Comics Reviews: JLA 229, Tales of the Teen Titans 45, New Teen Titans 1, Tales of the Legion 314, Legion of Super-Heroes 1

JLA 229 coverJustice League of America #229 – “Bitter Ashes” – Gerry Conway/Alan Kupperberg/Pablo Marcos

This one starts with a space shuttle in orbit around Earth getting blasted by a Martian warship. Firestorm and J’onn (Martian Manhunter) J’onzz fly up to help, but Firestorm is pretty suspicious of J’onn. Even though J’onn came to Earth last issue to warn of his fellow Martians’ plan to invade, Firestorm wonders if J’onn might secretly be in league with the other Martians. (He’s not … the Martians consider him a traitor to their race.) Firestorm’s paranoia is exacerbated when J’onn fails to stop the nose cone of the space shuttle from plummeting toward Earth. Firestorm uses his atomic restructuring power to change the shuttle nose into a giant gliderZatanna's recap which brings the astronauts safely back to Earth. Firestorm tells his fellow JLAers that he believes J’onn tried to kill the astronauts and Zatanna gives Firestorm shit for being so suspicious. She recaps last issue (basically the Martians issued an ultimatum to Earth that they could surrender and be enslaved, or fight and be obliterated) which makes Firestorm realize how stupid he’s been about J’onn. When some soldiers show up to “detain” J’onn, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl because they’re aliens, Firestorm disarms them and the JLA head back to their Satellite to discuss things. On the Satellite, Aquaman is in contact with the President, who’s wondering why the JLA’s heavy hitters (Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern) haven’t Aquaman thinks about commitmentresponded to this crisis. Aquaman is wondering that himself and thinks about how some JLAers seem to consider the team a lower priority than their own problems. Even Aquaman himself is tempted to ignore the JLA to spend time ruling Atlantis or hanging out with his wife. Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny shows up and says the people of Earth are preparing for the invasion and are banding together like never before. In the armory, the JLA listen to the U.N. Secretary General’s response to the Martian ultimatum. He basically tells the Martians to go to hell, which really pisses off the Martian leader, known as the Marshal. Firestorm is pretty stoked about Earth standing up to the invaders, until Ralph reminds him that there’s about to be a huge interplanetary war that’ll probably kill tons of people. The Martians launch their first strike by sending a number of ships to attack the Satellite, as well as Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s Thanagarian spaceship. martian first strikeOn Earth, the Americans and Russians launch missiles at the Martian ships in orbit, but the Martians deploy a force-shield that prevents the missiles from getting anywhere near their ships. On the Satellite, Challenger (the Marshal’s top general) leads the attack personally, pounding Red TornadoGreen Arrow takes out Challenger and Aquaman before being taken out by one of Green Arrow’s explosive arrows. Firestorm notices J’onn has disappeared and goes back to the armory to look for him. On the Martian flagship, the Marshal tells his lover (Bel Juz) that he needs to kill J’onn J’onzz because J’onn still has many followers from Mars II who look to him as a great leader. Bel Juz knows all that, but she feels guilty because she’s the one who betrayed the Martians years ago and is afraid of J’onn finding out. To keep her secret, she became the Marshal’s lover and pushed him into taking over the Mars II government and eliminating J’onn, which has now led to interplanetary war. On the Satellite, Firestorm finds J’onn putting on a spacesuit and taking a small cruiser. Firestorm figures he was right about J’onn being a traitor and his suspicions seem borne out when J’onn decks him and takes off in the cruiser, blasting a hole through the wall of the Satellite. As J’onn flies away, Firestorm struggles to keep from being pulled out into space.

Tales of Teen Titans 45 coverTales of the Teen Titans #45 – “H.I.V.E.” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Mike DeCarlo

