Comics Reviews: JLA 217, Legion of Super-Heroes 302, New Teen Titans 34, All-Star Squadron 24

JLA 217 coverJustice League of America #217 – “All the Elements of Disaster” – Paul Kupperberg/Chuck Patton/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts in Atlantis, with a seaquake that rocks the city. Vulko tells Aquaman their seismic monitors detected nothing unusual before the quake and Aquaman suspects the quake is centered on the spot where the original city of Atlantis lies long-buried. He’s right and he almost gets blasted by a multi-coloured beam of energy shooting up from a crack in the sea floor. Aquaman realizes he needs help and signals the JLA. The energy beam splits into three parts above the ocean, one of which heads for Metropolis. The beam hits a bag lady in the subway, changing her into an earth elemental which proclaims its mastery over humanity as it blasts out of the subway station. Across the country, another beam hits a producer, turning him into a knock-off of the Creature from the BlackJLA discusses the situation Lagoon … presumably a water elemental. The final beam strikes a construction worker in Midway City, turning him into an air elemental. On the JLA Satellite, Aquaman explains the Atlantean seaquake to his teammates and asks them for help, but before they can respond they get emergency calls of disasters in Metropolis, Los Angeles, and Midway City. They decide Atlantis can wait, as these disasters are obviously more pressing. You can probably guess what happens next … yup, the team splits into three to deal with the separate crises. I guess Kupperberg was nostalgic for the old JLA stories where the team always split up. Hawkman and Red Tornado go to Midway to confront the air elemental, who has created a huge wind vortex that snakes up into the sky. Even Reddy’s own wind powers are fighting the Elementalsuseless against the living embodiment of air. He tosses Reddy and Hawkman around like leaves in a hurricane and even turns himself intangible when Hawkman tries to grab him. In Metropolis, the earth elemental is raising a column of earth into the sky when Zatanna, Firestorm, and Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny show up. Zatanna tries to contain the rising earth while Firestorm confronts the elemental, but he gets slapped down pretty easily. Off the California coast, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman try to contain the geyser of water that’s shooting skyward. Aquaman helps innocent people escape while the other two try to fight the water elemental. He uses his powers to encase superman (who’s vulnerable to magic) and Wonder Woman inside an airless bubble of seawater and sink them beneath the surface of the ocean. Superman manages to burn the watery sheath awayfighting off sea beasts with his heat vision and he and his friends head back to the Satellite to regroup. They find the others already there, recovering from their own beat-downs. Ralph plots the three elemental attacks on a map and discovers they form a triangle with Atlantis at the centre. Aquaman leads the team to Atlantis, where they delve down the fissure to the ancient city. Aquaman reminds them how Atlantis was destroyed ages ago and only a few survivors lived to found the modern Atlantean cities, although without the same level of magic or technology the ancients possessed. The JLA fight some magically mutated monsters and Zatanna warns them she can sense magical powers at work. They get blasted by an old man who claims to be a sorcerer named Daanuth who put himself in stasis during Atlantis’s destruction. Now Daanuth has Elementals power interruptedrevived and thinks the stars are right to restore Atlantis to its former glory. He sends more monsters after the JLA and Superman gets an idea. He takes Firestorm and Red Tornado to the surface to confront the Elementals, who are converging above Atlantis. Their power seems to be growing, but Superman has Firestorm whip up a giant crystal which Supes holds above the Elementals. Superman figures Daanuth’s talk about the stars aligning was literal, so if he dilutes (or diverts) the stellar energy the Elementals are drawing on, he can weaken them. In the ruins of Atlantis, Daanuth prepares to raise the sunken city, but his power is suddenly cut of. He tries to flee and ends up being crushed under a falling pillar. The JLA evacuate the crumbling city and find the Elementals have turned back into regular humans. The JLA returns them home and Firestorm (who got stuck with the bag lady) stops off to take a shower … or three.

LSH 302 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #302 – “Family Matters” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

