Comics Reviews: JLA 193, Legion of Super-Heroes 278, New Teen Titans 10, All-Star Squadron preview

JLA 193 coverJustice League of America #193 – “Secret of Genesis” – Gerry Conway/George Perez/John Beatty

Last issue, the JLA were attacked by one of their own members, Red Tornado … twice. It turned out the multiple Tornados were constructs sent by T.O. Morrow, the original Red Tornado’s creator, to see if he could recreate whatever gave the original Tornado sentience. When his duplicates failed, Morrow kidnapped the original Red Tornado and took him to a hideout in New York City. Morrow plans on dismantling Reddy to see what makes him different from he other androids Morrow built. Aquaman managed to track Reddy to Morrow’s hideout, but Morrow sees him lurking outside and blasts him with a power sceptre he stole from another planet. Morrow then teleports himself and Reddy away. Back at Kathy Sutton’s place, the JLA report inWonder Woman melts ice around Aquaman from various scouting missions to locate Red Tornado, all without success. Flash figures Morrow might be behind it, so he zips off to Central City to check the prison and finds out Morrow escaped a couple months back. Green Lantern shows up with Aquaman, who’s completely encased in ice. In the Rocky Mountains, Morrow takes Red Tornado apart and analyzes him with his futuristic computer. But Tornado starts glowing and all Morrow’s gauges go crazy right before a huge energy burst sweeps through the lab. On the JLA Satellite, Wonder Woman uses a laser torch to burn through the ice around Aquaman. Firestorm figures it’s useless because is probably already dead. Flash takes Firestorm aside and gives him shit for being such a downer. Professor Stein agrees and tells Ronnie his “brash youngster”act is getting old. Wonder Woman cracks through the ice and douses Aquaman JLA fights Tornado Tyrantwith water, which revives him. Aquaman confirms that Morrow is behind Reddy’s disappearance and tells them where to find their teammate. In the Rockies, the JLA find the remains of Morrow’s lab and Morrow lying unconscious in the rubble. They ask him what happened to Red Tornado and Morrow says he probably blew up with the lab. Morrow blasts them with an energy rifle, but almost shits himself when a gigantic, human-shaped tornado materializes outside the wrecked lab. The huge whirlwind grabs Morrow and slams him into the rocks. The JLA recognize the tornado as the Tornado Tyrant, which they fought years ago. The Tyrant gloats (yeah, it talks) as it slaps the JLA around like punks. The Tyrant even pounds Superman, after absorbing magical force from Wonder Woman’s lasso. Firestorm is ready to tackle the Tyrant, but is stopped by a smaller tornado that calls itself the TornadoTornado Champion tells its origin Champion. The Champion relates its origin to Firestorm: basically, it originated on Rann as the Tornado Tyrant and fought Adam Strange. It decided to be a force for good and patterned itself on the JLA after observing them on a visit to Rann. The Tornado Champion went to another planet and created its own versions of the JLA, but its own evil nature was still part of it and eventually emerged. The Champion found a way to get the real JLA involved, to insure the defeat of the Tyrant. The Champion was tired of just playing at being a hero, so it went to Earth-2 and happened upon Morrow creating an android to fight the JSA. It entered the android’s body, which caused a short-circuit in Morrow’s computer. The Tornado Champion lost its memory, but imbued Firestorm fixes Red TornadoRed Tornado with its sentience … and conscience. So in a way, Red Tornado is alive and always has been. Firestorm points out that Tornado Champion’s evil alter ego is now loose and the Champion says Firestorm if uses his molecular powers to reintegrate Red Tornado’s body, he and Tornado Tyrant can get back inside Reddy. That’ll wipe their memories again, but Champion figures that’s a small price to pay. Firestorm reintegrates Reddy’s android form as Tornado Champion plunges into Tornado Tyrant and Red Tornado is reborn. Of course, Reddy has no idea about the whole Champion/Tyrant thing and Firestorm decides not to tell him, figuring Reddy deserves a life of his own.

