Comics Reviews: JLA 219, Legion of Super-Heroes 304, New Teen Titans 35, All-Star Squadron 26

JLA 219 coverJustice League of America #219 – “Crisis in the Thunderbolt Dimension” – Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway/Chuck Patton/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with a bunch of would-be terrorists taking hostages and threatening to release nerve gas if their demands aren’t met. Too bad for them the Flashes are hanging out together in anticipation of the annual JLA/JSA meeting. Since they’re currently on Earth-1, everybody recognizes the JLA’s Flash (Barry Allen), but Earth-2’s Flash (Jay Garrick) is something of a mystery. The two speedsters pound the terrorists and head for a transport tube so they can join their colleagues on the JLA Satellite. Before they can enter the tube, a storm springs up and a lightning bolt shoots down from the sky … a pink lightning bolt. Jay recognizes it as Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt, but he’s shocked when the T-bolt attacks them, knocking Barry out and slamming Jay around. Jay notices how pissedreunion off the T-bolt looks and figures something’s wrong. (It’s also silent the whole time, which is weird since T-bolt usually never shuts up.) The T-bolt retreats and Jay realizes Barry is in trouble, so he drags him to the teleport tube. On the Satellite, the JLA and JSA are already hanging out. Black Canary impresses Huntress and Power Girl by describing something of Oliver’s … something long and thin. Don’t get excited, it’s just an arrow. Starman welcomes Green Lantern back from his space exile, and Firestorm broods because Power Girl hasn’t said one word to him. Red Tornado, Hourman, Elongated Man, and Zatanna round out the rosters. Firestorm’s ready to leave when Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny grabs him. Firestorm says he doesn’t know why Power Girl’s ignoring him after what happened last year (in JLA ); I’m not sure if we’re T-bolt attackssupposed to assume they hooked up or what. Maybe they just made out a bit; Firestorm is technically still a teenager, so Power Girl could be getting a little statutory there if she went too far. Zatanna and Hourman tell Firestorm that people like to be pursued, so maybe that’s why Power Girl is being so weird. I’m not sure if that’s progressive or sexist, although I suppose someone like Power Girl could get tired of always being the aggressive one and might want to be the object of someone’s desire instead. Anyway, before Firestorm can make a move, the Thunderbolt shows up and starts kicking ass. Firestorm jumps right in, hoping to impress Power Girl, but he gets blasted right away. The T-bolt rips through the assembled heroes, knocking some around (Power Girl, Red Tornado, Hourman) while blasting others into unconsciousness (Ralph, Zatanna, Green Lantern) and wrecking the transmatter machine inCanary's origin the process (which allows them to travel to Earth-2). Black Canary uses her Canary Cry to force T-bolt’s retreat, leaving them to pick up the pieces. (Power Girl actually seems pretty worried about Firestorm; too bad he’s unconscious and can’t appreciate the attention.) Jay shows up with Barry and quickly figures out that only the Earth-1 heroes were knocked out by the T-bolt’s attack; all the Earth-2 denizens (including Black Canary and Red Tornado, who are originally from Earth-2) were spared. The others realize he’s right, but Black Canary wonders why it would matter what Earth they’re from. We get a synopsis of how she came to Earth-1 to live. (Basically the JLA and JSA fought a cosmic weirdo named Aquarius and Canary’s husband Larry Lance was killed saving her life. She came to Earth-1 to start over with the JLA.) Starman urges her to stop dwelling on the past and concentrate on the villains show uppresent. Red Tornado and Power Girl discover that other JLA members (Superman and Wonder Woman) have been knocked out in their civilian identities and they assume the rest of their teammates probably have as well. Huntress wonders if Johnny Thunder has gone bad, since he’s the T-bolt’s master, but Canary says she’s known Johnny forever and trusts him completely. The Satellite monitors show attacks on three different sites across the globe: Fiddler and Chronos are at the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico; Icicle and Dr. Alchemy are in Egypt at the Great Pyramid; and Wizard and Felix Faust are attacking Stonehenge in England. The heroes split up (naturally) and head down to Earth to confront the villains, leaving Black Canary behind to monitor things. Starman stays behind too and suggests the two of them try something different … going into the T-bolt’s home dimension. Starman uses his cosmic rod to track the T-bolt and bring them to its dimension.two Black Canaries Canary notices that he seems familiar with the Thunderbolt’s home dimension, but Starman evades her inquiries. The T-bolt dimension is crazy, like Ditko’s Dr. Strange, but they quickly orient themselves and see a figure in a floating chair. Before they can get too close, the T-bolt pops up and blasts them. They wake up held by the T-bolt’s energy and see their captor is Johnny Thunder … but not the dimwit Johnny Thunder they know from Earth-2, this is the evil Johnny from Earth-1. He shows them a glass case with two figures inside and Black Canary is shocked to see herself lying beside Larry Lance. We’ll see what that’s all about next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Green Lantern’s presence is explained by saying this story takes place after his return to Earth in Green Lantern 172. There’s no mention of Flash’s recent troubles (being arrested for killing Zoom), so maybe this takes place before that happened, or maybe everyone’s just agreed not to talk about it.
  • Black Canary’s husband dying and her coming to Earth-1 was told back in JLA 73 and 74.
  • The JLA and JSA fought the evil Johnny Thunder way back in JLA 37 and 38.

