Comics Reviews: JLA 232, Tales of the Teen Titans 48, New Teen Titans 3, Tales of the Legion 317, Legion of Super-Heroes 4

JLA 232 coverJustice League of America #232 – “Battlegrounds” – Kurt Busiek/Alan Kupperberg

Last issue, the JLA met a couple of kids and their aunt and traveled to Earth-2 to fight the kids’ father, Joshua Champion. Champion had tapped into an alternate dimension and was mentally dominated by the Commander, who imbued Champion with power to help Commander’s invasion of Earth’s dimension. Champion resisted and gave his kids (Ian and Victoria) and his sister (Meredith) powers of their own, hoping they could resist the Commander. The kids contacted the JLA and they all ended up on Earth-2 (running into the Justice Society), where Champion had diverted the Commander’s demonic attack force. While one team corralled the demons another went to the Commander’s dimension to rescue Champion. Both teams were successful, but the ones who rescued Champion were mentally dominatedSuperman and friends attack by the Commander … except for Dr. Mid-Nite, whose blindness protected him against the light the Commander used to dominate the others. On Earth-2, Dr. Fate disposes of the captured demons (stashing them under the Pentagon, which Supergirl finds funny) just in time to get jumped when Superman, Starman, and Flash return from the other dimension with the Champions. Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Dr. Fate, and Green Lantern fight the possessed heroes and Dr. Mid-Nite explains what happened. The Commander manifests in Champion, taking him over and ordering the enthralled heroes to fight on his behalf. Superman, Flash, and Starman instinctively resist, which puts an incredible strain on them. The Commander tries to enthrall Champion and Commander separatedVictoria but she resists, almost letting Champion break Commander’s hold over him. Meredith adds her power to Victoria’s cause, but Ian (who is pissed off at his father and kind of a dick about it) refuses to help them. Wonder Woman gets the possessed heroes in her magic lasso and orders them to stop all physical activity and concentrate on freeing their minds from the Commander. Ian realizes he can’t settle things with his father while the Commander possesses him, so he adds his power to Victoria and Meredith’s. The JLA and JSA also lend their support, including Superman, Starman, and Flash once they break Commander’s mental hold. The combined powers of everyone are enough to drive Commander out of Champion’s body. But instead of being banished back to his own dimension, the Commander fuses hisJLA faces the Commander essence with the evil buried under the Pentagon and manifests as a huge creature, ready to smash the heroes and take over Earth-2. But first, the Commander obligingly gives us his origin: he was a tyrant who conquered his entire universe and with nothing else to do got bored, so now he’s looking for new worlds to conquer. The heroes tackle the Commander, but his power is too much for them. Champion suggests Meredith and the kids open a portal back to the Commander’s original dimension so they can trap him there. With a little help from Dr. Fate, they open the portal, but Commander really doesn’t want to go back. He explodes instead, hurling the hurled across dimensionsheroes across countless dimensions before they finally make it back to Earth-2. (There’s a cameo from the Crime Syndicate, who are still trapped in another dimension.) Champion and his family decide to do a little dimension-hopping while thy get reacquainted. This story was pretty goofy, but it’s kind of significant because it’s the last story before the introduction of the new Justice League. That’s right, it’s time for the Detroit League to make their debut; I’ll be covering their first appearance in the JLA Annual next time and I’ll finish off 1984 with JLA 233 a couple weeks after that.

Tales of Teen Titans 48 coverTales of the Teen Titans #48 – “Recombatants” – Marv Wolfman/Steve Rude/Al Gordon