This one starts with Timber Wolf (who’s still in a bad mood over his girlfriend Light Lass leaving both him and the Legion) on monitor duty. Headquarters is invaded by Lightning Lord (Mekt Ranzz, who’s Light Lass’s brother, for those of you keeping score), who wants to know where his brother Lightning Lad is. After trashing Shadow Lass, Dawnstar, and Timber Wolf (who kicked Lightning Lord’s ass last time they met in issue 241), he finds out Lightning Lad isn’t there and takes off before Blok has a chance to tackle him. Out in space, Element Lad and Shvaughn Erin (of the Science Police) are passing by Weber’s World but they don’t bother to alert their fellow Legionnaires who are on that planet. Apparently Element Lad and Shvaughn are on a secret, unsanctioned mission to Imsk, Shrinking Violet’sEmerald Empress makes plans homeworld, to investigate … well, whatever they’ve been investigating for the last few issues. On Weber’s World—which is basically a planet-sized office building for he United Planets government—we see the aforementioned Legionnaires (Brainiac 5, Supergirl, Colossal Boy, and Shrinking Violet) hanging out with Science Police officer Ontiir. Brainy is still wondering why Ontiir’s men attacked them last issue and Ontiir still insists it was a mistake. Brainy is suspicious, but Supergirl thinks he’s just being paranoid. But we see that he’s not paranoid … Emerald Empress has taken over Weber’s World to help her regain her power and she’s watching the Legionnaires with her Emerald Eye. On the hospital satellite Medicus One, Dr. Gym’ll is telling Lightning Lad (Garth Ranzz) and Saturn Girl that he checks out just fine and they can proceed with their plans. Apparently whatever they’re planning is pretty big … okay, spoiler, they’re planning to having a baby. fighting Lightning Lord on Medicus OneMekt interrupts the appointment by blasting through the wall (destroying Gym’ll’s comics collection) and demanding to know where Light Lass is. He knocks Saturn Girl and Gym’ll out and Garth blasts him, saying he’ll never tell him where their sister is, since Mekt only wants to use her for his own ends. They fight their way through the facility and Mekt ends up blowing a hole in the wall, sending them both out into space. Their transparent space-suits activate to keep them alive, but they’re both unconscious. On Daxam, Dream Girl’s contingent of Legionnaires has to go through a lot of bullshit to land and Mon-El wonders at how his fellow Daxamites are being treated, seeing as how they were Darkseid’s pawns not his allies. Wildfire comes in with news from home, but Dream Girl steals his thunder. Her precognitive powers have already told her about Karate Kid and Projectra’s wedding and Lightning Lord’s attack on headquarters, but she’s pretty blasé about everything. I can’t tell if Dream Girl really is a ditz or if she just pretends to be one because that’s what everyone expects from her. Or maybe she really does find being team Legionnaires attack Lightning Lordleader boring as hell. At Science Police headquarters. Gigi Cusimano finds out her boss is looking for her to ask about the file she “borrowed” last issue. Gigi gave the file to Shavaughn and Element Lad and it has something to do with Durlan emigration. In Earth orbit, Mekt wakes up when he lands on the polymer screen surrounding Earth. He’s ready to steal a Science Police shuttle, but the Legionnaires show up to stop him. After sending Blok plunging through the screen, and blasting Timber Wolf, Phantom Girl, and Shadow Lass, Mekt is confronted by his brother Garth again. They do the lightning duel thing and Mekt says he ants to give their sister some “guidance” … in other words, he wants to steer her into a life of crime. Garth says he lost any brotherly rights when he abandoned the family andlightning duel became a villain. Garth gives Mekt an extra-heavy dose of lightning, stunning him long enough for Saturn Girl to knock him out. Timber Wolf asks Garth where Light Lass actually did go and Garth says he has no idea, but he wasn’t going to tell Mekt that. Garth says Light Lass has the right to do her own thing and not be bothered by Mekt … or anyone else. On Weber’s World, Ontiir bids the Legionnaires farewell, but they soon find out Brainiac 5’s suspicions were justified. As they’re leaving, the lights go out and they find Sun Boy (who stayed to guard their ship) beaten to a bloody pulp. The Emerald Eye appears and blasts them all unconscious.

Noticeable Things:

  • Dr. Gym’ll mentions being a collector of 20th Century reproductions and we see him reading a version of Flash #320 written in Interlac.

