Comics Reviews: JLA 216, Legion of Super Heroes 301, New Teen Titans 33, All-Star Squadron 23

JLA 216 coverJustice League of America #216 – “The Choice” – Gerry Conway/Don Heck/Pablo Marcos

Last issue, Princess Kass’andre (daughter of Golka the usurper) surprised the JLA and their allies in the Siren Sisterhood by confronting them with the magical Staff of Ikara. Kass’andre blasts the JLA with magical energy, stunning them. The Staff’s rightful owner, Krystal Kaa (granddaughter of the last legitimate ruler) freaks out and wants to pound Kass’andre, but her Sisters urge caution, sending their giant ally (Mule) to deal with the dark princess. Kass’andre uses the Staff against Mule but he proves resilient to its magic, giving the Sisters time to act. Kaa disarms Kass’andre and a free-for-all breaks out between the Siren Sisterhood and Kass’andre’s hulking guards. The Sisterhood pounds the guards but Kass’andre grabs the Staff and takes off, leaving Kaa in a rage over losing her legacy once more. Mother MoonKaa freaks out at the JLA restores the JLA, who are keen to figure out a way of defeating Goltha and his daughter without endangering the Atom (who’s being used by Goltha as a weapon after being enchanted). Kaa is so pissed off she says she’ll take down Goltha and everyone on his side, including the Atom. The JLA aren’t cool with that and Kaa pulls the old “If you’re not with me you’re against me” thing. Before he two sides can square off, Mother Moon calms things down, but the JLA choose to follow their own path, so Kaa says next time thy meet it’s as enemies. At the royal palace, Kass’andre is mad at herself for not finishing Kaa when she had the chance. Her mood doesn’t improve when hr father unceremoniously takes the Staff from her, saying it’s his because he’s the ruler of the realm. Outside the palace, a crowd has gathered, Kass'andre knifes her fatherincluding the JLA (disguised as peasants) and the Siren Sisterhood. Goltha appears on the palace walls and shows the Staff, which cements him as rightful ruler in the eyes of the people, no matter how he obtained it. He also displays the Atom’s gigantic form, trussed up like a ritual display. But Kass’andre is still pissed off about Goltha taking power right out of her hands, so she knifes him in the back and claims the Staff—and the realm—for herself. The JLA and the Sisterhood reveal themselves and attack. Kass’andre activates the mindless Atom, who breaks loose to terrorize the crowd. Mule jumps him, but his great size and strength are laughable next to Atom’s gigantic stature. Nevertheless, Mule actually does knock Atom down, but before he can finish him, the JLA act to stop him. That puts them in conflict with the est of the Sisterhood, except Kaa who has gone after Kass’andre. Atom still has no control over himself, so he ends up grabbing Red Tornado and Twigg andfighting the Atom trying to crush them in his huge hand. Kaa disarms Kass’andre again and grabs the Staff. The Sisterhood are ready to kill Atom to stop him, but the JLA won’t let them. Mother moon breaks the stalemate by using her healing powers to bring Atom out of his trance. Atom remembers who he is, dropping Reddy and Twigg before keeling over from exhaustion. Kaa has Kass’andre at her mercy, but chooses not to kill her. Kass’andre doesn’t know when to quit and sends a deadly beam of energy at Kaa. The beam deflects right back off the Staff, killing Kass’andre (while conveniently letting Kaa not be her killer … at least technically). Kaa apologizes for getting all crazy and says she won’t allow her ambitions to rule her the way Goltha and Kass’andre did. She uses the Staff’s magic to send the JLA back home. Thanks to the vagaries of sub-Kass'andre diesatomic travel, they arrive only seconds after they left, surprising Jean Loring who’s thrilled to see her husband back safe. This whole storyline reads like an attempt at a spin-off series, or maybe a failed idea Gerry had that he wanted to use. The whole thing has a D&D-ish undertone to it; maybe it was an RPG scenario Gerry never got to use. Anyway, this is Gerry Conway’s last issue of JLA after 66 straight issues (over five years worth of stories), so I guess he wanted to go out with something original. Don’t worry though, Gerry will be back on the title sooner than expected, although his next storyline (and new characters) won’t be to everyone’s taste.