This one starts with four genetically-engineered people (Pseudos, Dreadnaught, Aurora, and Topaz) called the Recombatants escaping from the lab in Nevada where they were created from gene-splicing and recombinant DNA. The scientists who created them now fear the Recombatants and want to destroy them, but they bust out and take off, leaving some dead scientists behind them. In New York, Victor (Cyborg) Stone pounds some muggers and gets a call from Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy, who tells him about the Recombatants escaping the lab in Nevada … aTitans fight Recombatants lab owned by Steve Dayton, Gar (Changeling) Logan’s adopted father. The Recombatants are strolling around Vegas like rubes, soaking up the weirdness when the Titans show up to capture them. Naturally a fight ensues and the Titans do pretty well for themselves until Aurora uses her mental powers to let Wonder Girl see the truth. The Recombatants aren’t evil, they were created as prototypes for super-soldiers, but now Dayton Labs wants to destroy them, and since they’re technically not human, the Lab sort of owns them and can do what it wants. Nightwing suggests they all go back to Dayton labs and discuss things The scientists there (Mineux and Evans) tell the Titans guards attack Titansthey’ve already started brewing up a new batch of Recombatants, but the new ones will be created with no human emotions. Mineux says the Recombatants can be used as soldiers or as tireless workers, doing menial labour to free humans up for other things. Mineux also mentions that Aurora’s illusion power scared a couple of scientists to death, which makes Aurora feel really guilty. When the Titans refuse to allow the scientists to “disassemble” the Recombatants, Mineux orders security to attack them. During the fight the Recombatants take off and head to the power source for the lab. Aurora convinces the others they have to die or they’ll be hounded forever by humans, but they also have to stop Dayton labs from creating any more likeRecombatants destroy themselves them. They destroy the lab and when the Titans show up to try and save them, Aurora says it’s better if they just die. The lab blows up, taking all the data with it and leaving the scientists pissed off. Nightwing on the other hand, is encouraged by the self-sacrificing nature of beings who didn’t even consider themselves human. There are three short epilogues at the end of this story: in the first, Gar’s adopted father Steve Dayton gives him shit for promising Donna and Terry they could have their wedding in the Dayton mansion, but Questor (Dayton’s manservant) assures Gar the wedding is still on. In the Jericho tries to get through to Ravensecond vignette, Terry gets a message from his ex-wife and worries she’ll do something to sabotage the wedding, like not allowing their daughter to attend. But Donna remains optimistic that everything will be fine. And finally, we see Joseph (Jericho) Wilson trying to get through to Raven (who didn’t go along on the Recombatants mission because she’s been sequestered in her room trying to fight off Trigon’s evil influence). Raven won’t allow Joseph into her room for fear she might hurt him, so obviously Trigon hasn’t got a hold on her yet.

New Teen Titans 3 coverNew Teen Titans #3 – “Souls as White as Heaven … as Black as Hell” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

