedjumped Ralph and Aquaman earlier).Ralph recalls Proteus bragging about the Identi-Factor before transforming him, and remembers Proteus talking about the jewelry store. At the store, the fake JLAers are inside, “guarding” the place from potential thieves. The fake Superman tells Flash to check outside in the back alley. Flash heads out, still wondering how he could’ve been mistaken about Zatanna. He learns too late that his suspicions were correct … Proteus ambushes him in the alley, blasting him while a fake Flash looks on. we’ll see how everything gets sorted out next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • As I mentioned, the pot is shown boiling over on the stove when Flash and Zatanna are together, implying that they might’ve been getting it on. But later, each of them thinks about they “stayed up talking all night”, so I guess we’re supposed to believe nothing happened. Zatanna does believe Flash is interested and wonders if having a romantic relationship would be a mistake. She’s probably right, since Barry is supposed to be dating Fiona Webb at this point, so banging Zatanna would make him look like an asshole.
  • Aquaman uses an octopus to fight Proteus’s men, but he says he borrowed it from the nearby marina, so I assume it isn’t meant to be Topo.
  • The jewelry store Proteus wants to rob is called Dombey & Sons, which I assume is a Dickens reference.
  • If you’re wondering how the Identi-Factor affected Superman, Proteus says it contains a small amount of Kryptonite as a power source.

LSH 272 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #272 – “The Secret Origin of Blok” – Gerry Conway/Steve Ditko/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Wildfire testing the Legion’s newest recruit (Blok) by blasting him with fiery energy. Wildfire’s a bit miffed when Blok says it tickles, so he tells the rocky behemoth there’s another test to pass. Dawnstar and Sun Boy are assisting in Blok’s tests, as three Legion Academy students look on (Lamprey, Nightwind, and Crystal Kid). Dawnstar demonstrates the next challenge, dodging through a gauntlet of metal cylinders that strike from all sides. Blok just walks right through, letting the cylinders shatter on his indestructible body. Wildfire gets even more pissed off, but Sun Boy thinks it’s hilarious (especially since the cylinders were due to be replaced soon anyway). Wildfire leaves and Lamprey asks Blok where he came from and how he got his rocky powers. Blok tells them about his home planet, Dryad, which was settled by humanshumans meet rock creatures decades ago. Blok’s species were native to the planet, but the humans’ instruments didn’t register them as a life-form, so they colonized the planet. Blok’s people observed the humans (disguised as natural rock formations) and learned their language. Finally, they revealed themselves and the two races cooperated to make he planet more hospitable to the new human inhabitants. Crystal Kid asks about Blok’s personal history and how he got involved with the League of Super Assassins, but before Blok can tell them, Wildfire says it’s time to get back to business. At a prison in the Himalayas, the scientists make a startling discovery … the weapons they confiscated from the Starburst Bandits when they were incarcerated are fake. Turns out the Bandits generate energy inside their own bodies, merely directing the energy with the weapons. But the discovery comes too late: the Bandits have been Blok's planet destroyedhoused in minimum security and they engineer an escape using their energy powers. Back at Legion headquarters, Wildfire is complaining about Blok not being Legion material because he can just plow through any challenge instead of using his brains to figure out a solution. Lightning Lad says Wildfire should come up with a test that Blok can’t overcome with sheer physicality. Meanwhile, Blok is telling the others his own recent history. He was on Dryad when the sun began to go nova. Six Legionnaires (Superboy, Shadow Lass, Ultra Boy, light Lass, Timber Wolf, and Colossal Boy) showed up to help evacuate the colonists. But Blok and some of his young friends didn’t understand the danger, so they blamed the Legion for making them leave their home, and blamed them even more when the nova destroyed the planet. Their resentment festered into hatred and they grew up to form the League of Super Assassins to seek revenge on those particular Legionnaires. Lightning Lad and Wildfire interrupt to tell everyone about the Starburst Bandits’ escape, and that the Bandits are attacking Metropolis Zoo to recover their weird space-horses. Since they need all the help they can get, Lightning LadBlok pounds bandits gives Blok and the other three students flight rings and asks them to help. Unfortunately, Blok’s mass-absorbing power cancels the ring’s mass-reducing power, so he can’t fly. Dawnstar and Sun Boy give him a lift, but he’s not happy about being a burden. They get to the Zoo and are blasted by the Bandits. Wildfire and Sun Boy go down in the first salvo and Dawnstar has to drop Blok. The three Academy students assume this is another test, so they fly right into the Bandits’ rays and get knocked out. Dawnstar takes out a couple, but has to call for back-up. Before help can arrive, Blok drags himself out of the hole he created when he fell and advances of the Bandits. Their blasts are ineffective and, when he gets close enough, Blok manages to reflect the beams back at the Bandits, knocking them all out. That’s enough to prove his worth to everyone and Blok is inducted into the Legion as a full-fledged member.