LSH 301 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #301 – “Different Paths, Different Dooms” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

This one starts with Chameleon Boy and R.J. Brande on their home planet of Durla. Chameleon Boy is trying to get his shape-changing powers back and Brande agreed to come along for moral support, although he’s complaining constantly about the inconveniences. Cham gives Brande shit for hiding the fact that he’s Cham’s father for so long. Their argument is interrupted when a bunch of Durlans rise up out of a swamp to surprise them. Back on Earth at Legion headquarters, everyone is still winding down from last issue’s big celebration. Saturn Girl thanks Proty (or Proty II, as he insists on being called) for taking the group holo-photo of the Legion, which many of the Legionnaires are admiring. (Sun Boy and Star Boy are playing holographic Dungeons & Dragons, as usual.)Chameleon Boy and Brande dumped in the pit Dream Girl calls to order a group of Legionnaires to assist her with the refugee problem on Daxam. Ultra Boy is among the group she calls on, so she appoints Brainiac 5 as temporary deputy leader in Ultra Boy’s place, which pisses both of them off. On Durla, the Durlans tell Chameleon Boy his powers can be restored if he agrees to return to the planet instead of gallivanting across the galaxy with the Legion. Naturally he refuses, so he and Brande are encased in a bubble and dropped into a pit. Brande explains that this is how Durlans execute recalcitrant members of the species; the pit is bathed in radiation that keeps Durlans from using their shape-changing powers. That’s not an issue for Cham and his father (who have both lost their powers), but Brande says the radiation will eventually kill them anyway. Sun Boy meets GigiCham speculates that the x-ray radiation on Takron-Galtos might be what canceled his powers in the first place. Brande isn’t in the mood for guessing games and smashes the bubble holding them. At Legion HQ, Shvaughn Erin brings her roommate and fellow Science Police officer Gigi Cusimano to meet Element lad. Sun Boy takes an immediate interest in Gigi, but gets called away for a mission by Brainy. Element Lad examines a file that Shvaughn brought and says his suspicions might be right after all. We don’t see what’s on the file, but whatever it is will apparently affect Colossal Boy a lot. (I know some of you are way ahead of me.) On Durla, Cham and Brande climb up out of the pit (Cham’s flight ring isn’t working for some reason) , fighting off a serpentine beast on the way. (I’m not sure if it’s a unique creature or just a transformed Durlan.) As they make their way to the Temple, Cham tells hisChameleon Boy takes the cure father why he left Durla in the first place and why he can’t come back now. When they reach the Temple, Cham asks Brande if he wants to use the Temple’s energy to restore his own powers, but Brande says he’s been stuck as a human so long, he can’t imagine anything else. So Chameleon Boy undergoes the ritual alone. Meanwhile, a team of Legionnaires (Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, and Supergirl) is heading for Durla to help Chameleon Boy, but while passing Weber’s World they’re attacked. After fighting off the attackers, they find out Science Police officer Ontiir is behind it. Ontiir says it was a mistake and that his security patrols were overzealous. He invites the Legionnaires to check out Weber’s World for themselves and Brainy accepts, not having been there since the Earthwar. On Durla, Chameleon Chameleon Boy fights a fellow DurlanBoy’s powers are restored, but the Durlans still don’t want him to leave. He’s forced to fight one of them and each tries to gain the advantage through numerous shape changes. Chameleon Boy’s brains (and legion training) give him the edge and he defeats his challenger. The other Durlans ask if he’ll return and help rebuild the planet, but Cham refuses again. He says he already has a home with the legion and suggests the Durlans stop being so isolationist and ask the United Planets for help. At Legion HQ, Timber Wolf is complaining to Blok about his lack of a love life since Light Lass took off. They get a call from Karate Kid inviting them to his and Projectra’s upcoming wedding … which just makes Timber Wolf feel even more sorry for himself. If you’re wondering what Light Lass has been up to since she walked out on Timber Wolf (and the Legion), we’ll find out next issue.

