Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #2

Legion of Super-Heroes (vol 2) #2 (Sept, 1984)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

title: "....Where A Villain?"
writer/plotter: Paul Levitz
penciller/plotter: Keith Giffen
inker: Larry Mahlstedt
letterer: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Keith Giffen & Larry Mahlstedt (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Light Lass, Wildfire, Dawnstar, Element Lad, Cosmic Boy, White Witch, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, Blok, Dream Girl, Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy, Lighting Lad, Saturn Girl, Queen Projectra, Karate Kid

Lightning Lord, Lazon, Magno Lad, Titania, Cosmic King, Spider Girl, Terrus, Ol-Vir, Radiation Roy, Esper Lass, Neutrax, Chameleon Chief, Sun Emperor, Silver Slasher, Mist Master, Ron-Karr, Zymyr, Tyr, Hunter, their unrevealed leader

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why I Love the Legion of Super-Heroes

Legion Member: The Irredeemable Shag
Unique Power: Taunted the other Super-Bloggers into creating this blog.

Finding a favorite character or team is as much about the reader's mindset, as it is about the appeal of the characters. In my case, I found the Legion of Super-Heroes in 1989 at just the right time in my life. I was already collecting most of DC's titles, having jumped in with both feet after Crisis. At age 17, I was beginning to dip my toes into comics outside the traditional spandex and capes. I came across a pamphlet promoting the upcoming Legion of Super-Heroes relaunch.  I'd missed out on the previous run, but was certainly aware of its popularity. The pamphlet advertised this new series with copy like, “Operating in a universe where there is no more order, gathering together former comrades who have grown out of the names, Boy, Girl, Lad, Lass, and Kid, he has a new Legion to build. And if he succeeds… what can they hope to accomplish? There’s only one way to find out. Join them.”  It was exactly the kind of jumping on-board point that grabbed my interest. I mean, c'mon, what 17 year old geek isn't attracted to stories of a dystopian future. 

I picked up the first issue and was utterly bewildered. The Legion I'd heard of was full of brightly-clad characters and goofy codenames. This issue was full of dark muted colors, sketchy art, and people with names like Rokk and Reep. I was completely confused ... and loved it! I didn't know who any of these folks were, but I had a complete collection of Who's Who and by golly I was gonna figure this out! I spent hours crawling through my Who's Who, entry-by-entry seeking Legion characters, noting their codename, real name, and planet of origin. All of this was hand-scrawled on a single sheet of paper that I kept for years. It was my Rosetta Stone to deciphering the Giffen/Bierbaum/Gordon run. Each issue I’d look up the newly reintroduced characters to better understand the story. The excitement of research and discovery helped cement my investment in these characters. 

This era of Legion is considered controversial by some fans. Love this incarnation or hate it, I think we can all agree that Keith Giffen is excellent at world-building. In just a few issues, I desperately wanted to know what happened at Venado Bay and what happened to continuity when you removed Superboy. For a more recent example, Giffen's world-building in Justice League 3000 is absolutely fascinating. I didn't expect to enjoy Justice League 3000, but I love learning more about that world as the story slowly unfolds. It's compelling! Similarly, the "Five Years Later" era launched with many questions and mysteries. I anxiously awaited each new issue. 

Many mainstream superhero comics lack a sense of excitement because month-to-month you know by the end of a story they’ll revert to the status quo. Let's face it, comics are corporate properties and there is a lot of money tied up in merchandising, so those characters must maintain the status quo. This book threw the status quo out the window! Gone were all the traditional trappings, even the team itself. The first story arc was about "getting the band back together" and had a distinct feeling that it was going somewhere. No stagnation here. Also, watching the team come back together was a joy. These were great friends seeing one another after years of adversity. The world surrounding them was bleak, yet together they believed they could make things better. While perhaps not intentional, the series managed to touch on our cultural fascination with nostalgia. Even though it hadn't actually been 5 years in publishing time, you felt the characters happiness at being reunited. It generated an artificial sense of nostalgia that I was happy to revel in. By the time the Batch SW6 Legionnaires arrived, I was primed for classic style adventures with these characters.

