Comics Reviews: JLA 207, All-Star Squadron 14, Legion of Super-Heroes 292, New Teen Titans 24

JLA 207 coverJustice League of America #207 – “Crisis Times Three” – Gerry Conway/Don Heck/Romeo Tanghal

We start out with five members of the Justice Society (Dr. Fate, Starman, Green Lantern, Huntress, and Power Girl) getting ready to beam to Earth-1 for their annual get together with the JLA. Five JLA members (Superman, Hawkman, Firestorm, Aquaman, and Zatanna) eagerly await the arrival of their friends (and we learn that Firestorm still has the hots for Power Girl). But something goes horribly wrong. (Hey, it’s a JLA/JSA crossover… something always goes wrong.) Instead of the JSA materializing on the satellite, the Leaguers are shocked to see their old foes the Crime Syndicate (and we get a splash page that’s a rip-off—I mean homage—of X-Men #100, with the teams facing off against each other). Since Firestorm hasn’t met them before, he (and any new readers) are treated to a brief history of the Crime Syndicate: They’re fromSyndicate defeats JLA Earth-3, where there are no superheroes but only super-villains; they fought the JLA before and were trapped in Limbo. But now they’re out and make short work of the JLA. This seems like one of those DC fights where the good guys lose because it moves the plot forward; I’m sure when it’s time to wrap up the story, the Leaguers will mop up the floor with the bad guys. Anyway, the Syndicate smashes a hole in the Satellite and sends Superman and Zatanna tumbling into space; they then repair the hole in the satellite and steal the JLA rocket plane to go conquer Earth-1. I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure a gaping hole to outer space would cause explosive decompression and pull everyone into space… maybe they have one of those Star Wars force fields that allows people to stand in open docking bays. The JSA in devastated New YorkSyndicate mentions (several times) that they were betrayed by someone named Per Degaton … now, who could that be? Any fans of All-Star Squadron are way ahead of the game. We next find out what happened to the missing JSA members; logically enough, they’re in the inter-dimensional stasis bubble that previously housed the Crime Syndicate. We get more exposition about the Syndicate, including a recap of their previous appearances, as the JSA work on an escape plan. It doesn’t take them long to bust out and Green Lantern says he knows how to get back home (something to do with a rip in the dimensional fabric, blah, blah, comic book science, blah, blah). But instead of ending up on Earth-2 (or Earth-1 for that matter), they find themselves on another Earth—one that’s been devastated by what seems to be a nuclear holocaust. It looks like they’re in New York City… the Empire State Building seems to have broken in half, but the antenna tower on top isZatanna saved surprisingly intact. They’re attacked by some mutated plants, which they defeat easily. GL uses his incredible plot device—I mean ring—to deduce: (1) that they’re on Earth-Prime, a world with no superheroes i.e. our world; (2) that the nuclear holocaust happened decades ago; and (3) that the holocaust was caused by… Per Degaton. That is one handy ring. Back in space above Earth-1, Superman saves Zatanna (miraculously, of course) and the JLA decide to use the trans-matter cube to go to Earth-2 and look for the missing JSA members. I guess it never occurred to them to look in Limbo, where the Syndicate were imprisoned? Firestorm is shown to be reluctant to use the trans-matter cube—seriously, he sounds like Dr. McCoy—but hasn’t he JLA on an alternate worldused it before? I’d swear he’s been to Earth-2 before. Plus, his entire power set is all about molecular manipulation, so you’d think he’d be cool with the idea. Anyway, they go to Earth-2, but JSA headquarters is a shambles and, according to a wall calendar, has been abandoned since 1942. They go outside and all the cars and fashions are straight out of the 1940s, but they quickly realize they’re in the present (1982), but a present far different from the one they expected. They soon figure out Per Degaton is behind the altered history (the gold statues of him on every corner kinda give it away) and are attacked by some of Degaton’s thugs. After a quick fight, they go back into JSA headquarters and Superman and Firestorm combine powers to travel back in time (another of those plot convenient abilities that’s never seen again). We’re also reminded that Firestorm is the young, hip member of the teamJLA surprised by All-Star Squadron when he references Rick Springfield… in 1982, nobody was hipper. When they get back to the 1940s, the JSA headquarters is intact, so they know whatever Degaton did to change history hasn’t happened yet. They hear someone at the door and eagerly anticipate meeting a young, dynamic JSA (in Zatanna’s case, she seems very eager), but when the door opens they’re shocked to see… the All-Star Squadron! Wait, who? We’ll find out in part two, located just below for your convenience. (Actually, part two tells the parallel story of the All-Star Squadron leading up to this moment, so we’ll have to wait even longer to see the fantabulous first meeting between these two teams).