This one starts with Aqualad showing up at Titans’ Tower carrying Aquagirl, who’s totally out of it. Aqualad’s not doing much better; both of them need water to survive, but Aqualad says the water outside was “no good”, so he brought Aquagirl to Titans HQ, hoping their swimming pool might revive them. Unfortunately, Aqualad collapses before he reaches the pool. In a warehouse in New York, an arms deal is going down, but it’s interrupted by Gar (Changeling) Logan. Gar is in a fighting mood and pounds the shit out of the gunrunners, almost killing one guy before Victor (Cyborg) Stone pulls him back. Gar is still hurting over Terra’s betrayal and death, but the rest of the Titans have been too busy with theirGar almost kills a guy own stuff to help him deal. Even Victor has been distracted by his grandparents coming to visit. Gar says he doesn’t need the others and takes off, leaving Victor to muse on why none of them want to talk about Terra. They all feel stupid for believing in her and Victor wonders if the family atmosphere the Titans used to have is now gone forever. Meanwhile, Victor’s grandparents (who seem to be some kind of super-spies) arrive at his apartment and let themselves in since he’s not there. Victor is calling Steve Dayton’s place trying to find Gar, but the butler has no idea where he is. We see there’s another person there, a woman with a British accent, although we never see her face. I’m thinking it might be Phobia, from the Fearsome Five … I think she’s British. Out on bachelor partyLong Island, Terry Long’s bachelor party is in full swing. His friends are kinda goofballs and decided to go the traditional route, with lots of booze and a sexy girl jumping out of a cake. Neither terry nor Dick (Nightwing) Grayson is too impressed, although Miss Candy Spice does manage to loosen them up a bit. On Paradise Island, Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy waits for Hippolyta’s blessing for her marriage to Terry. Not only does Hippolyta approve, Diana (aka Wonder Woman) gives her a new pair of Amazon bracelets to symbolize that she’s now welcome on Paradise Island and in the outside world. At Manhattan College in New York, Raven is trying to put off some dude who wants to hang out with her. Jericho shows up and she leaves with him, saying how she feels comfortable around him, like she doesn’t have toJericho and Raven talk hide her true self. She hears a psychic alarm call and teleports to Titans’ Tower, leaving Jericho to drive there and ponder how Raven’s not as emotionless as she makes out. At the Tower, Raven finds Wonder Girl and Starfire, along with Wally (Kid Flash) West and his girlfriend, Frances Kane. Nightwing is there too, trying to revive Aqualad and Aquagirl in a water tank, but something’s preventing their lungs from extracting oxygen from the water. Nightwing detects a strange chemical in their lungs and flushes it out to enable their lungs to work properly again. Once they’ve recovered, Aqualad and Aquagirl tell their story. They were swimming around outside Atlantis when a huge explosion took them bu surprise. They found a giant structure, shaped like a flashback to HIVE attackbeehive (I wonder who that could belong to?) and were attacked by dozens of guys I high-tech wetsuits. Something in the water started to weaken them, so they took off and barely made it to Titans HQ before keeling over. Aqualad says the underwater structure probably belongs to HIVE and Nightwing says it’s time they ended things with HIVE once and for all. Wally refuses to help, saying his super-hero days are behind him, so when Jericho shows up, the Titans invite him to come on the mission. The Titans head for Atlantis in their submarine and Wally and Frances head home. (We learn that Wally’s been having trouble using his speed powers lately; they cause him pain every time he speeds up, which is the main reason he refused to help against HIVE.)

New Titans 1 cover New Teen Titans #1 – “Shadows in the Dark” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez

This is the so-called “Baxter” series, which was issued to capitalize on the Titans’ popularity at the time (which was considerable). The thing to keep in mind about this series is that it takes place about a year after the concurrently running Tales of the Teen Titans series; in other words, this first issue (and everything that comes after) happens after Tales of the Teen Titans 45-58. So certain events that will take place in those issues are reflected in the Baxter series, resulting in a slightly different status quo. So, if some of the characters seem like they’re acting weird here, we’ll see why as we read the stories in Tales over the next year or so. DC would end up doing the same thing with the Legion and Outsiders,training exercise with varying results. Anyway, this issue starts with the Titans doing a training exercise where Nightwing, Cyborg, Changeling, Wonder Girl, and Starfire all try to take Down their newest member, Jericho. Jericho’s power of taking over someone’s body by making eye contact gives him an edge, but Cyborg manages to thwart him by using his sensors to see, giving Nightwing a chance to grab Jericho. Raven’s unexpected appearance screws things up a bit; she’s asking for help, but Jericho decides to possess her to keep the exercise going. Before he can take over her body, Raven freaks and teleports away, and the backlash knocks Jericho out. When he wakes up, Jericho tells them (they all seem to have learned Jericho tries to help Ravensign language now) that he felt something terrible in Raven’s soul. The others think it’s high time they tried to help Raven, even though she keeps pushing them away every time they do. Jericho volunteers to talk to her and she allows him into her room, since his presence always makes her feel calm. Raven says there’s nothing anyone can do to help her, that her course is set and she must follow it, no matter how hard it might be. She asks Jericho to leave and prays to Azar, asking for help resisting the evil will of her father, Trigon. She receives no answer, so she goes to the conference room and tells the Titans she has to leave. They try to talk her out of it, but she insists she has no choice but to leave in the morning. On Tamaran (Starfire’s home planet), the Tamaranians are celebrating their recent victory over the Citadel. Now that Tamaran is free and peaceful, the King and Queen say it’s time for theircelebration on Tamaran daughter (Starfire, in case you didn’t know) to come home, and they dispatch a ship to Earth to pick her up. Back at Titans’ Tower, Cyborg shows Changeling videos of Raven taken over the past couple years and points out how her face has gotten more demonic looking as time went by. It was so subtle, nobody noticed until Cyborg put it all side-by-side in the videos; if you go back through old issues, that subtle change has also been reflected in Perez’s art, so I guess he and Wolfman had planned this for a long time. Jericho decides to help Raven whether she wants him to or not, so he enters her mind while she’s asleep. He finds himself in a twisted netherverse, a limbo dimension where Raven’s Cyborg shows Logan the change in Ravenmother is being tormented. She sees through Jericho’s facade and Trigon shows up to strip away the visage of Raven. He ells Jericho that Raven will soon join him and they’ll take over Earth’s dimension together. Trigon reveals himself to Jericho in his full unholy glory, almost shattering Jericho’s mind. Raven shows up in the netherverse and stops Trigon from killing Jericho, but it causes her tremendous spiritual pain. Her screams wake everyone in Titans’ Tower and they find Jericho beat to shit and half out of it, but Raven is gone. Jericho tells them what happened and they realize Trigon might have taken Raven’s soul already, which could allow him into this dimension. They hear Trigon’s laughter echoing through the sky and know they have to find him in order to get Raven back.

