Comics Reviews: JLA 206, Legion of Super-Heroes 291, New Teen Titans 23, All-Star Squadron 13

JLA 206 coverJustice League of America #206 – “The Secret That Time Forgot” – Gerry Conway/Carmine Infantino/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts out in the 25th Century, with a guy named Thomas Parker taking his son Garner to the Space Museum. They see an exhibit containing a bell, a jar, and a wheel, which confuses Gardner. When he finds out they were used by the Justice League, he wants to know more. Luckily, there’s a whole room dedicated to the League and Gardner drinks it all in. His father tells the story of the three artifacts, saying there’s a reason he knows this particular tale, which he’ll reveal after he’s done telling it. He starts out recapping the origins of the Demons Three and their first encounters with the Justice League (from JLA 10, 11, and 35), where they were awakened after millennia and tried to take over Earth using the threeGreen Arrow controlled artifacts. Thomas goes on to tell how the Red Jar of Calythos, the Green Bell of Ulthool, and the Silver Wheel of Nyarlath were lost when the JLA Satellite was blown up (in JLA 147 and 148). But he says if the explosion had happened a few years earlier, the artifacts wouldn’t have been destroyed, because the ones in the Satellite at that time were magical illusions. We shift into flashback mode and see the JLA moving all their stuff from the old Happy Harbor cave headquarters to the Satellite. The Demons Three had been trapped but could still access the three artifacts telepathically. When Green Arrow (in his original costume) was moving the artifacts, the Demons managed to contact him and affect his mind. They made him believe he’d taken the bell, jar, and wheel, but the real artifacts were left behind in the cave. The Demons knew loser summons the Demons Threeif they waited long enough, they could channel their power through the artifacts and manifest physically again. And since they’d already waited thousands of years, what was a few more? Years after the JLA moved to the Satellite, some dude is backpacking near the old cave headquarters and gets caught in a rockslide. Landing near the cave mouth, he’s taken over by the Demons’ collective will and forced to enter the cave and smash the case holding the artifacts. The pain brings him to his senses and, after bandaging his hand, he takes the artifacts and sells them to a pawnbroker. The pawnbroker just happens to be into mysticism and figures the artifacts might hold some power. He summons the Demons, who thank him by obliterating him (he made the classic rookie mistake of not making sure the summoning circleDemons shake the satellite was perfect). The Demons seize the artifacts and vow never to be imprisoned again. Meanwhile on the JLA Satellite, Zatanna is being elected leader. After the meeting, Zatanna, Batman, Flash, Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny, and Atom hang around to celebrate. Flash is still hung up on Zatanna and she’s still not interested. Ralph reminds Flash he already has a woman (Fiona Webb), but he doesn’t seem to care too much. The party is interrupted by the Demons Three showing up outside and shaking the Satellite like a baby’s rattle. They challenge the JLA to meet them at Stonehenge (where else?) before Ralph zaps them by charging the outside of the Satellite with electricity. Flash explains who the Demons are to the newer members and they head down to Stonehenge. The place is deserted, but Zatanna says she Zatanna blasts Demonscan feel evil forces gathering. She’s right unfortunately; Flash is blasted by Lightning and Ralph and Atom are knocked out. Batman tells Zatanna to use her magic … since the Demons haven’t met her before they’ll be taken by surprise. Batman distracts them and gets blasted, giving Zatanna time to conjure mystical bolts to banish the Demons. But it was all a set-up; the Demons cast illusions of themselves around the artifacts, so Zatanna’s magic actually destroyed the only things that could imprison the Demons again. They gloat at her stupidity, saying they couldn’t destroy the artifacts themselves (since their magic created them), so they tricked her into doing it. But their bragging gives Zatanna the way to correct her mistake; since her magic destroyed the artifacts, she can also re-create them. She does and the Demons are swiftly banished again. Back in the 25th Century, Gardner asksZatanna banishes demons what would have happened if the Demons had just blown Zatanna away right after she destroyed the artifacts. Thomas says it would’ve been the end of humankind, but the Demons’ arrogance was their downfall. Thomas finally admits how he knows the story so well … he’s a descendant of one of the JLA members involved. Naturally Gardner asks which one and Thomas starts to tell him, but we don’t get to hear the answer. Judging by Thomas’s dark curly hair and Gardner’s reddish brown hair, I suppose Ralph and Sue could be their ancestors, though they never had children. Or maybe Gerry is hinting that Zatanna and Flash got together and made a baby. Oh well, I’m sure it’s all moot post-Crisis anyway. This was obviously filler, but next issue begins the big JLA/JSA/All-Star Squadron crossover classic, Crisis on Earth Prime.