Last issue, Trigon arrived in Earth’s dimension, claiming it as his own, with his daughter Raven (now hideously transformed by Trigon’s evil influence) acting as his harbinger. Titans Tower has been changed into a pile of rock and Raven announces to the assembled crowds (and TV audience) that Trigon is now their ruler and any attempts at disobedience or resistance will be met with death. Meanwhile, the Titans are in Trigon’s dimension of Azarath … or what’s left of it. The people of Azarath all destroyed themselves last issue and now Azarath is a pale imitation of what it once was, a wasteland of rock and empty skies. Raven’s mother Arella is the only resident of Azarath left alive and she urges the Titans to return to their own dimension to fightNew York transformed Trigon. Lillith agrees, saying the rings Raven left for them last issue are what protected them from Azarath’s destruction, and those rings can take them home. When they get back to New York, the city is unrecognizable, having been remade into a hellscape under Trigon’s influence. The Titans soon determine that Trigon’s demons have spread all over the world, but they can’t get in touch with any other heroes, so they’re on their own against Trigon’s evil. Starfire scouts Titans’ Tower and finds Trigon in some kind of trance. She considers attacking him,but holds off so she can report back to Nightwing. Wally wanders through the streets and runs into Raven, whose Nightwing's tormenttransformation is so shocking it almost blows his mind. Lillith and Arella can sense Raven and lead the others to her. Raven quickly overwhelms the Titans, including Jericho when he tries to possess her. She uses Trigon’s power to sen their souls elsewhere, each one undergoing its own personal torment by facing a dark version of itself. Dick (Nightwing) Grayson’s doppelganger shows him Batman’s death and blames it on Dick leaving Batman with an inexperienced partner like Jason. The Evil Nightwing taunts Dick, saying he should’ve stayed Robin since he’s nothing without Batman. That pisses Dick off enough for him to lash out at his dark double. Victor (Cyborg) Stone’s double tells him what he’s always feared … that he’s no longer human, just aChangeling's torment metal freak. Even Sarah and the kids she looks after reject Victor, making him wonder if his double is right. Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy finds her evil double killing her husband Terry long. Her double says Donna should never have given up her Amazon immortality for him and urges her to renounce not only Terry but being an Amazon too. Donna gets mad and punches her double through the wall, which seems to please Trigon. Gar (Changeling) Logan’s double torments him with the thought that the people Gar cares about tend to come to a bad end (the Doom patrol, Terra, his parents) and that it’s somehow his fault. The double says Gar may as well kill the rest of his friends, since being around him will doom them anyway, sooner or later. Starfire finds herself back on Tamaran Wally's tormentwhere her people have all been enslaved. Her evil side tells her she can free them if she voluntarily gives up her own freedom and becomes a slave again. Meanwhile Wally ends up at home and finds his doppelganger banging Raven. Wally’s evil counterpart goads him to jump in the saddle with Raven, but Wally says he doesn’t love Raven, he loves Frances Kane. That gives his evil side a laugh, since Frances is a mere mortal and Raven is the Daughter of Hell. Back in New York, Lillith tells Arella the time of Trigon’s awakening is near and they have to prepare to fight him. She also warns Arella that the Titans are currently fighting their own battle … with their souls on the line.

Tales of the Legion 317 coverTales of the Legion #317 – “Death Trip” – Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen (plot) Mindy Newell/Terry Shoemaker/Karl Kesel

This one starts with Wildfire (who suddenly disappeared while flying through space last issue) popping up in a strange place. He recognizes it as the dimension where he and Jacques Foccart found Lyle Norg in issue 299. Last time Wildfire was here, he turned back into his human form of Drake Burroughs, something he can’t normally do, but this time he’s still Wildfire. He hears a cry for help and finds Jacques entangled in some weird ectoplasmic tendrils. Wildfire assumes Jacques is responsible for bringing him back to this weird dimension, but he frees Jacques from the ectoplasm and learns Jacques brought Lyle back there to help him findDuo Damsel freaked out by COMPUTO some peace. Back in the regular dimension, Cosmic Boy worries about Wildfire’s sudden disappearance and wonders if it might be connected to Jacques and Lyle’s interdimensional trip. Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel check out of Legion Headquarters and Duo Damsel is freaked out that the HQ’s majordomo is COMPUTO, the robot that killed one of her duplicate forms. In the other dimension, Jacques tells Wildfire what he’s figured out about “Lyle Norg” … he’s a demon from this dimension who can use people’s deepest desires to create illusions. The demon makes Wildfire human again, but Jacques convinces him it’s not real and they take off, trying to find a Shvaughn meets Dev-Emway back to their own dimension (since Jacques’ teleporting power is less than reliable). In the normal dimension, Shvaughn Erin waits in the middle of an asteroid field for a top secret meeting with a mysterious operative. It turns out to be Dev-Em, the Kryptonian who turned down Legion membership to become a government spy. After flirting with Shvaughn, Dev-Em reads his assignment and takes off, hoping Shvaughn is ready for what’s to come. In the nightmare dimension, the demon admits it lured Wildfire and Jacques there to feed off their desires and took Lyle Norg’s form to investigate their dimension. It now wants more humans to feed on, but Jacques figures out how to beat it;fighting demon with illusions he pisses Wildfire off enough that he breaks the illusion of being human. Jacques realizes they can manipulate the essence of the dimension to create their own illusions and they conjure up some phantom Legionnaires to fight the demon. Jacques and Wildfire concentrate on getting back to their own dimension, which makes it happen. Ironically, they end up on Shanghalla, the cemetery asteroid, where Jacques has Wildfire create an eternal flame over the real Lyle Norg’s grave.

