Comics Reviews: JLA 215, Legion of Super-Heroes 300, New Teen Titans 32, All-Star Squadron 22

JLA 215 coverJustice League of America #215 – “The Bigger They Are …” – Gerry Conway/Don Heck/Romeo Tanghal

Last issue, a number of JLA members came to a subatomic world to find the Atom. They found a warlord called Goltha, who’s been ruling the realm like a tyrant, using Atom (who’s a giant in this world) as a means to terrify the populace and keep them in line. This issue starts with a mindless Atom going nuts, attacking the people of the city. Hawkman and Red Tornado are on a scouting mission and try to stop Atom’s rampage, but he doesn’t recognize them. The gigantic Atom swats Hawkman like a fly and the blows him and Reddy away … literally. He blows a giant lungful of air that sends the two JLAers tumbling through the sky. Having made his point, Goltha stops Atom’s rampage and has his the behemoth chained up again. Goltha’s daughter (Princess Kass’andre) asksKrystal Kaa worried about her staff her father if she can eliminate Krystal Kaa personally. He’s skeptical, since Kass’andre screwed it up before, but Kass’andre is confident of victory since she has Kaa’s magic staff. In the hideout of the Siren Sisterhood, Krystal Kaa is freaking out about losing her staff. Hawkman and Red Tornado are brought back by Sisterhood members and healed while they tell about their encounter with the crazed Atom. Black Canary wonders how Atom ended up in Goltha’s thrall and Krystal Kaa fills them in. Her grandfather was ruler of the realm during a golden age of technological progress. But he was too gentle to make the tough decisions, so he had his cousin Goltha do the more practical parts of the job. Like royal advisers in most stories, Goltha got hungry for power and plotted against the King. When a meteor fell out of the sky, flashback to Atom's arrivalGoltha went to investigate; it turned out to be the Atom, stuck at a gigantic size and half crazy from his trip into the microverse. Goltha had been researching alchemy and used a special sigil (which looks like the pentagram from Shout at the Devil) to bind Atom to servitude and make him a mindless weapon. With Atom’s power, Goltha moved against the King, killing him and taking over the realm. But the King’s infant son, along with the staff of rulership, were spirited away before Goltha could claim them. Now that Goltha has the staff, his claim to the throne is bolstered, so Krystal Kaa really wants to get it back. The JLA promise to help her. During Kaa’s story, Batman decided to check out the tunnel he noticed last issue. He’s sure he saw someone lurking in it and he finds a cavern with a huge hairy monster in it. The monster freaks out and tries to grab Batman but his teammates have noticed hismeeting Mule absence and show up to save him. Turns out the “monster” is named Mule and is really some kind of mutant … a human born into a monstrous form. Mule is normally quite docile, especially with the Siren called Sister Light. Black Canary likens it to a King Kong/Fay Wray situation, which doesn’t bode well for mule. Mother Moon leads the JLA and some Sirens through the sewers toward the palace so hey can infiltrate from below. Hawkman flies ahead to check things out and gets blasted. When the others round the corner, they find Kass’andre standing over the unconscious Hawkman with the crystal staff in her hand.

LSH 300 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #300 – “The Future is Forever” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

