Comics Reviews: JLA 199, Legion of Super-Heroes 284, New Teen Titans 16, All-Star Squadron 6

JLA 199 coverJustice League of America #199 – “Grand Canyon Showdown” – Gerry Conway/Don Heck/Brett Breeding

Last issue, the Lord of Time cooked up a convoluted scheme (is there any other kind for him?) that involved taking four JLAers (Flash, Green Lantern, Elongated Man, and Zatanna) into 1878 Arizona. Lord of Time has info that an anti-matter strike (like the one at Tunguska in 1908) was supposed to happen in 1878 over the Grand Canyon. Lord of Time wants all that anti-matter power for himself, so he’s given the four JLAers amnesia, sent them to 1878 to manipulate events, and assigned four cowboy-robots with glowing red eyes to watch them. The time-lost heroes immediately made friends with some locals (specifically Jonah Hex,GL and Hex heading toward town Cinnamon, Scalphunter, and Bat Lash) who are taking them individually to a town called Desecration to see the doctor about their memory loss. In the present, Superman discovered his teammates’ disappearance and went to the Grand Canyon to check a chronal anomaly, but was ambushed by a Kryptonite-wielding robot. This issue opens (after the obligatory recap) with Superman half-dead, surrounded by Kryptonite amid the shattered remnants of the robot. He manages to locate Lord of Time’s chronal chamber, invisible above the Canyon, with his x-ray vision. Now he just has to figure out what to do before the Kryptonite kills him. In 1878, Jonah Hex takes Green Lantern to Desecration, while GL wonders why he can remember how to use his power ring, but not who he is or where the ring came from. In Bat Lash tries to charm CinnamonDesecration, Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny and Scalphunter show up at the local saloon, Ralph’s stretching powers freaking out the townsfolk. Ralph is starting to have patches of memory come back; he’s currently fixated on the name “Metropolis” for some reason. Cinnamon and Zatanna come in and Zatanna says Metropolis sounds familiar to her too. She and Ralph both feel like the know each other but can’t remember where from. Cinnamon is cautious about Ralph, especially after he demonstrates his powers, but Scalphunter vouches for him. Bat Lash shows up with Flash, who instantly gravitates toward Ralph and Zatanna while Bat Lash tries to put the moves on Cinnamon. She’s not interested and Scalphunter tells Lash he’d better watch his ass, since Cinnamon is obviously not the type to put up with his usual bullshit. We see three of Lord of Time’s robotic cowboys watching from the back room. Outside of town, Hex notices someone following andHex blows away a robot plugs him, which gets Green Lantern all worked up. Even without his memory, he’s still against killing, but Hex’s target turns out to be the final robot gunslinger. The robot attacks GL and Hex blasts it to shit, giving Lantern nothing to complain about since you can’t really kill a robot. The other three heroes and their Old West escorts ride out from Desecration and the four JLAers are reunited, though they still can’t remember who they are. Hex figures it can’t be coincidence, them all showing up so close to each other at the same time. Lord of Time has been monitoring the situation and is happy to see his plan working; he wants the four heroes to get together and would’ve had his robots herd them toward each other if they Hex and Scalphunter waste another robothadn’t managed it themselves. Scalphunter notices the other three robots coming toward them and Flash zooms out to see what’s up. He runs into one robot and vibrates it to pieces with his super-speed. The other two robots take off, but are going slow enough to be followed. Everyone realizes they’re being led into a trap, but they don’t have much choice if they want to figure out what’s going on. Ralph’s memory comes back even clearer, as he remembers honeymooning with Sue in Arizona. The robots lead them to the Grand Canyon, where the four cowboy (or cowperson) heroes split off, saying they’ll deal with the robots. The JLAers wait by the canyon, but are startled when GL’s ring reveals an anti-matter bubble in space heading straight for them. They react instinctively, Zatanna and GL heading into space to slow the anti-matter down as much as they can. While the JLA are dealing withJLA stops the anti-matter bubble the anti-matter, Scalphunter and Hex team up to take down one of the robots. Ralph finally remembers who he is, but Flash doesn’t give him much chance to celebrate. He whirls Ralph around at super-speed, creating a whirlwind of force that reaches up into the outer atmosphere. When the anti-matter bubble hits the force cyclone, it explodes and dissipates harmlessly just outside the atmosphere. Bat Lash and Cinnamon blast the last robot and Hex tells them the four strangers vanished into thin air. In the present, the four heroes return to the Satellite to find that Superman has defeated the Lord of Time. Apparently, Supes used his heat vision to divert the Colorado River, sweeping away the deadly Kryptonite and giving him a chance to capture Lord of Time. Superman is embarrassed that it took him so long to save himself that he doesn’t tell his teammates about his adventure right now.