LSH 304 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #304 – “Siege Perilous” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

This one starts at the Legion Academy, where Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel tell a group of trainees that the Legion has recently lost a few members so they might actually have a shot at getting in. Some of the students (Laurel Kent, Shadow Kid, Comet Queen, Lamprey, Jed Rikane, Magnetic Kid, Nightwind, and Crystal Kid) are excited to have a real shot at becoming Legionnaires, but others are more ambivalent. They’re interrupted when Wildfire shows up to tell Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel that Invisible Kid and White Witch will be joining the class for some extra training, since they both joined the Legion on the fly. Wildfire complains about the academy, saying half the students don’t even want to be Legionnaires, but Bouncingtalking about Violet Boy says the training will serve them well no matter what they end up doing. Gigi Cusimano is hanging around the academy and reminds Wildfire that he’s the one who always complains loudest whenever the Science Police offer to take over the Academy. Wildfire doesn’t have an answer to that and flies off in a huff. At Legion Headquarters, four people (Element Lad, Shvaughn Erin, Brainiac 5, and Chameleon Boy) have a clandestine meeting in the bowels of the building. Element lad and Shvaughn’s recent trip has confirmed their suspicions … Shrinking Violet has been kidnapped and replaced by an impostor, probably a shapeshifting Durlan like Chameleon Boy. Brainy says they’d better keep things just between them and definitely not tell Colossal Boy, since he’d never be able to fool the fake Violet. (Colossal Boy and “Violet” have been fighting escaped beastsgoing out for a while.) Chameleon Boy offers to take the lead, since they’re dealing with a Durlan. At Metropolis Spaceport, Bouncing Boy leads the students (plus White Witch and Invisible Kid) to help corral some intergalactic beasts that escaped from a zoo transport. There’s an Earthquake Beast (a brontosaurus-type that can generate quakes), a a Flasher Beast (a one-horned monster that can send bursts of light from its eyes), and a Schnauzerfant (basically a gigantic puppy dog). White Witch offers to take the Earthquake Beast, since she has a spell that might work. Jed gets blinded by the Flasher and Laurel (who’s still wearing her barely-there outfit) distracts the Schnauzerfant. Jed and Invisible Kid team up to pound the Flasher, while Laurel plays fetch with the Schnauzerfant, luring it into a force cage. White Witch’s spell turns the Earthquake Beast’s power against itself, taking itdefeating beasts down. Back at HQ, the rest of the students are watching the battle on a monitor and are quite impressed … until Duo Damsel’s critique. She points out the lack of teamwork slowed things down; they should’ve been able to deal with the beasts much faster. Later, Magnetic Kid and Shadow Kid bond over having relatives in the Legion (Magnetic Kid is Cosmic Boy’s brother and Shadow Kid is Shadow Lass’s cousin), and Magnetic Kid tells him how his family was wiped out by terrorists not too long ago. Laurel, Comet Queen, and White Witch hang out too, and Comet Queen complains about what a dick Wildfire is. In the Pacific, Timber Wolf and Shadow lass are taking care of some organ thieves when Wildfire shows up and blasts all the organ-leggers, saying he’s in a bad Timber Wolf gets aggressivemood and needs to trash something. Timber Wolf is a bit miffed, but Shadow Lass points out that he of all people should know what Wildfire is feeling. Back at HQ, Lamprey and Nightwind were watching the organ-legger fight on a monitor and talk about how they feel bad for Wildfire because he’s trapped in his containment suit, not even really human anymore. Meanwhile, Chameleon Boy practically strong-arms Colossal Boy and “Shrinking Violet” onto a Cruiser, saying they have a mission on Imsk, Violet’s homeworld. She’s obviously not enthusiastic about going, but Cham doesn’t give her much choice. Shvaughn watches them take off and Star Boy comes by to say hi. Turns out Ultra Boy quit as deputy leader, so Star Boy got stuck with it,breaking up the catfight but he’s not too thrilled. He heads inside to chair a meeting of the few Legionnaires still on Earth (Shadow Lass, Timber Wolf, Phantom Girl, Ultra Boy, and Mon-El) and they discuss whether any of the current students are ready to become full-fledged Legionnaires. Those same students are currently getting into a scuffle over Wildfire, with Laurel and Comet Queen saying he’s an asshole, while Lamprey and Nightwind defend him. (Of course, Nightwind and Lamprey did get to hear Wildfire’s sad origin story back in issue 283.) A cat fight breaks out and Magnetic Kid and Jed have to separate them, but not before Invisible Kid and White Witch see the brawl. White Witch uses her magic to show the students why Wildfire’s been even more of a prick lately: turns out Dawnstar says goodbye to WildfireDawnstar left to go on some kind of galactic spirit quest, which ends with her choosing a mate. She and Wildfire are in love, but him not being human (or even corporeal) kinda puts a damper on any romantic future they might have. So Wildfire’s been in a shit mood since she left. In case you’re wondering, the Legionnaires voted not to admit any of the students, deciding that more training was in order so they don’t wind up as memorial statues in the Hall of Dead Heroes. Next issue we finally see what’s up with Shrinking Violet, a story that’s been simmering in the background for a couple years.

