Comics Reviews: JLA 234, New Teen Titans 4, Tales of the Legion 319, Legion of Super-Heroes 6

JLA 234 coverJLA #234 – “Claws” – Gerry Conway/Chuck Patton/Bill Anderson

This continues the introductions of the new members of the JLA, spotlighting one character per issue. This time around, it’s Vixen who’s at the forefront of the story. The story starts with Vixen pursuing a car full of armed men through the streets of Detroit. The cops are chasing these goons too, but Vixen leaps right into the car (a convertible) and takes out the gunmen, stopping the car right before it smashes into a church. The Reverend (Andrew Sinclair) is pretty impressed and there’s a bit of a vibe between him and Vixen. I’m not sure if Sinclair is supposed to a JesseVixen's interview Jackson-type character … he’s kinda drawn like Richard Pryor. Later, Vixen is back at JLA headquarters watching herself be interviewed by a reporter after the incident. The reporter informed Vixen that the guys she caught were part of a terrorist cell called Red Dawn, who were sponsored by an African warlord named Maksai. That name hit home with Vixen and she freaked out and took off. Steel asks her why hearing about Maksai bothered her so much, but Vixen won’t tell her teammates anything and takes off again. Steel wonders why she was so pissed off and Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny gives him a speech about how teammates have to respect each other’s space and still be Zatanna dunks Aquamanavailable when their friends are ready to ask for help. Ralph Dibny as the voice of maturity? Wow, this really is a new Justice League. Steel still feels cut off from his teammates since he’s a cyborg and decides to go for a swim. Aquaman attacks him in the pool to demonstrate that Steel should always be on guard, but Steel just gets pissed off at him. Zatanna gives Aquaman shit for being such a dick to Steel (and Vibe) and pushes him into the pool. Dunking someone who lives underwater isn’t exactly a big deal, which is probably why Aquaman and Zatanna end up laughing their asses off about it. Vixen is still stewing about Maksai and when J’onn J’onzz tries to get her to open up, she gets mad and leaves. Meanwhile, Maksai (who’s in New York) watches Vixen’s interview on the news and recognizes the TantuSteel and Rosa smooching totem she wears on her belt … something Maksai has been trying to find for fifteen years. Back in Detroit, Steel goes for a walk with Vibe’s sister (Rosa), which makes Vibe go all “macho big brother” at Steel. Rosa says to ignore Vibe and ends up making out with Steel, which is interrupted when Steel catches a glimpse of Gypsy watching them. (Who knew Gypsy was into voyeurism?) Steel chases her, using his infra-red to track her when she turns invisible, but still loses her. Rosa tells Vibe where Steel went and when Vibe catches up to him, he makes fun of steel for losing Gypsy. They notice Vixen heading somewhere in a very determined fashion and decide to follow her. At Vixen's backgroundheadquarters, J’onn gathers the remaining team members (Ralph, Sue, Aquaman, and Zatanna) to brief them on a theory he’s come up with … that Vixen is Maksai’s niece. J’onn relates how a guy named Richard Jiwe (who looks a lot like Desmond Tutu) was elected President of the African country of M’changa and was loved by the citizens for his progressive ways. Jiwe’s half-brother Maksai was jealous, so he led a bloody coup and took over the country, probably killing Jiwe himself. Jiwe’s daughter disappeared and fifteen years later (or so J’onn surmises) she’s re-invented herself as Mari McCabe, high fashion model. Ralph wonders why no one has taken Maksai down, but Aquaman reminds him that would be a violation of international law. Aquaman thinks J’onn’s theory might be right, but wonders where Vixen got her powers from and what her long-term plans are. Downtown, VixenVixen busts into the jail busts into the city jail to interrogate the guys she captured earlier about Maksai. They’re scared enough to tell her whatever she wants an she takes off again. Steel and Vibe decide they’d better tell the rest of the League what Vixen has done. We see that the Monitor and Lyla are watching from their satellite; as Crisis gets closer, Monitor will be popping up in numerous titles, probably as a way to get readers excited about the Crisis. Monitor is also watching an entity called overmaster who’s assembling a team of super-villains called the Cadre. We saw Overmaster recruit Crowbar last issue and this time around he picks up a ninja named Shatterfist from a Korean monastery. We’ll get more on the Cadre soon, but next issue’s spotlight is on Steel.

