BHOC: SUPER-TEAM FAMILY #13

Okay, so I fouled up yesterday, thanks to a typo in my notes. It wouldn’t have been SUPER-TEAM FAMILY #14 that I bought after reading all of those FANTASTIC FOUR and MARVEL’S GREATEST COMICS issues, but rather the preceding issue, #13. Oops! So I’ll ask your indulgence to push that review forward in your minds and we’ll have a do-over today where I’ll speak about the correct issue. All right? Everybody ready? Then let’s go!

This issue was the third chapter of the four-part “Atom’s Quest” cycle of stories that formed the narrative backbone of SUPER-TEAM FAMILY for a time. And perhaps taking a page out of the Marvel playbook–or simply because his reach exceeded his grasp–writer Gerry Conway decided that the story should also crossover and interact with his running plotlines in another title, SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS. And so, this issue headlined Aquaman and the Society’s regular nemesis Captain Comet.

There was a bit of discontinuity right from the start, as the events of this issue seem to take place before those of SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #10, which I had already read. The book opens with Captain Comet taking an injured Kid Flash to the JLA satellite headquarters for treatment. There, he’s surprised by the appearance of the Atom, who’s looking for help in finding his cosmically-empowered fiance Jean Loring. But before Comet can help him, the JLA emergency alert shows disasters breaking out all across the globe. Aquaman calls in, explaining that the rest of the JLA is off doing Steve Englehart things in JUSTICE LEAGUE #145, and that Comet is the only one who can help. The Atom knows what’s causing the disasters–it’s Jean, just as she had previously done on two other worlds–and he teleports down to the surface to lend a hand, leaving the injured Kid Flash to exit the story in a pretty unheroic fashion.

Aquaman and his fish underlings are able to save Manhattan from a tidal wave, but he’s knocked unconscious and picked up by a group of strange aliens. Meanwhile, using dubious science, the Atom is able to stop an earthquake in Naples, Italy. And Captain Comet goes to deal with an active volcano in Seoul, Korea–a move which catches the attention of Funky Flashman and the Secret Society of Super-Villains. Star Sapphire decides to shadow the Captain and see what he’s up to. Wrapping up his mission, Captain Comet gets a signal on the JLA wavelength that leads him to rendezvous with Aquaman.

In the meantime, the Atom has telephoned himself to his lab at Ivy University, where he’s able to use his equipment to pinpoint the source of the disasters (and likely Jean’s location): the undersea city of Lemuria at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean not far from Easter Island. Transporting himself there with the JLA teleporter, the Atom finds Aquaman and Captain Comet already on site–it was the Lemurians who had rescued Aquaman earlier. They’ve got Jean Loring with them, but she has suffered a mental breakdown, and is now hopelessly insane.

To try to bring Jean back to sanity and restore her control of her abilities, the Lemurians use their science to amplify Captain Comet’s mental powers, allowing him to project the microscopic Atom directly into Jean’s brain. But as he goes, Lemuria is rocked by tremors–these not caused by Jean at all, but rather a crazy super-villain called the Wind Pirate, who is taking advantage of the chaos to loot and plunder. The Wind Pirate is operating from both a seaborne structure and a flying galleon in the sky, so Aquaman and Captain Comet split their forces as each hero goes to deal with the interloper in his native environment.

A bunch of meaningless fighting ensues as Comet and Aquaman tear through the Wind Pirate’s forces, eventually simultaneously attacking the power cores of both vessels so as to knock out his weather control apparatus. Meanwhile, the Atom is successful in releasing the pressure in Jean’s brain, and so the worldwide calamities subside–but he’s frustrated to learn that this is a temporary measure, and that for stability to be maintained, Jean will have to remain in a coma indefinitely. This is where the book goes To Be Continued–but the story doesn’t continue into the next issue of SUPER-TEAM FAMILY as the blurb indicates. Rather, it loops around to SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS, where, following Star Sapphire’s directions, the Society kidnaps Jean and intends to use her powers for their own ends. And this all happened in a comic book that saw print at least two weeks earlier–it’s no surprise that many readers found this serial confusing and hard to follow. Strangely enough, though, for all of the hurtles, i was able to enjoy it just fine.

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