Comics Reviews: JLA 220, Legion of Super-Heroes 305, New Teen Titans 36, All-Star Squadron Annual 2

JLA 220 coverJustice League of America #220 – “The Doppelganger Gambit”– Roy Thomas/Chuck Patton/Romeo Tanghal, Pablo Marcos

Last issue, the annual JLA/JSA reunion was interrupted when all of Earth-1’s heroes were incapacitated, leaving anyone from Earth-2 hale and hearty. Black Canary and Starman were dragged into the Thunderbolt dimension by Johnny Thunder’s T-bolt, now under the control of the Earth-1 Johnny Thunder (who’s an evil bastard). They were startled to see another Black Canary in suspended animation, lying beside Canary’s dead husband, Larry Lance. Back in the regular dimension, three dastardly duos made up of criminals from Earths 1 and 2 have attacked ancient monuments. Power Girl is ready to fly off and stomp them by herself, but Red Tornado convinces her to wait until they can formulate a plan. Before they can figure anything out, Sargon the Sorcerer (another Earth-2 denizen) shows up and we get the usual heroJSA fights Sargon misunderstanding fight. Once Sargon convinces them he’s there to help, they welcome him and form teams to fight the various villains. Power Girl and Sargon end up together, heading for Stonehenge while Flash and Hourman go to Mexico, leaving Huntress and Red Tornado to take Egypt. In the Thunderbolt dimension, scumbag Johnny Thunder is gloating over capturing Black Canary and Starman, and reveals he’s also caught the Earth-2 Johnny. Since his original master is all tied up, T-bolt has no choice to obey evil Johnny and recounts Johnny and Black Canary’s origins, with a few new revelations Canary wasn’t aware of. T-bolt recaps how Johnny and flashback to Larry and Black Canary marriedCanary fought crime together, how Johnny fell for her but she wasn’t interested in him, and how T-bolt ended up getting hexed by a Badhnesian sorcerer. T-bolt’s powers were screwed up, so Johnny told him to get lost, but Johnny ended up quitting the JSA (since he was just a regular guy now) and Canary took his place. When she started dating Larry Lance, Johnny got all pouty and left, ending up in Badhnesia under the evil sorcerer’s control. Superman got Johnny (and the T-bolt) free of the sorcerer, but Johnny was still bitter about Black Canary and Larry … moreso, now that they were married. After Canary and Larry had a daughter (named Dinah, just like her mom), the JSA’s old foe, the Wizard, showed up and told them he’d learned real magic since his last defeat. He cursed baby Dinah, so that whenever she cried it caused a sonic scream that caused damage to everything around her. Canary went toflashback to baby taken to T-bolt dimension ask Johnny for help and the T-bolt suggested taking the baby into the Thunderbolt dimension, where the Wizard’s curse would have no effect. T-bolt also altered Black Canary, Laryy, and Johnny’s memories so they believed the baby had died, to spare them the pain of always wondering about her. T-bolt says the baby grew to adulthood in his dimension without ever making a sound, or even opening her eyes. Black Canary assumes her double must be her now-grown daughter, but she doesn’t remember Larry’s body being brought there after he died. T-bolt’s story is interrupted by evil Johnny, who want to see how his minions are doing on Earth-1. Evil Johnny admits he can’t force the T-bolt to kill the JLAers, but he could put them in a coma. Fiddler makes his foes danceAnd he can’t make T-bolt harm the JSA at all, since the original Johnny is still alive, which is why he’s recruited the Crime Champions to help him. In Mexico, Fiddler and Chronos have frozen everyone around the Pyramid of the Sun and when Flash and Hourman show up, Fiddler uses his special violin to make them dance. In Egypt, Huntress and Red Tornado are jumped by Icicle and Dr. Alchemy. Huntress ends up sliding the Pyramid (which is shown with perfectly smooth sides, not the stepped construction it