Noticeable Things:

  • Firestorm is surprised that Flash could zoom to Central City, check the prison records, and get back all within a few seconds. You’d think Firestorm would’ve spent enough time around Flash that he’d know how fast he is, but I guess Gerry is trying to make Firestorm look like a bit of a rube so he’ll have room to grow.
  • At the time, this was the definitive origin of the Red Tornado. A lot of it was retconned later, but you can see the seeds of the whole air elemental”thing here. I think it’s funny that the Tornado Champion told its origin to Firestorm, who ends up being another elemental.
  • There’s a special insert in this issue containing a preview of All-Star Squadron. I’ll review that separately after the Legion and Titans reviews.

LSH 278 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #278 – “Tragedy at the Top of the World” – Gerry Conway(plot), Roy Thomas/Jimmy Janes/Bruce D. Patterson

Last issue, Grimbor wrapped the entire Earth in chains of energy, threatening to destroy the planet if he’s not made supreme ruler and given the Legionnaires to do with as he will. (Grimbor still blames the Legion for sending his lover, Charma, to prison where she was killed.) A contingent of Legionnaires investigates the chain, but can’t make any headway. Mon-El and Shadow Lass almost get blown to hell trying to force a way through, and Lightning Lad and Light Lass’s powers are likewise useless. Saturn Girl manages to track Grimbor’s thoughts to a fortress near the North Pole, but exhausts herself in the process. In the Earth Council chambers, more Legionnaires talk to Earth’s President, Marte Allon Colossal Boy’s mother)Grimbor taunts the Legion about surrendering to Grimbor so he’ll spare the planet. Marte isn’t too keen on that idea, but before anything can be decided, a hologram of Grimbor appears and says he’s changed the deadline for his threat. Now they only have an hour to comply with his wishes or he’ll start tightening the chains around Earth. In his Arctic fortress, Grimbor notices a group on Legionnaires approaching and prepares several traps for them. In the Middle East, another (!) bunch of Legionnaires tries to figure out what was in the cargo shipments that Grimbor hijacked, hoping to get a clue as to his power source for the chains encasing Earth. The shippers aren’t helpful (probably angling for a bribe, but Cosmic Boy doesn’t seem to get that) and become less so when they catch Phantom Reflecto fights the LegionGirl trying to sneak into a warehouse. That sets off a big fight, with Reflecto showing up out of nowhere to defend Phantom Girl, then getting in a brawl with her fellow Legionnaires. Reflecto seems pretty tough, taking down Cosmic Boy, Bouncing Boy, Duo Damsel, and Blok before kissing Phantom Girl’s hand and taking off. Phantom Girl seems quite taken with Reflecto … she’s certainly gotten over Ultra Boy’s death rather quickly. (Although Bouncing Boy notes there’s something vaguely familiar about Reflecto …) When they finally get inside the warehouse, the Legionnaires find a huge power crystal and evidence that there was another one there not long ago. The cargo haulers are obviously selling the power crystals illegally and Grimbor must’ve found out and hijacked one of the shipments; the crystal would definitely have enough energy to power Grimbor’s chains. At the North Pole, five LegionnairesGrimbor's traps catch Shadow Lass approach Grimbor’s fortress and can already feel the atmosphere getting thicker from the chains around Earth contracting; once the atmosphere is compacted enough, it’ll be impossible for anyone on Earth to breathe. They try to sneak into the fortress, but are taken out one-by-one by Grimbor’s traps. Timber Wolf actually makes it inside, but he’s captured too. Grimbor gloats about his final revenge, saying he doesn’t care if he dies too, as long as Earth and all the Legionnaires go with him. Back at Legion Headquarters, Karate Kid and Projectra notice the chains have started to contract, giving Earth only a few minutes to live. We’ll see how that plays out (and find out what’s up with Reflecto) next issue.