Once Zero Hour brought “my Legion” to an end, I drifted away. I stopped by and visited the 30th (later 31st) century from time to time, checking on my old friends. It was always pleasant to hang with the reboot or threeboot versions, but there is something about your first love. Give me scratchy Keith Giffen art, powerless Rokk Krinn, private detective Celeste Rockfish, journalist Devlin O'Ryan, and Furball any day.

Long Live the Legion!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Art Institute of Zwen: Bill Walko

Bill Walko Profile by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
There is SO much goodness in this Bill Walko original. Click on the illustration to Colossal Boy-ize it and then look at EACH of the Legionnaires, especially the men. Ultra Boy and Mon-El are cheering on their faves, Timber Wolf is salivating over Light Lass, Lightning Lad is generating electricity over Saturn Girl, Sun Boy is just hot and bothered in general, and Duo Damsel is non-plussed at her husband's antics!

You can find Bill Walko on:
Bill has imagined what would happen if super-heroes really existed: they would need help marketing! This is a fun take on the super-hero "business" that is worth a look.
If you've never seen this, we recommend starting with his theme song video here: 

If you like what you see, consider ordering a commission or collection. Let's support independent artists!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

LEGION TOYS: Cosmic Boy (Mattel 12-Pack)

Cosmic Boy is extremely excited to meet you
Mattel 12-Pack Cosmic Boy
by David Weter
When Mattel announced the Legion 12-pack of figures, I was elated. What a great selection of characters, from a company with a proven track record in their DC Universe Classics line.

Then, I realized that this would be sold through their collector-centric website, Matty Collector dot com. This meant a battle would be in store.

For anyone who has experienced the fervor and frustration of countless fans rushing to buy the latest offering from the site, and the long load times- I feel your pain.

And, in this instance, I was far too late. The Legion set sold out well before I was able to log on. There was much sadness, and gnashing of teeth since that meant that I would be paying an outrageous sum on the back market.

And, I ended up paying retail, thanks to patience and persistence. But, was the set worth it? That is the question that I will be looking at, figure by figure.

First off is Rokk Krinn, also known as Cosmic Boy, one of the original Legionnaires to contact Superboy.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hot: Lighting Lad In Bed...Nude?

Sun Boy and Lightning Lad are injured when their cruiser crash-lands. Dirk injures his ankle, and Garth injures his knee. So of course the doctor strips them naked and puts them to bed. 
(Adveture Comics #303, art by John Forte)

As an extra added attraction, here is Lightning Lad in bed again...this time sleeping nude? Certainly looks like it, even though his older brother Mekt is sleeping in the same room with him!
(Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes #1, art by Jimmy Janes & Frank Chiaramonte)

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #3

Legion Reviewer: Anj
Super-power: nonchalance at death of characters I don't particularly care for

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #3 by Keith Giffen, Tom & Mary Bierbaum, and Al Gordon continued the radical new direction of the property, a dystopian future where the Legion has been disbanded. The first issue was a tour around the galaxy, setting the table of this darker future, and setting up the dominoes of a Legion reformation. The second issue concentrated on Jo Nah and his native planet, Rimbor, giving us an up close look at one of the dingier corners of this new order.

Here, in the third issue, we again hop around a bit, catching up with some Legionnaires we haven't seen yet. But more importantly, this issue sets up some of the bigger threats the Legion will be facing. We have been given glimpses of how bad the universe has become. Now we peek behind the curtain and see those who have made the future this dismal place. Of the first three issues, this one is the darkest.

But as I have trumpeted in these reviews, the point of this series has been to show just how powerful the  Legion is ... not only as a group of heroes, but as a concept, as an inspiration. So even though we see powerful Evil plotting, we see them worried ... worried that the Legion might come together again. And it is that glimmer of good which shines bright in the blackness.