New Teen Titans 34 coverNew Teen Titans #34 – “Endings … and Beginnings” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke the Terminator) musing on how the Titans are the only blemish on his otherwise perfect record. He was hired to eliminate them by HIVE and even though HIVE doesn’t seem to care anymore, Wilson wants to kill them as a matter of pride … and he already has a plan in motion to accomplish that. At Teen Titans headquarters, Tara (Terra) Markov is brooding because the Titans still haven’t fully accepted her, even though she’s been hanging out with them for months. She gets a surprise when they throw her a sweet sixteen birthday party, but she tells Gar (Changeling) Logan that it’s still not enough. If he Titans really thought of her as one of their own, they’dRobin and Chase invade Scarapelli's mansion give her a chair in the meeting room and share their secret identities with her. Meanwhile out on Long Island, Robin and Adrian Chase have busted into the mansion of mobster Anthony Scarapelli. They take out Scarapelli’s men and when the mob boss pulls a gun, Robin disarms him. Scarapelli says they can’t just bust in without a warrant, but Chase actually does have a warrant … to search for unlicensed weapons like the gun Scarapelli just pulled on them, and since Robin is legally deputized he can arrest Scarapelli. Robin had no idea that’s what Chase was planning, but goes along with it. At Titans’ Tower, Terra is still complaining and Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy goes to talk to Wally (Kid Flash) West, who’s finally decided to leave the Titans and go back to college in Blue Valley. Donna wishes him well and heads out to give Terry Long an Donna says yesanswer to his proposal a few issues back. She interrupts one of his students at City Community College hitting on him, which makes him feel a bit awkward. But when Donna tells Terry she wants to marry him, he forgets all about his amorous student. Terry’s so excited he’s ready to get married right away, but Donna wants to find out about her past first, mainly who her birth parents are. Terry says he doesn’t mind waiting until she figures all that stuff out. At Titans’ Tower, Terra gives the others an ultimatum: either they accept her completely as a Titan (and share all their secrets) within a week, or she’s leaving. Logan gives her shit, saying the Titans never fought before she showed up, but he feels bad when she starts crying about nobody ever wants her around. Logan goes to answer the phone and it’s SarahSarah gives her ex a knee to the crotch Simms, Victor (Cyborg) Stone’s almost girlfriend. She really wants to talk to Victor, but he doesn’t want anything to do with her since he found out she has a fiancé she forgot to mention. We see Sarah’s “ fiancé” Mark telling her not to call “that black guy” anymore. Apparently Sarah and Mark were engaged but she called it off long before she met Victor. Mark doesn’t like to take no for an answer, so he’s basically forced his way back into her life. She finally has enough of his bullshit and knees him in the balls, the throws him out f her place. I get the feeling this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this asshole. At Titans’ headquarters, terminator calls to say he’s kidnapped a stockbroker and will kill him unless the Titans trade their lives for his. Gar fighting Terminatoris ready to call the others, but Terra knocks him out, saying she’ll prove herself by handling Terminator alone. Gar manages to alert Wally to Terra’s stupidity and they gather the team. Terra goes after Terminator hard, knocking him around a bit before his experience gives him an edge. He sends her falling toward the street, but Kid Flash shows up in time to catch her and the others attack Terminator. Even with his enhanced skills, he can’t handle all of them at once, but he gets Kid Flash down and threatens to cut his throat. Terra grabs Terminator in a fist of stone, but he blasts it with his energy weapon, seemingly blowing himself away too. Kid Flash thanks Terra for saving his ass and says she’s earned his trust. The others agree and say Terra’s definitely a real Titan now. She’s so grateful and overwhelmed she has to take some time to herself. We see Terra return to her crappy apartment, where someone is waiting for her … yup, it’s Terminator. SeemsTerra shows her true colours the whole thing—Terra’s original meeting with the Titans when they helped her against the terrorists, her joining the group, this fight with Terminator—was all part of his plan. She tells him the Titans seem ready to share all their secrets with her and Terminator figures that knowledge will help him destroy the Titans once and for all. At Adrian Chase’s penthouse, Robin gives Chase shit for using him and for busting in just to intimidate Scarapelli when they already had the warrant. Robin wonders why a District Attorney would be so cavalier about the law, but Chase says the law is useless … only justice matters. Robin leaves, still mad, and Chase’s wife asks if he really did break the law. Chase says he’d never do anything to put her and the kids in danger. She mentions a toy that his Uncle Arthur sent earlier and Chase says he doesn’t have an Uncle Arthur … right before the penthouse explodes, startling Robin on the street below. I had this issue as a kid and I remember being impressed with how Terminator held his own against the Titans; he was pretty bad-ass, even if part of the fight was fake.

All-Star Squadron 24 coverAll-Star Squadron #24 – “The Man Who’ll Know Too Much” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway/Mike Machlan

