Comics Reviews: JLA 211, Legion of Super-Heroes 296, New Teen Titans 28, All-Star Squadron 18

JLA 211 coverJustice League of America #211 – “The Devil’s Bargain” – Gerry Conway/Rich Buckler/Romeo Tanghal

Last issue, a newly-discovered form of matter known as the X-element began breaking down, changing Earth’s fundamental forces and threatening to wipe out life on the planet. Some aliens called the Treasurers showed up with a proposition: give them some materials from Earth (snow, water, soil) and they’d restore the X-element. Naturally, it all seemed pretty convenient, but the JLA went along with it because they didn’t have much choice. There was another part of the deal that they weren’t aware of, but they’re about to find out. When the JLA hands over the materials to the Treasurers, they find out the aliens have also requested a certain human be given to them, a guy named GeorgeDavid steals a plane Arthur Stuart. The JLA protests, but Stuart says he wants to go with the Treasurers. He says he’s always been a non-entity, nobody important, but now he could help save humanity so he wants to have his chance to do something worthy. The JLA can’t stop him from going willingly, so Stuart joins the Treasurers and they hand over a sphere full of X-element. Meanwhile, David (who we saw last issue working with Ray Palmer) is so frantic about seeing his fiancée Olivia, that he steals a jet and heads for Sweden, despite the storms raging all over the Northern Hemisphere. The JLA have been discussing the Treasurers and realize that if they asked for one specific human being, the whole thing must’ve been planned in advance. Superman decides to take a team (Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Ralph saves Red TornadoAtom) to follow the Treasurers and see what they’re up to. The rest of the League will make sure the X-element is restored. To that end, Red Tornado carries the sphere into the upper atmosphere, but it explodes while he’s still carrying it. Reddy plunges toward the ground and Elongated Man almost kills himself stretching to save him. The explosion spreads the X-element all over Earth, reversing all the effects of its loss and putting things back to normal. Except there are some unforeseen side effects … in Stockholm, Olivia is shocked when a dog and a bunch of people are turned into ravening monsters by the X-element fallout. Green Lantern and the others track the Treasurer ship to their homeworld, which is shrouded in clouds. Black Canary wonders how a planet that can’t see the stars could develop space travel, and Superman speculates the clouds could be a recent phenomenon. They sneak down ontoTreasurer history the planet and observe from afar as the Treasurers meet up with another race of aliens, large reptilians with yellow skin. The Treasurers show deference to these aliens, but seem to be arguing with them over George Stuart’s fate. Green Arrow is ready to jump in and save Stuart, but a Treasurer pops up out of nowhere and warns him that they’ll all be in trouble if they’re caught. On the JLA Satellite, Flash repairs Red Tornado as best he can, though he’s not sure how good a job he’s done. Hawkman calls to tell them that a third of the animals on Earth—including humans—are being turned into monsters by the new dose of X-element. Before they can react, a spaceship shows up and starts blasting the Satellite. The heroes activate a force field that seals the Satellite before the damage is extensive enough to breach the walls. The field also blocks sensor readings, so the attackers (more of the yellow-Satellite attackedskinned aliens) think everyone’s dead and head down to Earth. The JLA track them and see they’re heading for a couple of missile bases and a nuclear sub. The team prepares to go after them and they get an unexpected participant when Phantom Stranger shows up out of nowhere. Elongated Man volunteers to stay on monitor duty since his arm is still injured from saving Reddy earlier. On the Treasurer planet, the friendly Treasurer (called Truthspeaker) tells the JLA he’s part of an underground movement fighting against the other Treasurers and their reptilian overlords, the War-Kohn (who are apparently one of the most warlike species in the galaxy). Truthspeaker says the Treasurers are galactic traders but got mixed up with the War-Kohn years ago when the War-Kohn refused to pay back a loan and threatened violence unless they were given superior weapons. They used the weapons to attack and enslave numerous worlds, helped by the Treasurers who located worlds whose X-element was decaying and tradedJLA fight war-kohns the planets an infected supply that changes some of the inhabitants into War-Kohn. I guess that explains the “monsters” appearing on Earth. Truthspeaker takes them to the place where George Stuart is being held, along with representatives of other alien races. Atom hitches a ride on an arrow so he can shrink down and pick the lock. The others attack the War-Kohn, who are strong enough to give even Superman a tough fight. Green Arrow is knocked out and Black Canary is about to be crushed to death. Back on Earth, David lands in Stockholm and is freaked out to see all the War-Kohn milling around. He fights a couple of them off and heads into the city to find Olivia.

