Comics Reviews: JLA 222, New Teen Titans 38, Legion of Super-Heroes 307, Warlord 77

JLA 222 coverJustice League of America #222 – “Death Games” – Gerry Conway/Chuck Patton/Romeo Tanghal

Last issue, the JLA tangled with several beast-men, human-animal hybrids like something from the Island of Dr. Moreau. Firestorm encountered one of the beast-men (a cat lady named Reena) who asked him for help. He brought her back to the JLA Satellite so she can tell the JLA her story. Reena tells them how she worked for Repli-Tech, a genetics company that made a big splash when they went public a while back and then faded from view. Reena (whose name as a human was Irena) was a financial officer forRepli-Tech board making plans the company and told them they were close to bankruptcy. The head of the company (Rex Rogan, who was also Irena’s lover) told the board they had one chance to avoid being ruined. Rogan asked their scientist (with the ever-so-subtle name of Lovecraft) to use the gene manipulation techniques he’d developed to rewrite their DNA and turn the into beast-men. But the gene manipulation screwed up their emotions, so Rogan (who turned into a lion-man called Rex Maximus) decided to rule the world instead of just building up the company. Rex sent other beast-men to rob banks and refinanced the company. Eventually, he built the gladiatorial arena where rich people paid to watch others get torn apart by the beast-men (which we saw last issue). Hawkgirl gives Reena hellReena was loyal to Rex at first, but the wanton slaughter turned her off and she wanted out. She was helped by another mutate (Rowl, who’d once been a Repli-Tech guard) and escaped. She broke into Repli-Tech’s offices to look for evidence, which is where Firestorm found her last issue. Some of the JLA (Firestorm, Superman, Zatanna, Aquaman) are sympathetic to Reena’s story, but others (Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl) aren’t. Hawkgirl is particularly hard on Reena, pointing out her actions have gotten innocent people killed and saying Reena could be faking all this to set them up. Their debate is interrupted by an emergency transmission from Egypt. Meanwhile, Rowl is being punished for helping Reena escape by being forced to fight Rex in the gladiatorial arena. Rex kills him with dozens of bloodthirsty rich people watching. The emergency call the JLA received isRex kills Rowl from a doctor in Cairo, who tells them Hawkman is near death from a scorpion sting (which we also saw last issue). Hawkgirl freaks out, blaming Reena, and heads for Cairo with Wonder Woman. Reena says she understands Hawkgirl’s love for her husband because she felt the same way about Rex … and in some ways, she still does. Wonder Woman realizes Hawkgirl is so worked up because she and Hawkman must’ve had a fight and now she’s worried he’ll die without them reconciling. In Cairo, Hawkgirl and Hawkman both apologize for the argument they had. As Wonder Woman talks to the doctor, a Repli-Tech flunky sneaks in and gasses Hawkman and Hawkgirl. One of the beast-Wonder Woman poundedmen (a rhinoceros) beats the shit out of Wonder Woman and she ends up gassed and captured too. Rex calls the JLA with Hawkgirl’s signal device, letting them know he has three of their teammates. Rex says Hawkman is almost dead and the two women will be turned into beasts unless the JLA gives him Reena and agrees not to interfere with his plans to rule the world. Zatanna points out that Rex is obviously insane, but Superman tells Rex there’s no deal. Rex says they’ll all die when he takes over the world, but Superman vows they’ll stop him.

New Teen Titans 38 coverNew Teen Titans #38 – “Who is Donna Troy?” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