This one starts with Superboy arriving in the future to join his Legion friends for some kind of celebration, though we’re not told what. Superboy’s a bit paranoid, thinking something will happen to disrupt the festivities. He gets worried when a fleet of ships comes in, but it’s just more Legionnaires returning from missions, plus Karate Kid and Projectra coming from Orando. Superboy freaks out again when a whirlwind forms in headquarters, but it’s only his cousin Supergirl coming from the past to attend the party. Superboy catches up on recent missions and we learn that Wildfire is so pissed off at Invisible Kid for rescuing him from the other dimension last issue that he refuses to get into a new containment suit; Wildfire’s plasma energy form just follows Invisible Kid around, “haunting” him. Superboy also learns that Brainiac 5 is absent, having goneBrainy at the Time Institute off on a personal mission to discharge a debt of honour. Turns out Brainy is at the Time Institute with Rond Vidar and Circadia Senius. The three of them are trying to help a patient who showed up at the Institute a few years ago, raving mad. He apparently suffers from a condition where his mind is journeying through countless alternate timelines, which has driven him crazy. (We’re not told who the patient is, but it looks like his costume has rivets on it; this is pre-Crisis, so it’s not Psycho Pirate.) Senius has constructed a machine that will allow them to see the patient’s visions of alternate timelines and Brainy figures the patient is searching for one particular timeline and if he finds it, his condition will be cured. They start the machine and begin observing a Legion pounds Luthortimeline. It begins in 20th Century Smallville, with Superboy fighting a young (but bald) Lex Luthor. Superboy gets help from the legion to stop Lex from killing Pete Ross and Lana Lang and they head into the future for a meeting. But since this is an alternate reality, things are a bit different; the Legion is still in their original headquarters (the upside-down rocket) and Superboy startles everyone by telling them he’s quitting the Legion. He swore an oath to Pa Kent that he’d devote all his power to protecting Earth, so he’s sworn off any time (or even space) travel. The vision shatters and Brainiac 5 tells Vidar and Senius what they already know: those events never happened. The observers aren’t certain if these really are alternate timelines, or just something the patient is making up in his demented state. They check out another vision and soon realize this is a pretty dark timeline. The Legion fought Computo and unlikePolar Boy destroys Computo the primary timeline, the robot recruited the adult Legion of Super-Villains (Lightning Lord, Cosmic King, and Saturn Queen) to help him, which turned the tide against the Legionnaires. Seven Legionnaires were killed (including Brainy, lightning lad, and Cosmic Boy) and the Substitutes end up joining the Legion to shore up the numbers. The Legion tackles the villains again and Triplicate Girl (or Duo Damsel) ends up being killed by Computo. Polar Boy uses his powers to freeze Computo but the resulting explosion kills Polar Boy and Colossal Boy. Thankfully the vision ends and Senius notes how agitated the patient has become. Brainy says seeing the Legionnaires killed probably bothers the patient and admits it bothered him too … understandable, since Brainy is Khund ship arrivesthe one who built Computo in the first place. Vidar suggests using lower stimuli to provoke a less intense vision next time. Meanwhile back on the Asteroid Archipelago, Shadow Woman (as she now calls herself) shows off her new costume and the makeup she’s using to hide her dark skin. Mon-El says she’s being stupid and uses his super-breath to spin her around. An alien named Queeg brings a message that a Khund-powered ship is approaching, so Mon-El goes to check it out. The ship turns out to be in the shape of a giant humanoid, but its power source is Khundish. The ship starts blasting as soon as it’s in range, another Khundish trait. Back at the Time Institute, the patient has another vision, this time of a timeline where some grown up Legionnaires face the FatalFatal Five fight Five and beat them without too much trouble. This timeline isn’t all sunshine and lollipops either; the Hall of Heroes (in a very different headquarters) has statues of Legionnaires who died in he line of duty, including Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, and Shadow Woman—who apparently died saving the Science Asteroid, which is where the mainstream Shadow Lass is now. Sun Man and Karate King stop in front of Ferro Lad’s statue and Sun Man blames himself for Ferro Lad’s death. Karate King mentions Ferro Lad’s brother and how he’s lost his mind (hmmm, I think that might be a clue), and points out that