NTT 10 coverNew Teen Titans #10 – “Promethium Unbound” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with Slade Wilson (aka Terminator) reviewing his files on the New Teen Titans. Terminator promised the HIVE that he’d eliminate the Titans to fulfill the contract of his dead son, Grant. But Wilson hates the HIVE for manipulating him and his son, so he’s also looking for a way to strike at them. The files he stole from Dayton Industries last issue on the Promethium Project might help him do that, but his head researcher has found a problem. A few days later, an aircraft carrier is attacked by unknown jets and disabled, as frogmen approach under water. The military is freaking out because the carrier had a nuclear bomb on board. Out at the Dayton mansion, Gar (Changeling) Logan and VictorGar talks to Robotman (Cyborg) Stone are hanging out. Questor, Steve Dayton’s majordomo, tries to get Gar interested in Dayton Industries business since Steve is away, but Gar couldn’t care less. We get a recap of Gar’s history: bitten by a monkey in Africa, contracted a disease called Sakutia that turned him green and gave him shape-shifting powers, hung out with the Doom Patrol, adopted by Steve Dayton and Rita Farr, but wound up alone again when the Doom Patrol gave their lives to save a village in Maine from the Brotherhood of Evil. Steve Dayton went looking for the Brotherhood and when Robotman turned up alive, Gar sent him to find Steve and drag his ass back. Gar admits that seeing Robotman again stirred up a lot of bad feelings and he kinda took it Terminator fights Starfireout on Victor, since he reminded him of Robotman. But becoming friends with Vic helped Gar work through his feelings and reach out to Robotman. In the Middle East, some terrorists are boarding a plane for the States and we learn they aren’t the only ones; from all over the world, scumbags are gathering in the USA for a very special auction. In New York, Terminator attacks Starfire and they fight for a while. Terminator takes off as abruptly as he showed up, leaving Starfire to wonder why he attacked in the first place. We see Terminator back at his hideout and learn that he planted a transmitter on Starfire. HIVE contacts him to demand the return of the Promethium plans, but Terminator says his contract was to kill the Titans, so if they want the plans they’ll have to come to the auction and bid like everyone else. The Titans have a meeting at their headquarters that’s interrupted by Terminator speaking through the transmitter he planted onCyborg freaks out Starfire. He says he’ll be auctioning the Promethium plans tomorrow, but needs to demonstrate their effectiveness first. He tells the Titans he’s going to use the Promethium device to kill them and they’re going to go along with it willingly … because he’s kidnapped Victor’s friend, Sarah Simms. Naturally, Victor freaks out, but they don’t really have much of a choice. Gar doesn’t like the idea of losing another group of teammates, but Robin figures they can outwit Terminator since they have inside knowledge about the Promethium Project. They show up at Terminator’s designated spot in the Grand Canyon where he hands Sarah over. Starfire is ready to fight, but Robin says they gave their word so they give themselves up to Titans surrender to save SarahTerminator and allow him to bind them out in the desert. Terminator tells the gathering of scumbuckets that he’s going to demonstrate the efficacy of the Promethium bomb by blowing the Titans away. (In case you’re wondering, the Promethium bomb is a self-sustaining explosive; instead of expending all its destructive force in a few seconds, a Promethium bomb keeps building in force, expanding its destructive range until it’s shut down.) Terminator sets off the bomb, obliterating the Titans and turning an expanse of desert into glassy waste. He invites bids from the crowd, but HIVE takes matters into their own hands by wasting everyone else at the auction. They tell Terminator to keep all the other people’s money and they’ll take the Promethium plans. Terminator expected them to eliminate the competition (which won’t help HIVE’s rep in the underworld) and pays them back in their own coin by blowing them away too. The Titans show up to grab Terminator and he’s not surprised they escaped, but is curious as to how. Titans fight mercenaries as Changeling goes after TerminatorTurns out the Promethium bomb was never perfected, so they knew Terminator couldn’t really demonstrate it, which is why he stole the nuke from the aircraft carrier. They used their powers to simulate the effects of the nuclear bomb while Kid Flash defused the real one. Terminator has an army of mercenaries on standby, so he takes off while they attack the Titans. Gar goes after Terminator and tries to capture him alone, but gets zapped by Terminator’s staff. The Titans take out the grunts pretty easily, but Raven’s empathic powers tell her that Gar is dead. We’ll see if that’s true next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Slade Wilson’s head researcher is a short bald guy named Benson Honeywell who has an assistant called Bleeker. Yeah.
  • Victor says he and Sarah aren’t romantically involved, they’re just friends. It seemed like there as more to their relationship in earlier issues, but Victor’s feelings for Sarah definitely change as the series goes on.