As a reader, perusing the racks, you might not grasp the power of the cover, a flag for the darkness within. Yes, a man is dressed in a dandy fashion and is leaning on a pedestal at first glance. It is only on closer look that you see that pedestal is, in fact, an arm. And those rocks are body parts.

So far we have seen Rokk, Jo, Reep, Dirk, and Lydda. On our first page this issue, Giffen gives us a quick look at the whereabouts of other Legionnaires. At least we know that these Legionnaires have survived.

Nura Nal, Dream Girl, is high seer on her home world of Naltor.

Dirk Morgna, Sun Boy, who appears to be a pampered spokesperson for the new Earthgov is speaking with a Dominator. For the first time we learn ... Earth has been compromised and is part of the Dominion, even if it puts on the airs of being a free world. The more we learn of Sun Boy, the less I like him.

Jan Arrah, Element Lad, is on Trom, guarding the graves of his people.

Mon-El, killed in the last issue of the previous series, is in his grave. But there are voices present.

Dawnstar is under fire.

Brek Bannin, Polar Boy,  is unemployed.

Thom Kallor, Star Boy, is a coach of a sports team.

Brainiac 5 is on Colu, studying one subject.

And Rokk Krinn, Cosmic Boy, is on Rimbor, hoping to recruit.

Which of all these ex-Legionnaires will join?? This page certainly whet my appetite. At least I knew these players were on the board.

But then we see others. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are running the Ranzz farm on Winath. And, surprisingly, Lightning Lord, Mekt Ranzz, seems to be rehabilitated and is downright chummy with Garth.

They aren't the only Legionnaires on Winath. Vi has been reunited with Ayla. Winath seems to be something of a hedonistic place, an Eden-like garden and a stark contrast to the narrow grimy streets we have seen everywhere else. After the emotionally painful scene with Vi last issue, I was actually happy to see her and Ayla sharing some alone time. A romantic relationship had been heavily implied back in the Baxter series. Here it is out in the open.

We also see the risks of being in the Legion. The Legion graves and tributes have been moved to the Ranzz farm.

As I said, this issue we see some of the big evil forces who are active in this current state of the galaxy.

The first big power ... big bad ... is Mordru. Earlier in the issue, we see just how powerful he has become. He crushes a Green Lantern ring to powder, setting a hunger demon onto a captured Rond Vidar. And he knows that the Legionnaires are starting to gather. While Rokk and Reep are led to Jo by a hulking lupine creature, Mordru is magically eavesdropping.

The mere gathering of 3 Legionnaires, one of them powerless, is enough to get Mordru's attention. Fantastic.

And the Dominion isn't too happy about it either. There are three Legionnaires on Rimbor. There are 4 Legionnaires on Winath. What if they were to reform!?!

This is an interplanetary Dominion which is ruling Earth. And 4 Legionnaires working on a farm is a scary enough notion to make it take action!

This is the power of the Legion and the theme of this series. That the Legion, as a symbol, strikes fear in evil.

As for the Dominators, they decide the best thing to do is release a genocidal killer. The dapper man we met last issue, the person gracing the cover, is Roxxas. Hopelessly insane, Roxxas was the killer of all the Trommites except Jan. And he is a lunatic, a cacophony of multiple voices speaking all at once in his mind. Creepy.

And, to show the reader that Roxxas is a threat, we see him dispatch, almost too quickly, Blok.

Now Blok has always been a tough Legionnaire. I always thought he was one of the more invulnerable Legionnaires. Here, in the span of one panel, Roxxas blasts him to bits.

Alas ... poor Blok ... we hardly knew ye.

And Rokk, Reep, and Jo? They are already thinking of their next steps. And it involves trying to free Mysa ... the White Witch ... from Mordru.

'They mean to test the old man once again.' Unlike the rattled Dominators, he seems more annoyed by this, like an old man yelling at kids for playing on his lawn.