Projectra died because Karate King brought the flu to Orando. The vision fades away and Senius notes that this particular timeline is the only one that seems to calm their patient. Brainy agrees but thinks they’re missing something that will let them cure his madness … if not for Legion using lethal forcethe patient himself, then for his brother’s sake. (Yes, that’s another clue.) At Legion HQ, more guests arrive for the ceremony, this time Chameleon Boy (whose shapeshifting powers still haven’t returned) and his father, R.J. Brande. At the Institute, the patient has another vision, this time of another adult Legion. There are a few Legionnaires who have died in this timeline, but others (like Chemical King and Tyroc) who are still part of the Legion. The Khunds have invaded United Planets space and the Legion have been ordered not to engage them. Apparently the UP military doesn’t trust the Legion to fight the Khunds because of their code against killing. The issue divides the Legion, with some wanting o put aside the Code temporarily, which causes Superboy to leave and go back to his own time. The Legion does end up fighting the Khunds and using lethal force, which bothers ex-members Dream Girl and Star Boy, who left the Legion to get married and have kids.Mordru getting wiped out In this reality, the prohibition against married Legionnaires wasn’t amended, which meant Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy all had to quit when they got married. Without the founders’ level heads around, the Legion voted to use deadly force against the Khunds. Meanwhile in the Asteroid Archipelago, Mon-El and Shadow Lass try to stop the humanoid-shaped Khund ship, but it blasts the generators, starting an overload. While Mon-El tackles the ship, Shady tries to deal with the overload. At the Institute, the patient has another vision, this time of Mordru winning the Earthwar and devastating the planet. Numerous Legionnaires are wiped out and Mordru sends out demons to kill the survivors. On Orando, a conclave of sorcerers casts a spell to drain Mordru’s magic, but it ends up draining all the magic from the cosmos (and killing the sorcerers, including Dream Girl and White Witch). The surviving Blok blows up Legion HQLegionnaires swear to rebuild Earth as the vision fades. Brainy wonders what the patient is searching for in all these alternate realities. Another vision begins, this one seeming somewhat closer to mainstream reality, though with several notable differences: Brainy and Matter-Eater Lad are still crazy, Ultra Boy is presumed dead at the hands of pirates, Phantom Girl and Shrinking Violet both quit the team. The Legionnaires seem to spend more time fighting with each other than helping people, which pisses off their newest member, Blok. He ends up accepting the Dark Man’s offer (which he refused in the main timeline) and blows up Legion headquarters, wiping out the whole team. As the vision ends, Brainy finally realizes what the patient is looking for (and we finally learn who it is, for those of us who haven’t figured it out yet … it’s Douglas Nolan, twin brother of Andrew Nolan aka Ferro Lad). Douglas is afflicted with the same physical disfigurement Andrew had, but he also has Andrew’s power to change his body into metal. Brainy figures when FerroDouglas Nolan finds his happiness Lad died, the psychic bond between the twins affected Douglas’s mind and he’s been trying to deal with it ever since. Brainy amps up the power on the machine and Douglas has another vision, this time of his brother’s remains being sent into space after his death. But in this alternate reality, Douglas is asked to take his brother’s place as Ferro Lad and happily joins the Legion. In mainstream reality, Douglas’s body fades away and Brainy explains that he’s gone to that other reality, merging himself with that world’s Douglas Nolan to live out his life in contentment. Vidar and Senius aren’t sure how such a thing could happen and Brainy can’t really enlighten them, but he says Douglas Nolan is happy now, wherever he is. Brainy says if they hurry, they can still make it to the Shadow Lass blastedbig ceremony. On the Asteroid Archipelago, Shadow Lass tries to reach the generator to shut it down, but is caught by an explosion. We see Mon-El talking to Queeg and find out he threw the generator through the Khund ship, so the explosion was just backlash. Yeah, it was a big fake-out … Shadow Lass is fine, although she had to get a new costume since the explosion destroyed the old one. Unlike her old costume, this one shows no skin at all, but Mon-El doesn’t seem to mind. They head back to Earth for the ceremony, which turns out to be a gathering of all the Legionnaires and their friends to celebrate the anniversary of the legion’s founding, depicted in a big two-page spread.Legion ceremony splash