NTT 4 coverNew Teen Titans #4 – “Against All Friends” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with the JLA tracking some powerful magical forces to another dimension. They find a trio of wizards trying to enact a spell, so they attempt to stop them. Raven appears and says the wizards are good guys and the JLA should lay off, but they don’t listen to her. She tries to fight them, but needs help from the wizards, who send her to another dimension … to the Temple of Azarath. Raven finds her mother (Arella) there and begs her and the priests of Azarath to help fight Trigon, who wants to destroy Earth’s dimension. But the faith of Azarath preaches non-violence, even against Trigon; they believe if Trigon destroys the Earth, then it was fated to happen and no one should interfere. Raven is expelled from the dimension and ends up back on Earth, in Titans’Raven returned to Earth Tower. The rest of the Titans are there, which shocks her (and us) since they were all captured by the Fearsome Five last issue. But the Titans don’t even remember the Fearsome Five, which really scares Raven, since the Five must’ve brainwashed the Titans to forget them. We see the Fearsome Five at their hideout, watching everything via a camera in Cyborg’s repaired hand (which was crushed last issue). Psimon has taken over leadership of the Five and he’s the one who screwed with the Titans’ heads, to get them to go after the JLA. Dr. light isn’t thrilled with Psimon usurping his leadership, and none of the others like Psimon much either, so they plan to betray him as soon as the JLA are taken care of. Back at Titans’ Tower, Raven explains about the Fearsome Five and finally tells the Titans why she brought them all together in the first place. A bunch of devil worshipers got together decades ago and summoned a demon to mate with one of their women. The result was Trigon, who took over the entire dimension as he Trigon's origingrew, tormenting everyone for his own pleasure. He did the same thing to countless other dimensions, and ow his malevolent gaze has turned to Earth’s dimension, but the JLA are interfering with the wizards trying to hold Trigon back. The Titans decide (due to Psimon’s brain-tampering) that the best way to oppose the JLA is to kill them. Raven realizes Psimon must’ve screwed with their heads and tries to stop them. She doesn’t notice a camera near the headquarters. We see a shadowy figure watching the Titans and we learn this is the same anonymous person who built the Tower for them. On the JLA Satellite, the League are searching for the wizards, who have disappeared. They get some unexpected visitors in the teleporter … the Titans. The JLA are happy to see their young counterparts, but the Titans attack, shocking the shit out of them. The JLA get the upper hand, but Raven shows up and explains to Zatanna about the Titans being brainwashed to kill them. SheTitans attack JLA causes an illusion showing the JLA being dissolved into goo, which snaps the Titans back to normal. Raven explains that the JLA aren’t dead, they’ve been shunted into time-stasis. Before the Titans can process that, they’re whisked to another dimension by Raven’s wizard friends. The wizards explain that they’ve tried to save hundreds of dimensions from Trigon, but never succeeded. They don’t want Earth to suffer he same fate as all the other worlds, but Trigon is pushing against the dimensional boundaries already. Trigon summons the JLA, who imprison the Titans and attack the wizards. Apparently, the wizards’ spells are destroying Earth’s ozone layer, which is JLA fight wizardswhy the JLA want to stop them. You’d think Zatanna would at least listen about the whole Trigon thing, but the JLA don’t seem to care about the wizards’ motives. The wizards free the Titans to get the League off their back while they work on the spell to banish Trigon, but it’s too late. Trigon blasts the wizards, then the heroes, telling them that he’ll be sending some of his minions to soften up their world before he conquers it. Trigon disappears and Robin gives Batman and the other JLAers shit for screwing things up and letting Trigon have a shot at destroying the world. Zatanna says Raven tried to convince the JLA about Trigon weeks ago, but Zatanna’s magic revealed an evil inside Raven. Raven says the evil isn’t in her, it’s just part of her heritage (there’sRobin gives the JLA hell a big hint if ever there was one), but Zatanna also reveals that Raven used her powers to make Kid Flash fall in love with her. That’s actually been fairly obvious over the last few issues, but Kid Flash is surprised and pretty pissed off. Raven says she needed him as part of the team and asks his forgiveness, but he’s not in the mood to forgive … and neither are the other Titans. They figure Raven can’t be trusted, so they all leave, eve as she pleads for their help against Trigon’s evil. Will the Titans heed her call, or is the team over before it’s hardly begun? We’ll find out next issue.

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