Comics Reviews: JLA Annual 2, Tales of the Teen Titans 49, Tales of the Legion 318, Legion of Super-Heroes 5

JLA Annual 2 coverJustice League of America Annual #2 – “The End of the Justice League” – Gerry Conway/Chuck Patton/Dave Hunt

This is the introduction of the famous (or infamous) Detroit Justice League, the new team that stays around through the end of the JLA series. I’ll review the December issue of JLA next week, since it takes place after this issue. This story starts with the Justice League in orbit, trying to salvage what’s left of their Satellite headquarters, which was destroyed during the Martian invasion in issue 230. Aquaman is in a crappy mood and proclaims not just the end of the Satellite, but maybe of the JLA as well. Since Aquaman is currently the JLA chairperson, he calls a meeting at the United Nations for next week and heads home to Atlantis. Instead of finding his wife Mera, Aquaman finds aAquaman tells it like it is telepathic message from her, saying she can’t stand being such a low priority in his life compared to the JLA and Atlantis, so she’s leaving him. A week later at the U.N., Aquaman presides over the meeting and asks the U.N. To dump the JLA’s old charter and draft a new one. Aquaman says the league can’t go on unless its members are willing to commit full time, living in the headquarters and being available to tackle any crisis that occurs. Some of the JLAers protest, but Aquaman points out that they weren’t around for the Martian invasion and that almost turned into a worldwide disaster. Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Red Tornado, Black Canary, and Green Arrow all admit they J'onn joins the new Leaguecan’t make a full commitment to the league, since they have other priorities. Zatanna surprises Aquaman by saying she will remain and commit fully to the team. Firestorm is ready to do the same, when Professor Stein reminds Ronnie that they have their own lives to live, so they can’t give the League 100% of their attention. Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny pledges himself to the cause, as long as his wife Sue is included in the deal. The trio get an unexpected boost when J’onn J’onzz (the Martian Manhunter) offers to rejoin the team he helped found so long ago. So, these four decide to form the core of a new JLA, hoping they’ll find other recruits who are equally committed. InJ'onn catches Vixen Washington, a General named Heywood watches the announcement on TV and gets an idea, telling his assistant to call his grandson. In Manhattan, Mari (Vixen) McCabe sees the news report and it gives her an idea too. The next night, Aquaman, Ralph, Sue, Zatanna, and J’onn are gathered in a New York hotel suite when Zatanna spots something prowling around outside. After a brief chase and scuffle, J’onn grabs the intruder, who turns out to be Vixen. She was showing off her skills as kind of an audition for joining the new League. Aquaman is impressed by Vixen, but before anyone else can chime in, a dude in a red-white-and-blue costume shows up calling himself Steel fights Dale GunnSteel. He tells the JLA he wants to join and says he might have a new headquarters for them. Steel takes them to Detroit to a secret bunker underground, filled with high-tech weapons and computers. When they discover someone in battle armour lurking around, Steel jumps him and gets into a brawl. The others realize that Steel is more machine than human, with steel-mesh skin and servo-motors in his limbs that make him super-humanly strong and fast. The “intruder” turns out to be Dale Gunn, who Steel says is like a father to him. But Dale is all about protocol and insists he can’t allow Steel and his new friends into the Bunker until he gets the go-ahead from its owner … Steel’s grandfather. Steel explains that he’s Hank Heywood, the grandson of General Heywood, who’s kind of a survivalist type. General Heywood builtVibe stops gang fight the Bunker under an old factory in Detroit in anticipation of nuclear war. Not far away, a couple of gangs are fighting in an alley off Cameron Street and an old man runs to get help. He doesn’t go to the cops, he approaches the neighbourhood breakdancer and tagger extraordinaire. Yup, it’s Vibe, one of the most hated (or loved, depending on your mindset) characters in the history of DC. Vibe uses his powers (to vibrate stuff, hence the name) to break up the gang war and remind them that he doesn’t allow any violence in his neighbourhood. Vibe might’ve been more interesting if he wasn’t written as a bundle of stereotypes, from the breakdancing and tagging, to the Vibe impresses Aquamanexaggerated Hispanic accent and huge family. Mari and Hank catch Vibe’s act and tell Aquaman he’d be a great addition to the team. Aquaman says he doesn’t want any youngsters on the team, which pisses Hank off since he’s pretty young himself. Between Aquaman’s haughtiness and Hank’s temper, there’s already some Marvel-style friction on he team. As Hank tries to cool down, he, Sue, and Mari run into Vibe, who has discovered the entrance to the “secret” hideout. (That becomes a running joke, with the JLA’s secret headquarters being not so secret, especially with the people in the neighbourhood. Vibe (whose real name is Paco Ramone) wants to join the new JLA. Aquaman’s still skeptical, until Vibe demonstrates his power by tossing Aquaman against a wall. J’onn tells Aquaman they may have to widen their net (and change their expectations) if want to find new LeagueGypsy disappears members. That night, Paco takes Hank to dinner with his family and they run into a young street girl called Gypsy being chased by the cops. Hank sends the cops in the wrong direction, but Gypsy turns invisible, so maybe she didn’t need the help anyway. Paco tells Hank that everyone on Cameron Street has seen Gypsy, but she’s very good at disappearing. At Paco’s house, his family makes a fuss over Hank, especially Paco’s sister Rosita, which pisses Paco off. Back at the Bunker, Dale Gun is wondering why General Heywood agreed to let the JLA use his Bunker as their headquarters in exchange for putting Steel on the team. Dale also wonders why the General turned his own grandson into a cyborg. Before Dale can ponder any more Zatanna puts the moves on Daledeep thoughts, Zatanna comes to talk to him in a sexy negligee and they start flirting like crazy. They’re interrupted by an alarm, which turns out to be Gypsy sneaking in. J’onn captures her while she’s invisible (which pisses her off) and she tells some wild story about her parents being kidnapped by aliens and needing help to rescue them. When Aquaman calls her bullshit story, Gypsy disappears, but J’onn says she’ll probably be back sooner or later. Aquaman is a little weirded out by all the crazy shit that’s been happening, but Dale tells him he just has to go with the flow. Speaking of which, the entire neighbourhood shows up to welcome the JLA, which turns into a block party. Yeah, this ain’t the old JLA, so get used to the weirdness.