New Teen Titans 35 coverNew Teen Titans #35 – “Siege” – Marv Wolfman/Keith Pollard/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with Victor (Cyborg) Stone and Gar (Changeling) Logan goofing around in Titans’ Tower. Their roughhousing gets a little too rough and Raven is knocked off a balcony. Victor grabs her before she hits the floor and asks why she didn’t use her powers to teleport to safety. Raven reminds him that Trigon’s evil influence has been growing inside her lately, so she’s scared to use her powers in case she loses control and turns evil like him. Victor and Gar wish Raven would open up so they could help her, but she’s as closed off as ever. Gar asks Victor about Sarah Simms and he gets pretty quiet too, reminding Gar that Sarah has a fiance she didn’t bother to mention. Not too far away, we see Sarah and her fiance (Mark) … except they’re not actually engaged. They dated a while back and Sarah dumped Mark, but he seems obsessed with her now andMark takes some hostages keeps insisting they’re going to get married. Sarah tries to talk some sense into him, mentioning another girl Mark was supposedly engaged to, but he freaks out and says he doesn’t want to talk about her. Sarah asks a nearby cop for help, but Mark grabs his gun and drags Sarah away. The cops are on his ass right away, so Mark pulls Sarah into a sporting goods store full of people. A clerk reaches for a gun and Mark shoots him, then stocks up on hunting rifles and ammo. Apparently Mark was in the Army and was a hell of a shot, as the cordon of cops outside finds out the hard way. Sarah calls the Titans while Mark’s distracted and Cyborg shows up as fast as he can. Mark’s aim is still perfect and he puts a bullet through Victor’s shoulder, a part of him that’s still flesh-and-blood. Sarah tries to talk to Mark again, asking him about Raven heals Cyborghis girlfriend Maddy, but he still won’t talk about her. The cops get Victor to safety and Gar shows up with Raven, who uses her powers to heal Victor even though she risks losing control. It works but Raven passes out from the strain, so Gar turns into a spider and sneaks into the store. Mark is still freaking out and Sarah asks him about Maddy again. He says she’s dead; he dragged her to some kind of party and now she’s dead. Gar turns into an ape and jumps Mark, but gets his ass kicked and has to back off when Mark threatens to shoot someone. Mark asks for a helicopter out of the city and no cops following him. He also insists Sarah come with him. Gar feels stupid for screwing up his chance to stop Mark, but he goes outside to relay theape attack demands. Raven teleports inside to talk to Mark. She heals the gunshot victim, then asks Mark to let her help him. Victor has gotten tired of waiting and jumps onto the roof to cut a hole in the ceiling, leaving Gar to talk the cops out of a frontal assault on the store. Victor finishes the hole in the ceiling but has to move carefully so Mark doesn’t notice him. Raven and Sarah are still trying to get Mark to open up about Maddy. He repeats the stuff about taking her to a party and says he killed her. He realized Sarah was the only one who loved him so he came to find her, but Sarah says she never thought of him as anything but a friend (which Victor is relieved to overhear). Mark freaks Mark gives upout, saying nobody ever loved him … even his parents gave him up for adoption. He gets pissed off at Sarah and points the rifle at her, so Victor busts through the hole in the roof and melts the rifle to slag. Mark pulls a pistol and points it at Victor, but he starts going on about Maddy. Turns out when he took her to the party, she left with some other dude, so Mark decided she was dead to him after that. He finally realizes he doesn’t want to hurt anyone and drops the gun before collapsing and begging God for forgiveness. Raven says he’ll have to forgive himself first.

