Comics Reviews: JLA 191, Legion of Super-Heroes 276, New Teen Titans 8

JLA 191 coverJustice League of America #191 – “The Key Crisis of the One-Man Justice League” – Gerry Conway/Rich Buckler/Pablo Marcos

This one starts with one old foe of the JLA (The Key) using his scientific know-how to summon another JLA enemy (Amazo) from the depths of space. Amazo isn’t happy about his android slumber being interrupted, but the Key blasts him with a beam of energy, knocking Amazo out. Apparently, the Key has some kind of plan to confront the JLA and Amazo is part of it. In New York, Zatanna meets up with Ray (Atom) Palmer and confides that she seems to be losing her magic powers (which we saw a hint of last issue). Near Central City, Flash stops some train hijackers, but pulls a muscle while doing so … something that should be impossible for his super-bod. He soon realizes his powers have faded completely and figures he’d better contactSatellite meeting the JLA. In Star City, Black Canary stops some thieves, but loses her Canary Cry during the fight, and at a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny finds he’s lost his stretching ability (which really bothers his wife, Sue, confirming that Ralph can stretch every part of his body). They all head to the JLA Satellite, where they find Hawkman (who’s fine since he doesn’t have super-powers), Zatanna, and Atom, who got stuck at two feet high when his powers faded. Zatanna says she thought she was the only one whose powers were on the fritz, but it looks like everyone is affected. Hawkman analyzes them and comes up with an explanation: like most parts of the human body, super-powers have a natural lifespan and something has accelerated that process so the JLAers’ powers are disappearing earlier than expected. Hawkman figures the only one who could be responsible for such a power drain is Amazo. In the Key’s hideout, we see Key absorbing the fighting Amazoenergy that Amazo drained from the JLA, which cures his dwarfish condition, giving him a full-sized body again. The JLA bust in and Key sends Amazo after them, using the very powers he’s draining from them in the fight, while the Leaguers try to re-absorb those powers using versions of Hawkman’s Absorbascon. Key freaks out, knowing that if Amazo is defeated, he’ll go back to being a dwarf. Amazo comes close to winning, but the Leaguers absorb their powers back and kick the shit out of the android. Key thinks he’ll shrink back to his dwarf body again, but Zatanna uses her powers to cure his condition, leaving him in his regular-sized body. Key is grateful … sickeningly so, as he kisses Zatanna’s hand and grovels at her feet. Amazo is returned to his comatose state and shot back into space and Atom confronts Zatanna about her powers. She admits her powers had been fading beforePounding Amazo and helping the Key Key put his plan into motion and figures Hawkman’s theory about powers having a natural lifespan is correct. The way she’s been using hers since joining the league has taken its toll and curing the Key was the last straw; from now on she’ll be able to manipulate the classic elemental forces—earth, wind, fire, and funk … I mean water—but she won’t be able to conjure stuff from thin air or zap people across time and space. Atom tells her even without top-notch powers, she’s still a top-notch member.

Noticeable Things:

  • Key’s dwarf-like condition—which would be fatal if he left the full-sized suit he wore—was shown in JLA 150.
  • I get the feeling this issue was Gerry’s way of reducing Zatanna’s powers to “non-miraculous” level; it makes sense, since her powers at full strength should make it easy for her to defeat pretty much any foe the JLA faces. This keeps her from being overly powerful compared to the rest of the League.

LSH 276 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #276 – “Lord Romdur’s Castle” – Gerry Conway/Steve Ditko/Frank Chiaramonte