Noticeable Things:

  • There’s a shield in a glass case in General Heywood’s office that looks a lot like Captain America’s.
  • Vixen has met Superman before (in Action 521 and DC Presents 68), but this is her introduction to the others.
  • There’s a running sub-plot about Zatanna and Vixen both instantly having the hots for Dale Gunn. I guess it’s supposed to be funny, but they both come off like ditzy teenagers fighting over a guy (and they aren’t the last women who’ll act like bimbos over Dale). I guess Dale’s superpower is getting women to act like idiots around him.

Tales of Teen Titans 49 coverTales of the Teen Titans #49 – “The Light That Failed” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez, Carmine Infantino/Mike DeCarlo

This one starts with Dick Grayson, Terry long, and the other members of the wedding party getting fitted for tuxedos. That’s right, Terry’s wedding to Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy is tomorrow (well, next issue actually) and everyone’s making the final preparations (although you’d think the fittings would’ve been done earlier). Terry’s other friends give Dick shit because he won’t talk about his girlfriend. They assume she’s ugly, but when Donna stops by with Kory (aka Starfire), they quickly change their opinions. Donna picks up Terry’s daughter (Jennifer) to take her for their own dress shopping. Turns out Terry’s ex wasn’t being difficult last issue,Cyborg gets a date she just wanted to make sure Jennifer would be taken care of on the wedding day. Jennifer’s actually pretty excited about having another pseudo-mom. Downtown, Victor (Cyborg) Stone is agonizing over whether to invite Sarah Simms to the wedding, since it’s such short notice and they haven’t seen each other for a while. Victor’s grandparents convince him to call Sarah and she agrees to go with him. Donna and Kory (plus Jennifer and Donna’s stepsister Cindy) meet up with Diana (Wonder Woman) Prince, Lillith (an old friend from the original Titans), and Sharon Tracy, Donna’s ex-roommate (who’s apparently rather “man-crazy”). Donna mentions that Wally (Kid Flash) Sharon calls WallyWest hasn’t responded to her calls about the wedding, so Sharon volunteers to call him. She talks to Wally’s parents and learns he went to Central City, so she tells them to pass on the wedding invitation. But Wally’s got other things on his mind right now, as Dr. Light is rampaging through Central City and Wally’s caught in the middle of it. We get one of those flashbacks that tell how the story got to the present moment … a storytelling device I hate. Apparently Wally and his girlfriend Frances Kane were heading to Central City to see the Flash, hoping he could help with Wally’s condition. Every time Wally uses his super-speed, it causes him tremendous pain and he’s been getting slower too. It seems his powers have screwed up somehow and are killing him, so he hopes Flash might shed some light on what’s going on. WhileWally and Frances go after Dr. Light waiting outside the city for Flash, he and Frances noticed a ball of light heading toward Central City and soon heard a bulletin on the radio about the ball of light robbing a bank. Wally realized it was Dr. Light and decided he had to try and stop him, even if using his powers might kill him. Frances went with him (using her own magnetic powers to get them to the scene) and when Wally got blasted by Light, Frances used her powers to attack the villain. Wally risks his life to save people from Light’s beams as Light uses his own energy powers to deal with the cars Frances tosses at him. Light’s force field protects him when Wally tries to grab him and a black light beam hides him Frances takes down Dr. Lightfrom Wally’s sight. But Frances has been practicing with her powers (and has