But really ... a Durlan, Ultra Boy, and a powerless Braalian taking on Mordru, at the height of his power? It sounds like a suicide mission.

The Dominators were hoping that Roxxas would go off and kill the Legionnaires in a quiet fashion, skulking and assassinating from the shadows. But that isn't Roxxas' way. He sends the bits of Blok to the Ranzz farm to be placed in the Legion graveyard. Except he sends it to Garth and Imra's son Graym. Look at that note, a collection of hand-writings ... a mirror of the multiple personalities he has.

He is a blatant threat to the Legion; that can't be what the Dominators were hoping for. It will only spur the Legionnaires to team up and avenge ... instead of shattering their resolve.

Brutal and terrifying though. It lets the reader know just how off the deep end Roxxas is.

But this series is about hope and inspiration. And Rokk is suddenly feeling it. With he, Reep, Jo, and Kono (who Jo insisted joins them - he knows her powers and abilities), there is already a mini-Legion.

And even without powers, Rokk knows that the Legion is needed.

"We're good. We've got the power and we know what to do with it.
Long live the dream."


The back matter includes information about 'the Validus plague', a wave of disease which spread through Winath to all who came in contact with Garridan, the Ranzz child who had been Validus. It seems Darkseid's curse isn't so easily defeated.

And now, reading this, we know that Brainy's patient on the first page is Garridan, held in quarantine.

But the issue ends with a blockbuster cliffhanger. We hear three voices talking and arguing ... and they all are coming from Mon-El, who is suddenly alive and well. Three voices? Not dead? Trust me ... next issue is a doozy and nothing will be the same.

What a fabulous issue. First off, we continue to see the Legionnaires congregating, reforming even if they don't realize it yet. And we see the evil they will have to fight, classic villains from their past - Mordru, The Dominators, Roxxas. This series was off to a flying start.

And, as I have said before, Giffen walks the fine line of luring in new readers and satisfying old Legion fans. This issue is so steeped in Legion lore, I don't know how any new reader could follow it. Everyone is called by their real names, not their code names. No powers are discussed. No exposition about Mordru, the Dominators, or Roxxas is given. Blok is barely named. How anyone who hadn't been reading the Legion for years could fully appreciate this issue ... well I don't know if they could.

But for me this issue stoked the fires. Rokk's enthusiasm for reforming the Legion is balanced effectively by the threats we have seen. But we are still in basically uncharted waters. This is a new universe and a new Legion.

MILESTONE: This issue features the death of Blok. I will be writing a true requiem for him later but Blok died as he lived, quietly and without much fanfare. He was never one of the stars of the book but he had some depth. A reliable friend in good times and bad and a gentle giant, let us hope he found some peace.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Adventure Comics #403 "Fashions From Fans!"

A brief fashion note by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

I know, this is supposed to be the chronological run-down of the Legion in Superboy. I hear the hundreds of fans thinking, What is an issue of Adventure Comics doing here? Well, I'll tell you. You might find it interesting....or odd.

After the Legion got the boot from Adventure Comics in #380 they went over and staked out the loft apartment in the back of Action Comics. They were relatively popular (more so than, say, The Private Life of Clark Kent). They were getting fan letters and regular costume designs. In fact,  somebody at DC actually decided to use a fan's costume design for Saturn Girl's hot pink bikini. So DC decided to test the Legion waters, sort to speak, and made the next Giant Sized (reprint) of Adventure Comics #403 (April 1971) into a Legion special. ("Ya know, Mort, we prolly shouldn't have cancelled that Legion crap....!") This reprint special featured the stories of Lightning Lad's death and resurrection. Which is all well and good, except that there were still five pages to fill. So...E. Nelson Bridwell, the reprint editor and long-time Legion fan, commissioned Ross Andru & Mike Esposito (in some of their last DC work before they moved to Marvel) to illustrate "Fashions From Fans!"

Which would have been fine; great, even, if none of these ever appeared again after this feature. Because as you're about to see for yourself, all but one of these costumes are hideous. Hideous as in "hide" them and never show them again, ever.

