Comics Reviews: Legion of Super-Heroes Annual 2, JLA Annual 1

Legion Annual 2Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #2 – “Whatever Gods There Be” – Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen/Dave Gibbons

This annual came out right after issue 303, so some of the plot set-ups have already been resolved in my reviews of the regular issues. More specifically, Shrinking Violet’s situation hasn’t been resolved, Dream Girl is still leader, and Dawnstar hasn’t left yet. This one starts on Daxam, where a group of Legionnaires (Dream Girl, Ultra Boy, Star Boy, White Witch, and Cosmic Boy) are helping restore the planet after the damage done by Darkseid. Their efforts are small but significant and Dream Girl says they may have to send more team members back later. But right now, they need to head to Orando for Karate Kid and Projectra’s wedding. On Orando, Karate Kid and Projectra are excited for their special day and to see all their friends arriving. Timber Wolf, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl show up and we findwedding guests arrive on Orando out Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl have some kind of secret they aren’t ready to share with the others yet. I can make a pretty good guess what it is. Shadow Lass, Invisible Kid, Blok, Dawnstar, and Phantom Girl show up next, eagerly anticipating the festivities. The next contingent to arrive is Sun Boy, Supergirl, Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet (who’s still Yera at this point), Wildfire, and Mon-El. They joke with Karate Kid about some super-villain interrupting the ceremony, which seems to be the way things usually go with these events. As Dream Girl’s ship approaches Orando (which is a somewhat technophobic planet, so they don’t have sophisticated space control resources), they run into a shockwave caused by Superboy arriving through a time warp from the past. Unfortunately, Superboy doesn’t notice Ultra Boy scans to figure out the time periodthem and they’re pulled into the time warp and sent back in time. Superboy lands on the planet and greets everyone, promising not to drive them crazy predicting catastrophe like he did at the big anniversary celebration in issue 300. Dream Girl’s ship bounces back in time and crash lands on a planet. They quickly realize what must have happened and Cosmic Boy identifies the planet as Earth from its magnetic field. They wonder if they’ve landed back in Superboy’s time period, but Ultra Boy’s vision soon reveals they’re much farther back, since the Great Wall of China is still being constructed. While debating what to do, they’re attacked by Greek soldiers, who they fight off with little trouble. Dream Girl tries to use her precognitive power, but she admits it’s a little rusty since she hasn’t been practicing lately. She sees them in a nearby city, so she suggests they head there and see what happens. They land in themeeting the Greek gods agora, freaking out the locals who seem to think they’re gods … or at least messengers from the gods. They approach a temple and Cosmic Boy reminds them that their tech must seem like magic to people of this era. But when they reach the temple, they’re shocked to find the actual Greek gods waiting for them. Back in the future, Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are pulling monitor duty while watching the wedding on the big screen. They get a surprise visit from Chameleon Boy and R.J. Brande and are happy to learn Chameleon Boy got his shape-changing powers back. The monitors note the disappearance of Dream Girl’s ship on its approach to Orando and Chameleon Boy calls Dawnstar to make a search. None of the Legionnaires are too worried about Karate kid spars and everyone else enjoys the partyDream Girl—Karate Kid is too busy sparring with his teammates to even notice—and most of them assume Dreamy took a detour to get prettied up. But Dream Girl and the others are in trouble back in Ancient Greece. Zeus and the other gods interrogate them, which doesn’t sit well with Star Boy. Zeus knocks most of the team out, sparing Dream Girl because she tries a more diplomatic approach (and possibly because of her beauty). Zeus tells her he and the other gods have traveled through space to Earth to gather metals they need to build weapons for a war on their own planet and shows her their spaceship on Mount Olympus (disguised as a temple). Despite being a space traveler, Zeus refuses to believe the Legionnaires have come from the future. Dream Girl uses her precognitive ability to predict the outcome of Zeus’s war … his planet will be devastated by a war that lasts only a fewDream Girl predicts a grim future for Durla minutes, and will basically become uninhabitable for generations. That knowledge tells Dreamy what planet “Zeus” is from … Durla. Yup, Zeus and the other “gods” are actually shape-changing Durlans, like Chameleon Boy, and the Six-Minute War is what led to the Durlans becoming isolationists. In the present, Dawnstar tells Chameleon Boy that the ship’s trail just vanished into nothingness, which gives Cham an idea. He contacts Professor Huxton at the Time Institute, to see if he’s tracked any anomalies lately. In Ancient Greece, Cosmic Boy uses his magnetic powers to help him and his friends escape the indestructible tubes they’re imprisoned in. The “gods” find them and a big fight ensues, but this time the Legionnaires are Dream Girl pounds Zeusprepared and kick ass. Zeus returns with Dream Girl and is ready to start tossing thunderbolts until Dreamy tosses him around like a rag doll. The gods decide to get out while they can and metamorph into animals to escape. Dream Girl explains that they’re really Durlans, but before the Legionnaires can stop them, the temple/spaceship blasts off, leaving the Legionnaires stunned. They’re even more shocked when Chameleon Boy shows up out of nowhere to bring them home. Professor Huxton tracked a chrono-trail to this time period, so Cham took a time cube and came back to find his friends. Back in the future, Karate Kid and Projectra’s wedding goes off without a hitch, though it engenders different reactions among their teammates. Timber Wolf is still bitter about Light Lass leaving him, Shadow Lass is thinking about marrying Mon-El, Sun Boy is getting plenty of action even with his jaw wired shut, and Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are discussing the rule that forces married Legionnaires to resign (which Karate Kid and Projectra have already done).wedding ceremony So, we finally get a wedding that isn’t interrupted by some big crisis … it’s about time. There’s an epilogue that shows Element lad and Shvaughn Erin showing up at Orando too late for the wedding. Element Lad says it’s for the best, since they won’t have to explain that one of their teammates is an impostor … which we’ve already seen in issue 305.