This one starts with Dick (Robin) Grayson pondering recent events. He thinks about his crime-fighting career and how he’s always been in Batman’s shadow. He also mulls over his relationship with Starfire and how he’s been keeping her at a distance lately. Finally, he recalls a recent conversation with Terry Long, Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy’s fiance. Terry knows Donna has always wanted to know who she really is and where she came from and asks Dick to look into it so Donna can get married without all the questions about her past weighing her down. Dick agrees, but says he’ll have to ask Donna since it’s her life. The idea of finally figuring out who she is thrills Donna, so she gives Dick the greenDonna remembers being rescued light. Donna tells Dick she can’t really remember much about the fire that happened when she was an infant, but she has vague memories of Wonder Woman busting in to rescue her. A couple of bodies were found in the rubble (presumably Donna’s parents), but when Wonder Woman checked, the apartment hadn’t been rented out and the landlord said it was supposed to be empty. Wonder Woman took Donna to Paradise Island to be raised by Hippolyta, where the Amazons siphoned some of their superhuman qualities and infused them into Donna. That’s pretty much all she knows, so Dick decides they should start at the scene of the fire. The place is still a wreck, though it’s Dick analyzes the dollscheduled to be knocked down. Using original blueprints, Dick finds an old coal chute with a mangled doll and some charred paper inside. Donna thinks the doll looks (or feels) familiar, but can’t really remember anything. She and Dick go to see the old landlord’s widow, who tells them her husband (Sam Channing) was a real scumbag, so anything he was involved in was probably crooked. Donna’s ready to give up but Dick tells her to let him keep looking. He uses chemical techniques learned from Batman to put the charred paper back together (which takes days) and finds it was a note that rad “Hello, my name is Donna.” Unsure if the note refers to Donna herself or to the doll, Dick tests the latter and finds a name on it. He goes to Virginia to find the guy (Uncle Max), who tells Dick he didn’t make the doll but he fixed it. “Uncle Max” isDick gets some help a toy store owner who used to fix broken toys and give them to an orphanage. Max tells Dick the woman in charge of the orphanage was Elmira Cassiday, but the place was closed down fifteen years ago after some kind of scandal about child slavery. Dick tries to track Elmira Cassiday and has no luck until an old man who used to work at the orphanage gets in touch to tell him Elmira is in a nursing home down in Florida, having suffered a nervous breakdown after the scandal (which she was unaware of). Dick calls Donna to tell her the good news and they head down to Florida. Donna’s excited to meet someone who knew her before the fire, but Elmira turns out to be non-communicative. The nurse says she hasn’t spoken in ten years, but when Donna talks to ElmiraDick shows her the doll, Elmira stutters out the name “Donna”. Now that the floodgates are open, Elmira tells Donna—apparently that is her real name—her mother, Dorothy Hinckley, left her at the orphanage (with the doll) because she was dying of cancer. Donna was adopted by a couple named Stacey, a name that triggers a memory in Donna of her adoptive parents’ faces. Donna is thrilled and promises she’ll keep visiting Elmira. Donna assumes the bodies in the fire were the Staceys, but Dick can’t help wondering why they died in an un-rented apartment. Now that Donna’s memory has been jogged, she and Dick go back to Virginia and drive through the town where Uncle Max’s shop is located. Donna’s memories lead her to the house where she lived as a child with the Staceys and when she gets out of the car, the woman who lives there recognizes her as her long-lost daughter. TheDonna and Fay reunited husband is somewhat confused, however. Turns out Fay Stacey (who’s now Fay Evans) was married before and she and her first husband are the ones who adopted Donna. Fay’s first husband died in an accident and she had no way to take care of a kid, so some sleazy lawyer talked her into selling Donna to an adoption agency. That brings more memories back for Donna, who remembers the lawyer (Harrison) and some woman taking her to that empty apartment and paying off Sam Channing to keep him quiet. She remembers other people who came to adopt her, but they were assholes and slapped her around. When the furnace blew up, they must’ve been the dead Robin talks to Harrisonbodies found in the burnt apartment. Fay’s new husband isn’t bothered that she never told him about Donna and he (and their kids) welcomes Donna into the family. Donna is happy to hang out with Fay and her family (Fay even has some old photos), but Dick still wonders who the two bodies from the fire were. He leaves Donna to enjoy her newfound family and goes (as Robin) to visit the baby-broker lawyer Harrison in prison. Harrison says the people who died in the fire were just his go-betweens in his child-selling scam; they pretended to be the babies’ parents (in the apartment Sam Channing provided) to prospective parents who were willing to shell out $20,000 for a baby. Donna’s finally ready to move ahead with her life (and her wedding) now that she knows who she really is. She goes to visit her birth mother’sDonna says goodbye to her birth mother grave and is overwhelmed with emotion; she went from having no parents to having several: Hippolyta, Fay Evans, and Dorothy. She thanks Dick again for all he did and he gives her the doll, which he had Uncle Max repair. Afterwards, Dick reflects on a job well done and decides to call Starfire and make things right. I assume this was meant to be Donna’s definitive origin at the time, but it later was retconned (numerous times) because Crisis wiped out Wonder Woman’s entire history, which naturally impacted Donna’s history as well.