LSH 291 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #291 – “A Sign of Darkness Dawning” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

Last issue, the Legion faced four different “Servants of Darkness” who were looting mystical artifacts and taking them to their dark master so he could absorb the energy. The Legion managed to capture one of the Servants (who I’ve been referring to as Servant #3 since she was the third to appear) and confined her at their headquarters for study. This issue opens with Mon-El reporting his findings to Shadow Lass and Dream Girl; Servant #3 (who has gone into some kind of shutdown) is a perfect DNA reversal of Shadow Lass’s ancestor, Lydea Mallor. In other words, she’s a clone but seems to be made of inanimate material. Shadow Lass is freaked out and when Element Lad calls a meeting, she asks Mon-El if they can skip it so she can get her shit together. Across the galaxy on the planet Avalon, the Darkleadership meeting Master and Servant #1 free Mordru from his burial. Mordru is ready to slaughter them, but finds himself outmatched as he Master begins draining energy from him. Last issue, the Master said he’d gotten all he could from draining artifacts and was ready to turn to the living; I guess this is what he meant. At Legion Headquarters, most of the members are gathered to discuss the election of the new leader. Two of the candidates (Element Lad and Dream Girl) are ready to go ahead, but Ultra Boy thinks they should postpone it to help Chameleon Boy fight his treason charges. Element Lad reminds him that Chameleon Boy specifically asked them not to interfere, or even attend his trial—and technically, he is guilty. They’re interrupted by three alarms coming in simultaneously: one from Takron-Galtos, the prison planet and one from Avalon warning of Mordru’s escape. Dream Girl also gets one of fighting servant #4her prophetic visions and it’s so strong it almost knocks her out. She says it was from her sister (White Witch) on Naltor, telling her the Servants of Darkness are attacking there. So of course, it’s time to split into teams, just like the old days. Shadow Lass, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, and Phantom Girl arrive on Takron-Galtos just in time to save a guard from a bunch of escaped prisoners. After taking care of the prisoners, they track the destruction to its source and find the Time Trapper beat to shit. Servant #4 attacks on his flying scooter and knocks the Legionnaires around a bit before they can regroup. They finally get the upper hand and the Servant flees through a space warp opened by his Master. The Legionnaires wonder who could’ve done that kind of damage to the Time Trapper. On Earth, Superboy checks on Lightning Lad (who’s sick with some kind of weird electricity-based brainfinding the humbled Mordru fever), but Saturn Girl says nothing has changed. After Superboy leaves, Saturn Girl remembers that his parents (the Kents) died of a fever a lot like the one affecting Lightning Lad … though Superboy doesn’t know that, since he’s been hypnotized to forget every time he returns to his own time. On Avalon, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Timber Wolf, Star Boy, Wildfire, and Dawnstar check out Mordru’s resting place. Element Lad is still campaigning for leadership and Star Boy states the obvious: Dream Girl wouldn’t be running for leader if her precognitive powers hadn’t already told her she was the winner. They find Mordru, pounded to shit and drained of his power, babbling about the darkness just like Time Trapper was. On Naltor, Dream Girl, Blok, Sun Boy, Invisible Kid, and Light Lass are waiting for White Witch grabbedWhite Witch to show up. She makes a dramatic entrance, but the introductions are interrupted by the darkness that floods over everything. Servant #3 pops up and tries to grab White Witch. The Legion fight him and Sun Boy hurts him with his light energy. Invisible Kid tries to go through the space warp, but is met by the Master who blasts him. Servant #3 breaks loose and dives through the warp, as his Master says to forget White Witch since she’s not worth the trouble. Invisible Kid is half out of it … literally; he’s only partially visible and is raving about the darkness. They prepare to take him or treatment, but Dream Girl gets another vision, this time of the Legion fighting the Servants on Sorcerer’s World … and losing. We’ll see if that vision comes true next issue.

