Comics Reviews: JLA 192, Legion of Super-Heroes 277, New Teen Titans 9

JLA 192 coverJustice League of America #192 – “Quest for Genesis” – Gerry Conway/George Perez/John Beatty

This one starts with a meeting of the JLA on the Satellite. They’re discussing their United Nations mandate and whether they might get in trouble for having too many members (currently, they have 14), when Red Tornado shows up. He’s acting weird, talking in a robotic monotone and claiming to be acting on behalf of some nameless “Master” before unleashing a deadly tornado blast. Batman is injured and Wonder Woman drags him to safety, leaving the others to fight Red Tornado. Superman sends the android flying with his super-breath and Flash finishes Reddy off by dismantling him at super-speed. They wonder what could’ve triggered such strange behaviour and Reddy’s disembodied head mentions his “Master” again … then it explodes,Red Tornado attacks JLA knocking Flash for a loop. Flash’s super-speed aura keeps him from being killed, but he’s hurt pretty badly, so he and Batman are taken to the infirmary. Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Firestorm ponder Reddy’s sudden heel turn and GL figures Reddy’s creator, T.O. Morrow, might be behind it, since he tried to use Red Tornado as a weapon before. But Reddy had told his fellow JLA members that Morrow was dead. GL analyzes Reddy’s remains and concludes he was the genuine article. As they come out of the elevator, the trio are ambushed and knocked out by another Red Tornado, also claiming to be acting for his “Master”. The new Red Tornado heads to the infirmary where Superman watches Flash in a rejuvenation chamber and Wonder Woman is fixing Batman’s arm. The killer android surprises them and Flash throws Red Tornado out the airlockknocks Wonder Woman out by pulling the air from her lungs with a localized vacuum. Reddy then blasts Superman with Green Kryptonite rays. Luckily, Flash wakes up and bursts out of the healing tank, grabbing Reddy and tossing him out the nearest airlock into space, where he blows up … again. Flash figures there can’t have been two crazy exploding Red Tornados, so they were probably both fakes. In the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, we see T.O. Morrow receiving reports about the destruction of his two androids. Apparently, the doppelgangers had some kind of design flaw, and Morrow wonders why these androids failed to function properly when he built them to be exact duplicates of the original Red Tornado. If the original Tornado has the same design flaw, whyRed Tornado shanghaied by Morrow has he kept functioning … and more importantly, why did he develop sentience? Morrow decides he’ll have to study the original Red Tornado instead of trying to duplicate him. Morrow heads to New York, where Reddy lives with his girlfriend (Kathy Sutton) and adopted daughter, Traya. Morrow attacks Reddy’s mind with some kind of energy, taking over Reddy’s consciousness and forcing him to blast his way out of the apartment. Kathy and Traya are left wondering what the hell happened and the JLA show up with questions of their own. In Morrow’s Colorado hideout, he tells Morrow observedthe quiescent Red Tornado his origin story and recounts his escape from prison. He studied his original creation of Red Tornado and found that some unknown force had interfered with the computers involved. That’s what caused Morrow’s faulty predictions and led to his almost dying. Morrow has decided he has to know what happened during his creation of Reddy and is prepared to dismantle the android to get answers. We see a shadowy figure climbing out of the water to observe Morrow and Red Tornado. I’m assuming it’s Aquaman, but we’ll have to wait until next issue to find out.

Noticeable Things:

  • Morrow was a scientist who invented a dimensional grappler to steal technology from future eras. One of the devices he grabbed was a computer that could predict the future. Following the computer’s advice, Morrow created Red Tornado to attack the Justice Society (in JLA 64-65), but Reddy turned against his programming to save the heroes, something the computer hadn’t predicted. Later (JLA 105-106), the computer predicted that either Morrow or the JLA would die, so he used Red Tornado to try and kill them. When that didn’t work, Morrow vapourized and appeared in another dimension which he learned to manipulate through force of mind. When luring Atom, Supergirl, and Flash to that dimension got him captured (Super Team Family 11), he found out he’d been split in two. His other half grabbed Red Tornado and tried to transfer his own brain patterns to the android’s body, but died in the attempt (World’s Finest 265-268). After that, Morrow escaped from prison to figure out the flaw in his plans and that led to this story.