actually is) while Dr. Alchemy maneuvers Red Tornado into position. Huntress slams into Reddy, knocking them both out. At Stonehenge, Wizard and Felix Faust use their magic to trick Power Girl and Sargon into fighting each other, taking both of them down. The Crime Champions have been fighting the heroes to prove who’s worthy to lead the villainous group, but naturally evil Johnny plans to be theJohnny decks his doppelganger leader. While all this has been going on, tiny electrical sprites in the Thunderbolt dimension have been working on the electrical energy gag keeping the original Johnny silent. Just as evil Johnny orders T-bolt to kill Starman and Black Canary, Johnny is freed and calls off the T-bolt. Now that Johnny’s loose, the T-bolt is no longer forced to obey evil Johnny, who’s decked by his Earth-2 counterpart. He sends T-bolt to help the JSA members on Earth, which he does by reviving the JLA and bringing them to each site. Elongated Man and Flash (the Earth-1 version) catch Fiddler and give the original Flash and Hourman the chance to pound Chronos. Green Lantern and Firestorm take down Icicle (Firestorm transmutes his cold-gun into a banana), while Huntress and villains defeated on Earth-1Reddy slam Dr. Alchemy. At Stonehenge, Zatanna blasts Wizard and Faust, stunning them long enough for the others to act. Sargon turns Wizard to stone and Power Girl obliterates Faust with a punch. (Well, she knocks him on his ass, anyway.) In he Thunderbolt dimension, Black Canary is still freaked out the daughter she never knew she had. Turns out it’s a lot freakier than she thought. Superman and Spectre (who was freed from Earth-1 Corrigan by T-bolt) show up to tell Canary the whole truth. When Larry died fighting Aquarius (in JLA 74), Superman was bringing Black Canary to Earth-1 to start over, but she was in terrible pain and Superman realized the fight with Aquarius had damaged her fatally. She asked to go to theBlack Canary learns the truth Thunderbolt dimension to see her daughter’s grave one last time. When they got there, they found Canary’s daughter, now grown up but still in some kind of coma. Superman suggested a mind switch: the Earth-2 Canary would remain in the Thunderbolt dimension with Larry after her death, but her mind and some memories were transferred to her daughter’s body. Hr memories of Larry being her husband were left intact, but all memories of having a daughter were expunged, so she believed herself to be the original Black Canary. Superman (and the JSA) knew the truth but kept their mouths shut so she’d have a chance at a new life. That explains her sonic powers, which Black Canary heads homeSuperman allowed everyone to believe were a side-effect of fighting Aquarius. Canary is understandably freaked out, but also glad to finally know the truth. She asks Superman to take her home—to Earth-1—and makes him promise to let her explain everything to Green Arrow. This is kind of a convoluted way of giving Black Canary a separate identity but I guess it makes sense in a comic book logic sort of way. It probably makes more sense than the original origin anyway. Apparently the idea came from Marv Wolfman, so if you have a problem with it, blame him.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you’re wondering how evil Johnny took over from the Earth-2 Johnny, apparently the latter got curious about his Earth-1 counterpart and wanted to check in on him. Evil Johnny knocked him out and took control of the T-bolt.
  • Sargon shows the JSA the comatose body of Jim Corrigan, who also got blasted by the T-bolt. This is the Earth-1 version of Corrigan, in whose body the Spectre is now trapped. There’s also a footnote about an upcoming JSA mini-series, but I don’t think that ever happened.
  • Evil Johnny has a feeling of deja vu about all this (as do we) because he took over the T-bolt way back in JLA 37 and 38, but everyone’s memory was wiped by the T-bolt at the end of that adventure.

