Comics Reviews: JLA 212, Legion of Super-Heroes 297, New Teen Titans 29, All-Star Squadron 19

JLA 212 coverJustice League of America #212 – “(No Title)” – Gerry Conway/Rich Buckler, Paris Cullins/Romeo Tanghal

Last issue, a bunch of aliens called the Treasurers offered to help Earth with a problem that could threaten all life. A fundamental element called X-element, which binds all matter together, has been decaying, which affects weather patterns and natural phenomena all over the world. The Treasurers promised to fix the X-element in exchange for a few innocent items from Earth … and a certain human named George Stuart. Stuart volunteered to go with the Treasurers to save humanity, so the JLA agreed to the deal, but the Treasurers turned out to be working with another alien race, the War-Kohn. When the X-element cure was dispersed through the atmosphere, it caused about a third of the animals on Earth (including humans) to change into War-Kohn and attack the remaining people. War-Kohn ships showed up to bolster the forces and the JLA split up to take themWonder Woman fights War-Kohn on. In Nebraska, Flash gets blasted by the invaders and the same thing happens to Wonder Woman in Siberia. In the South Pacific, Aquaman feels guilty about sending a bunch of porpoises to be fried by the War-Kohn. In Orbit, the War-Kohn leader (Karvas Kun) gloats and makes plans to enslave any humans who survive the invasion and sell them throughout the galaxy. On the JLA Satellite, Red Tornado and Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny, who were both injured last issue, watch the invasion unfold and wish they could do something. Ralph notices something strange about the War-Kohn fighting Aquaman and tells Reddy it’s time for them to get into the fight. On the Treasurers’ homeworld, a contingent of Justice Leaguers is fighting the War-Kohn, trying to find George Stuart. The Treasurers decide to move freeing the aliensStuart, so when Atom slips through the locking mechanism of the prison cell (almost getting zapped by a laser in the process), he finds Stuart is gone but a bunch of grateful aliens are still there. Atom lets them loose and they help the JLA mop up the War-Kohn. Truth Seeker (the rebel Treasurer they met last issue) thanks them and says he and his friends will try to make amends to the aliens the War-Kohn and the other Treasurers harmed. A Treasurer ship takes off and Superman sees that George Stuart is aboard, so the JLA go after the ship. On Earth, Ralph and Red Tornado meet up with Aquaman and Ralph points out that the War-Kohn stayed well clear of the water while they were fighting Aquaman. Since they come from a desert world, maybe they (and their equipment) can’t handle water. Aquaman orders some sea creatures to splash the War-Kohn, which shorts out all their machinery and takes the fight out of them. Ralph tries to contact the rest of the team to letSuperman goes wild them know. In Stockholm, David (the guy who came to Sweden to find his fiancée Olivia last issue) actually locates Olivia, but she’s dragged away by War-Kohn before he can reach her. In space, the Leaguers follow the Treasurer ship to the War-Kohn homeworld. Superman goes wild and busts up the place, allowing the others to follow up. When they’ve rescued George Stuart, a Treasurer tells them why they wanted Stuart so much and the JLA realize they have to get him back to Earth fast. On Earth, the JLA are using water to push back the War-Kohn and the arrival of their friends (thanks to Green Lantern’s space warp) finishes things off pretty fast. In orbit, Karvas Kun is ready to blast Earth to hell but the JLA smash into his ship and pound everyone, with Superman and Wonder Woman taking Kun down. Kun still thinks he’s won, since so many Earthlings have been metamorphed into War-Kohn. But it turns out taking down War-Kohn leaderGeorge Stuart, the nebbish from nowhere, contains in his DNA the complete human genome, which allows the JLA to reverse the transformation and restore all the humans to normal. I’m not sure about the animals that turned into War-Kohn; they aren’t mentioned. In Stockholm, David and Olivia have a sappy reunion and on their Satellite, the JLA are thrilled at how things turned out … until Atom reminds them what the Truth Seeker told them: the X-element decay wasn’t caused by the Treasurers, they just tried to make a profit off it. When the Treasurers’ cure wears off some time in the future, Earth’s X-element will start decaying again and the natural disasters will reoccur. The ending is rather ominous, but as far as I know, X-element was never mentioned again. The Legion stories are set a thousand years in the future and there’s no mention of X-element there; maybe a permanent solution was found in the meantime.

