The next few issues are basically introducing us to the various new JLAers and their backgrounds, as well as setting up a new team of super-villains for them to fight. This one starts with a JLA member break-dancing. Yeah, you read that right … welcome to the Detroit League, baby! One of the JLA’s new recruits (Vibe) is showing off for the crowd, which includes Zatanna and Vixen in their civilian clothes. A gangbanger named Crowbar interrupts Vibe’s poppin’ and lockin’ to ask where he stands on the upcoming rumble between the Skulls (Crowbar’s gang) and the Lobos (Vibe’s old gang, currently headed by his brother Armando). Vibe says he’s done with all that stuff and before Crowbar can start pounding him, Mother Windom (the ninety-year old black lady from the neighbourhood) gives both of them shit for being gang members (or ex-gang member in Vibe’s case). Some more Skulls show up, including a couple of charming ladies called Icepick and Slice. Before they can ventilate Mother Windom, Zatanna and Vixen jump in and pound the gang members. Icepick pulls a gun, but thanks to a warning from Gypsy (who appears and vanishes so fast only Vibe sees her), Vibe takes Icepick down with his vibratory power. Instead of being grateful for the help, Vibe gets all pouty about his teammates horning in on his fight. Back at the JLA’s not-so-secret headquarters, Aquaman, J’onn J’onzz, and Dale Gunn are testing Steel’s strength. Steel, being a cocky kid, overdoes it trying to prove himself and almost gets crushed. Dale gives Aquaman shit for pushing Steel too hard and there’s a big argument; it seems like Gerry’s trying to manufacture some Marvel-style conflict between team members, but it comes off a little forced. After Dale and Steel leave Aquaman admits to J’onn that he was wrong, but says it’s hard for a former king to apologize. As they’re leaving, they run into Ralph and sue, who are repainting part of the headquarters … chartreuse. You’d think J’onn would appreciate that colour, but he doesn’t seem too impressed. The JLA are called to a meeting when Zatanna and Vixen bring Mother Windom in to give them the lowdown on Paco (Vibe) Ramone and his past as a gangbanger. While they hear the story, Paco goes to see his brother, to urge Armando to stop the violence. The Skulls show up and a fight starts, forcing Vibe to use his powers to help the Lobos. But Vibe gets knifed and Armando’s about to get his head caved in by crowbar when the JLA show up and kick the shit out of the Skulls. Even Gypsy pops in long enough to conk Crowbar with his own weapon. The JLA try to talk some sense into Armando, but he insists being in a gang is the only way to feel like his life has meaning. Later, a glowing ball of energy calling itself Overmaster shows up in Crowbar’s jail cell and makes him disappear.
This one starts with Travis Morgan and Scarheart in Bakwele looking to buy provisions for their ship. Bakwele has been conquered by the New Atlanteans, so it’s basically under martial law. When a soldier tries to force Scarheart to replace a slave who was carrying a palanquin, Scarheart and Morgan start a fight and end up fleeing from reinforcements, taking to the rooftops to make their escape. Far to the south in Fire Mountain, Tinder and Chakka are stumbling through the labyrinthine tunnels in the mountain. They find an ornately-carved door (which makes Chakka nervous) and go inside. Tinder is amazed to find what looks like a throne room dedicated to some kind of demon … with mounds of gold lying on the floor. In Bakwele, Morgan and Scarheart go to a tavern to look for a black market dealer named Patch, who was recommended by Captain Hawk last issue. Naturally, trouble starts (Patch’s men think Morgan and Scarheart are Atlantean spies) and we get a tavern brawl. Patch breaks it up and Morgan is surprised to find she’s a very attractive woman. She figures Morgan and Scarheart aren’t Atlanteans, so she invites them home to talk business. They meet her son Avenel (whose father was killed by Atlanteans) and Avenel starts going on about how they won’t be under the Atlantean yoke for much longer because the great Warlord will come to free them. Morgan is taken aback and feels bad that he’s fallen so far from his former ideals, but he doesn’t let on that he’s the Warlord … which is probably a good thing, since Patch has little faith in that legend anyway. Patch takes Morgan and Scarheart to the docs to show him where to dock the supply boats, but they get ambushed by Atlantean soldiers. They get away down a secret tunnel, but realize too late that the Atlanteans have take Avenel.