Unfortunately, nearly a year later, in the March 1972 issue of Superboy, three of these atrocious togs actually make it into a Legion story! This issue of Adventure Comics was probably laying around when Mr. Tuska was looking for source material, and he included Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, and Shadow Lass in these new uniforms. Mon-El is also featured in the story, but as he wasn't given an update in this featurette, he got to keep his classic costume.

So here it is, an *almost* forgotten bit of Legion history...It is noteworthy if only because it gives another credit to Saturn Girl's bikini outfit (K. Haven Metzer of Columbia City, Indiana, credited in its debut and then again here) and to Duo Damsel's new orange and purple suit. Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum took this idea and put her in something similar to it in Superboy #193. But the original idea  was designed by Nick Pascale of Brooklyn. Haven't I seen his name around elsewhere in the DC Universe? Anybody know what ever became of him?

And now, without further ado (but maybe a quick "adieu" as soon as you see them....) here we go! 

Next week:
we resume our chronological review of the Seventies' Legion as three of these Calvin Klein rejects (and Mon-El) become involved in "The War of Wraith-Mates!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Futures End: Booster Gold...spoilers ahead!

Spoilers ahead...you have been warned!

Today, DC released the Futures End: Booster Gold one-shot. "But this is a Legion blog," you say, "besides stealing a flight ring what does he have to do with the Legion?" Well...time travel is my first answer. In fact the entire issue is basically Booster Gold being bounced around from time to time, and Earth to Earth. My second response is the image below...

Yup! A Steve Lightle drawn Legion appearance! The issue also featured appearances by Blue Beetles, past and present (shameless plug for my other blog here!) What does it all mean? That remains to be seen, but in my opinion it's good to see Booster, the Legion, and Blue Beetle back in action!

Who's Who: Lightning Lad

Lightning Lad
by Russell & Siskoid
Real Name: Garth Ranzz
Super Power(s): Projects lightning bolts
Planet of Origin: Winath
Legion Seniority: Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy were the three founders of the Legion. 
Traditionally Lightning Lad is considered the Third Legionnaire, as both Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl served as Legion Leader before he did, so are counted first. 

Legion Log 
Lightning Lad made his debut in Adventure Comics #247 and was an active member until he resigned to marry Saturn Girl, which occurred in All-New Collectors' Edition C-55, chronologically falling in-between Superboy & The Legion of Super-Heroes #236 and #237. At the time of their wedding, the Legion Constitution forbid any members from marrying. He and Saturn Girl were re-admitted in Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #245 after the events of The Earthwar Saga, and the Legion revised their Constitution. He and his wife took another leave of absence in order to have and raise their son Graym, born in Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #3 (1984). They resigned again in Legion of Super-Heroes (vol 3) #12 to spend more time with their son. After the events of "The Universo Project," Saturn Girl requested re-admittance, but Lightning Lad remained a Legion Reservist and "house-husband" and father to his son (then, later, both sons).

Lightning Lad was elected Legion Leader in Year Eleven. 
Lightning Lad has a reputation for being the "unluckiest" Legionnaire. He was the first to be "killed" (seriously injured) in action. Later, he was again seriously injured when he attacked "the Moby Dick of Space," losing his right arm in the attack. He then used a cybernetic arm for approximately one year. When he was kidnapped by Evillo and operated on by the Devil's Dozen, instead of being harmed, he had his right arm re-grown; he has been fine ever since.  

Lightning Lad's tenure as Leader was one of the most dramatic, and the stress caused him to have a mild mental breakdown, resigning near the end of his term in favor of his Deputy Leader, Element Lad. Since that time Lightning Lad seems more at ease with himself, content to be who and what he is: a devoted husband and father and a loved and loving friend. He easily slid into the role of "house husband" when his wife, Saturn Girl, requested a return to full membership. Lighting Lad is friendly with all the other members but is especially close to his wife, Saturn Girl, his best friend, Cosmic Boy, his sister, Light(ning) Lass, and Superboy and Sun Boy.