LSH 297 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #297 – “(Spotlight on Cosmic Boy)” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

Last issue, some scumbags set off a low-yield nuke in a residential neighbourhood on Earth as a precursor to blackmailing the government, a racket that used to be known as fireballing. Cosmic Boy’s parents and younger brother just happened to live in that neighbourhood and were among the victims. Cosmic Boy has found out the horrible news and is now trying to get at the terrorists who hurt his family. He uses his magnetic powers to pull down the prison transport ship and yank the criminals out, but before he can go further, Night Girl (his girlfriend) decks him. Lightning Lad, Sun Boy, and Timber Wolf show up and Night Girl explains things to them. They decide to get Cosmic Boy back to headquarters before he wakes up. Elsewhere in the spaceport, Brainiac 5 says farewell to Matter-Eater Lad,Cosmic Boy's childhood who he’s finally cured of the madness that’s been afflicting him since issue 251. At Legion HQ, Cosmic Boy wakes up and thanks Night Girl for not letting him kill the criminals who hurt his family. Cosmic Boy tells her about his background, mentioning that even though his parents are from Braal, he was actually born on Earth (which could account for why his magnetic powers are stronger than most Braalians’). He says his parents came to Earth because Braal was in a decades-long depression, but soon after Cosmic Boy was born, they moved back to Braal. He grew up there and tried to make money as a magno-ball champion, but it didn’t help much. As soon as he was old enough (14, which is considered adulthood on Braal), he headed for Earth to find real work. But his plans changed; his memories get him thinking about Night Girl opens the doorhis family, so he and Night Girl head to the medical facility to see them. Meanwhile, Timber Wolf has decided the best way to get over Light Lass (who left last issue) is to get under another girl as fast as possible. He almost misses his shuttle, but jumps on board, smashing through the roof. At the medical facility, the doctor (a woman named Chang) doesn’t want to let Cosmic Boy into the decontamination ward, so he uses his magnetism to bypass the electronic door and lock it behind him. Night Girl tears the door off its moorings and tells Chang the story of how Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad formed the Legion. (Basically, they were all on a transport to Earth and uncovered a plot against rich businessman R.J. Brande. They saved his life and he suggested they form a superhero team and provided the funding.) When they join Cosmic Boy inside, they find out his father and brother are in bad shape, and hisCosmic Boy's mother dead mother has died from her injuries. Cosmic Boy wonders if it’s his fault, since he convinced them to move to Earth, then hardly spent any time with them because of the Legion. He knocks Night Girl out and smashes through the roof, heading out to get the bastards who killed his mother. At the spaceport, Sun Boy, Phantom Girl, and Ultra Boy meet Chameleon Boy’s shuttle from Takron-Galtos, the prison planet. Chameleon Boy was released last issue because of his help during Darkseid’s attack. Cham is happy to see his friends again, but tells them he may not be able to rejoin the Legion since he’s lost his shape-changing powers. They hear a commotion on the outgoing Takron-Galtos shuttle and Cosmic Boy decides not to killfind Cosmic Boy is tearing it apart to get at the fireballers who killed his mom. The others are ready to intervene, but Sun Boy stops them, saying they have to give Cosmic Boy the chance to stop himself. He pulls the prisoners out and starts manipulating the iron in their blood, causing them excruciating pain. Before he can kill them, Cosmic Boy comes to his senses and realizes he’d be no better than them if he murdered them. The others are glad he made the right decision, but Phantom Girl is surprised he had that much anger in him in the first place. Sun Boy says Cosmic Boy is probably surprised too.