LSH 277 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #277 – “The Man Who Chained the Earth” – Gerry Conway (plot), Roy Thomas/Jimmy Janes/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with a contingent of Legionnaires (Cosmic Boy, Timber Wolf, Light Lass, Phantom Girl, and Karate Kid) showing up in the Pacific ocean to help a floundering cargo ship. Neither Cosmic Boy nor Light Lass’s powers can get the ship to safety, so they concentrate on rescuing the crew as Phantom Girl phases underwater to see what’s up. She finds the ship is being held by some very animated (and very strong) seaweed, but when she materializes to tear it free, she’s grabbed and knocked out. By the time her friends realize she hasn’t surfaced, it’s almost too late. Before they can help her, a guy in an orange and yellow costume streaks out of the sky and plunges underwater. He breathes some air into Phantom Girl’s lungs (which causes her to have a sexy fever dream aboutunderwater rescue Ultra Boy) then tears her loose and flies away with her, leaving the other Legionnaires to wonder who the hell he was and where he’s taking their teammate. We don’t have to wonder though, as we see the mystery man landing at Legion Headquarters with Phantom Girl. Brainiac 5 sets off an alarm, bringing other Legionnaires (Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy, Wildfire, and Blok) running. They find out Phantom Girl’s rescuer is named Reflecto and they’re a bit suspicious of him until the other Legionnaires show up and confirm that he saved Phantom Girl’s life. Reflecto is pretty close-mouthed about himself, but the Legionnaires cut him some slack since he saved one of them. Captain Baktra tells the Legionnaires that his crew was attacked by talking to Captain Baktraa ship that stole all their cargo and somehow animated the seaweed to attack the ship. Baktra doesn’t even know what the cargo was … it’s top secret. As Baktra is telling his story, Reflecto disappears, which causes Wildfire to freak out. He says Reflecto could be an infiltrator or some other kind of scumbag, and gives Lightning Lad shit for letting him take off unnoticed. Lightning lad takes Wildfire’s criticism to heart and decides to resign as leader … not just because of Reflecto, but all the crazy shit that’s happened on his watch. At the North Pole, we see a guy capturing a polar bear so he can hunt it later for fun. The guy turns out to be Grimbor, who still blames the Legion (and the United Planets) for the death of his woman, Charma. He activates a network of hidden satellites around Earth that shoot out energy beams that turn into chains. A shuttle returning from the Moon sees the chains encircling the globe, but the pilotgetting blown up by the chains around Earth figures he can easily go between the widely separated bands of energy. Unfortunately, the chains shift to match his trajectory and the ship explodes. On Earth, all spacecraft are grounded and the Science Police send a patrol to check out the chains. They try to fly between the chains, changing course as fast as possible, but the chains appear in front of the ship before it can slip through. This time, the crew (wearing space-suits) bails out just before the ship explodes. A hologram of Grimbor shows up in the Earth Council chambers and demands to be made absolute dictator of Earth … and to be given the Legion members for “personal disposal”. Earth’s President (Marte Allon, Colossal Boy’s mom) says no way, but Grimbor reminds her that Earth depends on food shipments from off-world, shipments that can no longer be delivered. He everyone heads off on assignmentgives them 24 hours to agree to his demands and a council members reminds Marte that there’s only about a week’s worth of food stockpiled on Earth. When the Legion are informed of Grimbor’s ultimatum, Lightning Lad forgets about resigning and takes action. He sends one team to check out the chains, another to find out what cargo Grimbor stole from the Dromedanian ship (although I’m not sure how he knew Grimbor was the thief), and another to liaison with the Earth Council. As the groups fly off to their tasks, Reflecto (who was lurking outside the HQ) follows Phantom Girl’s group. We’ll see what that’s all about—and what happens with Grimbor—next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • The aliens running the cargo ships are Dromedanians; yup, they’re the camel-people, including Captain Baktra, who becomes a recurring character.
  • I don’t know why Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are at Legion HQ; they’re supposed to be reserve members (Duo Damsel’s hair is coloured wrong too). Roy doesn’t seem to have a handle on the status quo yet … he writes Blok’s dialogue as very colloquial, like Ben Grimm, whereas Blok usually sounds much more formal.