LSH 287 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #305 – “Violet’s Story” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Kurt Schaffenberger

This one starts with the Legion cruiser arriving at Imsk. Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet think the Legion has been summoned by Imsk’s government to help with some trouble, but that’s just a ruse. Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, and Element Lad reveal their true purpose … exposing “Violet” as a fraud. Element lad shackles Colossal Boy to keep him from interfering while Brainy blasts Violet with Cancelite, a gas used to neutralize the shape-shifting abilities of the Durlans. The Cancelite takes away “Violet”’s power to grow or shrink, exposing her as a Durlan in disguise. Colossal Boy is stunned, but the others are more concerned with what happened to the real Shrinking Violet. Back on Earth, Wildfire is usingflashback to Yera becoming Violet a training session with Ultra Boy, Mon-El, and Timber Wolf to work off his frustrations about Dawnstar leaving. Phantom Girl (who isn’t very sympathetic) and Shadow Lass watch and give Star Boy grief about being deputy leader. Back on the Cruiser, Brainy scans the Durlan impostor and finds out she’s a holo-actress named Yera. She was contacted by some Imskians who told her they needed her to impersonate Shrinking Violet to help Imsk somehow and that she wouldn’t have to spy on the Legion or do anything illegal. She agreed because she thought it would be a good showcase for her acting talents; Durlans are banned from the drama-guilds because of their shape-changing abilities, so she figured this would prove she had real talent. She replaced Violet during the mission to Khundia (in issue 287), where she and Sun Emperor torches a townColossal Boy immediately got very friendly. That was what first aroused Element Lad’s suspicions, since Violet was seeing Duplicate Boy at the time. Element lad apologizes for springing this on Colossal Boy, who says he understands but punches Element Lad out anyway. On some bucolic planet, a glowing dude shows up and burns a town to cinders, telling a survivor that he and his friends intended this as a warning for the rest of the planet that they’d better surrender. (The glowing guy looks like Sun Emperor, so I assume this is setting up a Legion of Super-Villains story.) On Imsk, Shrinking Violet shows up in the merchant district and is hounded by autograph seekers. She attracts the attention of Marlu, who assumes she’s Yera the Durlan impostor. Marlu takes Violet through some pneumatic delivery tubes to an underground headquarters where she’s scanned toreal Violet revealed to be a prisoner make sure nobody’s tracking her. The hideout is headquarters for some kind of terrorist organization that’s fighting to “liberate” Imsk from the United Planets. Obviously replacing Violet with Yera was part of that, but now Marlu’s worried about why Yera’s suddenly back on Imsk, so she captures her in a plasti-seal bag that neutralizes her Durlan shape-shifting powers. She’s taken to a shadowy chamber, where the terrorist leaders admit they want to get rid of the United Planets and Science Police so they can take over Imsk, although they wrap it in talk of liberating the planet from outside influence. They show their captive the real Shrinking Violet, who’s been confined in a sensory deprivation tank while all her United Planets knowledge is drained from her Chameleon Boy busts loosemind. On Starhaven, Dawnstar has returned home to dedicate herself to the sacred ritual of her people. Her parents give her a gem to wear in her forehead and she heads out to wander the galaxy looking for a mate … although she already loves Wildfire. Unfortunately, him not having an actual physical body kinda puts a crimp in any romantic future for them. On Imsk, the captive Violet reveals herself to be Chameleon Boy and he gives the Imskian terrorists a lesson … not all Durlans are alike. Cham easily busts out of the plasti-bubble and attacks his captors, joined by the other three Legionnaires (who followed him by having Element Lad change part of his clothing to a radioactive substance they could track easily). The legionnaires rip into the terrorists—literally in Colossal Boy’s case, since he’s still pissed off about the whole deception—and Brainy captures the leaders by using a modified form ofColossal Boy goes wild Cancelite to freeze them at five inches tall and threatening to stomp them. When the Science Police (including Shvaughn Erin and Gigi Cusimano) show up, they’re surprised by the havoc wreaked by only four Legionnaires. The real Violet is loaded on a ship to be taken home, but she’s in pretty bad shape. Later, Colossal Boy visits Yera in the medical bay and she says she had no idea she was working for separatist terrorists. She also insists she wasn’t faking falling in love with Colossal Boy and he admits that he loves her, whoever she is, not Shrinking Violet. They decide to give their marriage a real try, although Colossal Boy wonders what his mother will say when she learns the truth.

Noticeable Things:

  • One of the Imskian conspirators is Micro Lad, who was rejected for Legion membership and joined other rejects in attacking the Legion way back in Superboy & the Legion 212. He’ll pop up again with the Legion of Super-Villains.