New Teen Titans 29 coverNew Teen Titans #29 – “First Blood” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with Brother Blood renewing his spirit at his compound in Massachusetts, which apparently consists of meditating on top of a pillar made of human skulls. His chief acolyte (Mother Mayhem) comes in to tell him Zandia has been attacked by the Brotherhood of Evil (which we saw last issue), but Brother Blood already knows. Mayhem is worried, but Blood says (after offering to “comfort” her in his chambers later) that the Brotherhood’s slaughter of his church members will not go unpunished. We see the Brotherhood on a plane heading toward the U.S. Being congratulated by Brain for their good work. But the attack on Zandia was only the first part of Brain’s plan; the second part involves the Brotherhood abducting Raven. Some of them are worried about facing the Titans again, but before the argument gets too heated, theDick's workout plane starts plunging down toward the ocean. Plasmus busts into the cockpit and wastes the pilot, who turns out to be a robot. They guess that Brother Blood is behind this suicide plunge, but the controls are frozen and the plane slams into the ocean and explodes before they can figure out what to do. At Titans’ headquarters, Dick (Robin) Grayson is undergoing a grueling workout, pushing himself beyond his usual limits almost as if he’s punishing himself. Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy tells him he needs to slow down and stop trying to be Batman, but Dick won’t listen. Donna’s feeling stupid about her reaction to her boyfriend Terry’s ex-wife and daughter last issue. Wally (Kid Flash) West is telling Raven he loves her for the umpteenth time and she again warns him that she can’t love him back since any strong Donna and Starfire talkemotional display makes her vulnerable to the evil influence of her father, Trigon. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood survived the plane explosion thanks to Warp teleporting them out at the last second and landing them on a small island in the Mid-Atlantic. They’re really pissed off at Brother Blood now and apparently their capture of Raven will somehow help them get revenge on Blood. Warp teleports them toward the United States in short jumps. At Titans’ Tower, Donna talks to Starfire, who wonders why Dick has been so moody lately. Donna says Dick needs space and asks Starfire if she really loves him, or if she’s just in love with the idea of being in love. Donna takes off to see Terry and repair her own love life. Not too far away, the Brotherhood materialize and decide to rest before taking on the Titans. But Brother Blood anticipated them and has a hit-squad waiting to take them out. At Titans’ HQ, Roy (Speedy) Harper tries to put the moves on Starfire, which pisses Robin off (although Starfire seemed kind of oblivious to Roy’sGar and Terra clumsy come-ons). Robin says he has to meet Adrian Chase, who’s just gotten a call from the reporter Bethany Snow about Brother Blood. We see Bethany talking to Brother Blood; if she wasn’t a full-fledged acolyte before, she sure is now. Blood has told her exactly what to say to Chase and Robin, which is part of his plan to get the government to ratify a treaty with Zandia. Blood is also aware that his hit-team has been slaughtered by the Brotherhood, but he doesn’t really care all that much. At Titans’ Tower, Gar (Changeling) Logan is trying to get through to Terra, but she’s being a pain in the ass as usual. Gar wonders how she couldn’t have heard of her parents’ deaths, since they were King and Queen of Markovia. Terra avoids the question and leaves, followed by Gar still badgering her. An alarm sounds and everyone Brotherhood attacks Roygets nervous, but it turns out to be Wally’s friend (or possibly girlfriend) Frances Kane (who we last saw in issue 17). Her magnetic powers have returned and she came to Wally for help. Roy strikes out with Frances too and wonders if he’s losing his touch. At Adrian Chase’s place, Starfire plays with his kids and talks to his wife, but Robin is all business, much like Chase himself. At Titans’ Tower, Frances demonstrates her magnetic powers, but says she doesn’t want to become a superhero, she just wants to be normal. Wally kinda feels the same about his powers these days. Speedy is startled when the Brotherhood pops into the kitchen, especially since he’s never met them before. Raven senses them and Wally comes to help Speedy, but Houngan screws up Wally’s leg with one of his electronic fetishes. Warp tries to send Raven to the Brotherhood’s hideout, but her soul-self stays behind and envelops him to find out where he sent her body. Phobia uses her fearFrances helps against the Brotherhood powers to make Raven think Kid Flash is being devoured by Trigon, so her soul-self grabs Wally. Speedy knocks Houngan out and Frances shows up and tries to help. She almost gets wasted by Plasmus, but Speedy stops him with a cryo-arrow that freezes him solid. Phobia uses her fear power on Speedy until Frances knocks her out. Frances wants to save Wally from Raven, but doesn’t know how. Raven finally comes to her senses and releases him, but he’s pretty freaked out. Raven retrieves her body, but Wally is totally freaked by Raven’s attack, saying that he can finally see that she and Trigon are the same. Raven says the evil he felt was just a manifestation of Trigon’s influence, it wasn’t really her, but Wally is so scared he doesn’t want her anywhere near him so she teleports away. Frances says Raven probably didn’t know what she was doing, but Wally says she knew … and she enjoyed it.