LSH 307 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #307 – “The Prophet Shall Speak” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

This one starts with some Legionnaires (Timber Wolf, Invisible Kid, Phantom Girl, and Shadow Lass) checking out what’s left of Trewsk, a planetoid that once housed a research station. Trewsk has been burned to a crisp, killing everyone on the planetoid and the Legionnaires can’t figure out what (or who) might have done it. They notice a solar prominence separating from one of the system’s suns, but this solar flare moves faster than most and heads into space almost as if it has a purpose. The Legionnaires track it and scan a couple of humanoid entities inside the solar flare, but when they approach, their cruiser is hit with an energy blast from one of the beings. The cruiser spins out of control toward a rockycruiser crash landing asteroid. Timber Wolf busts through the hull and he evacuates with Shadow Lass and Invisible Kid. Phantom Girl stays on board, trying to keep the cruiser from being completely destroyed when it crashes. She manages to minimize the damage, but part of the cruiser is wrecked and her friends worry she might be hurt … or worse. On Earth, Element Lad returns to Legion Headquarters to let everyone know Shrinking Violet has been dropped off with Dr. Gym’ll to continue her recovery, and Colossal Boy has decided to spend some time with his wife Yera, the Durlan who replaced Violet for months. Wildfire tells Element lad he won the election for Legion leader, but since Element Lad wasn’t even running, he assumes Wildfire is Blok pounds a Khundbullshitting him. On Khundia, Ambassador Relnic is engaged in some delicate negotiations with the Khunds and has brought a contingent of Legionnaires (Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Blok, and Sun Boy) for protection. (Relnic also admits he’s hoping the Khunds’ hatred for the Legion will distract them from any antipathy they feel toward him.) Cosmic Boy finds out Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad are going to have a baby and is thrilled for his two oldest friends. Meanwhile, Blok is challenged by a Khund who’s pissed off that Blok defeated Kharlak, but Blok handles him rather easily. On the asteroid, phantom Girl is fine, having phased right before the cruiser crashed. After quickly repairing the ship, they track the solar energy to Corvan IV, where they’re attacked by the planet’s robotic defense systems. The Legionnairestaking out planetary defenses bail out and each one takes down a robot drone before landing on the planet. Invisible Kid and Phantom Girl head into the nearest town, leaving Shadow Lass and Timber Wolf to find a hiding place and wait for them. On Earth, Shvaughn Erin and Gigi Cusimano are hanging out, but Gigi takes off when Element Lad drops in to see Shvaughn. Element Lad tells her Wildfire’s “joke” about him being elected Legion leader and Shvaughn thinks it’s funny too. On Corvan IV, Invisible Kid and Phantom Girl make their way through a blinding rainstorm to a village full of small yellow aliens. There’s a strange glow in the centre of the village, which is perfectly dry, so they sneak up to take a telepathic illusionslook. A voice comes out of the glow, warning the villagers that an evil force will soon be coming to their world. The telepathic projection of a monster comes from the glow and it’s so strong the aliens are almost in a trance. Invisible kid’s concentration is disrupted and he appears, which gets the aliens all worked up because they figure he and Phantom Girl are the evil they were warned about. They start fighting back, but Ultra Boy shows up to help them escape. Apparently he and Mon-El tracked them from Trewsk and are here to help. On Khundia, a Gil’Dishpan Ambassador named Yeasmyr is mediating the Khund/United Planets dispute. (Gil’Dishpan are often neutral negotiators, since they can’t breathe oxygen/nitrogen atmospheres, so they have no interest in most systems.) Before anything can be settled, word comes thatthe prophet Khundia is being invaded. The Khunds go to prepare their defenses and Relnic warns the Legionnaires not to interfere, even to help the Khunds, for fear of offending them further. The invader turns out to be a gigantic ball of solar energy with a humanoid inside, like the one encountered by the other Legionnaires. After blasting the Khunds’ weapons to slag, the humanoid (calling himself the Prophet) tells Khundia that a huge threat is coming and if they can’t destroy the threat, Khundia will be obliterated. Meanwhile, Phantom Girl and the others have tracked the Prophet to Khundia and are ready to jump in and fight.

