Thursday, July 7

Legion of Super-Heroes #14 and Teen Titans #96 (8/11)

“False Dreams”

This is a continuation from the previous issue of a multipart story pitting the Legion of Super-Heroes against their nemises the Legion of Super-Villains, led by Saturn Queen. Things are starting to come together in the various story threads. Harmonia Li is still intent on taking Star Boty and the multiversal energies to save her own world. Where is she from? Well, we find that she is from the “World of Wisdom,” “Utopia.” The world that is the object of the Villains' quest. Why? Well, it seems that Immortus – some kind of android construct that Ultra Boy and Wildfire are still fighting – previously had “a vision of three worlds that balanced the universe that it wished to destory. One of faith that it thought already shattered – one of will, beyond its power for the nonce [Oa?] – and a world of wisdom ….” By her own admission, Li's “foolishness at the Time Institute has placed [her world] in mortal peril.”

Saturn Queen and the Villains do gain access to the power of the blue flame (another object of their quest in issues past) to open a path between worlds and appear at Utopia. They are greeted by a figure who identifies himself as “Master Kong” - shocking the Coluan villain Questor: “B-but you're dead … for thirty-five hundred years as measured on your homeworld … thousands of them before Terrans even discovered space flight.” “Master Kong” - “Kung Fu-tsu”? - “Confucius”? In any case, they are not here in search of wisdom, but to bring destruction.

Nonetheless, Green Lantern Mon-El via a ring-construct that he can dispatch on independent missions (!) brings the various groups together at the end – but along the way Dream Girl has a vision that seems to indicate that it will be Star Boy who gives his life (as rumored will happen, mainly because one or more Legionnaires always bite it when the Heroes face the Villains – Karate Kid way back in the first story arc of the “Baxter series” in the 1980s, more recently several of the “Threeboot” Legion in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds). And the next issue is named “False Victory” ….

One idea that has been bandied about on the message boards is that “Immortus” is one and the same as the old Doom Patrol villain General Immortus. Having no exposure to him, I have no idea. I have faith it's going to all make sense in the end.

Beast of Legend”

I guess if I knew much of anything beyond the fact that the Ramayana is a great Hindu epic poem having something to do with duty and the requirements of dharma, this story incorporating its mythology might mean something to me. Of course, it might also help if one of the main characters' names was not mysteriously changed here - “Rankor” appears to be the character called “Ravana” in the Ramayana. Ravana is the primary antagonist of the poem, who kidnaps the hero Rama's princess Sita, but is ultimately defeated by the light of Rama and his ally the monkey-king Hanuman.

Ravana ... er... Rankor
... er, whatever ...
We find all this out in a rather ham-fisted way on the first page, which recounts a time in the past when the father of the new character Solstice (“light”) is telling his young daughter the story: "At his throne sat the Lord of Darkness. Rankor was – in a word – a monster. A demon with ten heads – each one more evil than the next. … The great Rama sensed anxiety in his heart as Rankor's gaze burned with hatred. But Rama found strength in his ally, the monkey king Hanuman. He held his ground, steeling his resolve. His light would endure.” And of course it's all echoed in Solstice's lines at the very end of the issue: “... [M]y light will endure …!”

Of course, along the way we've got to get a “monkey king” – look at the cover. Beast Boy unleashed. Takes him a while to hit on that transformation, however. Basically, this issue is a big fight for the first half until Garfield turns into a big green ape. To make sure we get the point, Solstice cries, “You look like … a monkey king!” They free the team, who have been out of action for the past couple of issues, and are still weakened as the enemy rallies and attacks. And Raven still has some unidentified problem with Solstice. How long are we going to drag this out? Actually, I think it's just one more issue....  Please tell me it's just one more issue.

Frankly, I've not been that impressed with the Teen Titans book since I started picking it up monthly a few issues back. If it weren't ending anyway in just a few issues I'd probably drop it. That's sad. It was so good, for so long, but it's just been cruising for so long after that....

Oh yeah.  How about a little truth in advertising on the cover?  The inside art is not Scott and Hazlewood.  It's Jose Luis pencils and a couple of inkers.  It's okay in itself, but there's entirely too much of this  disparity between solicited story and what appears, between solicited creators and who actually does the work.  It gives a real impression that they're flying by the seat of their pants up there at DC Comics.

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