Tales of the Legion 314 coverTales of the Legion #314 – “The Trial of Ontiir” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Terry Shoemaker, Karl Kesel

As the title implies, this one starts at the trial on Ontiir, former Science Police officer who turned out to be working for the Dark Circle. Ontiir claims he was only following orders to get as close to the Dark Circle as possible, so any crimes he committed while undercover shouldn’t count. Brainiac 5, Supergirl, and Sun Boy are attending the trial and think Ontiir is full of shit. Their suspicions are confirmed when Chief Zendak testifies (via holo-projector, since the trial is on Weber’s World, the artificial planetoid) that no such orders were ever issued to Ontiir. Since his defense has fallen apart, Ontiir decides it’’s time to leave and sends a signal to someone. AOntiir's escape ship blasts right into the planet and Ontiir climbs aboard while the Legionnaires deal with various weapons. The ship takes off, leaving the Legionnaires stunned that Ontiir was rescued from right under their noses. On Earth, Jacques (Invisible Kid) Foccart is enjoying some time with his family, including his sister Danielle who’s now free of COMPUTO’s influence. Jacques can’t help wondering what’s in store for him with the Legion, now that the original Invisible Kid is back from the dead. On Weber’s World, Ambassador Relnic informs the Legionnaires that the SP officer who supposedly issued Ontiir’s orders is a captive of the Dark Circle. Supergirl decides they should quit sitting around and just go bring Ontiir back, so she takes off with Brainy and Sun Boy. In Legionnaires invade Dark Circle spaceDark Circle space, Ontiir meets with the Dark Circle who aren’t sure whether to trust him or not. Apparently he’s been undercover in United Planets space for twenty years, most of which time he remained out of communication. Just like at his trial, Ontiir says he was just following orders; the Circle told him to infiltrate the United Planets and do everything to keep from being found out. So his lack of communication and his claim at trial about working against the Dark Circle were just his ways of avoiding suspicion. The Dark Circle aren’t sure if he’s lying or not and they get even less sure when three Legionnaires show up and start pounding their border security. At Legion headquarters, Jacques talks to Lyle Norg, the original Invisible Kid, who’s in a pretty sour mood. Lyle is just watching video of his death over and over and when Jacques offers him his place in the legion, Lyle says he’s just a ghost and ghosts can’t be Legionnaires. Lyle apparently wishes he’d stayed “dead” … or at least stayed in the dimension Jacques rescued him from.

“A Witch Shall Be Born” – Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen/George Tuska/Karl Kesel

This is White Witch’s origin story and begins the pseudo-romance between her and Blok. Blok is in the Legion archives watching a tape about White Witch in which she narrates her own history. I think Blok is already sweet on her at this point, although he’s telling himself it’s all just curiosity aboutMysa and Nura's childhood other species. Basically, White Witch (Mysa Nal) was born on Naltor, a planet ruled by women who all have precognitive abilities. Mysa’s mother was the High seer of Naltor, but Mysa was born with no precognitive abilities, which many saw as an ill-omen. As if that wasn’t enough, Mysa’s sister (Nura aka Dream Girl) has extraordinary precognitive powers. Since she couldn’t be a precog like everyone else, Mysa studied other disciplines like history and philosophy, learning that Naltorians had come from Sorcerer’s World, but eventually lost their ability to use magic. When their mother died, Nura became High Seer and wanted to take care of her sister, but Mysa had no intention of being someone’s project, so she left Naltor. Blok is surprised that Mysa would’ve been so impulsive and wonders how she learned to manipulate magic. White Witch shows up in the archive room and offers to tell him the rest of the story personally.