New Teen Titans 32 coverNew Teen Titans #36 – “Feedback” – Marv Wolfman/Keith Pollard/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with the Titans at STAR Labs, where Jenet Klyburn is trying to help Thunder and Lightning, the half-Vietnamese twins the Titans met in issue 32. Unfortunately, the twins’ power has grown so much that their bodies just absorb Klyburn’s laser probe, adding to their strength. The pain it causes them affects Raven’s empathic powers, so Wonder Girl takes her out to rest. Kid Flash is worried Raven might be going evil again, but before he can get too worked up about that, the machine Klyburn is using explodes. Thunder and Lightning are all juiced up now and the power seems to be affecting their brains, making them more aggressive. Thunder attacks Cyborg, knocking him through the wall, so Robin uses his acrobatics to jump the powerhouse. Lightning blastsWonder Girl pounds Thunder Starfire until Terra gets her out of the way and Wonder Girl returns just in time to get slapped down by Thunder. She comes right back and pounds him. The violence of the fight gets to Raven, seeping into her soul and stirring the part of her that belongs to her evil father, Trigon. Thunder and Lightning stop fighting, but they say their power needs to be released or it’ll kill them. The only way to cure their condition is with a blood transfusion from their father, but they have no idea where he is. Raven offers to use her empathy to probe their souls for answers. The Titans are worried using her powers might make her vulnerable to Trigon’s influence, but Raven insists on helping if she can. Kid Flash pretends not to give a damn what happens to Raven, but Wonder Girl Raven's soul-self goes nutsknows he’s full of shit. Raven starts her probe, pulling Thunder and Lightning into her soul-self. Elsewhere, we see the twins’ father is being held by HIVE, although it looks like he’s not really human anymore … he looks kind of C’thulhu-ish. He senses his sons’ pain and since HIVE won’t release him, he reaches out to them in his own way. Inside Raven’s soul-self, Thunder and lightning are attacked by a tentacled monster, which transforms Raven’s soul-self into a multi-armed fiend, causing tremendous pain to Raven. With Kid Flash’s help, she manages to control her soul-self and release Thunder and Lightning, who know the creature that attacked is their father. Kid Flash offers to take Raven to a hospital while the others go with the twins. During their encounter, their father not only told them where he was, he told them how he became a monster. Thunder and Lightning share the story with theflashback to finding spaceship Titans as they head off to find him. Apparently, their father is actually an alien whose ship crashed on Earth hundreds of years ago. He was the only survivor and wandered the Earth for centuries until he decided to return and fix his ship … during the Vietnam War. He joined the Army and took off during a patrol to find he cave where the ship was buried, but he forgot about the booby traps he’d placed around the ship. He almost got disintegrated, but managed to get out and ended up back with the Army. On leave, he met a Vietnamese woman and knocked her up, fathering Thunder and Lightning. The twins can sense they’re getting close and they invade HIVE’s base with the Titans. Their father is even more monstrous than they finishing off the monsterexpected and HIVE is controlling him, so he attacks the Titans. They team up but the monster is too strong and he pounds them all. HIVE orders the monster to kill the Titans and he begs his sons to kill him, since he doesn’t want to become a murderer. They reluctantly obey and combine their powers to waste him. After death, their father’s body turns human again and Robin points out that they didn’t really kill him, they freed him from his monstrous condition. By using blood from the corpse, Dr. Klyburn is able to stabilize Thunder and Lightning’s powers, so they can actually control them. They aren’t sure what to do next, but decide to go see their mother in Vietnam before making a decision.

All-Star Squadron Annual 2 coverAll-Star Squadron Annual #2 – “The Ultra War” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway

This one starts in Ultra-Humanite’s hideout in Mount St. Helens where she’s gathered all her minions, Amazing Man, Cyclotron, and Deathbolt from the present (1942) and Monocle, Rag Doll, Psycho Pirate, Mist, Brainwave, and Vulcan from the future (1983). Ultra still holds Superman, Firebrand, and Robotman captive and plans to transplant her brain into Robotman’s steel body, since she (or he) hates being trapped in the female body of Dolores Winters. The two sets of henchmen don’t really get along and almost get into a brawl before Ultra settles them down, but Psycho Pirate reminds his teammates that the future version of Ultra-Humanite (who’s in the body of a mutated white ape) betrayed them. They’re ready to pound her until she reminds them she canAll-Stars approach Ultra's hideout send them all back to Limbo any time she likes. An alarm goes off and Ultra observes a contingent of All-Stars (Flash, Phantom Lady, Wildcat, Robin, Johnny Quick, Guardian, and Brainwave Jr.) approaching. Brainwave Jr. is also from 1983 and he’s led the All-Stars to Ultra’s base, but they’re still not quite sure if they should trust him. Flash and Johnny Quick phase everyone into the hideout where they’re confronted by Rag Doll and Psycho Pirate. The two speedsters try a pincer attack, but the villains turn out to be an illusion cast by Brainwave and the heroes knock each other out. A free-for-all starts and Amazing Man tries to help the good guys, telling Robin to play possum, but Rag Doll takes the opportunity to knock out the Boy Wonder. Wildcat takes Amazing Man tries to help the good guysout Psycho Pirate and Monocle, while Brainwave and his son square off. Mist knocks Phantom Lady out and Monocle ends up burying Guardian and Wildcat under a pile of rock. Brainwave joins them, claiming to have eliminated his son. Ultra’s ready to waste the defeated heroes, but Brainwave convinces her to combine her Powerstone powers with his mental prowess and banish the heroes to Limbo instead. Now that her hideout has been discovered, Ultra packs everything up to relocate, including a strange tube that looks like an incubator. We can’t see who’s in it, but it has something to do with Cyclotron and why he’s working for Ultra against his natural inclinations. Ultra’s green sub-men return with Chuck Grayson, who’s supposed to perform the brain transplant for her. Ultra orders Deathbolt to fry all the sub-men, saying their worship of her had a sexual component to it thatAll-Stars reappear from Limbo disgusted her. Apparently, that’s why she’s been dressed so sexy, to keep the sub-men interested. After Ultra leaves, a number of All-Stars appear in the hideout (Tarantula, Liberty Belle, Commander Steel, Atom, Batman, and Green Lantern), having been displaced from Limbo when the latest group was sent there. (These particular heroes ended up in Limbo after fighting the brainwashed Infinity Inc members in All-Star Squadron 26.) The returning heroes are observed by Brainwave, whose place with Ultra was taken by his son in disguise. Brainwave has had enough of Ultra’s crazy schemes, so he takes off. The heroes find a note left by Will Everett (Amazing Man) that mentions the three branches of the American government: Legislative, Judicial, and Infinity Inc shows upExecutive. Before they can digest that, Infinity Inc comes busting in, wanting to help. The All-Stars are reluctant to trust them, but since they believed Brainwave Jr’s story about being from the future, they decide to believe Infinity Inc is from 1983 as well. In Washington, Ultra and her cronies have taken over a hospital so she can start the brain transplant. Chuck Grayson is understandably reluctant to kill his best friend and put Ultra’s brain in his body, but Ultra tortures some hospital staff to gain Grayson’s cooperation. That’s the last straw for Amazing Man, who decides it’s time to reveal his true allegiance. Deathbolt comes after him, but Amazing Man transmutes his body to rubber to insulate himself against Deathbolt’s electrical attack. He then turns into steel and pounds Deathbolt, but Ultra forces Cyclotron to use his powers against Amazing Man, turning him back to flesh and blood. Ultra threatens to killAmazing man pounds Deathbolt Amazing Man, so Robotman tells Grayson to go ahead with the operation. Firebrand gives Cyclotron shit for not standing up to Ultra, so Cyclotron releases her and takes her to an adjoining room to show her why he obeys Ultra. The incubator holds a baby—Cyclotron’s baby, Terri Curtis—who he says was the first victim of the atomic energy device he invented. At the Supreme Court Building, session is interrupted by Rag Doll and Monocle who are there to waste all the judges. They’re stopped by Liberty Belle (who pounds the shit out of Rag Doll) and