Noticeable Things:

  • Before turning into an ape, Gar tries to web Mark’s rifle out of his hands, but fails miserably, saying it works better in the comics. That’s a reference to Spider-Man, which Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard worked on together at Marvel.
  • Gar makes a joke about “Tales of the Green Monkey”, which is a reference to the TV show Tales of the Gold Monkey.

All-Star Squadron 26 coverAll-Star Squadron #26 – “Talons Across Time” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway/Mike Machlan

Last issue, a number of All-Stars went to different cities to stop Ultra-Humanite’s minions from destroying American war materials. They ran into some new faces calling themselves Infinity Inc., who seemed to think the All-Stars were the bad guys. As soon as the All-Stars touched an Infinity Inc. member, they faded out and were replaced by someone else, leaving the Infinity member unconscious. In California, Robin and Phantom Lady are startled to see Batman and Tarantula fade away as their places are taken by the mist and a fiery dude named Vulcan. Phantom lady assumes this is the same Mist that Starman fought a couple years back, but he seems to have learned some new tricks; this Mist can become intangible, not just invisible. While Vulcan starts wrecking planes, Mist beats the shit out ofPhantom Lady fights Mist Robin until Phantom Lady uses her black light projector to blind him. She leads him into a wind tunnel where he’s forced to become solid to avoid blowing away. She gets one shot in but Vulcan busts in and trashes the wind machine, apparently blowing Phantom Lady up in the process. The cops show up, but they can’t stop the villain from taking off. In Brooklyn, Commander steel and Liberty Belle fade out and are replaced by Psycho Pirate and Brainwave. Guardian and the Newsboy Legion confront them, but Psycho Pirate uses his powers to scare them away. Instead of wrecking more Navy ships, the two villains take off. In Detroit, Atom and Green Lantern disappear and are Amazing Man meets Monocle and Rag Dollreplaced by Monocle and Rag Doll. Instead of attacking them, Amazing Man realizes they’re working for Ultra-Humanite just like he is. He helps smash some tanks, but Monocle gets some kind of telepathic message saying Ultra-Humanite is telling them to join him. Amazing Man is surprised (since he knows Ultra-Humanite as a woman), but he goes along with them. In New York, Tubby Watts goes to see Johnny Chambers (aka Johnny Quick) in the hospital, bringing his costume for him to change into. Before Johnny can leave, Brainwave Jr. shows up and tells Johnny he wants to help stop Ultra-Humanite. Brainwave Jr. claims to be from 1983 and Johnny figures he’s full of shit, but Brainwave Jr. knows a lot about the All-Stars … including Johnny’s secret identity. They head to the Perisphere and find a bunch ofBrainwave Jr and Johnny Quick meet All-Stars (Guardian, Flash, Phantom Lady, Robin, and Wildcat) already there. The others tell their stories about their fellow All-Stars fading away and Brainwave Jr. (who admits the original Brainwave is his father) tells them the mysterious people who attacked them are called Infinity Inc. (and are currently being kept quiescent