Duplicate Boy saves the girl“Once a Hero …” – Paul Levitz (plot), Mindy Newell/George Tuska/Karl Kesel

This is a short back-up about Duplicate Boy losing his powers out of guilt for not telling anyone Shrinking Violet had been kidnapped and replaced by a doppelganger. Duplicate Boy’s fellow Heroes of Lallor snap him out of his funk by setting him up to rescue a beautiful girl, which breaks the mental block and revives his powers … and possibly his love life.

Legion of Super-Heroes 4 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #4 – “Lest Villainy Triumph” – Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen/Steve Lightle/Larry Mahlstedt

Last issue, the new Legion of Super-Villains teleported the entire planet of Orando right out of its dimension into an interdimensional limbo, taking seven Legionnaires (Karate Kid, Projectra, Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Ultra Boy, and Element Lad) with it. Tyr and a few other Villains are pissed off they left without slaughtering any Legionnaires, so the LSV’s leader (Nemesis Kid) sends a few of them back to have some fun hunting Legion members. In space where Orando used to be, the remaining Legionnaires regroup and try to figure out what the hell’s going on. Brainiac 5 realizes how Orando disappeared, but hasn’t figuredAyla escapes her cell out why yet. On Orando, Ayla (Light Lass) Ranzz wakes up in her prison cell, where she as thrown a couple issues back after being captured. Her brother Lightning Lord blasted her with electricity last issue when she refused to join the LSV, but she survived and when she gets mad and slams her electronic restraints against the wall, the restraints explode and blow a hole through the wall. Ayla isn’t sure what happened, but she takes advantage of her luck to locate the other Legionnaires. They’re shackled with power-dampening restraints, so Ayla decides to go for help. Karate Kid reasons that his “powers” aren’t like the others’ since he trained himself to be the best fighter in the galaxy. He Ayla zaps the villainsputs all his strength into breaking free of his restraints and does it, freeing the others as well. Ayla (not knowing Orando is in limbo) stows away on the ship Tyr’s group are using, hoping it’ll take her closer to some other Legionnaires. Ayla realizes Tyr and his cohorts are going to kill whatever Legionnaires they encounter, so she sabotages the ship by ripping out a power cable. She expects to get a shock, but nothing happens, and she realizes she has her original lightning powers back (possibly because of Lightning Lord’s attack on her). She zaps all the Villains before finding out the ship’s controls won’t let her cross back to her own dimension, so she heads back to Orando. Back on Earth, Cosmic Boy gets a call from Dream Girl, who’s worried that he’s the onlyLSH vs LSV above Orando Legionnaire left on Earth. Cosmic Boy has called in the Reserves, the Substitutes, and even the Legion Academy members, so he figures Earth is safe enough. On Orando, the escaped Legionnaires decide to attack the powerspheres, hoping that’ll return Orando to its proper dimension. But a contingent of Villains jumps them before they can do anything to the powerspheres and Karate Kid goes after Nemesis Kid to settle their old rivalry. While the villains overwhelm the other Legionnaires, Nemesis Kid uses his adaptation power (which allows him to instantly gain whatever power he needs to defeat a foe) to beat the shit out of Karate Kid. Projectra tries to stop him Nemesis Kid pounds Karate Kidand gets pounded down, but Karate Kid jumps back into the fight, refusing to give up even when he’s been beaten nearly to death. He finally gets the best of Nemesis kid and takes back his flight ring, which Nemesis Kid stole a couple issues ago. Projectra urges Karate Kid to flee, but he decides to do something stupid and heroic … he flies like a kamikaze into the powersphere, blowing it up but losing his life in the process. So, Karate Kid is dead, six other Legionnaires have been beaten, and Ayla is on her way back to Orando alone to try and help. Yup, next issue’s a big one (someone else dies!), so don’t miss it.

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