This one starts with Batman in New York, checking out the laboratory of Chuck Grayson. He finds Robin half-conscious inside and they’re attacked by the weird green humanoids that we’ve seen working for Ultra-Humanite over the last couple of issues. Batman wraps the greenies up pretty quick and Robin fills him in on what happened. Robin came to visit Chuck Grayson, his cousin (this is comics, so if they have the same last name they must be related) and was on hand when a boring machine tunneled up through the floor. The green weirdos grabbed Chuck and when Robin tried to fight them, he accidentally blew up one of Chuck’s machines, which is why he was half out of it when Batman found him. They decide to head over to All-Star Squadron headquarters for help, since they’reUltra-Humanite gloats technically members of the team. Elsewhere, Ultra-Humanite gloats to her henchmen (Deathbolt and Cyclotron) about capturing Superman, Robotman, and Firebrand. The greenies bring Chuck Grayson in and Ultra explains that she wants him to put her brain in Robotman’s metal body (since Grayson is the one who transplanted Bob Crane’s brain into Robotman’s metal shell in the first place). Grayson says it was just dumb luck that Crane’s brain survived the surgery and he isn’t sure if he can duplicate it … plus, Crane’s brain would have to be disposed of to make room for Ultra’s. Deathbolt wonders why Ultra would want to switch bodies, since hers is so bangin’ (it’s obvious he’s still hot for her … he even has his hand on her ass at one point). Ultra Johnny gets slammed by the explosionreminds him that her brain is that of a middle-aged man and she—or he—hates being trapped inside a female body. Firebrand asks Cyclotron—who’s rally her ex-lover, Terry Curtis—why he’s helping Ultra in her crazy scheme. Terry says he has his reasons, which might make Firebrand understand … or might cause her to hate him even more. Ultra shows her captives video of the Normandie, a French ship docked in New York that the Americans were planning on turning into an aircraft carrier. Near the Normandie dock, Johnny Chambers (who we know better as Johnny Quick) and Tubby Watts are reporting on a gathering of movie stars to raise money for the war effort. They hear an explosion and rush to the docks to find the Normandie on fire. Johnny Quick rescues several people from the flames, but the ship heels over on its side and an explosion sends Johnny flying. Green Lantern and Liberty Belle are flying nearby and hear the explosion, swooping down justTarantula's new costume in time to stop a doctor from removing Johnny’s mask. As Liberty Belle takes care of Johnny (who she obviously cares about a lot, despite their recent arguments), GL douses the fire on the Normandie. Over a car radio, they hear Ultra-Humanite take credit for the Normandie sinking and demand 100 million dollars or three more targets will be hit within a couple of hours. GL and Liberty Belle take Johnny to hospital before heading for the Perisphere. Commander Steel is still there and gets a surprise when Tarantula shows up in his snazzy new costume. Tarantula tells Steel (and us) just how he came to get his new duds, and some crazy shit that happened along the way. Tarantula had returned home (still wearing his copy of Sandman’s yellow-and-purple costume) when he found an intruder in his apartment, asking his flashback to Tarantula fighting Brainwave Jr.housekeeper (Olga) where Jonathan Law was. The visitor was in a weird costume himself and claimed to be Brainwave, the villain the All-Stars fought a few issues back. Tarantula had no idea how Brainwave knew his secret identity, but he jumped in and tackled the intruder. Brainwave almost pulped Tarantula with some “brain-blasts” before he calmed down and claimed to be the original Brainwave’s son … and a good guy. Brainwave also said he was from 1983 and had come back in time to warn the All-Stars about some dire threat. Before Tarantula could get details, Olga conked Brainwave Jr. with a fireplace shovel. Tarantula decided to go see the All-Stars and left a note for Olga to give Brainwave Jr. Olga gave him the new costume she’d made for him (no cape!) and Tarantula grabbed a new web-gun he’d been working on, since Brainy had smashed his old one during the fight. Tarantula finishes his story by saying he believes Brainwave Jr. really is from theAmazing Man attacks future, since he knows about a book Jonathan Law just started working on … which Olga doesn’t even know about. Atom shows up with the unconscious Amazing Man and tells Tarantula and Steel that Dr. Fate took off to find Spectre. Batman and Robin arrive with the captured greenies and Liberty Belle and GL join the party moments later. As the All-Stars compare notes, Amazing Man revives and absorbs the properties of the metal railing they tied him to, then gets ready to attack the All-Stars. At Ultra’s headquarters, she tells Deathbolt and Cyclotron that her plan is proceeding perfectly; her ultimatum will force the All-Stars to divide into three groups to stop her next sabotages. Superman figures the All-Stars will handle her minions quite easily, but Ultra says she’s holding Cyclotron and Deathbolt back; she’s got some other operatives ready to take on the All-Stars and even if the heroes win, they’ll regret it forever. Who are these mysterious new operatives? We’ll see next issue, but Brainwave Jr.’s appearance is kind of a hint …

Noticeable Things:

  • The Normandie was sent to America after the fall of France in 1940. The Normandie really did catch fire and capsize in New York harbor in February of 1942; apparently a guy was careless with a welding torch and set some life vests on fire, although there were (and maybe still are) various theories about sabotage (none of which involved Ultra-Humanite of course).
  • The gathering of stars was dedicated to Carole Lombard (who died in a plane crash in January of 1942) and we see her widower Clark Gable depicted, as well as Abbott and Costello and Cary Grant.
  • While dealing with the Normandie, Green Lantern reflects on the recent troubles the Allied countries had been having at the time: the Philippines were all but overrun by the Japanese, who had also invaded Singapore, and U-Boats were sinking American ships within sight of the coast. Time Magazine called it the worst week of the war … and the century.

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