Noticeable Things:

  • When the JLA gets to the Treasurers’ planet, it’s said to be 132 light years from Earth, which Green Lantern says is near the Galactic Core in a sort of cosmic wasteland. But the Galactic Core is actually about 26,000 light years from Earth; 132 light years is relatively close, so it’s strange that GL says he’s never been in that part of the galaxy before.

LSH 296 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #296 – “What Do You Do on the Day After Doomsday?” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

As you can tell from the title, this issue is kind of a follow-up to the Great Darkness Saga which ended a couple issues ago. We start with Mon-El and Shadow Lass (who has a new ultra-short haircut) taking some together time in the Asteroid Archipelago, on the fringes of united Planets space. Mon-El introduces Shadow Lass to a resident scientist (a C’thulhu-esque creature named Queeg), who assures them they’ll have plenty of alone time. On Earth at Legion Headquarters, Blok is showing White Witch a tesseract, which the Legion apparently uses as a storage closet. It’s obvious Blok still has the hots for White Witch, but before he can tell her, they’re called to attend the big party elsewhere in the HQ. The party is officially to celebrate Lightning Lad’s recovery from his nervous breakdown and to say goodbyeLegion surveys the fireballing to Light Lass (who’s leaving the Legion), but Saturn Girl tells White Witch it’s also a welcoming party for her. As the others chat, Sun Boy tells Phantom Girl about his x-rated hobbies, which causes her to dump her drink on his head. Shrinking Violet asks Colossal Boy (her new boyfriend) if they can go somewhere else, but they’re interrupted when Dream Girl calls with an emergency; a low-yield nuke has been set off in a nearby neighbourhood. When the Legion gets there, the place is devastated and Phantom Girl is overwhelmed when she sees the charred bodies. Sun Boy tells the others this looks like an old racket (called fireballing) that used to be practiced by criminal syndicates a century or so ago: they set off a nuke, blowing away a neighbourhood, then threaten to do it again unless the government pays them a lot of money. Sun Boy says the racket died out after the government subjected the Light Lass leavesperpetrators to some very imaginative torture, but it looks like someone has revived the practice. Sun Boy hears someone call his name and realizes it’s Pol Krinn, Cosmic Boy’s younger brother. His house is among those destroyed and Pol is pretty mangled up. Back at HQ, Light Lass says goodbye to everyone and makes peace with Saturn Girl. Light lass says the good the legion does can’t outweigh the cost for her, so she has to leave. She doesn’t bother saying goodbye to Timber Wolf (her now ex-boyfriend) and he pretends to be all stoic about her leaving, but it’s obvious he’s broken up about it. Across the galaxy, Duplicate Boy uses his telescopic vision to spy on Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet, who supposed to be Duplicate Boy’s girlfriend. When he sees they’re an item now, he’s ready to go to Earth and kill them, but his teammate Evolvo Lad talks him out of it. On Earth, Shvaughn Erin comes byshady guys try to escape the fireballing site to see how things are going and learns about Cosmic Boy’s family being among the victims. Dr Gym’ll takes off with the survivors, heading for Medicus One. Not far away at a spaceport, a quartet of lowlifes are hanging out, talking about the fireballing—about which they supposedly know nothing—and trying to figure out if they should pull a job together. The Science Police and the Legion show up and they scatter. Three of them are caught quickly, but one makes it into the sewers and loses his pursuers. He runs into a weird-looking dude who says he can help him get away. At Legion HQ, Karate Kid and Projectra are preparing to head back to Orando and Karate Kid says it’s time they quit screwing around and get married. While Brainiac 5 tries a Sun Boy reveals himselfnew procedure to cure Matter-Eater Lad’s madness, Wildfire calls Blok, White Witch, Invisible Kid, and Dawnstar for a mission in the Asteroid Archipelago. The fugitive from the spaceport is in a seedy bar talking to his new friend. He mentions that he was approached by a couple guys earlier about a big job and he figures they were the fireballers. His “friend” turns out to be Sun Boy using an image distorter. Saturn Girl reads the guy’s mind and gets the location of his meeting with the potential fireballers. The Legion heads out to investigate. On Takron-Galtos (the prison planet) Chameleon Boy’s sentence is commuted because of how he helped lock down the prison after Darkseid’s attack. Chameleon Boy is thrilled, but soon feels a lot worse when he realizes he can no longer change shape. On Earth, the Legion findpounding the fireballers the fireballers and pound them so thoroughly that they’re eager to confess. Sun Boy wonders how Cosmic Boy will react when he finds out about his family. We see Cosmic Boy and Night Girl on their way back from helping build housing for Daxamite refugees. Cosmic Boy is looking forward to seeing his brother again, so obviously he hasn’t heard the bad news yet. Meanwhile, Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet are really getting hot and heavy, while someone watches them from afar. It doesn’t say who it is, but I’m assuming it’s Duplicate Boy, still pissed off that Violet is cheating on him.