LSH 284 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #284 – “The Soul-Thief from the Stars” – Paul Levitz/Pat Broderick/Bruce Patterson

This one starts with Bouncing Boy coming to a major decision, which he immediately shares with his wife, Duo Damsel. At a Legionnaires’ meeting, they announce that they’re leaving the team (again) to lead a quieter life. Before the team can react properly, they get an emergency call from Medicus One, a medical space station in orbit around Earth. A group of organleggers (bandits who steal transplant organs and sell them to the highest bidder) has attacked Medicus One. Luckily, two Legionnaires were already on the station; Timber Wolf goes after the thieves while Light Lass calls in the alert to Legion HQ. Light Lass and Timber Wolf don’t really wantLegionnaires board the organleggers ship their fellow Legionnaires to know why they’re on Medicus One … some kind of procedure that Timber Wolf was undergoing. Timber Wolf pounds some of the thieves, but one of them manages to toss some kind of capsule into an organ storage bank. Some other organleggers load their ship with a bunch of stolen organs, but before they can get away the Legion shows up. Wildfire, Dawnstar, and Ultra Boy engage the bandits first, attacking them on their ship. Back on Earth, Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel have agreed to do monitor duty one last time. They get a call from Karate Kid, who says he and Projectra will be away for a while on Orando (Projectra’s home planet) trying to sort out some family stuff. Dream Girl shows up and tells Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel she’ll take over monitor duty so they can leave. After they’re gone, Dream Girl Light Lass ponders her relationshipponders a premonitory dream she had where Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel left the team. She hopes the rest of her dream doesn’t come true. Outside Medicus One, Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, Sun Boy, and Element Lad work to fix the breach in the station’s wall left by the organleggers. They rendezvous with their teammates in preparation for taking the organleggers to justice, but they have to wait for Lightning Lad. Lightning Lad is talking to Timber Wolf and Light Lass, who ask him to keep quiet about them being there. Lightning Lad isn’t happy, but he agrees. After the Legion leaves, we see Timber Wolf undergoing his final treatment. Apparently he’s been getting treatments to take away his “animal face” and make him look like a regular human. I don’t know if that’ll affect his savage nature too, or if it’s just cosmetic. TheTimber Wolf attacks Organus treatment works and Timber Wolf ends up with a normal (and rather handsome) face, but he’s having second thoughts about the procedure. That pisses Light Lass off, since he should’ve mentioned any misgivings before the treatments, not after. Light Lass walks out in a huff and runs into the thing that grew from the capsule in the organ bank. It’s grown into a monster called Organus (kind of a half-troll, half-C’thulhu freakazoid) that’s looking to absorb energy. It starts with Light Lass, hypnotizing her and draining her life force. Timber Wolf shows up and tries to pound Organus, but it uses Light Lass’s powers against him. Back at Legion HQ, another alert comes in from Medicus One and Brainy, Sun Boy, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, and Blok Blok takes Organus downrespond. When they arrive, they find numerous staff members who have been drained of their life energy. When they encounter Organus, it drains Sun Boy and Cosmic Boy, using their powers against the others. Organus takes out Brainy and Element Lad and Light Lass shows up to help Blok attack the creature. Organus finds it can’t absorb Blok’s inorganic life force, so it shrivels up and expires. Blok figures he killed Organus and will be thrown out of the Legion, but it turns out Organus isn’t dead. It will be imprisoned on Takron-Galtos, the prison planet. Back at Legion HQ, everyone congratulates Blok for beating Organus and Lightning Lad conforms Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel’s resignations.