Saturn Girl tending to Lightning Lad“Of Leaders and Lovers” – Paul Levitz/Howard Bender/Rodin Rodriguez

Back at Legion Headquarters, Saturn Girl is using her telepathic powers to try to relieve the brain fever of her husband, Lightning lad. There’s not much she can do about the strange electrical impulses in his brain, but she uses her powers to ease some of his worries. Cosmic Boy calls and says because of all the crazy shit lately they’re conducting the election remotely. He urges Saturn Girl to vote but she’s too worried about Lightning Lad to care who wins. Cosmic Boy is attacked and Saturn Girl zooms to the rescue. It turns out to be Servant #3, out of her coma and smashing up the place. Saturn Girl is enveloped in aLightning Lad saves Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy cloud of darkness and sends a telepathic call to lightning Lad. Unfortunately, he’s still out of it, so Saturn Girl gets her ass kicked. She and Cosmic Boy are about to get crushed by Servant #3 when Lightning Lad shows up and blasts her before keeling over. Later, Saturn Girl tells Cosmic Boy that the weird electrical fever was caused by Lightning Lad’s own powers backfiring on him due to all the stress he’d been under. Seeing them in danger was enough to snap him out of it, so now he should be fine. Cosmic Boy is happy and gives Saturn Girl a bit of unexpected news … Dream Girl has been elected leader.

Noticeable Things:

  • On Takron-Galtos, the guard saved by the Legion is a Xudarian, like Tomar-Re.
  • It’s said the Legion defeated and imprisoned the Time Trapper during Wildfire’s solo story in Legion 283.
  • When Blok first lays eyes on White Witch, he’s instantly taken with her. That will develop into a romance of sorts … constrained by the fact Blok isn’t human.