New Teen Titans 28 coverNew Teen Titans #28 – “Terra in the Night” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with Terra, the young girl who can manipulate earth and stone robbing a bank. Gar (Changeling) Logan tries to stop her, but she gives him the same line as the last time they met … someone is forcing her to commit crimes and she doesn’t dare disobey. Gar tries to get her to open up and promises to help her, but Terra says her parents’ lives are at stake. Gar almost captures her, but she sucker punches him and take off. In Zandia, the headquarters of the Church of Brother Blood is attacked by the New Brotherhood of Evil. Brain and Monsieur Mallah aren’t with them, but Phobia, Houngan, Warp, and Plasmus do pretty well on their own, wasting a bunch of the acolytes without much trouble. In New York, Starfire and Donna (Wonder Girl) TroyChangeling knocks Terra out talk about Starfire’s romance with Dick (Robin) Grayson. Starfire says Dick has been moody lately and Donna says he has a lot to deal with so she just has to be patient. Dick shows up to see Starfire and Donna’s got plans with her own boyfriend (Terry Long), so she leaves the place to Dick and Starfire, who don’t waste any time getting busy. Uptown, Terra is attacking the Central Park Zoo. Gar interrupts her again and this time manages to knock her out and take off with her. Dick and Starfire seem to have enjoyed some hot sex, but Dick’s still a bundle of nerves. He wants to go see Adrian Chase about Brother Blood and Starfire offers to go along. In Titans headquarters, Raven is meditating when Wally (Kid Flash) West comes in to whine about his Terra tries to run awaytrouble balancing his double life. Wally says he envies Dick being able to do it so easily (if he only knew), but his gripe-fest is interrupted when Gar brings Terra in. Raven thinks she might be able to help Terra, but Terra is freaked out at being in Titans HQ and tries to take off. Cyborg shows up to grab her and she brings a huge pillar of earth crashing right through the wall. The Titans are surprised by her power, and Wally ends up decking her when she tries to escape. When Terra wakes up she finally decides to come clean. She says her real name is Tara and she’s from a small country in Europe where her father and step-mother are King and Queen. She was sent to America to be raised (apparently she was quite a handful), but went back when terrorists kidnapped her parents. She and her brother split up to look for them andDonna meets Terry's ex she found the terrorists, who threatened to kill her parents if she didn’t use her powers to do whatever they said. She couldn’t find her brother, so she’s going along with the terrorists until she can figure out what to do. Most of the Titans feel bad for Terra, but Raven has a strange feeling about her. Elsewhere, Donna drops by Terry’s place, but doesn’t stay long since his ex-wife is there. She’s really snotty to Donna (and Terry’s daughter isn’t much better), so she decides to leave. In Long Island City, the Titans find the terrorists who are holding Terra’s parents. Raven uses her mental powers to interrogate one of them, but he knows nothing. The Titans take the Terra learns her parents are deadterrorists out and the leader tells Terra her parents were killed right after they were kidnapped; they’ve just been stringing her along all this time. Terra freaks out and summons a fist of earth to crush the terrorists. Gar talks her down, saying he lost his parents too, but got through it because of his friends. Terra decides not to kill the terrorists and Gar promises the Titans will help her as much as they can. Wally is still in awe at Terra’s raw power and Cyborg has a funny feeling that something’s wrong, but Raven’s empathic ability tells her there’s more to Terra than meets the eye. Spoiler … she’s right! But we’ll have to wait a while to see where that goes.