New Teen Titans 33 coverNew Teen Titans #33 – “Who Killed Trident?” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with the Titans (except Robin) gathered down by the docks where their sometime ally Aqualad has a present for them … a dead body. Aqualad has recovered the body of Trident, a Titans foe, from the harbour as a favour, though he hopes they’ll call on him for a less grisly task next time. Trident’s weapon (a trident of course) in jammed in his chest and when they unmask him, Wonder Girl is surprised that he seems like such a hardcase; she thought he was “rather soft” when they fought, but now he’s pretty much solid muscle. Later at Titans’ Tower, they mull over Trident’s death while relaxing around the pool. Donna (Wonder Girl) wants to hear about everyone’s encounters with Trident, so Gar (Changeling) goes first. (After he plays Jaws with Terra and gets a punch in the face; Terra apologizes right away, begging them not toCyborg and Changeling fight Trident kick her off the team, but Donna says they’ve all wanted to pop Gar in the face at one time or another.) Anyway, Gar tells how he and Victor (Cyborg) fought Trident after he robbed a bank. Trident was a cocky bastard, first using his trident to shoot ice beams, then leading them onto a construction site and almost killing them by collapsing a building on them. By the time they dug out, Trident had escaped with the money. Meanwhile, Starfire has gone to Wayne Manor to find out where Dick (Robin) Grayson is. She meets Jason Todd (who immediately gets the hots for her) and is stunned to learn that Dick moved out of Wayne Manor a while back. Back at Titans’ Tower, he team can’t agree on what Trident was like; Vic and Gar described him as arrogant Wonder Girl puts out the museum fireand competent, but Wally (Kid Flash) and Terra, who faced him later, remember him as confused and uncertain (and Terra mentions how he kept sneezing all the time). Raven and Donna also faced Trident and Raven says he was quite cunning. She and Donna fought him when he tried to rob a museum. Trident was confident and calculating, using his trident to shoot flames and seeming to become intangible when Raven tried to grab him … although Raven concluded that he wasn’t really intangible, he just wasn’t there when she grabbed him. Either way, he escaped with the loot again. The Titans argue about whether Trident was smart or stupid and Gar wishes Robin was there, since his deductive skills would come in handy. But Robin is otherwise occupied; he’s with Adrian Chase, the District Attorney, watching the mansion of Anthony Scarapelli (who the Titans arrested in issue 27).Kid Flash and Terra fight Trident Scarapelli got off (either through connections or a legal loophole), which really pisses Chase off. He and Robin sneak into Scarapelli’s estate to find evidence that’ll put him away for good. Which technically sounds illegal, but Chase doesn’t seem to care. Back at the Tower, Wally and Terra tell how they fought Trident after he knocked over a jewelry store. He was kind of a wimp and talked like he had a bad cold, but he got away after blasting Kid Flash and lighting a drive-in movie screen on fire (which Terra put out by unearthing a water main, managing to impress even Wally). They get a computer hit on Trident, saying the dead guy was hired muscle for HIVE, but Donna thinks it’s weird that HIVE would be robbing banks. Starfire comes back to tell them about Robin and how Starfire insists she's martBatman has a new partner. When she hears their stories, she points out the obvious conclusion … they all fought different people. Terra makes a joke about Starfire’s “golden globes” and how stupid she is and the others get pissed off at her. I’m surprised, considering some of the jokes Vic and Gar toss at each other, but Starfire points out that all of them treat her like she’s stupid. She’s actually pretty smart, she’s just ignorant of Earth customs. Donna apologizes and says she’s probably right about Trident being three different guys in the same costume. Victor says he has an idea how to track down the two remaining Tridents. Later, the two crooks are in their hideout discussing why they killed their partner (he was holding back lot) when the Titans bust in, having traced them through radio waves in the dead Trident’s weapon. Wally takes out one Trident right away, while the otherTitans pound two Tridents encases Starfire in ice … which hardly slows her down at all. Donna again has trouble hitting him and Vic realizes the guy is using technology to warp their vision so he appears to be a few feet away from his actual location (like a D&D displacer cloak). Vic uses his infra-red lenses to locate Trident’s true location and smashes his weapon, letting the others see—and capture—him. At Scarapelli’s estate, Robin and Chase have decided to take the law into their own hands and bust through the window, surprising Scarapelli and his goons. We’ll have to wait until next issue to see what happens.