New Teen Titans 4 coverNew Teen Titans #4 – “Torment” – Marv Wolfman/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

Last issue, Trigon manifested on Earth and brought his daughter Raven as his herald before lapsing into some kind of trance. Raven has been corrupted by Trigon’s evil, so her skin has turned red and she’s grown a few extra eyes, seemingly losing all the goodness in her soul in the process. The Titans tried to stop Trigon, but were pulled into a column of rock where their souls were confronted with dark versions of themselves. Lillith and Raven’s mother (Arella) are forced to watch as Raven spews Trigon’s hateful words and revels in her teammates’ pain. We see that Earth’s other heroes have been turned to stone by Trigon’s power and Lillith tells Arella the Titans may be humanity’s last hope … if they canRaven threatens Lillith survive what Trigon is putting them through. Basically, evil Raven is manipulating the Titans’ emotions by making them fight dark counterparts of themselves, drawn from each person’s inner fears. Lillith tries to help her friends (and she is immune to Raven’s manipulations for some reason), but Raven is drawing on Trigon’s power, so the Titans believe what they’re seeing. Their anger at their dark selves grows until they’re willing to kill to get rid of them, which is just what Trigon wants. Nightwing’s dark side preys on his fear of Batman’s disappointment and his his own inadequacy, while Cyborg’s hatred of his own half-human condition drives him. Wonder Girl’s Wally kills his dark sidemysterious past bothers her and she worries about being cut off from everything if the Amazons reject her or if Terry dies. Changeling blames himself for everyone he’s cared about dying and worries it’ll happen to the Titans as well, while Starfire is afraid of losing her family back on Tamaran and losing Nightwing’s love. Wally (Kid Flash) West’s evil double torments him with his indecision about being a super-hero and how he could’ve had Raven if he’d been man enough to go after her. Wally freaks out and kills his counterpart, and the other Titans follow suit, which allows Trigon to claim their souls. The stone column breaks apart and the Titans return, possessed by Trigon’s evil … or so it seems. Lillith tells Raven that she controls the evil Titans and proves itevil Titans kill Raven by having them attack Raven. Arella tries to stop it, but Lillith holds her back, saying this is predestined and has to happen. The evil Titans combine their powers and blast Raven, apparently killing her. That purges the evil from them and they return to normal, horrified at what they’ve done. Lillith insists it’s for the best, but before they can ask her why, a new threat arises … Trigon wakes from his trance and he’s pretty pissed off at the people who just killed his daughter.

Tales of the Legion 319 coverTales of the Legion #319 – “If Memory Should Fail” – Paul Levitz/Terry Shoemaker/Karl Kesel

Last issue, a woman called Lady Memory led an attack on Talok VIII (Shadow Lass’s home planet), capturing Shadow Lass’s cousin, Grev Mallor. When Shadow Lass and Mon-El showed up to help, lady Memory used her powers to enhance all Mon-El’s memories, which could be enough to drive him insane. Mon-El freaks out, flying out into space at super-speed in a vain attempt to escape the images inside his head. Lady Memory exults in her triumph over Mon-El and Persuader (who is working as a mercenary for Lady Memory) asks what she wants to do with Shadow Lass and Grev. Out in space, Star Boy, Timber Wolf, and are headed to Talok VIII to help when they run into the crazed Mon-El. We see MonitorBrainy tries to amplify Dawnstar's powers and Lyla watching events unfold and Monitor sends Lyla to Legion Headquarters to procure something for an unnamed client. At Legion HQ, Brainiac 5 is still trying to amplify Dawnstar’s tracking ability (this time with Q-waves) so she can try to find Element Lad and the other Legionnaires who went missing after the fight with the Legion of Super-Villains on Orando. Out in space, Mo-El’s strength (and berzerker frenzy) give him an advantage, but his friends manage to contain him using Star Boy’s gravity powers. On Talok VIII, Lady Memory releases Shadow Lass so she can kill her in front of everyone. Apparently, Lady Memory worships someone called Maakas; i’m not sure if Maakas is a god Dev-Em infiltrates the Dark Circleor just some great warlord from Talok VIII’s past, but he seems to represent a return to barbarism that was done away with long ago by the more-civilized people of the planet. Lady memory claims she received her powers after she started looking into Maakas’s history and now wants to kill Shadow Lass and return Talok VIII to its barbaric roots. On the Dark Circle’s home base, we see Dev-Em using his Kryptonian powers to infiltrate the Circle, replacing one of their agents. In space, Star Boy contacts Saturn Girl, hoping she can use her mental powers to cure whatever’s got Mon-El so worked up. Saturn Girl says she can’t use her powers effectively at that distance, but she has anShadow Lass fights Lady Memory idea how to help Mon-El … although it’s risky. On Talok VIII, Lady Memory and Shadow lass fight hand-to-hand and despite Lady memory using her powers to try and overwhelm Shadow Lass with her own memories, Shady ends up kicking her ass. Unfortunately, Persuader doesn’t like seeing his employer lose, so he decides to kill Grev. Just before his axe hits Grev, Mon-El swoops down out of nowhere and blocks it. Colossal Boy and Timber Wolf take Persuader down, leaving Star Boy and Mon-El to disperse Lady Memory’s army. Lady Memory is kinda freaked out that Mon-El managed to overcome her power and he Mon-El captures Lady Memoryexplains to Shadow Lass that Saturn Girl called Superboy for help. Knowing Mon-El was being tormented by his memories of a millennium in the Phantom Zone, she figured Superboy showing up with his Phantom Zone projector would snap Mon-El back to normal … and it worked. Back at Legion HQ, Brainy’s enhancements work and Dawnstar gets a sense of where the missing Legionnaires are … right before the computers blow up from the feedback. Brainy’s not worried, saying he can figure out a way to find their missing teammates if he gives it some more thought.