Noticeable Things:

  • Dream Girl has a new costume here and a slightly different look that she keeps for quite a while.
  • Chameleon Boy mentions the recent revelation that R.J. Brande is actually Cham’s father; that was revealed in the Secrets of the Legion mini-series.
  • When Light Lass stalks out of Timber Wolf’s room, she passes Dr. Gym’ll, who will later become a recurring character and the legion’s official physician. This is his first appearance.
  • Before the second emergency call from Medicus One, some of the Legionnaires are playing a holographic version of Dungeons & Dragons.

New Teen Titans 16 coverNew Teen Titans #16 – “Starfire Unleashed” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This issue takes place after a bit of a continuity jump. Apparently it’s been over a month since last issue (which could explain how Dick managed to appear in all those Batman stories); in that month or so, Dick has broken up with Starfire (not that they were ever really serious) and she’s been seeing a new guy named Franklin Crandall. She met Franklin at a photo shoot, where he charmed her and asked her out on a date. Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy had a bad vibe about him right from the start, but realized Starfire wasn’t a kid, so she could make her own decisions on who she wants to date. Starfire and Franklin have been inseparable for the last month, though Donna’s still not quite sure about him. She did warn Starfire not to tell Franklin she’s an alien superhero,Starfire and Franklin's date since many humans are weird about that sort of thing. So Starfire is sticking with her “Kory Anders” identity, letting Franklin think she’s just a regular fashion model. As this issue starts, Kory’s out with Franklin again, which has Dick a little concerned too. Victor (Cyborg) Stone suggests maybe Dick’s a bit jealous, even though he’s the one who broke up with Kory. Raven is starting college, trying to have a normal life and Wally (Kid Flash) West is supporting her. Everyone leaves to do their thing except Vic, who’s feeling down that he has no woman in his life. Turns out he hasn’t bothered to get in touch with Sarah Simms lately, so I’d say it’s his own fault. On their date, Kory manages to stop a runaway car without giving herself away to Franklin. Donna gets back to her place to find someone broke in and trashed Starfire celebrates being in lovethe apartment. The only thing missing is a photo contact sheet. Dick pulls some fingerprints from the doorknob and they go to police HQ to check them out. Later, Franklin brings Kory back (she and Donna are roommates) and they’re surprised to find the place in a mess. Franklin confesses that he knows Kory is Starfire, but says he doesn’t care that she wasn’t honest with him … he loves her anyway. At university, Raven embarrasses herself by prattling on in her philosophy class. When a fellow student tries to connect with her (either because he’s genuinely interested in her mention of Azarath or because he’s hot for her … or maybe both), she shuts him down. Kory is thrilled to be in love for the first time, but we see Franklin isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. He’s actually a gigolo, working for aRaven prattles on in class new member of HIVE. Franklin’s usual M.O. Is to seduce rich married women, then blackmail them. This new HIVE operative has hired him to make Starfire fall in love with him, so he can get info about the Titans from her. The HIVE guy figures he can increase his standing in the organization if he can