Noticeable Things:

  • Each alternate reality was drawn by a different art team. Giffen and Mahlstedt did all the scenes in the main timeline, but rest are as follows: first vision (Luthor) Kurt Schaffenberger; second vision (Computo) Howard Bender/Frank Giacoia; third vision (Fatal Five) Curt Swan/Dan Adkins; fourth vision (lethal force Legion) Dave Cockrum; fifth vision (Mordru) James Sherman; sixth vision (Blok traitor) Joe Staton/Dick Giordano.
  • The anniversary splash page includes (besides all the Legionnaires) numerous guests like the Heroes of Lallor, the Wanderers, Shvaughn Erin, Dr. Gym’ll, and Jimmy Olsen among others … and if you look closely (as with all the images here, you can click for a bigger view) you might spot Batman, Spider-Man, and Garfield in there too.

New Teen Titans 32 coverNew Teen Titans #32 – “Thunder and Lightning” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with two brothers in garish costumes (Thunder and Lightning) looking for someone in St. Louis. The guy they’re searching for has moved, which pisses them off. Their anger (which seems to be enhanced by a psychic rapport they share) causes a huge storm to roll in and despite his brother’s pleas, the storm blasts a lightning bolt that levels the apartment building in front of them. Later, the brothers admit to each other that the anger inside them is starting to feel good; they hope to find the guy they’re looking for before it takes over completely. Meanwhile, the Titans are returning to New York from Zandia. Robin’s stewing over the chaos among the team, wondering if it reflects on his leadership … and wondering if heSpeedy slapped down by Starfire should step back and let someone else lead for a while. Raven’s feeling crappy about almost succumbing to Trigon’s influence last issue, while Terra’s complaining that they don’t trust her enough to tell her their real names. When they get back to Titans’ headquarters, Frances Kane tells Kid Flash she’s heading home and he considers quitting the team to join her. Speedy is leaving too, to go back to counseling addicts. He gives Starfire a goodbye smooch and gets knocked on his ass for his trouble. Robin tells everyone to get some rest and leaves. Starfire’s worried about him, but Wonder Girl advises her not to hover. In St. Louis, the Army has been called in to deal with Thunder and Lightning, but the brothers’ powers are too much for them and the soldiers end up being tossed around in a whirlwind. Speedy calls the Titans to let fighting Thunder and Lightningthem know about the trouble and they head for St. Louis, although Robin’s nowhere to be found. On the way, Cyborg tells Wonder Girl about meeting Sarah’s fiancé and Starfire tries to reach out to Raven. Wonder Girl says she hasn’t accepted Terry’s proposal yet. The Titans show up and try to talk to Thunder and lightning, but the brothers’ anger has been building and they’re ready to let loose. They’re demanding to see someone named 2nd Lieutenant Walter Williams and since that demand hasn’t been met, they’re ready to cause some more destruction. The Titans fight them and the momentum goes back and forth until Starfire blasts Lightning with her energy bolts. Thunder calls off the fight to tend to his brother and Raven offers to use her empathic ability to help, but Wonder Girl says her powers have been too unpredictable lately. Thunder says he and his brother are both dying andThunder and Lightning origin tells their origin story. Their father (Walter Williams) was an adviser sent to Vietnam before the war really took off, then re-assigned. Their mother was ostracized for carrying American babies and wandered until she found a fabled land called Hsuan, where she was accepted. Her children were born as conjoined twins, but a sorcerer named Chan Ti used magic to separate them. They retained a psychic bond and grew up with the power to control storms, but sometimes their powers go out of control, causing them immense pain. Chan Ti told them only their father’s blood could cure them, so thy came looking for him. Wonder Girl says she can check with Army Intelligence for Williams, but a local cop says he received a file on Williams. When they pounding Thunder and Lightninglearn their father is in a small village in Maine, Thunder and Lightning take off to find him, followed closely by Starfire and Raven. Wonder Girl tells the others to head for Maine while she tries a different angle. Raven arrives in Maine to find Thunder and Lightning going nuts, tearing up the town. She tries to reason with them and ends up getting decked. The rest of the Titans show up and start pounding the twins again. The Titans win, but before the fight can resume Wonder Girl shows up with a file she got from Washington. The reason the Army’s files had no record of Walter Williams being in Vietnam was because he as there illegally. He was a geneticist doing experiments on people and his DNA ended up being altered, which he passed on to the twins. Wonder Girl says Williams’s lab blew up a month ago, but no bodies were recoveredWonder Girl explains from the rubble. The twins figure they’re as good as dead themselves, but Cyborg suggests they go to STAR Labs for help. After dropping them off, Wonder Girl confides to her teammates that Walter Williams isn’t really dead, she just told the twins that so they’d stop their rampage. Wonder Girl says Williams did something that caused him to flee Vietnam and go underground for decades. The government is still after him, but there are no records of what he did, or where he might be now. Wonder Girl says they’ll have to look into it, but that’ll have to wait for a future issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Terra and Changeling say they’re going to a movie: Friday the 13th Part 13 “Everyone dies in this one”. Cyborg says he’s waiting for the new Star Wars movie (which would’ve been Return of the Jedi).
  • I assume Wonder Girl’s contact in Army Intel is Diana (Wonder Woman) Prince.

All-Star Squadron 22 coverAll-Star Squadron #22 – “The Power Stone Corrupts—Absolutely” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway/Mike Machlan