All Star preview coverAll-Star Squadron Preview – Roy Thomas/Rich Buckler/Jerry Ordway

This is a free insert that introduced the concept (and some of the personnel) of the All-Star Squadron, a group made up of pretty much all the costumed heroes who were around on Earth-2 during World War II. This story is basically a series of vignettes, letting us see some of the characters who’ll be appearing in the monthly comic and setting up the first storyline. We start with a race for charity between Wonder Woman, Wildcat, and Flash; you’d think the winner would be easy to predict, but Wonder Woman actually comes in first and Flash swears he didn’t let her win. The crowd gets a little wild and the heroes make a hasty exit thanks to Wonder Woman’s invisible plane. They go for a picnic in a nearby park and both guys assure Wonder Woman theyGrundy pounds the heroes don’t have the hots for her, since they already have women in their lives. It’s refreshing to see them treating her like a valued colleague and an equal … but that doesn’t last long. Solomon Grundy shows up out of nowhere and attacks, concentrating on Green Lantern since he has a personal hatred for GL. Unfortunately, Lantern has no idea who Grundy is, or how powerful he can be. GL tries to get Wonder Woman out of the way (because a big fight is “no place for a girl”), but finds out his ring is pretty much useless against the behemoth … especially since Grundy knows it’s ineffective against wood. Wonder Woman tries to snare Grundy with her lasso, but he decks her (which elicits horror from GL) and makes short work of the other two as well. Turns out someone is directing Grundy telepathically and tells him to bring the defeated heroes to his hideout instead of killing them. In New Fate and Spectre tricked by WotanYork, Sandman, Starman, and Johnny Thunder are hanging out at Sandman’s place when an old-fashioned pirate ship flies by outside the window. They go after it and run into a weirdo called Sky Pirate, who gasses them with his fancy flintlock pistol. From Sky Pirates ranting, it sounds like he’s working for the same guy as Grundy. Near Salem, Massachusetts, Dr. Fate is in his tower with his wife Inza and spies his old foe Wotan in his crystal ball. We learn Fate has a different helmet, one that keeps his personality from being subsumed by that of Nabu, but it drastically cuts Fate’s power. He teleports away to fight Wotan, but ends up crashing into the Spectre, who thought he was fighting Kulak. Wotan suckered both of them into taking each other out. On an island near Hawaii, a geologist named Danette ReillyZodiak takes down Superman says farewell to her brother Rod, a Navy man who stopped by to see her. Danette is studying a volcano up close and Rod’s worried about her, but she tells him he has to get back to base before he gets in trouble. At a USO club opening in Gotham, Superman, Batman, and Robin are attacked by a goofball called Professor Zodiak. Zodiak takes the heroes down with his alchemical devices, including a “philosopher’s stone” made out of Kryptonite that fells Superman. Apparently, Zodiak’s “master” gave him the stone, telling him it would work against the Man of Steel. In Washington, Hawkman, Atom, and Dr. Midnight are hanging out at the Lincoln Memorial when they’re jumped by a guy with a ray gun calling himself the Monster. Again, he knows the Monster reveals some infoheroes but they’ve never seen or heard of him. This fight doesn’t go so well for the villain and Atom ends up decking the Monster. When they ask him what’s going on, Monster just says it was “Degaton”, before aging rapidly and disappearing right out of Atom’s grasp. A little ways away, a shadowy figure observes them and walks off, with a curious metallic sound to his footsteps. All through this story, there’s been a running subplot of two shadowy figures in an office trying to get hold of the Justice Society. We find out the two guys are President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his adviser, Harry Hopkins. FDR has gotten a message that the Japanese are about to break off diplomatic relations with the USA and he wants to alert the JSA to the possibility of war. We see thatprelude to war this story is taking place early in the morning on December 7, 1941 … the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. But because of the time difference between the East Coast and Hawaii (which is seven hours, I think), that attack hasn’t happened yet and the front page story in the Washington newspapers is about a massive railroad strike. Things are about to explode, figuratively and literally; I’ll be reviewing the ongoing All-Star Squadron comic starting in just ten days … I hope you’ll join me, it’s always been one of my favourites.

Noticeable Things:

  • There are some “cameos” of characters we’ll be seeing in All-Star Squadron throughout this story: Johnny Chambers is the newsreel photographer covering the WW/Wildcat/Flash race; Libby Lawrence is on a TV news report in Sandman’s apartment; and FDR calls a special FBI liaison on the phone, telling him to get to the White House right away. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with the All-Stars, that’s Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, and Plastic Man.)

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