It was eventually explained that Lightning Lad was on his way to Earth to begin a search for his missing brother, Lightning Lord, when he met up with Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl and helped save the life of R.J. Brande. He eventually tracked down his brother, who had joined the Legion of Super-Villains. 

The Ranzz parents died in a space cruiser accident eight years after the Legion was founded. Every year on the anniversary of their death, Lightning Lad and Light(ning) Lass meet in the middle of space where the accident occurred and hold a memorial for them. 

Lighting Lad and Saturn Girl are the parents of twin boys, Graym and Validus. Initially, Validus was stolen by Darkseid and sent back into the past to fight the Legion as a member of the Fatal Five. Eventually, this was discovered, and Validus was returned to normal and to his parents.

During the Five Year Gap, Lightning Lad resigned from the Legion, scarred after surviving the plague carried by Validus. They moved to Winath, where he and his wife Saturn Girl ran a prosperous plantation and helped feed a starving galaxy. They would help the Legion re-form in 2996, but would not join it, Imra soon after giving birth to twin girls, Dacey and Doritt Ranzz.

It is eventually revealed that Lightning Lad was never resurrected when he had fought against Zaryan, but rather that the consciousness of Proty was transferred to Garth's body. Proty was the one who woke up that day, married Saturn Girl, and had children with her. 

Lightning Lad was also one of the members of the SW6 Legionnaires, and appeared as Live Wire in Legionnaires when it was spun-off into its own series. This Garth was far more brash and reckless, possibly because Proty was not part of his make-up.

After the Reboot, Garth comes to Earth looking for his brother, Mekt. He ends up saving R.J. Brande with two other youngsters, then found the Legion of Super-Heroes as Live Wire. He soon quits, however, experiencing a rough patch with girlfriend Saturn Girl, making no headway on his secret family mission, and because Winath's government wants him replaced on the team by his more stable twin sister Ayla, dubbed Spark. He joins a rival group called Work Force for a while and is on and off with the Legion during this time. In an echo of past continuity, Live Wire loses an arm fighting his brother and has it replaced by a mechanical prosthesis. He then rejoins the Legion, and with half the team lost in the past, is elected Leader.

Live Wire was part of the Legion Lost in a far away galaxy, where he sacrificed his life stopping an insane Element Lad and getting everyone home. He is resurrected in crystalline form, a body that looks like the reviled Element Lad's. During Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, Brainiac 5 helps him mutate the body into a likeness of his former appearance.

After the Threeboot, Lightning Lad is once again a founding member of the Legion, and instrumental in making the team an official arm of the United Planets after he becomes Legion Leader.

After Infinite Crisis, Lightning Lad's original history has more or less been re-established.

Lightning Lad appeared in a cameo in the Superman Animated Series; the Legion of Super-Heroes animated series, voiced by Andy Milder; and Smallville, played by Calum Worthy.

Important Lightning Lad Stories: 

Adventure Comics  #247
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
The debut of Lightning Lad AND the LSH!
Adventure Comics #304
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
Lightning Lad sacrifices himself for Saturn Girl

Adventure Comics #312
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol.2)
Lighting Lad is revived when Proty sacrifices itself to save Saturn Girl

Adventure Comics #332
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 4)
Lighting Lad loses his right hand to "the Moby Dick of Space"

Adventure Comics #351
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 6)
Lighting Lad has his right hand re-grown

Superboy #172
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10)
Lighting Lad finally confronts Lightning Lord

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #197
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10)

Lightning Lad gets his Dave Cockrum designed costume

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #207
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 11)
Lighting Lad's parents are killed

All-New Collectors' Edition C-55
Lighting Lad marries Saturn Girl and both leave the Legion

Superboy & The Legion of Super-Heroes #245
Lightning Lad is an important part in the ultimate defeat of Mordru; 
he and his wife are re-admitted into the Legion

Legion of Super-Heroes Annual (vol. 1)  #3 (1984)
Lightning Lad's sons are born
Legionnaires Three mini-series
Spotlight on the love Lightning Lad shares with the founders

Legion of Super-Heroes (vol. 3) #45
 Special spotlight issue on Lightning Lad

Legion of Super-Heroes (vol. 4) Annual #3
Garth is revealed to be animated by the soul of Proty.