New Teen Titans 23 coverNew Teen Titans #23 – “Kidnapped” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with a Gordanian slaver ship approaching Earth. In command of the ship is Komand’r (aka Blackfire), who’s there to bring her sister Koriand’r (aka Starfire) back to their planet in chains. She tells the Gordanians they can kill and destroy as much as they want on Earth, as long as they bring her Starfire. In New York City, the Titans are returning home after last issue’s disastrous fight against Brother Blood. Not only did Blood make it look like the Titans attacked his Church for no reason, he faked his death and made it look like Cyborg was responsible. The Army is waiting to greet the Titans, who aren’t worried for their own safety, but are afraid of what’ll happen if someone gets trigger-happy and starts a fight. They’re escorted in to see the District Attorney, Adrian Chase, while TV reporter Bethany Snow continues broadcasting herStarfire goes wild propaganda against the Titans. Chase gives the Titans shit, saying they played right into Blood’s hands. Robin mentions Bethany Snow’s yellow journalism and Chase says she’s a member of the Church of Blood, but if they expose her it’ll look like they’re trying to silence a critical journalist. Chase tells them Brother Blood staged a miraculous “resurrection” last night, which brought in more money and followers. Chase knows Blood has committed crimes, but he can’t prove anything. Chase starts raving about how he wants to put Blood away for good and warns the Titans not to tell the press anything. Robin doesn’t like all the secrecy, but goes along reluctantly. While Chase is feeding the press a load of crap, the Gordanians zero in on Starfire and use a psychic grappler against her. Starfire feels an agonizing pain in her head and goes nuts, flying through the wall and shooting off energy beams all over the place. The Titans have no idea what’s Cyborg takes out a Gordanian shipgoing on and Bethany Snow makes it look like they’re out of control again. Wonder Girl and Changeling try to grab Starfire, but the Gordanians get there first, fitting a power dampener on her and pulling her into their ship. Raven recognizes the ship and realizes the Gordanians were controlling Starfire when she went crazy. Wonder Girl gets blasted and Kid Flash catches her while Changeling takes down a Gordanian. Cyborg commandeers a small Gordanian ship and blasts another one out of the sky. A Gordanian threatens to waste everyone in the street and the Army shoots him down. The alien’s body spontaneously combusts, flaring up and burning itself to ashes. Raven uses her powers against another Gordanian, which also self-combusts. Raven blames herself for killling him, even after Changeling explains it was self-induced. Robin tells Cyborg to bring the captured ship back to headquarters, and says they’ll need two such ships to rescue Starfire. Raven wondersBlackfire torments her sister where the other ship will come from, but Robin has that covered; he has Aqualad bring the downed ship from when Starfire first came to Earth, which has been sitting in the ocean ever since. Cyborg fixes the ship and the Titans head into space to find the Gordanian mother ship. Blackfire sees them coming and looks forward to destroying them, saying she’ll make her sister Starfire watch as she wastes her friends. Blackfire torments Starfire, admitting she was the one who altered the Gordanians so they would combust rather than be defeated. Blackfire tells the Gordanians to program the drones to kill the intruders. The Titans’ ships are pulled in by a tractor beam and the drones attack, making short work of the heroes. Starfire watches as her friends are taken out one by one and begs her sister not to hurt them. Starfire watches her friends defeatedBlackfire says they’ll soon be beyond pain and opens the airlock, throwing the Titans out into space. Starfire freaks out and swears to kill her sister. Blackfire gets a call from Tamaran and decides to spare Earth for the moment, warping the ship back home. The Titans drift in space, protected by Raven’s soul-self, but she can’t keep it up for long. Luckily, they’re not far from the JLA Satellite and Superman pulls them in with a tractor beam of his own. Robin asks him to go after the Gordanians, but Superman explains he’s only half the man he used to be … literally. Wonder Girl vows they’ll find a way to get to Tamaran and get Starfire back, though she’s not sure how exactly.

Noticeable Things:

  • Adrian Chase will become very important in upcoming issues and eventually gets his own series. (No, it’s not called Law & Order.)

All-Star Squadron 13 coverAll-Star Squadron #13 – “One Day During the War” – Roy Thomas/Adrian Gonzales/Mike DeCarlo