JLA Annual 1 coverJustice League of America Annual #1 – “If I Should Die Before I Wake” – Paul Levitz (plot), Len Wein/Rick Hoberg/Dick Giordano

This one starts with a handful of JLAers (Superman, Flash, Red Tornado, Firestorm, and Elongated Man) battling robots on the JLA Satellite. The robots are tougher than they look, giving even Superman some trouble. One of the robots goes to smash the observation dome of the Satellite and Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny tries to hold it back, but the robot pulls free and breaks the dome, sending everyone out into the airless vacuum of space. Luckily, this is all a nightmare and Ralph wakes up in bed at home. His wife Sue (who apparently sleeps naked) asks him what his nightmare was about and Ralph pretends it was nothing. He’s actually bothered by it, since he considers himself the weak link in the JLA, a goofball who became a superhero for kicks after gaining his powers … powers which pale in comparison to the rest of the League. Elsewhere, weDr. Destiny's research see someone who’s been using his Materioptikon to look in on Ralph’s dreams; yup, it’s Dr. Destiny. He still hates the JLA, blaming them for his being unable to dream, which has taken a physical toll on him, leaving him a walking skeleton. Dr. Destiny has gleaned nothing from Ralph’s dream, although he agrees Ralph is the weak link in the JLA. Destiny goes to an adjacent room where he has a number of “patients” sleeping. The nurses tell him the people who have been allowed to dream are fine, but the ones prevented from dreaming are deteriorating physically. Thanks to an image inducer (or maybe some kind of telepathic illusion, I’m not sure) Destiny looks normal to the nurses, but the news of the dreamless people’s physical attacked at the universityproblems make him wonder if a cure for his own condition can be found here. He goes back to the Materioptikon to scheme against the JLA some more. On the JLA Satellite, Commissioner Gordon lets the league know that Dr. Destiny has escaped from Arkham Asylum, leaving a hologram in his place. Just like in the old days, the team breaks up into smaller units to go after Dr. Destiny. Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Atom start by tracking delta waves to find Destiny and end up in Ivy Town, at the University where Atom works in his civilian identity. In a sleep lab, they notice a bunch of student volunteers sleeping as part of an experiment and meet a doctor named Karr, who assures them everything is fine. Dr. Destiny is observing them with his Materioptikon and uses the machine to bring the dreams of the students to life. The JLA are attacked by a couple of football players, aart show attack riot cop, and two sexy girls (which Firestorm doesn’t mind so much, until they turn into fanged harpies). The Leaguers handle the attackers pretty easily and Firestorm wakes the students, causing the dream manifestations to fade away. Destiny is pissed off, but thinks he can still win, since he’s found something to destroy his enemies … and he found it in their own dreams. Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Black Canary end up in New York, at an art fair in Washington Square Park. Apparently, some very talented artists have recently disappeared and Commissioner Gordon thought there might be a connection. They talk to the show’s organizer and she tells them the missing artists were very talented and had unique visions. She shows them the sculptures the artists made, of various freaky-looking monsters. fighting old enemiesDestiny makes the statues spawn duplicates which attack the JLA. Again, the heroes manage to contain the monsters and Green Arrow gets rid of them by blowing up the sculptures that spawned them. Destiny worries that the JLA are getting too close to finding him, but he thinks he’s found the key to defeating them in Wonder Woman’s dreams. Speaking of Wonder Woman, she and Flash are in Gotham looking for the missing artists. They’re joined by Green Lantern John Stewart, who says the Guardians