All-Star Squadron 14 coverAll-Star Squadron #14 – “The Mystery Men of October” – Roy Thomas/Adrian Gonzales/Jerry Ordway

This issue starts with twelve members of the All-Star Squadron giving Nazi salutes to Per Degaton and then trying to kill each other; so, probably either a dream sequence or an alternate reality. Professor Zee (Degaton’s boss from All-Star Squadron #3) shows up to remind the Squadron that Degaton is a bad guy; the heroes quickly turn on him and … Degaton wakes up. Yeah, he was just dreaming (at least Patrick Duffy wasn’t in the shower), but the dream has restored Degaton’s memory of his two previous defeats. That’s right, last time Degaton was defeated, Roy Thomas used that old cliche of having everyone (hero and villain) forget everything that happened. Well, I’m sure he and Gerry will find a much more clever way ofPer Degaton on Earth Prime ending this story. Anyway, now that Degaton has regained the memory of being ignominiously defeated (twice), he immediately starts working on a new scheme. I’m sure this one will work out much better. He kills Professor Zee (well, that’s new at least) and uses the Professor’s time machine to go from 1947 (Degaton’s present) into 1982 (his future) to get weapons so he can go back and conquer 1941 (his past)… got all that? But there’s a glitch and he winds up in 1982 on Earth-Prime (aka our Earth). He realizes there are no superheroes there and figures it’s a great place to steal weapons. But back in his time machine, he’s caught in a time-storm and ends up in Limbo. He rescues the Crime Syndicate from their stasis bubble Syndicate stealing weaponsand we get another recap of their history. Degaton asks the Syndicate to do him a favor since he busted them out, and they agree. He takes them to 1962 (on Earth-Prime) and has them steal the missiles from the Cuban Missile Crisis (and Roy Thomas gets to be a schoolteacher again as he gives us a rundown of the real life Cuban Missile Crisis). They get the missiles, which leaves the United States and the Soviet Union hurling accusations at each other over the “missing” nukes; this explains the devastation found by the JSA on Earth Prime in JLA #207. Naturally, the Crime Syndicate betrays Degaton, but he was expecting that (would you trust people who call themselves the Crime Syndicate?) and as soon as they touch him, they’re hurled forward tofighting Nuclear a random Earth in 1982. Degaton doesn’t know which Earth, but we do, since we already saw the Syndicate appear on the JLA Satellite on Earth-1. Now that Degaton has a bunch of nukes, he’s ready to go back to Earth 2’s past and take over the world. And speaking of Earth-2 in the 1940s… . We next see Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, and Firebrand getting out of a taxi in New York. They’re immediately attacked by a goofy-looking guy calling himself Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder. Robotman and Commander Steel show up to help, but they probably aren’t the best choice to go up against a guy who controls magnetism. After a short fight, Nuclear gets away and the All-Stars continue on to JSA headquarters. Nuclear is seen again in All-Star Squadron in a couple months, but he’s not exactly a classic villain. It feels like this All-Stars surprised by JLAissue was running short and they needed to fill up a few pages. When the Squadron members get to the JSA meeting room, who do they find? Yes, it’s the five JLA members from Part One. So, we end with the same scene, but get two different paths leading to it. It’s actually a neat idea and it’s executed pretty well, tying Degaton, the Crime Syndicate, and the nuclear holocaust on Earth-Prime all together. Gerry and Roy are listed as plot consultants in each other’s books, so they were obviously working closely to tie everything together. So, in the next issue we’ll see the long-awaited confrontation between the JLA and the All-Star Squadron… unless they decide to take a side trip to Earth-C to bring in Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew.