All-Star Squadron 23 coverAll-Star Squadron #23 – “When Fate Thy Measure Takes” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway/Mike Machlan

This one starts with Green Lantern, Liberty Belle, Commander Steel, and Johnny Quick returning to the Perisphere after last issue’s fight with Ultra-Humanite and her minions upstate. They discuss what to do now that Ultra has kidnapped three of their comrades (Superman, Robotman, and Firebrand) but can’t come up with any good ideas. Liberty Belle is feeling he pressure, since she’s the leader, and Johnny’s heavy-handed attempts at romance don’t make her feel any better. Johnny takes off in a huff and Green Lantern points out that he and Belle both work in radio in their civilian identities, which could help them when Ultra makesflashback to Dr. Fate switching helmets her next move. GL and Belle fly off to Gotham, leaving Steel to tinker with the World’s Fair robot and lament that he has no real life to go back to. Meanwhile in Washington, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and Atom almost get hit by a plane. After saving the astonished pilot, Fate mentions his worry about the Spectre not showing up for the emergency call a couple issues back. Fate says he has some stuff in his tower (in Salem, Massachusetts) that might help find Spectre and Atom volunteers to go with him. On the way, Fate recaps his origin and tells Atom how the Helm of Nabu was supplanting (or displacing) his own persona as Kent Nelson. Fate decided to stop wearing the Helm and switched to the non-magical half-helmet that he wears now. When they get to the tower and phase inside (the tower has no doors or windows) they find Fate and Atom fight Amazing manInza Nelson unconscious. She revives and says someone is downstairs, so Fate and Atom head down to get him. It turns out to be a guy in a green-and-yellow costume calling himself Amazing Man, and he’s after Fate’s original helmet. Atom tackles him, but Amazing Man touches the stone wall of the tower and turns his own body to stone, giving Atom a nasty surprise. Amazing man and Fate fight and the intruder absorbs the properties of a gold shield on the wall. Inza comes down and distracts Fate, giving Amazing Man the chance to transform his body to wood and deck Fate. Amazing Man is ready to leave with the Helm of Nabu and is just about to absorb the Helm’s properties when Atom grabs his wrist. That changes Amazing Man back to flesh and blood, allowing Atom to slam him into the wall and knock him out. Atom recognizes the intruder as Will Everett, an Olympic champion who competed alongside Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936. Fate puts Amazing Man’sAmazing Man's origin hand on the Orb of Nabu and the unconscious man begins reciting his secret origin. Basically, his family moved from the South to Detroit but his father was laid off from his auto plant job when the Depression hit. Will wanted to make his parents proud, so he trained hard and won medals at the Olympics, but when he got home nobody wanted to hire a black man, no matter how many medals he had. He ended up working for Terry Curtis, cleaning up his lab. He kept doing his job even after Curtis disappeared and one day some gangster types came in to steal some stuff. They ended up knocking Will out and when he woke up, he was dressed in a fancy costume and strapped to a machine in Ultra-Humanite’s underground hideout. The machine shot electricity through him and blew up and Ultra assumed he was dead, but he walked out of the wreckage with Amazing man gets his powershis body turned to steel. After slapping around Ultra’s gangster henchmen, Will realized he could absorb the properties of whatever material he touched. Deathbolt wasn’t too thrilled about having him around, but Ultra made him an offer and he took it, since he still needed to make money to help his family. His first assignment as Amazing man was to break into Fate’s tower and steal the Helm of Nabu. He had no trouble getting in (changing his body to stone and phasing through the wall), but Inza was there and tried to stop him from getting the Helm. Turns out he didn’t touch her, she accidentally knocked herself out while trying to grab the Helm. But when Amazing Man tried to phase back out, the Helm wouldn’t go through the wall with him. He wasNabu back in control of Dr. Fate getting ready to bust his way out when Atom and Fate showed up. Fate realizes Amazing Man is part of Ultra-Humanite’s crew, along with Deathbolt and Cyclotron. Atom reminds him of their mission to look for Spectre and Fate decides he has no choice but to don the original Helm of Nabu again. Inza protests, but Fate puts on the Helm and is immediately taken over by Nabu, becoming cold and emotionless, even toward Inza. Fate takes off with Atom and the unconscious Amazing Man and Inza wonders if she’s lost her husband for good.

Noticeable Things:

  • Fate’s half-helmet was first worn in More Fun Comics 72, way back in 1941. Obviously Roy felt the need to explain it. In case you’re wondering, the Helm apparently imbued Fate with a residue of power that remains even after he stopped wearing it, which explains why he can still fly, and has super strength and invulnerability.
  • While telling Atom about switching helmets, Fate mentions a JSA adventure the world’s not ready to hear about yet; I assume that’s a future story that Roy’s hinting at.
  • Amazing Man’s origin segment was drawn by Rick Hoberg and Mike Machlan.

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