Legion of Super-Heroes (vol. 4) #0
 The Reboot Lightning Lad, now called Live Wire, makes his first appearance.

Legionnaires #30
Live Wire loses his arm in battle against Lightning Lord

Legion Lost #12
Live Wire sacrifices his life to get his friends home.

The Legion #32-33
Garth is resurrected in crystalline form.

 Legion of Super-Heroes (vol. 5) #36
The Threeboot Lightning Lad is elected Legion Leader after Brainiac 5-related irregularities crop up.

The Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon (2007)

Lightning Lad voiced by Andy Milder

 Smallville "Legion" (2009)
Calum Worthy as "Garth" 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tales Of The Legion of Super-Heroes #315

Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #315 (Sept, 1984)
Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

title: "Judgment!"
writer/plotter: Paul Levitz
plotter: Keith Giffen
penciller: Terry Shoemaker

inker: Karl Kesel
letterer: Adam Kubert
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Terry Shoemaker & Karl Kesel (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Sun Boy, Supergirl, Brainiac Five, Invisible Kid

The Dark Circle
This story begins immediately after last issue left off, as Supergirl, Sun Boy, and Brainiac Five crash into the inner sanctum of the Dark Circle right there on the splash page. I realized last week in the last issue that I have no idea who or what the Dark Circle is or what their motivations are. Given the fact that they are all dressed in dark robes and NOT happy to see the Legionnaires show up, I guess it goes without saying that they are a group of aliens plotting to take over the world (the universe?). As Supergirl starts to tear through them, they decide that they don't have to stand there and take it, so with a simple POOOF! the entire population of the planet disappears. As the trio ponders their next move, Brainy realizes that teleportation on such a scale requires a huge energy source: probably, the sun!

Meanwhile, Science Police Chief Zendak, United Planets ambassador Relnic, and the captain of a commandeered SP cruiser head into the Dark Circle territory. They are following the path of the broken ships left by the Legionnaires.

In a space station orbiting their sun, the Dark Circle continues to interrogate rogue SP officer Ontiir. Ontiir claims to be a double agent, a Dark Circle spy in the Science Police, but his allegiance(s) are now hopelessly muddied. The Dark Circle demands that he tell them all he knows about the United Planets, and then commit suicide. Ontiir appears understandably anxious at this demand. Before anything else can happen, the Legion bursts in (again). The Dark Circle council is so angry at this disturbance that one council member drops his robe and starts to touch Sun Boy. He appears to be choking him, and not in a good way. Ontiir picks up a blaster and aims it at these two. He thinks that this is his chance to "get a clear shot." Chief Zendak and his SPs burst in next, and when Ontiir doesn't lower his weapon, Zendak shoots him dead. The Dark Circle says, "I believe we no longer have anything to fight about" and dismisses the intruders.

On the way back to Earth, Supergirl is disillusioned by how this "fun" mission ended. She flies off, back to her own time period for some personal reflection.

Back on Earth, Invisible Kid goes to the Legion's doctor, Dr. Gym'll*, to discuss the resurrection of the formerly dead original Invisible Kid. Dr. Gym'll flatly refuses to get involved. So Invisible Kid feels he has no choice but to bring the original Invisible Kid back to where he found him, "the land of dreams."

*(Is "Gym'll" pronounced with a hard "g" or a soft "g"? I know it should probably be pronounced like "gymnasium" but I can't help but pronouncing it with a hard "g" like in "gimme.")