shanghaied him to help against Destiny (since Hal Jordan is still out in space). John uses his ring to track the missing artists to a building with a high concentration of delta waves. Inside, the JLAers find Destiny’s hideout and the missing artists, strapped into machines that seem to be leeching away their very lives. John assumes waking the sleeping victims will solve the problem, butRalph gets his confidence back Wonder Woman says she’s felt a strange presence in her own dreams lately, as if Destiny was looking for something there. Sure enough, three of the JLA’s worst enemies (Amazo, Dr. Light, and Tornado Tyrant) manifest and attack. The JLA beat their old foes and bust into Destiny’s sanctum, only to find another illusion. It looks like Destiny has somehow projected himself into his Materioptikon, but since he doesn’t have the ability to dream, that should be impossible. On the Satellite, Zatanna’s magic finds Destiny and she transports herself, Ralph, and Red Tornado to Destiny’s location … the Dream Dimension. Destiny manifests giant versions of himself to attack the Leaguers and Ralph’s insecurities come back. He finally decides to stop worrying about his shortcomings and concentrate on his strengths. They JLA attacks Destiny's Domehandle the false Destinies easily and Zatanna brings the rest of the League to the Dream Dimension. They find Destinys hiding place (a rather ostentatious structure called the Dream Dome) and bust in. Wonder Woman thinks the place looks familiar and realizes it belonged to the master of the Dream Dimension, Sandman (who she met in Wonder Woman 300). But Destiny has usurped Sandman’s rulership and holds Sandman in a stasis tube. Now that Destiny rules the Dream Dimension, he can summon any monsters or freaky-looking denizens that haunt people’s dreams to fight on his behalf. The JLA are hard-pressed by all the monsters and Destiny has taken Sandman sleep-dust, which he uses to knock them all out, one by one. Ralph is the last to fall, but manages to stretch a finger far enough to eject Sandman out of the Dome and into the Dream Dimension. Destiny doesn’t care about SandmanDestiny uses sleep dust on Flash … he’s too busy reveling in his victory over the JLA. He imprisons them in stasis tubes and plans to deprive them of their dreams, turning them into desiccated husks like himself. Meanwhile, Sandman manifests on Earth and remembers being attacked by Dr. Destiny, but can’t recall anything that happened since then. He remembers planning to visit a certain dreamer and realizes he’s manifested right where he intended to go all along. Apparently, this person doesn’t dream often, so it’s a pretty big deal when he does. He steals into the dreamer’s apartment and prepares to wake him, but Dr. Destiny has been watching and sends some monsters to grab Sandman. He struggles and manages to knock over a lamp, waking the dreamer. It turns out to be Clark Superman saves SandmanKent and when he sees what’s going on, he changes to Superman and blows the monsters away with his super-breath. Sandman quickly explains what’s happening and they head to the Dream Dimension. Destiny conjures more monsters and Superman fights his way through them, but Destiny is distracted by the rest of the JLA, who have escaped from his prison-tubes. Destiny is so shocked, he passes out and Sandman assures them Destiny will sleep, but not dream. Later, on the Satellite, Ralph explains to Sandman how they escaped the “shatter-proof” tubes; Ralph suggested GL, Firestorm, and Zatanna all focus their powers on Wonder Woman’s tube, weakening it enough for her to bust loose. The JLA invites Sandman to join them, but he says it wouldn’tDestiny passes out really work since he can only leave the Dream Dimension for an hour at a time. John asks what drew Sandman so strongly to Superman’s dream and Sandman says Supes was dreaming of a better tomorrow, a world at peace, an those who stand beside him to make that dream come true … the Justice League.

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