LSH 292 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #292 – “Darkness Transcendent” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

This one starts with Shadow Lass, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, and Phantom Girl cleaning up on the prison planet, Takron Galtos, after it was attacked by a Servant of Darkness last issue. After making sure all the prisoners are secure, the Legionnaires leave, worrying about who’s behind the recent “Darkness” attacks. Whoever it is, he’s strong enough to turn Time Trapper and Mordru into simpering wrecks, so he’s definitely a heavy-hitter. They get a call telling them to meet the rest of the team on Sorcerer’s World and as they leave, they just miss a prison transport carrying Chameleon Boy, who was convicted of treason and sentenced to Takron Galtos. In orbit around Sorcerer’s World, another contingent of Legionnaires (Dream Girl,servants attack Legion Blok, Invisible Kid, Light Lass, Sun Boy, and Dreamy’s sister, White Witch) prepare to land. They’ve come to Sorcerer’s World because Dream Girl (who was just elected leader of the Legion) had a prophetic vision that they’d face the Servants of Darkness there … and lose. As they come in for a landing, some of them are disoriented by the constantly shifting illusions, a by-product of the students’ magical lessons. White Witch leads them to Teachers’ Isle, to see those in charge, but up in the atmosphere, Mon-El’s shuttle has arrived but gets blasted before they can land. The downed Legionnaires find themselves attacked by four Servants of Darkness: three that we’ve seen before (the guy on the aerial scooter, the guy with the weird emblem on his chest, and the small dude with the big head), plus a new one with shaggy figuring things out at Legion HQhair and a baton. They mix it up and Shadow Lass is again surprised that her darkness power seems to confuse the Servants. Mon-El freezes one of the Servants and flies into the space warp to confront their Master. Mon-El seems to recognize the Master, but gets blasted for his boldness, flying out of the warp and landing in a crumpled heap. Back on Earth, Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl are trying to find answers about their opponents. Having already determined that the female Servant of Darkness is a reverse-clone of Lydea Mallor (Shadow Lass’s ancestor from centuries ago), they use that information to extrapolate on the other Servants. The computer posits that the little guy with the big head is a cloned Guardian of the Universe, and the first Servant they encountered (with the symbol on his chest) is a distorted clone of Superman. They can’t help wondering whoLegion fights the servants would have the power to clone beings like that, and who else received the treatment. On Sorcerer’s World, Dream Girl and White Witch plead with the sorcerers to shore up the defenses based on Dreamy’s vision. Another team of Legionnaires (Brainiac 5, Timber Wolf, Dawnstar, Wildfire, Star Boy, and Element Lad) arrives to help (and we see Light Lass is still pissed off at Timber Wolf because she thinks he was messing around with Saturn Girl a couple issues back), but the sorcerers insist Dream Girl’s vision is wrong and their planet can withstand any assault, since light always banishes darkness. They get a wake-up call when they try to summon a vision of the planet and see only destruction. The Legionnaires head out to fight the Servants while the sorcerers swear to do whatever they have to in order to fight the Darkness. Wildfire gets blastedWildfire shanghais Dawnstar to the source of the destruction, a space warp into which the very magic of the planet is draining. Four Servants come through the warp and Wildfire tosses Dawnstar into the upper atmosphere to get her out of danger. Wildfire fights for a few moments before realizing he has to retreat. Unfortunately, he leads the Servants straight to his fellow Legionnaires, who watch as Wildfire is blown apart. (Most of them know Wildfire isn’t dead, his energy is just scattered, but Invisible Kid almost shits himself until the others explain it to him.) At the Sorcerers’ Citadel, the sorcerers pool their magic and try to summon something to fight the powers of Darkness. A space warp opens and a baby comes through. Whitea baby appears out of a space warp Witch wonders if it’s a trick, but Dream Girl has a feeling the baby is just what thy need to fight the Darkness … an Alpha to the Omega, in a manner of speaking. (Interesting that turn of phrase should occur to her …) On Earth, the three founding Legionnaires realize this is the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced and call in everyone they can find: Superboy, Karate Kid and Projectra, Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet (currently on an extended sex-cation), and Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel. On Sorcerers’ World, the Legion are holding their own against the Servants, spurred on by Dream Girl’s insistence that the Servants not be allowed on Teachers’ Isle. But things go straight to hell when the Master shows up. After dumping some Master shows how strong he isdefeated Legionnaires and taking Wildfire’s helmet as a souvenir, he thanks the Legion for helping him achieve his ends and disappears. The Legionnaires feel like crap at being defeated (and the ignored), and wonder what he meant by thanking them for a “service” one of them had done. Wildfire reconstitutes himself in a new containment suit and Dream Girl thanks the Legionnaires for keeping the Servants and their Master off Teachers’ Isle. She tells them some of the teachers died trying to prevent the Master from looking too closely at the island, but it was worth it. White Witch shows them the baby and says it’s the key to banishing the Darkness … as soon as they figure out how.