This is a fun story! The art is crisp and clear, and the action is easy to follow. Supergirl and Brainiac Five make a cute couple. Ontiir and the Dark Circle look sufficiently creepy and alien. The Dark Circle member when he drops his robe is especially creepy. Terry Shoemaker and Karl Kesel do a great job.

The story is not what you would expect, and each time I re-read it I respect Paul Levitz for not giving us the clear-cut ending we are used to in straight super-hero comics. Still, it does feel frustrating to not KNOW which side Ontiir was on. I feel the same way Supergirl does. On the other hand, I don't much care that this mission was the impetus for Supergirl to leave the Legion again. I never liked the idea that Superboy was a "joiner" but Supergirl was not. Growing up in an orphanage being kept as a secret weapon seems like a perfect environment for a young girl to want to escape into her future, if you ask me! I definitely do not like the idea that Supergirl was not a more active Legionnaire.
I do have two specific problem with this story, one for each plot. First, what kind of teleportation device is it that makes you lose your clothes when you move? All the people on the planet disappear, leaving their robes behind. So they had a few closets full of replacement robes stored on that space station then? Because except for the alien who gets down and dirty with Sun Boy, they are all wearing robes again when the Legionnaires burst in on them. Second, the Invisible Kid story leaves me cold. Invisible Kid is faced with what he thinks is a seriously depressed former Legionnaire. So what does he do to help him out of his blue funk? How about calling some of the original Kid's friends over and having a party to celebrate his return from death? Did *that* idea never occur to you, Invisible Kid!?! No, he decides "the only thing to do" is take him back to the hellish dimension he found him in. Very smart, Maria, very smart!

**********Second Story**********
title: "The Forging!"
plotter: Paul Levitz
dialogue: Mindy Newell
penciller: George Tuska

inker: Karl Kesel
letterer: Adam Kubert
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger

Mission Monitor Board:  
Blok, White Witch


White Witch's "secret origin" continues from last issue. Blok, after having started watching a holo-vid provided by White Witch, is joined by her. She picks up the thread of her history, telling him how she as young, orphaned Mysa* first arrived on the Sorcerers' World after leaving her native planet, Naltor. Out of desperation and loneliness, she finds the strength within her to cast her first spell. From that point, the sorcerers welcome her as a neophyte. She stays on the Sorcerers' World for six years, studying under each of the Masters. When she turns sixteen, she goes through the final initiation ceremony to join them as an equal. However, a young Mordru sabotages her initiation, causing her to transform into a "hag." The other sorcerers believe her to be secretly evil and banish her immediately.

*(Is "Mysa" pronounced as "my-sa" or as a rhyme to "Lisa"? I don't know why, but I always rhymed it with "Lisa.")

George Tuska draws beautiful women and evil looking men, so this story gives him plenty to sink his teeth into. However, as good as his Mysa and White Witch are, his Blok looks flat and two-dimenstional here. And by changing the narrator from the holo-vid White Witch to the actual person, Paul and newcomer Mindy Newell give us a preponderance of side comments about Evil, human pride and humor, and sadness. I'm sure this was supposed to help "humanize" White Witch and Blok, two of the dullest Legionnaires ever, but the side comments really just distract from the main narrative.

What does the title refer to? Are White Witch and Blok forging a friendship? Is White Witch being "forged" by her time on the Sorcerers' World? Or is she literally being forged when she steps into the flames of her initiation ceremony, only to be found wanting?

Science Police Notes:  
  • In a nice touch of continuity, UP Ambassador Relnic shows up and accompanies Zendak to the Dark Circle world. He is a long-standing supporting character, having appeared in several stories since he made his debut with Ontiir in "The Earth War Saga" in S/LSH # 241-245. He was at the trial of Ontiir last issue, as well.
  • In another nice bit of continuity, Blok recognizes Mordru before White Witch introduces him. It has been established that Blok spends his time watching old Legion archival holo-vids, so it's a  nice touch that he recognizes a man he has never actually met. 
  • Mindy Newell was the first woman to ever write (dialogue) a Legion story. 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.