This one starts with a meeting of the All-Star Squadron, chaired by Hawkman. The meeting is to elect a more permanent chair and they discuss how most of the JSA members aren’t eligible since they’ve joined the military in their civilian identities. Robotman mentions plenty of non-affiliated superheroes who are still around and willing to join the All-Star Squadron, formally or otherwise. Liberty Belle gives a rousing speech about everyone doing their part for the war effort and she ends up being elected chairperson. She’s reluctant at first because she doesn’t have any powers, until the others remind her of all the stuff she’s already done without powers. Shining Knight tells them he won’t be around, since Churchill has requested him as a personal bodyguard in England. Firebrand, Liberty Belle,Hawks getting it on Johnny Quick, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl head for San Francisco in a USAAF plane. Firebrand’s brother Rod (who was the original Firebrand, before being wounded at Pearl Harbor and passing the torch to her) has been moved to a San Francisco hospital. Firebrand is worried about him and goes on a diatribe against the Japanese, saying how much she hates them and spewing a bunch of racist stuff … which was kinda the thing to do at the time. Liberty Belle reminds Firebrand that her father was killed by Nazis, but she doesn’t hate all Germans because of it; that kind of blind hatred would drive her crazy. Firebrand isn’t moved and says she really does hate all Japanese. Hawkman and Hawkgirl leave before the plane lands so they can spend some time together before Hawkman returns to service in his civilian identity. (From the looks of it, the Hawks engage in some mid-air foreplay before getting down to some serious poontang.) In New York, Commander Steel breaks Gloria's heartSteel is wondering how his old mentor (Professor Giles) is doing. Giles is a pacifist, so when he heard about Hank Heywood becoming Steel, he had a heart attack. Steel goes to see Giles’s daughter Gloria (who was also Hank’s fiancée before he turned into Steel), but it turns out her father is dead. Gloria blames Steel for her father’s death and he’s about to reveal his secret identity when Gloria’s husband comes in; yeah, she’s married now, to a serviceman named Brad Farley. Steel decides not to tell Gloria who he is … in fact, he tells her Hank Heywood is dead, lost on a mission to Europe. Gloria freaks out at him again, saying he’s brought nothing but misery to her and Steel promises she’ll never have to see him again. In Queens, Robotman is heading for his old lab—where he worked as Bob Crane before his body was destroyed and his brain transplanted into Robotman—when he sees a runaway electrical discharge shooting out the windows. He heads in and finds his old partner (Chuck Grayson) and Bob Crane’s ex (JoanRobotman threatens Slattery Carter) unconscious. He smashes the machine causing the trouble and Chuck tells him it overloaded while he was trying to distract Joan, who came asking questions about Bob Crane. A knock on the door distracts them and Robotman changes to his civilian identity of Paul Dennis (complete with rubber mask) to answer it. Turns out it’s some asshole who works for a shyster named Slattery. Slattery is going to court to prove Robotman is a public menace. They’ve been following “Paul Dennis” and noticed he pops up wherever Robotman is, so they figure he can deliver the message. Paul says he’ll do one better and goes in the back room, changing to Robotman and roughing up the messenger before taking him to Slattery’s office and dumping him on the desk. Later, Chuck says that was a stupid move, but Robotman says the question of his legal status needs to be cleared up sooner or later, so Shining Knight vs Luftwaffethey might as well get on with it. In the skies over London, Churchill and Shining Knight are returning to England when the plane runs into a Luftwaffe attack. Shining Knight flies out of his horse, Winged Victory, and destroys several German planes. Churchill seems impressed. In San Francisco, Firebrand, Liberty Belle, and Johnny Quick arrive at the hospital full of wounded servicemen. They’re freaked out by all the wounded, although some of the guys seem to recover their strength as soon as they see Liberty Belle and Firebrand, acting like they’re Lana Turner and Betty Grable. They find Firebrand’s brother Rod, who’s doing a lot better. He tells them his friend Slugger Dunn is already back on active duty. Firebrand lets loose with more racism and Rod tells her he and Slugger were saved by a Japanese-AmericanAll-Stars put on a show for the wounded who later died of his wounds. Firebrand realizes she’s been an asshole and stops being racist just as suddenly as she started. Rod is impressed that his sister took over his mantle (and gained super-powers) and urges her to continue with the All-Stars. When the nurse asks if the heroes could put on a little show for the other wounded, they agree and do a few acrobatics right there in the ward room. In Washington, Al (Atom) Pratt meets his girlfriend Mary at the Jefferson Memorial to say goodbye before he goes back on active duty. Mary’s worried about him, but Al (who hasn’t told her his secret identity) is wondering how the All-Star Squadron will fare on the home front without the JSA. Next issue is the big JLA/JSA/All-Stars crossover, so don’t miss it.

Noticeable Things:

  • The heroes mentioned at the meeting include: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Spectre, the Seven Soldiers of Victory, Mr. Terrific, Wildcat, Air Wave, TNT & Dyna-Mite, Doll Man, Mr. America, Manhunter, and Plastic man … all of whom we’ll eventually see in future issues of All-Star Squadron.
  • The heroics the others mention when convincing Liberty belle she’s qualified to lead them include: her defeat of the fake Kukulkan; her taking down the deranged Green Lantern; and her hooking onto the Nazi U-Boat in the icy depths of the Atlantic.
  • The Sam Slattery story was originally told way back in the 1940s, but Roy is doing his usual update/embellishment thing.

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