Thursday, September 17, 2015

Justice League of America #147 & 148

Hey Legionnaires! Kord Kid here, back once again to explore another fun bit of Legion ephemera. The annual cross-over of the Justice League and the Justice Society gets crashed by Mordru and it’s going to take both of those teams plus the Legion of Super-Heroes to stop him. So sit back, relax, and read on as I give you my summary and thoughts on 1977’s Justice League of America #147 & 148, written by Paul Levitz and Martin Pasko with art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.

The JSA are on the Justice League satellite preparing to head back to Earth-2 via a dimensional transporter when Green Arrow (for no explicable reason) launches a boxing glove arrow at the device, shutting it down. Things nearly come to blows between Green Arrow and Wildcat, but Alan Scott breaks things up. It will take the device about an hour to restart, no big deal…especially for Power Girl, who seems to be flirting with Superman. 
Suddenly a giant hand reaches into the satellite and grabs a fistful of heroes! Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Dr. Fate, Power Girl, Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, and Hawkman quickly find themselves in the year 2977, and in the hand of Mordru, who Superman says is “the mightiest evil wizard of this era”. Notice he didn’t say “the best” or “most talented”? Mordru wasn’t looking for ten heroes…he was actually trying to grab three items off the satellite: the Red Jar of Calythos, the Green Bell of Uthool, and the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath. He tosses the League and Society into a prison cell, where Dr. Fate wastes no time coming up with a plan. Using his own power, and the combined power of both Lanterns, he creates a giant projection of himself…which Mordru quickly cuts down to size. While it fails as a head-on attack it creates enough of a distraction that the other heroes manage to take down the wizard like the Lilliputians took down Gulliver! 

It doesn’t last though, and the heroes are soon trapped in a bubble. Mordru explains to the captive heroes that he sent four members of the Legion of Super-Heroes to retrieve the items he seeks, while holding five more as collateral. The Legionnaires haven’t returned, so now he’s going to send 8 members of the League and Society after them, while holding Green Arrow and Black Canary as insurance. Like all villains, he likes to hear himself talk and soon reveals his plan to Arrow and Canary. He’s going to release Abnegazar, Rath, and Ghast, the Demons Three, who are trapped in the objects.

Faster than you can say Raxacoricofallapatorius we get to everyone’s favorite part of these adventures…the team ups! On Antares-II Sun Boy and Wildfire are being held prisoner. Seems the local lifeforms don’t take kindly to their search for the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath. Lucky for them Superman, Hawkman, and Dr. Fate appear and not only save them, but locate the Wheel! 

At that same time Batman, Hal Jordan, and Alan Scott find themselves battling space dragons as they attempt to land on the planet Vaxon to search for the Green Bell of Uthool. On the planet itself, Brainiac-5 and Princess Projectra plead their case before the Vaxonian Governing Council. They want the Bell to save the imprisoned Legionnaires, but the council argues that the Bell is the only thing keeping the space dragons from wiping out their people. When Bats and the Lanterns finally make it to the surface they put their heads together and come up with a plan. 

The Lanterns carve the uninhabited part of the planet’s surface in the shape of a larger space dragon, a Xanthor, which scares away the others. That’s all the Vaxonians need to hand over the Bell. 

All that’s left now is for Flash and Power Girl to find the Red Jar of Calythos. Jay Garrick uses his speed to vibrate so quickly he opens a dimensional door where the jar was hidden for safe keeping. After Power Girl deduces the creatures inside are just mothers hatching eggs she finds the one egg not being watched and recovers the Jar. 

With all three relics retrieved Mordru reneges on his deal to let the heroes go, and instead traps all of them as he releases the demons. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Abengazar, Rath, and Ghast have no intention to be controlled by anyone, least of all Mordru. They zap the wizard and prepare to destroy the items so they can never be trapped again!

Taking advantage of the moment, the Legionnaires escape and Ultra Boy, Lightning Lad, and Wildfire charge the demons…and get put down almost instantly. 

The demons then use mind control to force four Legionnaires to take Mordru’s spirit form (wait what? The giant wizard was just a spirit form? And it still takes four people to carry it?) to where his physical body is. Black Canary and Green Arrow reluctantly tag along, trapped in an hour glass around Mordru’s neck. 

The demons then begin fighting over what to do now that the Earth is theirs. Realizing they can’t actually fight each other as their powers are equal, they decide to use the captured heroes as pawns. In no time at all we get the JSA vs. the JLA vs. the Legion! 

The heroes know that they’re being controlled, know that they shouldn’t be fighting each other…but that doesn’t stop them from tearing into their opponents. While the past, present, and future battle, Hal Jordan makes a quick exit to check on his friends Arrow and Canary, freeing them from their hourglass prison. Before anyone can celebrate though the trio find themselves under the demons' control and turn on the Legionnaires carrying Mordru.  After subduing the future heroes, the present day trio find themselves vanishing, transported to their next assignment.

The demons continue arguing over what to do next, as the Legion, League, and Society continue to battle one another. Power Girl and Superman realize they’re able to resist the mental manipulation…they just need to see if anyone else can. 

Abnegazar sends Alan Scott and Dr. Fate to the center of the Earth. There, by interfering with a global exploration tunnel, he hopes to strong arm his way into ruling the world. Ghast doesn’t take kindly to this and sends in Wildfire and Princess Projectra to interfere on his behalf. The League use their communicators to confirm that they are free of the demons' control and Black Canary suggests that if they all play dead the demons will be forced to fight each other. 

The plan works as Abnegazar and Rath begin hurling energy at each other until the demonic duo disappear, leaving Ghast behind to face three teams of heroes alone. 

While the heroes attack, keeping the demon off balance, Dr. Fate assembles the parts of the Justice League’s satellite (destroyed in the 30th century) around Ghast, imprisoning him. With that the heroes shake hands, apologize for beating each other up, and head home.

So...that was interesting! As a fan of these stories, the appeal of taking three of DC's greatest teams and throwing them into one adventure sounds awesome! From a critical stand's hard enough giving everyone something to do when it's just the League and the throw in the Legion and things get, well, chaotic. It's busy, it gets hard to follow at times. Characters and motivations get blurry, and you (or me) find yourself going "Wait, what?!" quite a bit. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun ride. But like a roller coaster, you loop and twist and speed through to the end of the story...and then it's over, done, and mostly forgotten in a blur. This is a story I'll go back and re-read down the road and enjoy again and again...but will always be left feeling like it should have been something more, should have lasted longer.

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