All-Star Squadron 19 coverAll-Star Squadron #19 – “Death, Considered as a State of Mind” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway

Last issue, Tarantula told the All-Star Squadron that all the JSA members who’d enlisted (plus Wonder Woman) were missing. The All-Stars then got a message from the President that someone was sending a challenge to them in Morse code from the Trylon, which is part of the World Fair site left over from 1939. A half-dozen All-Stars (Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, Firebrand, Robotman, Commander Steel, and Tarantula, who’s still wearing Sandman’s purple and yellow outfit) head over to check it out. The message stops as soon as they arrive, so they bust into the Perisphere, another leftover exhibit from the Fair. Inside, they run into a robot from the “World of Tomorrow” exhibit hat attacks them. They manage to bring it down and Firebrand fuses its circuits. The robot delivers a message and the lights come on, revealing the missing JSA members beingJSA captured held in a giant machine. A huge floating brain appears, saying it represents a new villain named Brainwave, and that he’s the one who’s captured the JSA as a precaution to prevent them from opposing his ambitions. Brainwave (who’s actually a short, bald dude with Coke-bottle glasses) is right across the river in Manhattan, but is using his vast mental powers to project the image of the floating brain. He demonstrates that he can create other images, so realistic they can be touched, but really just figments of his imagination. Brainwave explains that the JSA are being kept asleep by his machine (and his powers) and that they’re experiencing dreams that are so believable they would die if suddenly woken up. Brainwave decides to show the All-Stars what the JSA are dreaming about by using his fancy machinery. He Hawkman wasting Japanese planesstarts with Hawkman, who’s dreaming of fighting Japanese planes attacking San Francisco. Hawkman is pretty bloodthirsty, using machine guns and bombs to kill the invaders. Brainwave says his influence, combined with Hawkman’s recent military training, are enough to cause the hero to act out-of-character in his dream. Brainwave says the rest of the heroes are having similar dreams, which Brainwave can use to destroy them. Firebrand wonders if he’s a Nazi sympathizer, but Brainwave says the only power that concerns him is personal power, and he can really boost his cred by wasting the entire JSA … and the All-Stars. He shows them more dreams: Wonder Woman smashing Japanese soldiers to a pulp in the Philippines; Sandman blowing away sailors on Wake Island; Atom blowing up tanks in Thailand; Dr. Fate sinking ships near the Aleutians; Dr. Mid-Nite spottingJSA gets bloody planes for AA batteries; Starman recapturing Formosa almost single-handed by slaughtering scores of Japanese; and even Johnny Thunder killing a Japanese pilot in a dogfight. Johnny Quick freaks out, saying that an endless loop of such slaughter could turn the JSA into murderous psychos. He tries to get them out of he machine, but is hurled back by a force-field. Brainwave shows the All-Stars another dream, this one shared by all the prisoners. The high command is getting tired of the rivalry between outfits over which hero is the most effective, so they gather them together to form their own unit, the Justice Battalion. Strangely, the Spectre is included in the Justice Battalion, even though he isn’t one of the imprisoned JSAers, nor did he JSA dying in their dreamappear in the previous dreams Brainwave showed the All-Stars. Robotman and Steel try to bust through the force-field around the comatose JSA, but they’re repelled too. In the JSA’s shared dream, the President sends the Justice Battalion to attack Japan and they end up getting killed off one by one. (Atom gets run over by a tank!) Hawkman and Spectre end up being the only two left, but Spectre grows to gigantic size and squeezes Hawkman to death. Spectre then turns into Brainwave’s giant brain and Brainwave tells the All-Stars that dying in the dream has sapped the JSA of their will to live. If even one of them succumbs to death, all the others will perish too. We’ll have to wait until next issue to see if the All-Stars can free them.

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