Like many Star Trek episodes, this issue starts with a group of Legionnaires (Projectra, Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, Star Boy, Shadow Lass, and Sun Boy) on a planet (Avalon) whose culture is equivalent to that of Medieval Europe on Earth. The Legionnaires are looking for three missing explorers who crashed on Avalon. Naturally, the Legionnaires have trouble fitting in to the medieval society, though it doesn’t seem like they’re trying too hard. They’re wearing cloaks that barely cover them as disguises, and Chameleon Boy and Shadow Lass are making no attempt to hide their alien features. They’re soon challenged by a knight on horseback and his men-at-arms. Star Boy tries to bullshit the knight, but that doesn’t work and a big brawl starts. Projectra finally calms things down using herProjectra plays diplomat illusion powers and her knowledge of medieval society (Avalon’s culture is reminiscent of her home planet, Orando) to bluff the knight into thinking they’re envoys from a faraway place. Why wasn’t Projectra the one to talk to the knight in the first place? For that matter, why didn’t she just use her illusion power to make the Legionnaires look like they belong there? Anyway, the knight takes them to see Lord Harlund, who asks if they’ve come to save King Leon from Romdur. Naturally, they have no clue what the hell he’s talking about, but they soon find out, as Romdur appears in a ball of eldritch energy, warning them to mind their own business and tossing a couple of magic lightning bolts to make sure they get the message. Lord Harlund and the knight tell the Legionnaires of the King’s fate: on King Leon’s coronation day, Romdur showed up and said he was taking over an old warlock’s castle on Skull Mountain … which is technically part of Leon’s kingdom. Leon marched for Projectra attackedSkull Mountain the very next day, but of the two thousand men who accompanied him, less than two dozen returned, speaking of Romdur’s magic ripping the souls from the others and turning them into mindless zombies—including King Leon. Harlund mentions the three United Planets explorers came by a while ago and headed toward Skull Mountain, so the legionnaires figure they’d better go check it out. The knight offers to guide them through the Grey Marshes, but Star Boy doesn’t really trust him, since the knight was “lucky” enough to have stayed behind when King Leon’s expedition was decimated. They get attacked by a carnivorous plant and Projectra is hurt. Star Boy wonders if the Knight led them there on purpose and is leery about the healing salve the knight offers Jeckie. Star Boy and the knight almost come to blowsPhantom Girl pounds fog creature before Phantom Girl defuses the situation. The knight is attacked later by some kind of magical fog creature, but that doesn’t make Star Boy any less suspicious. Phantom Girl destroys the fog creature, which turns out to be an artificial construct animated by Romdur’s magic. They assault Romdur’s castle and the knight stays behind again. The castle is on stilts, making Shadow Lass wonder if Romdur is afraid on the earth, like an old enemy of theirs. Yup, Romdur is actually Mordru (as those of you who are good at anagrams probably already guessed). His own planet Zerox, was running out of magic so he came to Avalon to get a fresh source of power. He Mordru beatenkidnapped the United Planets surveyors because he knew they’d recognize him. As his teammates fight Mordru, Star Boy tries to make the stilts holding up the castle heavier, hoping the whole thing will collapse and bury Mordru. (Mordru is helpless if he’s buried underground.) Mordru slaps the Legionnaires around, but the knight shows up to distract the sorcerer, giving Star Boy the time he needs to collapse the castle and bury Mordru. The Legionnaires rescue the survey team and King Leon (who says all of his men are guarding a mountain pass leading to Mordru’s castle) and they learn the knight is actually King Leon’s son.