Legion (Baxter) 1 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #1 – “Here a Villain, There a Villain” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt

This is the second of the new Baxter series that premiered in 1984 (like New Teen Titans, which I reviewed above) but these stories take place concurrently with Tales of the Legion 314-325 instead of afterwards. This one starts with Lightning lord swearing an oath to a newly-formed Legion of Super-Villains that he’ll kill his brother, lightning Lad. Apparently, every member of this new villainous cabal has sworn to kill a Legionnaire, so Lightning Lord is just the latest to join. On Ventura (which is basically the Vegas planet), Star Boy and Dream Girl’s vacation is interrupted by an Imskian freedom fighter (or terrorist, if you prefer) who tries to rob agetting the alert on Daxam casino of all its money. Star Boy and Dreamy stop his robots, but the Imskian shrinks to escape. This dude has bright red hair, so I’m thinking he’s Micro Lad, who once applied for membership in the Legion and became a criminal upon being rejected. On Daxam, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Ultra Boy, Chameleon Boy, and Timber Wolf are admiring the job they’ve done helping rebuild the planet after Darkseid destroyed it. They get an alert about a renegade Daxamite attacking Takron Galtos (the prison planet), so Mon-El grabs Shadow Lass and heads for Takron Galtos at top speed, leaving the others to follow in the cruiser. On Ventura, Micro Lad evades the search at tiny size, but finds stunners on all the exits, even the vent tubes. Before he can figure out Shrinking Violet pounds Micro Ladwhat to do, Shrinking Violet confronts him, also at tiny size. Micro Lad figures she’ll make a great hostage, but Violet turns out to be more than he can handle. she’s obviously been training and she kicks the shit out of him, enjoying every minute of it since he’s involved with the same people who kidnapped and replaced her a while back. Star Boy is impressed that Violet pounded Micro Lad, but before they can take him into custody, a warp opens and a strange voice says Micro Lad is needed elsewhere. He disappears into the warp, leaving the three Legionnaires amazed. On Winath, Ayla (Light Lass) Ranzz is hanging out at a commune where everyone seems to be pretty casual about partial nudity. Ayla lived at the commune years ago, before leaving to find her brother and joining the Legion for a while. She’s come back to enjoyAyla taken down by Radiation Roy the simple life, but wishes her boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend, I guess) Timber Wolf had come with her. We see some shady dude watching her as she hangs out with her fellow hippies. She goes to drop some stuff at a processing centre and gets jumped by a bald dude in a purple-and-green outfit. No, it’s not Lex Luthor; it’s Radiation Roy, although we aren’t told his name yet. He knocks Ayla out and summons a familiar-looking warp, through which he takes her. On Takron Galtos, the Legionnaires find the place destroyed by some Daxamite punk kid … apparently the same one that attacked Takron Galtos before on Darkseid’s Mon-El tackles Ol-Virorders. His name is Ol-Vir and he still worships Darkseid, killing guards as a sacrifice to the Dark Lord. Ultra Boy tries to save a guard from being incinerated, but is too late. Mon-El tackles Ol-Vir, who has freed a bunch of prisoners to help him. On Earth, Colossal Boy and Yera have moved out of Legion HQ and into their own place and Colossal Boy is stunned to read the news about his mom resigning as President of Earth. Meanwhile, the guy who was watching Ayla on Winath turns out to be some kind of private detective, who sends a report to Timber Wolf that he’s found Ayla; obviously he doesn’t know she’s just been kidnapped. On Takron Galtos, Mon-El has some trouble with Ol-Vir, since their powers are evenly matched. Ultra Boy and the others take on theOl-Vir invited into the warp escaped prisoners and Ultra Boy recognizes one of them as Ron Karr, another rejected Legionnaire. Another warp opens up and the weird voice invites Ol-Vir to come through and join the new Legion of Super-Villains before scooping up Ron Karr and a couple other prisoners. Mon-El tries to fly through the warp, but it slams in his face. Elsewhere, we see Sun Emperor reporting to Lightning lord about the successful recruitment of Ol-Vir, Ron Karr, Chameleon Chief, and others, which makes Lightning Lord very happy.

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