started enjoying it), so she flings every nearby metallic object at Light, causing him to lose his concentration and plummet from the sky … right into the garbage can Frances has waiting for him. Light is so freaked out, he’s actually begging to be taken to jail. Wally and Frances head back to meet Flash, who’s waiting for them. He takes them to the house where he’s been staying and checks Wally out, but Flash doesn’t have any easy answers. It’s obvious Wally’s powers are waning (which is fine with him, since he wants to quit being a super-hero anyway), but the increasing pain every time he soFlash tries to help Wally much as walks a little faster means the changes wrought to his body when he first got his powers may be killing him now. Flash promises he’ll find specialists to help and Wally confesses that he’s scared it may be too late and his death might be unavoidable. But even with all his worries, Wally does manage to leave Donna a message saying he wouldn’t miss her wedding for the world. And if you don’t want to miss it, be here next issue.

 

Tales of the Legion 318 coverTales of the Legion #318 – “Shadows of Future Past” – Paul Levitz/Terry Shoemaker/Karl Kesel

This one starts with a meeting of the Legion to discuss the current lack of membership. Not only have several Legionnaires quit or gone on leave lately, but five are missing after recent events on Orando (which we’ll see in my review of the Baxter series just below). Cosmic Boy suggests adding some new members, but Dream Girl (who’s acting leader since Element Lad is among the missing) points out that there are no qualified candidates around and the Academy members aren’t ready yet. On Talok VIII, Grev Mallor (aka Shadow Kid, Shadow Lass’s cousin and former Legion Academy member) is infiltrating a rebel group that’s been causing friction with thePersuader catches Grev government. He gets close enough to see the rebel leader is a very attractive woman (Lady Memory) practicing some kind of sorcery based on ancestor worship, something that supposedly died out ages ago. Before Grev can get a holo-recording, Persuader jumps him and kicks his ass, delivering him to the priestess. On Earth, Shvaughn Erin is worried about the missing Element Lad, but her roommate (Gigi Cusimano) has other things on her mind … like going to see Colossal Boy when his wife is away. Meanwhile, Shadow Lass is worried since she hasn’t head from Grev lately, so she talks Dream Girl into letting her and Mon-El go to Talok VIII to investigate. On Talok VIII, the capital city is Mon-El pounds rebelsbombed by solar shells launched by Persuader. Turns out Persuader’s working as a mercenary for Lady Memory, helping her fight the current government and attack the capital. Before the rebels can do too much damage, Mon-El and Shadow Lass show up to fight them. Mon-El digs a huge ditch to stop the advance and starts pounding rebels and smashing their weapons. Shadow Lass throws up some darkness to stop the rebels from moving toward the city from another direction, but Persuader uses his atomic axe to cut through the darkness. Shadow Lass blinds him and finds Grev shackled. On Earth, Brainiac 5 hooks Dawnstar up to his computers to enhance her tracking ability so she can search for theLady Memory screws with Mon-El's mind missing Legionnaires. It’s very painful for Dawnstar and it doesn’t work, so they’re right back where they started. On Talok VIII, Shadow Lass releases Grev, but they’re confronted by Lady Memory, who says Shadow Lass’s city-dwelling ancestors slaughtered her mountain-folk ancestors, so now she wants revenge. Mon-El shows up to stop her, but Lady Memory demonstrates her powers by reaching into his mind, dredging up his most painful memories to use against him; I guess she’s kinda like Alti in Xena.