NTT 8 coverNew Teen Titans #8 – “A Day in the Lives” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This is a pretty famous issue of NTT and a fan favourite. It established the tone of the series, giving us a great balance between the Titans as super-heroes and as real people, much like Marvel did with many of their characters (Spider-Man especially). We start with Starfire (or Kory, as her friends call her) flying around New York, enjoying the warmth. She goes to see Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy at a photo shoot for some jeans. Donna’s having trouble with the vapid model and the client (who talks like Dino DeLaurentiis), but when he gets a look at Kory he figures she’s the perfect model for his jeans. Donna and Kory leave Donna’s agent to argue with the client and head for a restaurant to meet Donna’s boyfriend. Yes, this is the first appearance of the most hated character inRaven vs terrorists comics, Terry Long. At Titans’ headquarters, Dick (Robin) Grayson leaves Raven to some alone time. Raven thinks about how best to acclimate to her new environment and ponders taking some classes at Manhattan university. She sends her soul-self to scope out the place, but there’s a crisis on campus; a bunch of non-specific Euro-terrorists have taken over the University, threatening to blow the place to shit. The terrorists assumed the students would rally to their side, but the 60s are dead and the students want the radicals out as much as the cops do. Raven uses her soul-self to knock out the terrorists and gather the bombs, which she deposits safely in the river. Unfortunately, Raven’s soul-self can only be separated from her body for Logan as a green rhinofive minutes and she runs out of time while defusing the crisis. We get an interlude with a guy named Thornton (who works for Dayton Industries) taking his grandson to a toy shop to receive a free prize. A nice little old man gives Thornton’s grandson a puppet as another puppet (apparently alive!) watches on a monitor and tells an unseen master that Thornton is “the third one” and that all is going according to plan. Downtown, Victor (Cyborg) Stone and Gar (Changeling) Logan hang out at Victor’s place. We learn Vic got some money from his father when he died, but he’s decided to keep things real by staying in his old neighbourhood. Gar gets a call from his adopted father’s majordomo (Questor) who tells him two board members have been killed in the last couple days. Who is Gar’s adopted father? Steve Dayton, of Dayton Industries … but Questor doesn’t know where to reach him. Gar saysVictor meets Sarah he’ll be home right away and freaks out some car thieves by changing into a rhino, which Victor finds amusing. Vic goes to see his old girlfriend, Marcy, who he hasn’t seen since before his accident. Marcy isn’t too thrilled with his cyborg look and tells him he’d be better off if he’d just died. Vic heads home, feeling sorry for himself, and runs into a bunch of kids playing baseball in the park. They’re all amputees of one type or another, with prosthetic limbs, so they don’t treat Victor like a freak … and neither does their very attractive teacher, Sarah Simms. Vic decides to hang out and play some baseball (probably hoping to get to third base with Sarah). Meanwhile, Raven’s soul is lost, crossing numerous Ditko-esque dimensions filled with horrors beyond imagining, hoping against hope that she can somehow Raven's soul in other dimensionreunite with her physical self. In Blue Valley, Wally (Kid Flash) West is still whining about not wanting to be a super-hero. His parents tell him having powers has matured him and they’re proud of him no matter what he chooses to do. Raven manages to get back to her body, realizing that the other people of Azarath couldn’t do that because of their passive natures … they refused to fight, even to save themselves, but Raven was willing to fight to get back to her physical self. She exults in the discovery that she no longer has to be terrified every time her soul-self goes for a jaunt. In the park, Donna takes some photos of Kory wearing designer jeans for the ad campaign she’s working on. Donna and Terry leave and Kory decides to go flying (giving an old dude on a park bench a thrill by changing into her costume twenty feetDonna, Kory, and Terry in the park in front of him). She saves a kid from a runaway horse in the park and decides to zoom off to Gotham to see Dick. We get another interlude with Thornton, who puts his grandson to bed and checks over some reports from Dayton Industries (including something called Project Promethium). The free puppet his grandson got that afternoon comes to life and shoots him; I guess we know who’s been killing the Dayton employees. We’ll see what that’s all about next issue.

 

Noticeable Things:

  • I noted above that people seem to hate Terry long with a passion. A lot of it seems to be because he’s ten years (give or take) older than Donna (and the away he’s drawn, looks even older). Plus he’s depicted as a “cool” guy, with chains and flashy clothes and sideburns—very hip in 1981. I don’t hate Terry, but I do find him boring. He doesn’t have much personality other than “divorced dad who’s banging Donna”, but Marv seems to like the character a bit too much. Maybe he’s meant to represent the Everyman (or the reader), the guy who hangs around super-heroes and tries to fit in without being overawed by it all. The problem is, Terry doesn’t really fit in (nor is he representative of most readers, as far as I’m concerned) but Marv wants him to be an important character, so he keeps shoving him in our faces. We’ll see more of that as the series goes on.

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