NTT 9 coverNew Teen Titans #9 – “Like Puppets on a String” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with another Dayton Industries board member being killed by a robotic toy (the fourth such murder in the last week or so). Since Steve Dayton is away somewhere, his majordomo (Questor) says it’s up to Steve’s adopted son, Gar (Changeling) Logan to sort it out. As usual, Gar doesn’t want that kind of responsibility, but when a robot tries to kill him in his own room, he decides it’s time to call in a professional detective … Robin. They meet with Questor, who fills them in on the recent murders and tells them about Project Promethium, a top-secret self-replicating element that Dayton Industries has been working on. Questor points them toward a suspect, an ex-con named Weir who used to call himself the Puppeteer (or Puppet Master), who was involved in Project Promethium.with Sarah and the kids Robin and Gar head over to Weir’s place, where they’re ambushed by another killer robot that almost blows them to hell. Puppet Master is observing from afar and we see that he’s been hired by HIVE to steal the Promethium. Apparently, when HIVE hired Terminator to eliminate the Titans (back in issue #2), they were trying to clear the way so they’d have a free run at the Promethium. Puppet Master guarantees he’ll succeed where Terminator failed. At a school for disabled kids, Victor (Cyborg) Stone and Raven say goodbye to some of the kids he’s been working with lately. The kids were hoping Raven’s powers could somehow cure them, but Victor tells them the only way to get past their disabilities is by believing in themselves. Sarah Simms, the kids’ teacher, seems to have taken quite a shine to Victor. As he Starfire tries to fight backand Raven walk through the park, they’re attacked by a robotic Batman doll that takes over Victor’s neural functions, giving control of his body to Puppet Master. Victor almost kills Raven, who sends her soul-self for help. She first recruits Wally (Kid Flash) West out in Blue Valley, who’s still reluctant to be a super-hero, but agrees to help when he hears the circumstances. Raven then finds Kory (Starfire) and Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy and fills them in before returning to her body. But when Kid Flash shows up, Cyborg blasts him with a modified laser that puts Wally under Puppet Master’s control too. The same thing happens to Donna when she shows up and, although Starfire resists briefly, she’s subjugated too. Raven takes off to find Robin and Gar, followed by the mind-controlled Titans. At Dayton Industries, Raven teleports into a board meeting to tell Robin and Gar that their friends will soon be coming to kill them. Sure enough, Starfire blasts her way in,Kid Flash frees himself from Puppet Master's control followed by the others. While Robin and Gar try to hold off the hypnotized heroes, Raven gets the remaining board members to safety. Gar changes to an octopus and grapples Kid Flash who starts vibrating to escape and feels Puppet Master’s control slipping. He increases his vibrational frequency until he breaks Puppet Master’s hold on him, then uses the same frequency to free Starfire. Robin gets out of Cyborg’s grasp (apparently by kicking him in the balls) and Kid Flash frees him too. Wonder Girl is roughing up Raven, but when the others distract her, Raven uses her soul-self’s empathic ability to purge Puppet Master’s influence from Donna’s mind. Kid Flash tracks the vibrational wavelength of Puppet Master’s control ray Titans vs toysand the Titans surprise the villain in his lair. He sends an army of murderous toys against them, which they smash to pieces. Puppet Maser escapes in the confusion, but we see a couple of HIVE operatives targeting Puppet Master for a head-shot (though we technically don’t see the actual execution … either because of the Comics Code, or because Marv wanted to leave things ambiguous). Meanwhile, out on Long Island, a fire at Dayton Industries’ main plant causes everyone to flee, allowing Terminator to waltz in and steal the plans for the Promethium project. We’ll see where that leads next issue.

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