New Teen Titans 24 coverNew Teen Titans #24 – “Citadel Strike” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

Last issue, Starfire was kidnapped by Gordanian slavers led by her sister, Blackfire. Starfire’s teammates were unceremoniously dumped into space and left to die, but luckily they were close enough to the JLA Satellite for Superman to rescue them. Superman’s not quite himself after being split in two in recent Action issues, but he’s been hanging around with the Omega Men (in even more recent issues of Action), who are on their way to the Vegan system to fight the Citadel. Neat how that all worked out, isn’t it? After meeting the Omega Men (Primus, Kalista, Broot, Harpis, Nimbus, and Tigorr, who wasn’t with the team in Action but is there now), the Titans ask if they can hitch a ride and Primus says yes. Turns out he and his wife Kalista trained with Starfire and Blackfire on Okaara back in the day. On the Gordanian space ship, BlackfireBlackfire pounds Starfire is tormenting her sister about how she’ll never escape again and this time she’ll be enslaved for life, not just a year like her original sentence. Starfire is so pissed off she busts loose, but Blackfire’s taunts make her careless and Blackfire ends up kicking her ass. We get a bit more insight into their relationship, which seems to boil down to Blackfire hating Starfire because she was everyone’s favourite. When they reach the Citadel homeworld, Blackfire takes her prize down to the planet. She’s made to wait, which pisses her off since the planet is freezing and she’s used to the tropical climate on Tamaran. She takes out her anger by slaughtering the guard and heads in to see Lord Damyn, the high chieftain of the Citadel Empire. Titans on the Omega Men's shipDamyn swept through the Vegan system like a plague and even managed to exile the goddess X’hal. Naturally, Blackfire is wondering how she can take his place. On the Omega Men’s ship, the Titans are pressed into service and we see Demonia is just as much of a xenophobic asshole as ever. Raven warns her teammates to keep an eye on Demonia, but since the other Omega Men trust her, they don’t have much choice. As they approach the Vegan system, Primus says their first stop has to be Okaara to pick up some more muscle. On the Citadel homeworld, Blackfire delivers her sister to Lord Damyn, who’s an uncouth, overbearing, idiot … but apparently a hell of a warrior. He also seems kinda crazy; even Blackfire is careful not to offend him. He invites her to a cannibalistic feast and she talks him into letting her have Starfire to kill. A renegade Psion comes in to tell Damyn his big plan … kidnappingBlackfire goes to Damyn's feast X’hal, the Living Goddess. Blackfire thinks that’s impossible, but Damyn loves the idea so she goes along with it. The Omega men and Titans reach Okaara and head down into the catacombs. Joining them is Auron, who was once the Omega Man called Lambien, but transformed into a living God to avenge his mother, X’hal. They end up in a shrine where X’hal manifests physically. Auron begs her to kill him, as he’s sick of being her instrument of vengeance, but she won’t allow him to rest from his duties. A bunch of Citadel ships show up to demand X’hal be handed over to them and Auron flies out to attack them, his anger stirred by the strange obligation he has to X’hal. He starts fighting Citadel troopsblasting the Citadel ships and the rest of the Omega Men (and the Titans) come out to help him. As everyone’s fighting, Changeling takes the form of a Gordanian and carries Robin and Cyborg onto a Citadel ship, pretending he’s taking them to the homeworld for interrogation. The bluff works, but Robin urges Changeling to keep his mouth shut from here on out. Naturally, Changeling doesn’t listen, and his second attempt at a bluff gets him a couple of laser blasters pointed at his face. We’ll see how Changeling gets out of this one next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • The Citadel homeworld is surrounded by orbiting chunks of rock with guard posts on them. The rocks were once the world’s moon which was destroyed by a Psion invasion. The Citadel fortified the remains of the moon so that nobody could get through to attack the planet again. Way to make lemonade out of lemons, I guess.Citadel homeworld

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