Legion of Super-Heroes 5 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #5 – “An Eye for an Eye, a Villain for a Hero” – Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen/Steve Lightle/Larry Mahlstedt

Last issue, Karate Kid was killed fighting Nemesis Kid on Orando, after the new Legion of Super-Villains transported the entire planet to an inter-dimensional limbo. Karate Kid’s wife, Queen Projectra is pissed off and tells the LSV they’d better get the hell off her planet. She’s severely outnumbered, as a group of Villains brings in the Legionnaires they defeated last issue. The Villains assume Projectra has lost her mind and Neutrax neutralizes her powers, leaving her for Nemesis Kid to kill. Ayla Ranzz (who has regained her lightning powers) sees what’s about to happen and brings Zymyr’s ship in for a landing. The other Villains assume it’s Zymyr and hisAyla confronts villains cohorts, bringing in some more captive Legionnaires, so they’re surprised when Ayla steps out alone. The Villains are ready to waste Ayla, but her brother Lightning Lord shows up and says nobody is allowed to touch her but him. In normal space where Orando used to orbit, the rest of the Legionnaires regroup, trying to make sense of everything that’s happened. A Science Police ship arrives and Gigi Cusimano tells them they’ve been ordered back to Earth by Chief Zendak. Dream Girl agrees to come, but leaves Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Sun Boy, and Brainiac 5 in case the missing Legionnaires reappear. On Orando, Ayla and Lightning Lord square off and he assumes she’ll be an Ayla blasts Lightning Lordeasy kill, but she goes wild and blasts him, knocking him out. The other Villains get ready to attack her, but some of them suddenly keel over. Yeah, the other legionnaires have recovered and Element Lad changed the oxygen in the air to helium, knocking out some of the Villains. Nemesis Kid calls for help and Projectra challenges him, pulling out the most frightening illusions she can muster. Ol-Vir attacks but gets slammed by Ultra Boy and Element Lad changes Ol-Vir’s costume to lead, which is debilitating to Daxamites. Chameleon Boy squashes Radiation Roy, Ultra Boy clotheslines Lazon at high speed, Shrinking Violet pounds Micro Lad, and Phantom Girl screws up Zymyr’s attempt to teleport to safety. When Zymyr does manage to teleport, he takes Ayla and her brother with him. Nemesis Kid and Projectra are left behindProjectra kills Nemesis Kid and Nemesis Kid’s adaptation powers allow him to ignore Projectra’s illusions. But she doesn’t need her powers to avenge her dead husband … when she gets close enough, she breaks Nemesis Kid’s neck, killing him. Meanwhile, some fleeing Villains stole Zymyr’s ship and transported back to the regular dimension, but ran into the quartet of Legionnaires where Orando used to be. The Legionnaires make short work of the Villains and learn that their teammates are in limbo, but Zymyr’s ship is wrecked so they can’t get to them. On Orando, Projectra conducts a funeral for Karate Kid and tells the Karate Kid's funeralLegionnaires she’s finished with the Legion. She’s using Zymyr’s machine to take Orando to another dimension, far away from the Legion and the United Planets. She puts the Legionnaires (and the Villains they captured) in separate bubbles and teleports Orando away. Unfortunately, that means the two bubbles are left drifting in limbo, waiting for someone to find them … and it gets worse. Esper Lass managed to get the secret of Zymyr’s teleportation from his mind, so the Villains can take their bubble back to the regular dimension, leaving the five Legionnaires stranded in limbo.

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