Last issue, the JLA learned about a group of people who’d turned themselves into animal-human hybrids (the Ani-Men) in an effort to save their genetics company, Repli-Tech. The process worked a little too well and they became more animal than human, staging gladiatorial combats for bored rich people and plotting to rule the world. One of their number (a cat-lady named Reena) defected and filled the JLA in. This issue opens with Reena surrendering herself to convince the Ani-Men leader (Rex Maximus) to release Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Wonder Woman, who were captured last issue. Rex is wasting people in the arena and when he finishes, he tells Reena he won’t be releasing anyone … including her. Turns out Reena has a homing transmitter in her ear, allowing the JLA to track her to Rex’s hideout. Oh, and it’s not really, Reena, it’s Zatanna using her magic to disguise herself. The real Reena is still on the Satellite with the rest of the JLA, hoping Rex will take Zatanna to the place their teammates are being held. Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny and Flash join their friends, having recovered from their wounds sustained last issue. They’re eager to put an end to Rex’s plans and rescue their fellow Leaguers. In New York, Repli-Tech’s head scientist (who’s name is Lovecraft naturally) supervises the packing up of his equipment. He’s interrupted by Firestorm and Reena, who start pounding the guards. Lovecraft hides in his lab, followed closely by Reena. Ralph busts in to take out some more guards and Reena’s animal side takes over. She’s close to killing Lovecraft when Firestorm talks her out of it. Lovecraft is so freaked out by Reena, he spills everything and even gives them the anti-toxin for the scorpion venom currently afflicting Hawkman. He also warns them that the Ani-Men are slowly losing their human parts, becoming more bestial as time goes on. That explains Reena’s bloodthirsty behaviour. Back on the Satellite, Flash coordinates the mission, directing the team to the island Rex is using as a headquarters … the same island Zatanna’s been taken to. Aquaman and Superman go in first, in separate underwater and air attacks. Superman tries to feel out Rex’s defenses, but gets more than he bargained for as he’s shot with a laser containing red sun energy. Ralph and Firestorm follow Superman in a hovercraft and are shocked to find the Man of steel tied up in a gladiatorial arena. Ralph’s hovercraft is shot down, as Firestorm tries to use his powers to free Superman. The whole thing turns out to be an illusion, with one of Rex’s guards at the centre of it. Firestorm’s powers (which can’t affect anything organic) cause feedback that almost kills him. Underwater, Aquaman has reached the island, but gets attacked by the giant sea monster he fought a couple issues back. Before Rex can kill Ralph, the real Reena reveals herself to distract him. Zatanna drops her disguise and attacks the guards as Reena goes after Rex. Aquaman uses his telepathic control over sea creatures to shut down the monster’s mind, rendering it harmless. Aquaman takes out the main power circuits and makes it to the prison to rescue Wonder Woman and the Hawks (and give Hawkman the antidote). They join their teammates in the arena just in time to fight the rest of the Ani-Men. Wonder Woman gets to deck the Rhino-Man who pounded her last issue and Zatanna captures most of the others. But the transformation from man to beast reaches its logical conclusion, as the Ani-Men actual turn into animals without a trace of intellect or humanity left. Lovecraft, Reena, and Rex have all disappeared and they track them to the ocean shore. Their footprints gradually become more animal until they stop at the water’s edge. Firestorm wonders why Reena would try to kill Rex when she once loved him and Hawkgirl says love can sometimes hold a trace of resentment (which was magnified into hate by Reena’s bestial nature) because it makes you dependent on someone else. Firestorm wishes Reena could’ve been saved, but Hawkgirl says she was lost as soon as she allowed Rex to dominate her life.