All-Star Squadron 18 coverAll-Star Squadron #18 – “Vengeance from Valhalla” – Roy Thomas/Adrian Gonzales/Rick Hoberg

This one starts with Johnny Quick heading for JSA headquarters at super-speed. On the way he stops to retrieve a woman’s purse (and check out her gams), but he’s in for a shock when he approaches JSA HQ. Sandman swings down on a line but it breaks and he plummets toward the ground. Johnny creates an updraft, giving Sandman the chance to fire another line and swing through an open window. On a nearby rooftop, a dude who looks like a Viking (complete with hammer in hand) watches. After getting rid of a nosy reporter, Johnny heads inside and gets another shock … the guy he rescued isn’t actually Sandman, but another mystery man named Tarantula who’s wearing Sandman’s purple and yellow costume. Tarantula is there to warn the All-Stars that all the JSA members who enlisted in the armedJonathan law meets Dian Belmont forces (plus Wonder Woman) have disappeared. For the record, that’s Hawkman, Johnny Thunder, Dr. Midnight, Atom, Sandman, Dr. Fate, and Starman. Johnny’s not sure about trusting Tarantula, so he gives the All-Stars his origin story. He’s really a writer named Jonathan Law, who was researching a book on mystery men and got in touch with Dian Belmont, who was known to be acquainted with Sandman. Of course, Dian’s boyfriend Wes Dodd actually is Sandman, but Law didn’t know that yet. Dian gave Law a sketch she’d done for a new costume design (the purple and yellow suit) and Law had his housekeeper whip one up for him. Meanwhile, Dian heard about an explosion near the docks and put on Sandman’s old suit (since Sandman was away) to go check it out. She ran into some Nazi saboteurs, Dian's supposed deathwho shot out her tire and caused her to crash in a fiery wreck. Tarantula swung down and started pounding the Nazis, thinking the real Sandman had been in the car. As Tarantula was about to get shot by a Nazi, the real Sandman actually showed up and kicked the shit out of them. They pulled Dian out of the wreck, but it was too late. Sandman swore he’d keep wearing the costume Dian designed for him, but told Tarantula he could wear it too. All that was about six months ago, since which Sandman acquired a partner, Sandy Hawkins, who was Dian’s nephew. Now Tarantula figures he owes it to Sandman to find out what happened to him and the other missing JSAers. The Viking dude outside (who claims to be the Norse Thunder-God Thor) decides to attack and crashes through the roof. Thor thinks Tarantula is Sandman too and apparently has a grudge against him. He pounds most of the All-Stars,Thor electrocutes himself until only Tarantula and Liberty belle are left. They sucker Thor into smashing his hammer into some electrical wiring, which knocks him out. Tarantula remembers an old foe of Sandman’s, a crook named Fairy-Tales Fenton, who dressed like Thor and used an electrical hammer. This seems to be Fenton, but his hammer is a hell of a lot more powerful than anything man-made. The reporter from earlier comes in to tell them he got a call from the President, who’s been trying to reach the All-Stars. There’s a Morse Code message for the All-Stars blinking from the top of the Trylon at the 1939 World’s Fair site, so they head over to see what it’s all about. We’ll have to wait until next issue to find out.

Noticeable Things:

  • Tarantula mentions that when he first appeared, he was referred to by a radio announcer as Spider Man, and yes that actually happened back in a 1941 comic.
  • Jonathan Law seems to be a bit of a ladies-man; not only does he consider hitting on Dian (before realizing she’s Sandman’s girlfriend), but he gets pretty friendly with Liberty Belle too … which doesn’t make Johnny like him too much.
  • This version of Thor seems like a nod and wink to the Marvel version (which Roy used to write), with his returning hammer—which actually looks more like a mace—and archaic speech. At one point, Thor says “I say thee verily … wrong!” I guess “Nay!” would’ve been too on the nose.
  • This whole issue is probably apocryphal is Post-Crisis continuity. Dian Belmont appeared in Sandman Mystery Theater (which may or may not be canon) and appeared as a rather old woman in James Robinson’s Starman (which is definitely canon), so she obviously didn’t die here. And Sandy (who’s not even mentioned in Sandman Mystery Theater) appears in later JSA comics, so he’s obviously canonical as well.

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