bring secret info on the Titans. Franklin’s feeling a bit guilty for leading Kory on, but the HIVE agent threatens him and Franklin’s too scared to back out. At university, Raven uses her empathic ability to calm an aggressive dude who’s hitting on her, but the guy from class jumps in and decks him. Raven gives him shit, saying if he really believed in Azar’s teachings he wouldn’t go around punching people. Dick figures out who broke into Donna’s place; Raven wishing she could open upa mobster named Phil Cerullo was looking for a model named Angela Dove. Angela’s boyfriend is supposed to testify against Cerullo, but now Angela and the boyfriend have disappeared. Dick figures the thief got Angela’s address from Donna’s contact sheet and used Angela as leverage against her boyfriend. Starfire shows up to announce she and Franklin are in love and she wants everyone to meet him. Donna tries to get her to slow down, but Starfire says Tamaranians follow their emotions wherever they lead. Raven returns and overhears the conversation; she wishes she could be so open about her feelings, but she’s spent a lifetime repressing her emotions (which is kinda necessary for an empath) and can’t bring herself to bare her soul to anyone. The Titans figure out where Cerullo is hiding Angela and go to rescue her. They make short work of his henchmen and Starfire blastsTitans pound Cerullo's men Cerullo, almost killing him when he threatens to kill Angela. Starfire’s not too upset about almost wasting a scumbag like Cerullo and Donna says they have to talk about toning down her violence. Meanwhile, Franklin has decided to quit working for the HIVE operative; he considers killing the guy, but can’t bring himself to do it. He says he’s going to confess everything to the Titans and he’s not worried about HIVE retaliating, because this dude has gone rogue. His hiring Franklin is something the rest of HIVE doesn’t even know about, so he can’t count on them for help. Franklin’s right about that, but gets too cocky and the HIVE agent shoots him. When they get to Donna and Starfire’s place, they find Franklin near death. He Donna stops Kory from killingtells Starfire he was working for HIVE and gives them the operative’s hideout (only a couple blocks away). He apologizes before dying in Kory’s arms. She freaks out and flies off to kill the HIVE agent who wasted her man. Donna goes after her and says Kory will have to kill her too if she wants the HIVE agent. Kory freaks out and flies away and the HIVE agent escapes in the confusion. Donna vows they’ll bring him to justice the proper way, but it turns out they won’t have to bother. When HIVE finds out he acted as an individual instead of as a member of the HIVE, they execute him summarily, not even bothering to learn what he found out about the Titans. Kory believes Franklin was an innocent pawn of the HIVE, not a willing agent and Donna and Dick figure they may as well let her believe that if it makes her feel better.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you’re wondering where Gar (changeling) Logan is this issue, Vic mentions that he took a vacation with Steve Dayton and Cliff Steele, but should be back soon.
  • There was a Captain Carrot preview in the original version of this comic. Basically it’s about Superman trying to stop a weird meteor that pulls him into another dimension where anthropomorphic animals live. The meteor breaks into pieces, giving super-powers to various animals: Captain Carrot, Pig Iron, Alley-Kat Abra, Yankee Poodle, Rubberduck, and Fastback.