Legion of Super-Heroes 6 coverLegion of Super-Heroes #6 – “Silver Linings” – Paul Levitz/Joe Orlando/Larry Mahlstedt

Last issue, Mekt (Lightning Lord) Ranzz and his sister Ayla were both accidentally brought along when Zymyr warped to safety after the Legion started pounding the Legion of Super-Villains. Zymyr and his two unwilling companions end up at his hideout on an unnamed planet. Zymyr’s hideout is staffed by robots he’s created and he quickly has them subdue Mekt and Ayla so he can probe their minds and learn their secrets. We get a rerun of their origin (along with lightning lad, their brother) and Zymyr says he needs to drain their power to fuel his machines. I guess his time in the LSV with Mekt didn’t fosterAyla and Mekt held captive many feelings of camaraderie. Zymyr leaves them and Mekt gives Ayla shit for not joining the LSV when he first asked her. She reiterates that even though she quit the Legion, she’d never join Mekt’s side and is glad the Villains were defeated. Back at Legion HQ on Earth, everyone’s getting a little testy about the missing Legionnaires (Element Lad, Shrinking Violet, Phantom Girl, Ultra Boy, and Chameleon Boy) even though Brainiac 5 and Dawnstar are doing their best to find them. In Zymyr’s hideout, Mekt and Ayla agree to cooperate to get out of captivity and they start blasting the shit out of their prison (and Zymyr’s robots when they come to check on the disturbance). Ayla's memoriesThey get out of the prison, but are recaptured trying to swim through some creepy fluid. Ayla flashes back to her first meeting with the legion when she took Lightning Lad’s place because everyone thought he was dead. When he came back, she thought her Legion career was over until Dream Girl changed her powers to allow her to make things lighter and she rejoined the Legion under the name light Lass. Her hot and heavy romance with Timber Wolf (and their recent break-up) completes Ayla’s trip down memory lane, as Zymyr wonders what to do with his troublesome captives. Mekt and Ayla demonstrate how much they want to be free by trashing some more robots and Zymyr agrees to returnlost Legionnaires in Limbo them to a familiar place so they don’t total his entire planet. In the Limbo between universes, the missing quintet of Legionnaires are trying to stay positive, but it’s not easy while they’re floating in the middle of nowhere with no hope of rescue. Ultra Boy spots what looks like an inhabited planet in the nothingness and they steer their bubble toward it, hoping to find some way of returning home. Speaking of home, Zymyr’s warp deposits Mekt and Ayla on their home planet of Winath, where Ayla was living before Mekt had her kidnapped. She’s ready to go back to her simple life, but Mekt starts acting like an asshole Ayla blasts Mektagain and attacks her. Wen some of Ayla’s friends try to defend her, Mekt attacks them and Ayla gets mad and uses her powers to blast him. Ayla says she quit the legion because she’d lost sight of what she was fighting for, but Mekt has reminded her that there is such a thing as pure evil and that someone needs to stand against it. That helps Ayla figure out her future and a few days later, she heads back to Earth to rejoin the Legion (with a snazzy new costume and a kick-ass new attitude).

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