Last issue, an immensely powerful being calling himself the Prophet showed up on Khundia, where some Legionnaires were accompanying Ambassador Relnic to negotiate a peace treaty. The Prophet incapacitated most of Khundia’s weapons, throwing the world into chaos. Relnic warned the Legionnaires not to interfere, since the Khunds are so proud of their warrior traditions and would see aid from an enemy as an insult. Unfortunately, the five Legionnaires who tracked the Prophet from Corvan IV (Ultra Boy, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, and Tiber Wolf) didn’t get the memo and attack. The Prophet is spouting a bunch of armageddon crap, telling the Khunds they need to stop fighting because a huge threat is coming from elsewhere. The Prophet seems to be a little crazy, as he perceives the incoming Legionnaires as monsters or demons. He uses the Khundish weapons to attack them, but the Legionnaires get through, forcing the Prophet to use his vast powers against them. On Khundia, Relnic tells the Legionnaires already there about their teammates attack and orders them not to get involved for fear of causing irreparable harm to future relations with the Khunds. In orbit, the Prophet has captured the attacking Legionnaires and decides to tell them his origin story. He was some kind of space-priest, traveling between systems to minister to his flock. One of his stops was Trewsk, the mining colony where Invisible Kid used to work. When the priest returned to Trewsk, he found it obliterated and pieced together what happened from surviving computer files. Apparently a swarm of weird space creatures came to feed on Trewsk’s twin suns, causing them to flare up to nova strength, killing everyone on Trewsk. Finding all his friends dead, the priest went a little nuts and blamed himself. He detected a humanoid inside one of the suns and decided to fly his ship into the sun to kill himself and burn away his guilt. But instead of dying, he was saved by the mysterious humanoid and transformed into the Prophet, whose mission is now to warn everyone about the great threat that’s coming. Mon-El thinks the Prophet is nuts and attacks him. Bad idea, as the Prophet flings him away like a rag doll. Back on Earth, Star Boy is complaining about not being able to spend any time with Dream Girl (since she’s still on Khundia) even though she’s no longer leader of the team. Wildfire mentions the fact that Element Lad still doesn’t believe he was elected leader (which Wildfire thinks is hilarious) and checks the monitor to see what’s up with his teammates. When he comes to Dawnstar, who’s currently off on a space sojourn to find her soulmate, Wildfire gets all angsty and emo. Back on Khundia, the Prophet tells everyone that the threat he’s warning about is Omen, the being that gave him his powers, and that if they don’t destroy Omen, he’ll destroy all of them.
“Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?” – Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen/George Tuska/Larry Mahlstedt
This is basically just a little domestic interlude with Colossal Boy bringing his new wife Yera home to meet his parents (Winn and Marte Allon). Things are complicated by the fact that the marriage is a surprise, Yera is a Durlan (a race who aren’t trusted much in the United Planets because of their shape-shifting powers and xenophobic attitude), and Yera impersonated Shrinking Violet for months after being tricked by some Imskian terrorists. Since Marte is currently President of Earth, she has to think of the political ramifications of the marriage, but ultimately she (and Winn) are cool about it. She even gives Yera a life-crystal pendant as a present, which makes Colossal Boy happy that she’s so accepting of his wife. After Colossal Boy and Yera leave, we find out Marte knew about the wedding almost as soon as it happened and ran a background check on Yera to make sure she was okay. She’s a politician all right.