All-Star Squadron 6 coverAll-Star Squadron #6 – “Mayhem in the Mile-High City” – Roy Thomas/Adrian Gonzales/Jerry Ordway

Last issue, a contingent of All-Stars went to Mexico City to find Shiera Sanders, Hawkman’s fiancée. They found she’d been captured by a guy claiming to be the Mayan god Kukulkan reincarnated, who’d allied himself with a bunch of Nazis hoping to bring Mexico into World War II on the Axis side. Hawkman and Shining Knight ended up being captured by the Nazis and awoke to see Kukulkan about to sacrifice Shiera on the altar of a Mayan temple. As this issue starts, Kukulkan takes a few minutes to explain his origin while waiting for the stars to line up perfectly for the sacrifice. He was a Mexican explorer who found a Mayan temple and found he could readShiera breaks loose the indecipherable hieroglyphs. He realized he was a descendant of the god Kukulkan and after putting on some ancient armour he found in the temple, spoke to his followers in the ancient language, urging those of pure indigenous blood to kill any who were “tainted” by Spanish bloodlines. They obeyed and began to worship him as the modern incarnation of Kukulkan. The Nazis are getting impatient about Kukulkan reciting his biography and Hawkman wonders how long an alliance between Mayans and Aryans can really last. Kukulkan is ready for the sacrifice, which he claims will unite all people with indigenous blood—Mayans, Olmec, Toltec—under his sway so head Nazi used as a sacrificehe can lead them to take over all Central and South America. Shining Knight is working to free himself from his bonds, but it’s Shiera who gets the first shot in, giving Kukulkan a kick before he can stab her. The distraction lets Hawkman and Shining Knight bust loose and start kicking Nazi ass. Kukulkan is pissed off that his sacrifice has gotten away, but makes the best of it by slaughtering the Nazi general on the altar. Shiera crawls away to her gear and changes into Hawkgirl, returning to help pound the bad guys. Kukulkan uses the power he absorbed from the sacrifice to fly off and Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Shining Knight chase after him. In Mexico City, an Aztec temple rises in the city square. Every pure-blooded Indian that sees the temple goes into a weird trance and starts climbing the steps, pushing aside the Mestizos who get in their way. A group of Nazi agents smuggle some submachine guns tofake Kukulkan attacks president the indigenous guards on the temple, who start blasting the Mestizos below. That brings some more All-Stars (Firebrand, Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Johnny Quick), who start pounding the murderous neo-Aztecs. The Nazis are surprised to see the heroes there, having heard that the JSA disbanded and wonder what they can do to insure this doesn’t upset their plans. In the nearby presidential palace, the President of Mexico is confronted by Kukulkan himself. Before he can kill the President, his two aides reveal themselves to be Robotman and Liberty Belle in disguise. They pound Kukulkan’s men and Liberty Belle takes Kukulkan out by tossing him through the window. But when they look at his body in the plaza below, they attacking Kukulkan at the German embassysee his strength was due to an exoskeleton, not any kind of Mayan magic. They’re startled to see another Kukulkan flying by and realize the one they fought was just a fake. The real Kukulkan lands at the German Embassy, where a cadre of Nazis are discussing the alliance with Mexico which will get them much-needed oil and a close striking point against the States. Kukulkan shows up and gives them shit for sending a copy of him to threaten the President. The Nazis are upset to learn their ersatz Kukulkan is dead and say it was just a precaution in case the real deal didn’t get back in time to lead the revolt. Kukulkan says he’ll honour the alliance with Germany because he can use their weapons, but he won’t be a puppet like Quisling or Petain. Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Shining Knight show up and attack, pounding the Nazis. Kukulkan escpes out another window and attacks the All-Stars below, decking Johnny Quick and grabbing Firebrand. Firebrand gets pissedKukulkan tries to use a bomb off and lights Kukulkan’s wings on fire, causing him to drop her. As Kukulkan’s sacred armour burns away and he plummets toward the ground, Firebrand is caught by Shining Knight. The Hawks prevent Kukulkan from splattering, but the loss of his armour brings all his entranced followers back to normal. When they unmask Kukulkan, he turns out to be a German who was trying to seize power for himself instead of taking orders from Hitler. He whips out a bomb but Johnny Quick grabs it and tosses it to Robotman, who flings it a safe distance before it explodes. So the Nazis plot failed and Mexico is now more firmly allied to the United States than ever, thanks to the All-Star Squadron.

Noticeable Things:

  • When recounting his origin, Kukulkan compares himself as an archaeologist to John Lloyd Stephens (who was a real archaeologist in the 1800s) and the more recent Indiana Jones! I’m not sure how Roy got away with that one.
  • The President of Mexico depicted here is Manuel Avila Camacho, who really was President from 1940-1946. He was apparently in favour of reform and modernization and improved Mexican-American relations during the War. There’s also a mention of the previous President (Cardenas) and his oil embargo against the U.S.
  • It’s mentioned that Germany and Italy declared war on the United States that morning, which would place this story on December 11, 1941.
  • While getting rid of the bomb, Robotman references Pee Wee Reese (shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers) and Dizzy Dean (pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals).

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