Warlord 77 coverWarlord #77 – “Let My People Go” – Cary Burkett/Dan Jurgens/Dan Adkins

This one starts with Shakira (in cat form) sneaking into a New Atlantean camp to rescue Ashir, former Prince of Kaambuka. With a little help from Shakira’s friend Scarheart, they get Ashir to safety, where he tells them about Kaambuka being overrun by a sudden attack. They decide to head south and ask Shamballah for help against the invaders. But as we saw last issue, Shamballah has also been taken and Tara and Travis Morgan have led a band of survivors to the Valley of the Lion to recuperate and plan a counterattack. Morgan and Tara are taking some time to themselves, getting frisky in a lake. Someone (or something, judging by the claws) sneaks up and steals the Air Force cassette from Morgan’s belt, which he left on shore. Morgan and Tara’s fun is interruptedillusion monsters at Castle Deimos by Graemore (who still has a thing for Tara), who tells them more refugees have arrived to join their cause. When Morgan finds the cassette missing, he wonders if Graemore stole it. Far to the north, more New Atlanteans attack Castle Deimos, but are run off by illusions of gigantic monsters cast by Jennifer Morgan, who figures she’d better learn more about these attackers. While roaming the forest, Shakira, Ashir, and Scarheart run into a Shamballan soldier who takes them to Morgan’s hideout. Comparing notes, Krystovar realizes the New Atlanteans are probably taking their captives back to New Atlantis through the same passage he and Morgan escaped from. Krystovar works out a way to intercept them and Tara insists on fighting slaverscoming along, since she doesn’t want Morgan going anywhere with Shakira. Nice to see some things never change. They ambush the slavers and Shakira slips into their midst in cat form, becoming human so she can release the prisoners. Their combined forces defeat the slavers and they find there’s a slave galley nearby waiting to transport the slaves to New Atlantis. Disguising some of their number as slavers, they get close enough to take the galley, wasting everyone on board and freeing more slaves, many of whom join them. Morgan is ready to sail the galley back to New Atlantis to gather the futuristic weapons he and Krystovar found there, thinking that’ll give them an edge against their foes. Tara agrees to come with him, but insists the galley fly a Shamballan flag and receive a new name … Wind Shadow.

Noticeable Things:

  • Ashir doesn’t seem to know that Shakira can turn into a cat; I thought he’d found that out before, but I guess not.

Barren Earth – “Surface Tension” – Gary Cohn/Ron Randall

Last issue, Jinal found a huge spaceship sunk under the waters of the underground lake the humans and Lizards have been drawing water from. She’s the only one excited about her discovery, as the other humans have completely forgotten that they came here from outer space and have no clueJinal examines her ship what a spaceship even is. Jinal figures if they can get the ship fully operational, it’ll help if the Qlov aliens show up. Renna and Skinner aren’t impressed, thinking the ship might be dangerous, maybe even a trap left by someone. The lizard leader Brasha reminds them that Jinal has been right about a lot of things, so they should give her the benefit of the doubt. But it turns out Renna and Skinner might be right; thousands of miles away, some shadowy figures get an alert that one of the space cruisers has been reactivated and decide they’d better do something about it. Jinal is excited because she thinks the ship will enable her to fulfill her original mission and she can actually get off this barren rock and go home. Others among the humans see the ship as an opportunity for personal power. But as soon as everyone has tidal wavereturned to shore, the mysterious watchers activate the ship’s propulsion systems, flying it away from the shore. Jinal freaks out, seeing her future rapidly receding. She’s ready to chase the ship in a rowboat, but when it stops some distance away and all the engines shut off, she realizes what’s about to happen. She urges everyone to climb the cliffs as fast as possible and when the ship falls into the water, a huge tidal wave sweeps toward them. Thanks to Jinal’s warning, nobody dies, but their water pipes are all destroyed. Barasha isn’t worried, since the newfound cooperation between humans and Lizards will enable them to rebuild quickly. Jinal is more worried that there’s someone on the planet that has enough power to remotely control a space cruiser. Barasha suggests they should start looking for these powerful people right away.

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