Last issue, Liberty Belle, Superman, and Green Lantern were ambushed in Superman’s sanctuary by a new villain (Deathbolt) and an old foe of Superman’s (Ultra-Humanite). Ultra-Humanite (who’s now a woman instead of a dude like he was before) grabbed the Powerstone, which Superman says will make her the most powerful villain on Earth. Ultra quickly demonstrates that fact, placing the Powerstone on her forehead and using its energy to toss Superman around like he’s nothing. Green Lantern tries to intervene and Ultra attacks him, but the Powerstone has less effect on him for some reason. Deathbolt’s electricity affects GL just fine, knocking him on his ass. Liberty Belle gets an adrenaline surge from herUltra-Humanite's origin belt talisman, but it’s not enough to stop Deathbolt from slapping her down. Before he can kill her, Ultra-Humanite stops him, saying she wants the heroes to hear her story before they die. She tells how after her first encounter with Superman, Ultra-Humanite (who was just a regular nebbishy dude back then) was dying of some disease and needed a new body for his consciousness. He ended up with the body (and what a body!) of actress Dolores Winters, which is why his mind is in a female body now. Ultra then kidnapped Dr. Terry Curtis (who had just figured out how to split the atom) and forced him to build advanced weapons for her. Superman foiled that scheme too (after Curtis turned on Ultra) and thought her dead when she jumped into a volcano. But she had a mole-digger hidden in the volcano and burrowed Johnny sneaks a peek at Firebrandunderground, where she met and conquered the Sub-Men (the green freaks we saw last issue). Back at the Perisphere in New York, Robotman and Commander Steel are still tinkering with the robot that Brainwave had attack them and Johnny Quick is still arguing with Tarantula. Johnny’s in a bad mood because Liberty Belle made such a fuss over Superman last issue. Tarantula says he should go check on the other All-Stars and Johnny agrees. On the way into Manhattan, he discovers he can fly (or glide, at least) if he gets up enough speed before launching himself. He finds Firebrand coming out of the hospital where the greenies were taken last issue. Firebrand’s powers are going a little wild, causing her to be shrouded in flames. Johnny extinguishes her and she tells him Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and Atom headed for Washington. Firebrand is so tired she almost passes out and Johnny takes her home at super-speed. She tells him he can crash on her couch beforeCyclotron kisses Firebrand going into her bedroom to get some sleep (and Johnny gets an eyeful in the mirror as she strips off her clothes). Hours later, Johnny wakes up to find Cyclotron outside the window holding the so-called Hammer of Thor, which he stole last issue. Cyclotron busts in looking for Danette Reilly (which is Firebrand’s civilian identity). Johnny tries to cover for Firebrand, but gets knocked out by a blast from the Hammer. Unfortunately, Firebrand comes out of her bedroom (in costume) and also gets knocked out by flying debris. Cyclotron feels bad about knocking her out and knows she’s really Danette Reilly, having recognized her when they fought last issue. Obviously he and Danette have some history and he lays a big smooch on her, but she doesn’t wake up. Cyclotron takes her away and Johnny wakes up and tries to follow, but almost splatters when his speed formula runs out. Upstate, Ultra-Deathbolt's originHumanite tells her captives how she met Deathbolt. He was fleeing from the cops when his plane got struck by lightning and she used the magnets in her Mole to pull him down. She used a generator to revive him, but he ended up with the power to control electricity. Liberty Belle recognizes Deathbolt as a wanted killer named Jake Simmons, but before they can digest that, Cyclotron shows up with Firebrand. Ultra-Humanite recognizes her as steel tycoon Emerald Ed Reilly’s daughter and asks why he brought her. Cyclotron removes his mask to show Firebrand that he’s really Terry Curtis … her ex-lover. Firebrand wonders why he’s hanging around with these scumbags and Cyclotron says he has no choice but to help them. He gives Ultra-Humanite the Hammer, but extracts a promise that Firebrand won’t be harmed. The hammer and the Powerstone react to each other andAll-Stars attack Ultra says she has two of the three artifacts she needs for ultimate power. She explains that the Hammer belonged to a long-vanished elder race and she broke Fairytales Fenton out of prison so he could steal it … which didn’t quite work out in her favour. Before she can continue, the whole mountain starts shaking. Johnny Quick, Robotman, and Commander Steel have shown up to rescue their friends, but they don’t do too well. Ultra’s mastery of the Powerstone and the Hammer lets her smack them around pretty easily. She almost kills Robotman before realizing his metal body would make a great shell for her consciousness. (Ultra’s not happy about being stuck in a woman’s body.) Ultra tells Deathbolt to blast the others but not to kill them (which disappoints the bloodthirsty thug) and decides to bring Superman and Firebrand along with Robotman down into a crevice in the mountain. Cyclotron seals the crevice behind them, leaving the other All-Stars to wonder how they can stop Ultra-Humanite while she holds their friends hostage. As the villains make their way underground, Ultra reveals to the others that she’s ready to go after the third artifact she needs … Dr. Fate’s helmet.

Noticeable Things:

  • Even though he knows Ultra-Humanite has the mind and soul of a man, Deathbolt seems to have the hots for him, since Ultra’s in the body of a beautiful woman. I’m not sure if that makes Deathbolt really progressive or just really shallow … though considering his later racism toward Amazing Man, it’s probably the latter.
  • Ultra-Humanite’s fight against Superman took place in early issues of Action Comics (1939-1940); Superman obviously didn’t know Ultra was in Delores Winters’ body when he fought her. I’m not sure if that was part of the original stories, or if Roy just meshed the two together for this tale.

 

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