by Brainwave’s old brain-drain machine). Brainwave Jr. is afraid of saying too much about the future, but tells the All-Stars about some of the JSA fighting the Secret Society of Super Villains alongside some other unnamed heroes. (The unnamed heroes are the JLA and the fight took place in the classic JLA 195-197.) The Society’s version of Ultra-Humanite was a mutated white ape and he (along with the other villains) ended up in Limbo Infinity Inc introsafter being defeated, where they ran into Vulcan, who’d been blown into limbo after a fight with the JSA. Ultra realized if Vulcan could be sent there, they could all get back out again. Ultra and Brainwave pooled their mental energy and cast their thoughts outward, finally reaching back in time to contact Ultra-Humanite’s younger self in Dolores Winters’ body. The two Ultras used energy from the stolen Power Stone and Hammer of Thor to compel Infinity Inc. (in 1983) to investigate a strange shuttle buried in Mount St. Helens. The shuttle was sort of a time capsule, constructed from chronium by the 1942 Ultra and when Infinity Inc. went inside, the shuttle traveled back in time to Ultra’s hideout. She used her mental powers to brainwash the Infinitors, making them think she was the good guy and America was the aggressor inbrainwashing Infinity Inc the war. She sent them off on their sabotage missions, knowing that the All-Stars would be sent to Limbo and the trapped villains would be released as soon as they touched an Infinitor. Ape-Ultra was also released from Limbo, but ended up in 1983, since two versions of the same person can’t exist in the same time period. If Ape-Ultra had come back to 1942, the Dolores Winters version would’ve been rendered comatose … or worse. Flash realizes that means the original Brainwave must be comatose somewhere, since his 1983 self is now in 1942, and if any of the other villains are over 40 or so, they probably have young counterparts in comas as well. The All-Stars are blown away by Brainwave’s crazy story, but they decide to trust him since he seems to Ultra-Humanite prepares for troubleknow what he’s talking about. But Brainwave’s holding back some stuff … mainly that Infinity Inc. are actually the children (or wards) of some JSA members! After the All-Stars leave, Obsidian manages to bust free and release his teammates. The Infinitors are back in their right minds now and ready to kick Ultra-Humanite’s ass, so they head for Mount St. Helens. Ultra-Humanite knows they’re coming but isn’t worried, as she’s about to transfer her mind into Robotman’s metal body. The end of this story is so big, it had to be told in an Annual, which I’ll be reviewing next time instead of the regular All-Star issue. Don’t miss it.

Noticeable Things:

  • Phantom Lady thinks time travel is “scientifiction”, and she mentions Brick Bradford, a sci-fi newspaper strip which actually did feature a time machine as of 1935.
  • The JSA first fought Vulcan in All-Star Comics 61, in 1976.
  • In case you’re wondering why Phantom Lady wasn’t blown up when the wind tunnel exploded, she can now use her black light to render herself invisible, which she did right before the explosion.

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