Barren Earth – “The Judgment of D’roz” – Gary Cohn/Ron Randall
Last issue, Jinal and friends captured a Qlov as they were asked to do by the Old Ones of D’roz, the floating city. The Old Ones were obviously monitoring them because D’roz flew into view and grabbed Jinal and the Qlov in separate tractor beams. After being taken into the floating city, Jinal is systematically disassembled and reassembled, an excruciating process. She and the Qlov are then studied body and soul by the Old Ones, to determine which side (if any) will receive help in the millennia-old Earth/Qlov war. Jinal and the Qlov are both given the chance to plead their case, but the answer from the Old Ones is a resounding “No”. Jinal is devastated, since she’s been counting on the Old Ones’ technology to help against the Qlov … plus she’s stranded on what’s left of Earth with no way to get back to the spacefleet. But Jinal decides to go ahead with her mission, saying if the Old Ones won’t help her voluntarily, she’ll take what she needs from them: knowledge, weaponry, tech, whatever they have … even if she has to conquer the whole planet to do it. That leads into the Conqueror of the Barren Earth mini-series, which is actually pretty good, but it ends n a cliffhanger that was never resolved, so I won’t be reviewing it here. So, that’s it for Barren Earth back-ups in Warlord; it’s one of the better back-ups and I love Ron Randall’s art … I just wish they’d been able to finish off the story.
This issue came out between Tales of the Legion 315 and 316, so it deals with the recent attacks by unknown super-villains which turned out to be the Legion of Super-Villains. The story starts off on Medicus One, where Saturn Girl is getting ready to give birth; they’re doing the whole “surprise us” thing, so they have no idea of the baby’s gender, or whether or not it’s twins (which is the norm on Lightning Lad’s planet). Dr. Gym’ll takes her into the delivery room, leaving Lightning Lad to follow. Lightning Lad gets sidetracked for a bit when Dr. Larsh tries to hypnotize him so Larsh can become Starfinger (as he did way back in Adventure Comics 335), but Brainiac 5 implanted post-hypnotic defenses against just such an attack years ago. Lightning Lad destroys Larsh’s machine and heads to the delivery room to be with his wife. On the planet Avalon, four Legionnaires (Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, and White Witch) are checking the ruins of Romdur Castle to see if Mordru is still buried there. They’re worried that Mordru may have regained his powers after Darkseid stole them during the Great Darkness Saga and when they find a gaping hole in the ground, their fears seem to be confirmed. Elsewhere, four sorcerers have taken Mordru’s body (still encased in rock) and are planning to bring him back to life with all his powers. Near Earth, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, and Sun Boy help the Science Police divert some meteors from hitting Earth. Across the galaxy, another bunch of Legionnaires (Dawnstar, Wildfire, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, and Chameleon Boy) tries to track whoever attacked M-17W. They’re attacked by a strange green flame that manifests on the cruiser and wraps around Shadow Lass, pulling her down into some kind of magical portal. Mon-El tries to hold her, but has to let go so he doesn’t rip her arms off with his super-strength. At Legion headquarters, Blok, Invisible Kid, and Element Lad discuss Shadow Lass’s abduction, wondering if Mordru is involved and why he would only target Shadow Lass. At the Legion Academy, Shadow Lass’s cousin (Grev Mallor) tells Bouncing Boy he’s leaving the Academy to go back to Talok VIII. Before Bouncing Boy can try to talk him out of it those same weird green flames pop up, making Grev disappear just as Shadow Lass did. Turns out the four sorcerers are the ones who took Shady and Grev, to help them free Mordru. Since Darkseid stole Mordru’s power with darkness, they figure darkness can help restore that power. On Avalon, White Witch conducts a sort of séance to zero in on Mordru’s magic. She leads the others toward where Mordru and the sorcerers are hiding on Sorcerer’s World. Near M-17W, Dawnstar is preparing to use her tracking power to find Shadow Lass when they get a call from the other Legionnaires to head for Sorcerer’s World immediately. On Sorcerer’s World, the four mages pull darkness from Shadow Lass and Grev and send it through the galaxy, using the power of the darkness to wake Mordru. The darkness spreads as far as Earth, Ventura (where Dream Girl, Shrinking Violet, and Star Boy are returning from), and Medicus One (forcing Gym’ll to deliver Saturn Girl’s baby in the dark). But the two groups of Legionnaires show up and pound the sorcerers, banishing the darkness and rescuing Shady and Grev. The leaders of Sorcerer’s World bury Mordru again and thank White Witch and her friends for saving them and stopping the evil mages. On Medicus One, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl have a healthy baby boy, but Lightning Lad is a bit surprised they didn’t have twins, since that’s the norm on his planet. Saturn Girl says twins are rare where she comes from, although for a moment during the birth she almost felt like she was in telepathic contact with two babies, not one. Turns out she was right, she was pregnant with twins, but Darkseid stole one of the babies under cover of the darkness and sent it back in time after growing it into a monstrous form. The baby’s name? Validus. Yup, the freaky lightning monster Validus (who has fought the Legion several times as part of the Fatal Five) is actually Lightning lad and Saturn Girl’s kid, sent back in time by Darkseid … thus fulfilling the curse he placed on them at the end of issue 294. How’s that for a plot twist?