Tarantula and Silver Scarab, who team up to take out Monocle. At the Capitol, Mist and Psycho Pirate cause havoc in Congress, as Psycho Pirate uses his powers to fill everyone (including Vice-President Henry Wallace) congress fightwith terror. Jade, Obsidian, and Green Lantern show up to help and despite being affected by Psycho Pirate (who makes them giddy with delight), they separate the Congressmen before they get hurt. Obsidian melds with the shadows and decks Mist, while Jade maneuvers herself to land on Psycho Pirate just as her laughter gets the better of her. At the White House, Vulcan and Brainwave bust in on President Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins and Vulcan sets the room on fire. Brainwave reveals he’s actually Brainwave Jr., but Vulcan decks him before he can do anything. Batman, Commander Steel, and Nuklon show up to fight Vulcan but he’s too strong and they watch helplessly as Roosevelt and Hopkins burn up in the fire. Vulcan’s triumph distracts him and Steel and Nuklon punch him out. Turns out Roosevelt and Hopkins are fine; Brainwave Jr. used his illusion powers to make it look like they died, almost giving the others a collective heart attack. At the hospital, Chuck Grayson is preparingpresident almost burns up to start the transplant when Fury, Northwind, and Atom smash their way in. (Well, Fury does the smashing by ripping the entire roof off the place.) Cyclotron gets worried about his daughter and goes to check on her, pursued by Atom. Cyclotron’s radioactive power heats up, but Atom tackles him anyway. Cyclotron’s powers drain Atom’s strength, but before he dies from the radiation, Cyclotron punches him out and takes off. He doesn’t notice that the unconscious Atom starts glowing, much like Cyclotron himself. In the Operating Room, Ultra takes out Northwind with a mental blast and Fury is grabbed by Deathbolt, who zaps her with all his voltage. Before passing out, Fury slams them both Ultra throws Superman off roofinto the machine that’s holding the others, knocking them both out but freeing Firebrand. Grayson grabs Ultra and she knocks him out, then tries to revive him since she needs him to perform the operation. Firebrand frees Superman and tells him to get out since he’s still weak from having his powers drained by the Hammer of Thor. Ultra tosses Grayson and knocks Firebrand out, then chases Superman to the roof with the Hammer, figuring even if the rest of her plan has gone to shit, she can at least finish Superman off. She tosses him off the roof, but Jade and Green lantern catch him. Ultra turns to find the assembled All-Stars and Infinity Inc ready to kick her ass. Cyclotron comes flying out and grabs Ultra, saying he’d rather Terri die than know her father helped a monster like Ultra. Cyclotron takes her up into the sky where heCyclotron blows up uses his powers to blow himself up like a mini-nuke. Jade and GL trap the radiation and Jade reminds everyone that Ultra’s probably not dead, since he exists in their future as the albino ape. Superman points out that at least the Hammer and Powerstone were destroyed, and Cyclotron went out as a hero. The Infinitors suddenly start feeling incredible pain and realize Ultra must’ve had some kind of booby trap to kill them if he was defeated. Green Lantern uses his ring to stabilize Jade and has the rest of them join hands and concentrate on the future. They all disappear and Green lantern hopes that means they All-Stars gathermade it back to their own time okay. The All-Stars who were in limbo pop in, having exchanged places with the defeated villains again, which Flash says has something to do with GL’s ring setting time back on the right course … or something. They thank Amazing man for helping defeat Ultra and Firebrand shows them Cyclotron’s daughter, Terri. She vows to take care of Terri (since she and Cyclotron were once lovers, she feels like Terri could have been her daughter if things had gone differently) and Atom offers to help … although he’s not too sure about changing diapers.

Noticeable Things:

  • Jade calls Green Lantern “daddy”, which gets his curiosity stoked, but she says it’s just future slang. We’ll find out the real explanation when I start reviewing the ongoing Infinity Inc series in a few months.
  • The Supreme Court Chief Justice in 1942 was Harlan Stone, but the guy in this story looks nothing like Stone (who didn’t have glasses or a mustache).
  • If Green lantern’s way of sending Infinity Inc home seems a bit too convenient, Roy reminds us in a footnote that GL used his ring in All-Star Comics 29 and 35 to return time-lost adventurers to their own eras. Chronologically speaking, both those stories are in GL’s near future.

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