This issue starts with the Titans in Alaska, smashing their way into a facility that seems to be guarded by soldiers… American soldiers, as Cyborg points out. The Titans make short work of them and break through a steel door to find … a trap. Who’s surprised? Anyone… anyone… Bueller? They’re caught in a high energy cage by the minions of Brother Blood, but they bust out and take down Blood’s people. In the aftermath, they find evidence on three Congressmen who are on Brother Blood’s payroll (or they’re true believers in his twisted cause … either way, they’re not representing the people who voted for them). Terra is relating all this to Slade (Terminator) Wilson at his mountain hideaway. In case we didn’t know Terra is a bad guy, it’s made pretty obvious here … she’s drinking and smoking! Oh, and she’s hanging out with Terminator (or Deathstroke, as he’s more usually known these days). Terra’s been spying on the Titans with a camera implanted in a contact lens. She’s been working with him for a while, gathering intel on the Titans to help him take them down, which is why she keeps pushing them to reveal their secret identities. She and Terminator also seem to be more than just friends here; Wolfman later tried to downplay it, but it’s pretty clear that Terra and Terminator are meant to be lovers here, even though she’s only sixteen. Terra sees a photo of Terminator’s wife and kids and wonders if he’s getting soft; he wonders the same about her, so they go outside to spar a bit. Terra’s pretty powerful, and pretty unstable, so she almost kills him. She also says she hates the Titans because they’re “sanctimonious do-gooders”, which isn’t the most compelling motivation, but I guess it’s meant to show how screwed up Terra is. Later, Terra heads to Titan Tower for the monthly meeting. She runs into Kid Flash (in his civilian ID as Wally West, which she wasn’t aware of before) and when they get to the meeting, Wally announces he’s quitting the Titans. This has been an ongoing thing since the new series started; Wally wasn’t all that keen on rejoining in the first place. Robin also makes an announcement … he’s not going to be Robin anymore. He’s not quitting, but has decided he needs a new identity to get him out of Batman’s shadow. (We’ve already seen him pass on the Robin identity and costume to Jason Todd in Batman 367, but maybe that’s set after this issue.) As Robin takes off his mask, he reveals his secret identity of Dick Grayson to Terra … and to Terminator, who’s still watching through Terra’s eye-camera. After the usual tearful goodbyes, Wally leaves with Frances Kane and Dick and Kory watch them go.
Last issue, Travis Morgan, Tara, Shakira, Scarheart, and Krystovar took a ship south to return to the caverns of New Atlantis and retrieve the futuristic weapons Morgan and Krystovar found there so they can use them against the New Atlanteans who have taken over Shamballah. Inside the tunnel leading to New Atlantis, they encounter an Atlantean war galley and Morgan plays a game of chicken, bluffing the ship into breaking up on the rocks. They make their way through the tunnel until Morgan sees the place he emerged from the subterranean caverns. Anchoring the ship, Morgan takes Tara, Shakira, Scarheart, Krystovar, and a trio of redshirt soldiers down through the passage he cut on his way out. They’re attacked by a giant crustacean and one of the redshirts dies before Krystovar and Scarheart can kill the beast. Morgan finds the chamber he was looking for and Tara is awed by the futuristic (though incredibly ancient) Atlantean weaponry. As they explore the wonders, Krystovar points out a bunch of one-person flying saucers that would give them quite an advantage in battle. The saucers are locked, but Morgan notices there are slots that would fit the strange magnetic tapes he found on his last visit. A pile of tapes lies nearby, but the first one he tries doesn’t open the saucer. Shakira is prowling in cat form and knocks the tapes over. They start glowing and Krystovar notices some glowing numbers on the saucers, numbers that match ones on the tapes. If they match the numbers, they can open the saucers. Morgan is blown away when he finds a tape with his own name and USAF serial number on it. Meanwhile, Shakira has slipped into a hole in the wall and runs into a gigantic rat. She bolts out of the hole and jumps into Morgan’s arms as he and Krystovar are examining the controls of a saucer. Morgan’s arm hits a lever and the saucer powers up and disappears, along with Morgan, Shakira, and Krystovar, leaving Tara to wonder where the hell they went.
Barren Earth – “The Quest Begins” – Gary Cohn/Ron Randall
Last issue, Jinal and friends realized they might not be alone on the Barren Earth when someone took remote control of a ship Jinal had found and sank it in deep waters before anyone could examine it too closely. Now Jinal, Renna, Skinner, Barasha, and Lur (Barasha’s wife) are trekking across the desert wastes to find out who else might dwell on the planet. They run across one of the predatory flowers that killed Jinal’s boyfriend when they first landed, but the Lizards know how to handle these monsters. Lur goads the giant mouth into attacking so Barasha can kill it (and cook it for food, which spoils Jinal’s appetite). After supper, Barasha and Lur disappear and the camp is attacked by slavers. The three humans fight back, with Renna saving Jinal’s life and Skinner enjoying the brawl. His fun is cut short when more slavers show up in a Lizard-Stomper—a huge tracked vehicle like a tank—and threaten to kill anyone who doesn’t surrender.