Monday, October 17, 2016

Titans/LSH "Universe Ablaze!" #2

Titans/Legion of Super-Heroes: Universe Ablaze! #2 
title: no specific title
writer/layouts: Dan Jurgens
finished art: Phil Jimenez
letterer: Comicraft
colorist: Tom McCraw
separator: Heroic Age
logo design: SJI Associates
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: Dan Jurgens & Phil Jimenez, color separation by Richard & Tina Horie
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

The Team-up of the Centuries continue!

Mission Monitor Board:  

The Titans: 

Brother Blood, Universo

On the Legion Outpost, in orbit above Earth, Karate Kid is training with M'Onel when they are alerted that the Titans have escaped. The time-lost Titans have stolen a Legion cruiser and knocked out Spark (with a ballpoint pen!?). The Outpost was also sabotaged, as everything except life support has been disabled. And to add to their troubles, Saturn Girl is suddenly in a catatonic state.
In Australia, the Titans wait around uncomfortably while Universo is telepathically battling Saturn Girl. Although her body is physically at the Legion Outpost, Universo attempts to shut down her heart by long-distance mental command. Luckily, Apparition is with her and is able to give her a heart massage, keeping her alive. Rejuvenated, Saturn Girl continues to fight back against the mental attack. Eventually Universo gives up, leaving Saturn Girl alive but mentally and physically exhausted. However, the Legion demands that she tell them what is going on.
Still on Earth, Universo decides to move on with his conquest. He divides the Titans into three groups for three key destinations: an undersea power station, a United Planets star-gate on Mount Washington, and the UP head-quarters in Metropolis.

Still on the Legion Outpost, Saturn Girl tells the others the history of Universo, who was born on her home-world of Titan. He was a mutant who was born both physically crying and also telepathically screaming. Titan elder Aven tried to turn the infant's telepathic powers off, but when that failed Aven had the child fitted with a helmet that would dampen his abilities. The boy then grew up as "a boy in the iron mask," without any human contact. As he grew older, the young Universo used computers to learn about Brother Blood, an immortal who could possibly free him. The Legion guesses that this is in fact what happened. Brainiac 5.1 also guesses that Universo is related to Saturn Girl, and she admits that he is her cousin.

SP Officer Shvaughn Erin suddenly arrives at the Legion Outpost, telling the Legion of Universo's actions on Earth. The Legion breaks up into three teams to meet the threat.
Underwater, Tempest and Argent arrive at the power transfer station to destroy it. Because it is a facility that takes the heat from the Earth's core and transfers it to the surface world, Universo wants to deprive the surface world of its power. As Tempest wonders about the fate of Atlantis in the 30th Century, the Legionnaires attack. However, they are too late to prevent the Titans from destroying the station. Although Tempest escapes, the Legionnaires and Argent are caught in the explosion.
At Mount Washington, Troia, Starfire, and Arsenal arrive to destroy the trans-warp data station. Another group of Legionnaires arrive to stop them, but they, too, fail. The Titans manage to escape.
At the United Planets' head-quarters in Metropolis, Flash and Lilith/Omen are accompanying Universo when a third team of Legionnaires appear. However, before they can engage the Titans, Lilith teleports them away. Universo then makes the Secretary of Planetary Relations "see" him as UP President RJ Brande and tells him to continue to keep Earth isolated from the other UP worlds (for its own safety). Universo and the Titans are thrilled to see huge throngs of people chant his name.
On the moon of Titan, one last group of Legionnaires has arrived to investigate Saturn Girl's fears of her world. They find that Universo has used his telepathic powers to "hide" everyone from normal senses. However, Saturn Girl breaks through the mental barrier and finds that Brother Blood has joined Universo to take control of her planet. Lilith teleports Starfire there to help defeat the Legionnaires, but her solar power causes a fuel pod to explode.

Underwater on Earth, we learn that Cosmic Boy and Argent are alive and free, trapped in an underwater cavern. Argent seems free from Universo's control, which is good. But they believe that their friends may be dead, which is bad. Just as they begin to question how they made it into the cave after the explosion, they get their answer: the Devil Fish rescued them!

Out in space, it turns out that the Legionnaires on Titan caused the explosion in order to cover their escape, with Saturn Girl  using her mental powers to hide the fact that she and her friends are not dead. They have a plan, as Saturn Girl and Starfire head into the Cillotine space sector. Suddenly, their ship is grabbed by a tractor beam from an unmarked vessel. The two women are brought before the captain of the ship, who turns out to be Starfire's older sister, Blackfire.

This is a beautiful story. However, it seems like the myriad characters and various locales have confused the creative team, as this issue is nowhere near as good as the first issue. Exhibit A: the battle of wits between Universo and his cousin is excellent, and the scene where Apparition saves Saturn Girl's life as a corporeal form is fantastic. But then....Universo gives up, and literally walks away from the battle. Huh? This should have been part of the final climax, right? Drastically mishandled.

Likewise, the idea of the Titans splitting up to do the bidding of Universo is a good one, but I would have liked a few more actual battle scenes. If we're going to have characters fight, let's let them fight! Besides that minor complaint, I *do* think it was a tad too convenient that the Legion wasn't able to defeat any of the Titans. And as it is, I have no idea what is going on in that page reprinted above with Ultra Boy and the Flash. Glass walls and floors? Yet, ironically, unclear!!

The spotlight on Tempest underwater is fantastic, and I'm not going to argue with his lead role, but then Jurgens and Jimenez throw Devil-Fish into the mix, too? Because this Titanic Team-Up was just crying out for another random guest appearance by a minor supporting character. Come on, guys, let's keep our attention on the characters we already have in the story!

I can't say I'm surprised to see Blackfire appear. I mean, it is only 1,000 years in the future, and becuase comics, so, sure, she actually looks pretty good. I do, however, have a problem with the whole plot at this point. Let me see if I got this right: Lilith teleports Starfire (but only Starfire) to Titan, so that.....what, exactly? Just so that she and Saturn Girl can meet Blackfire, it seems like. What happens to the other Titans and to the other Legionnaires? They planned to explode a gas cylinder so that Saturn Girl could steal a space ship.....alone? For what? Where was she going, and why did she end up bringing Starfire with her, and why weren't the other Legionnaires with them?

I'm looking forward to the continuation, but I have the distinct feeling that this story has taken on a life of its own, and not in a good way.

The cover, in its dramatic use of non-color and few characters, is stark yet, sadly, dull. With a combined cast of more than 30 characters, a scene of a woman asleep isn't the best image to sell it, is it?

Science Police Notes:  
  • Universo's real name in this story is given as Sarmon Ardeen. 
  • Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288 feet. It is located in the state of New Hampshire. 
  • Devil-Fish made his debut in Superboy/Legion #202, the last supporting character created by Dave Cockrum before he left the series. Devil Fish later re-appeared in Legionnaires #7.
  • This story takes place before the events in Legionnaires #81 and Legion of Super-Heroes #125, before the events leading up to Legion Lost (v1) #1 (2001). Likewise, in Titans continuity this story takes place before Titans #20, wherein Cyborg leaves the team.  
Unfortunately, these issues have not yet been compiled into a Trade Paperback.


  1. I don't know how I missed this ?


  2. I have to agree. The art was really nice, but the story just didn't click. Ordinarily I'm a big Jurgens fan, but this one was just, well meh.

    Pity too. These two teams should go together like peanut butter and chocolate.

    - Boston Moss

  3. Really hated the revamp of Universo as Imra's cousin. DC's obsession with turning villains into hero's relatives is pretty much ridiculous.