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#903512 - 07/22/16 07:17 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I can "kinda" forgive Relnic's betrayal because Levitz is trying to create alternatives to the identity of the mystery spy at Weber's World besides the super obvious Ontirr. But he's a personal favorite of mine too, so I can't say I love his portrayal in Earth War. In Levitz's second run, he shines on numerous occasions.

Marla's portrayal a few issues earlier, though, is tough to swallow.

#903765 - 07/25/16 09:01 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#244 the Dark Circle that Crushed Earth by Paul Levitz, art by Joe Staton & Joe Giella, colours by
Cory Adams


[Linked Image]

Eight Legionnaires speed from Weber's World to Earth to fight the Khunds, Wildfire's team fly on their own and Sun Boy, Element Lad, Colossal Boy and along with Ontiir follow in a cruiser. Gim recaps the previous issues.

They encounter a heavily-armed space-station, which attacks. It's filled with robots, so the Mon and Superboy enjoy tearing it apart; Wildifre blasts the robots to save time. However, Dawnstar claims there is life aboard the station. A search leads them to an inertron cube, which Jan transmutes to helium , revealing the Dominator delegation within. They tell the Legionnaires that Relnic is a member of the Dark Circle and pledge to help the U.P. defend Earth, to defeat the Circle.

On Earth, Khunds break through Legion HQ defenses, seeking devices given to the Legion for safekeeping, but are met by the four retired Legionnaires, holding blasters. Garth informs the Khunds that they're no longer bound by the Legion's no-killing code. The four defeat the Khund squad, but Garth wonders what they can possibly do against the full Khundish force. Imra gives a pep talk, reads the mind of the fallen Khund commander and learns of the Dark Circle's involvement.

Another Khund force is attacking SP HQ, but their leader is conked on the head by Officer Erin. She is quickly held by other soldiers, but Karate Kid appears from a time bubble and takes out the soldiers.

In space, the eight Legionnaires attack Khundish invaders. Although they disable many ships (whose occupants are fortunately dressed for outer space), Wildfire decides to take the fight to Earth and take some Khundish hostages. Watching from a Legion HQ monitor and tapping into the telepathic plugs, Lightning Lad voices his approval and decides to join Wildfire's team. Garth and the others take a Legion tank but are disabled by Khunds. Chuck and Lu are left, unconscious; Garth and Imra leave on foot.

Wildfire's team makes it to the Presidential Palace, fights through the Khunds and come to face with the Dark Circle – and most of the Legionnaires, imprisoned in tubes. They are given a choice to attack the Dark Circle and watch their comrades die, or serve the Circle as slaves. When Wildfire refuses to capitulate, a Circle Lord produces a sphere of negative matter and threatens to destroy Earth. The invulnerable Legionnaires encircle the sphere and absorb its explosion; everyone is knocked out but Superboy, but the physical destruction is limited.

Garth and Imra arrive, as do Shvaughn and Karate Kid to say that the Dark Circle is not finished and Earth is not safe yet. A Dark Circle Lord calls them fools, removes his hood, calls Relnic an imbecile and reveals that he impersonated Relnic, then reveals his true self: Mordru!


Comments:

This is a very exciting issue, as the layers of deception are peeled away and the Legionnaires face horrible odds with courage. Live on your knees or die on your feet - they choose the feet every time.

Ontiir looks a lot like Darkseid. At the time of this publication, I don't think Darkseid would have been as much of a household name as he later became, but it certainly struck me as an ominous resemblance. I liked the way Ontiir was drawn in the shadows, or standing apart from the others.

It is really strange to see the Dominators pledging to help Earth. It makes sense to fight a common enemy – but, knowing the what would happen later, I can't help but think that this is all just a ruse and their agents are even now on Earth, tending the SW6 Legionnaires and plotting to infiltrate Earthgov.

Three of the four ex-Legionnaires are what we consider the weaker-powered, yet they fight valiantly not only with guns but with their fists. The text describes them as “four of the oldest and wisest Legionnaires” - and it shows. I loved Chuck's enthusiastic shout that they could take care of the rest of the invaders after defeating the force that attacked the HQ.

Garth is discouraged and annoyed at the unfairness of life; it's up to Imra to give the duty speech. Although Garth is more moody than the others, and on the surface less devoted to the Legion, he's the de facto leader of the four and does not shirk from the fight.

We see more valiant heroism from Shvaughn, embarking on what must have seemed like a suicidal last stand, saved only by Karate Kid ex machina. It stretches credulity that Val would arrive at just the right moment, but battles have been won or lost on such unexpected events. (At least in the movies... perhaps historian Cobie can confirm or deny this.)

Wildfire proves to be an able leader in a crisis, keeping the goal in mind and coming up with clever tactics. To be recognized by Garth & company is high praise indeed.

Mordru's a big surprise. Suddenly, many things become clear: the disappearing snipers, Brainy's disappearance, Shvaughn's mysterious message, the subterfuge on Weber's World. When this issue ends, we really don't know if the Legionnaires are alive, other than the Garth, Imra, Superboy and Karate Kid - and Shvaughn. However, it does seem unlikely that everything would be flattened, but the Legionnaires' bodies still in one piece.

I was pleased to know that it isn't the real Relnic who is the traitor. Mordru tells the heroes “you know” various things, which is an odd way of putting it. Does he mean they know what's happening now that he has been revealed – or that, in their hearts, they knew all along that he was the director of events?

We don't see any of Mordru's henchmen. If he did all this through his magic alone, he is indeed a powerful mage and a great manipulator of men and events.

Questions of this issue: (1) where has Shadow Lass been for the last few issues? Suddenly, she's a Dark Circle hostage. (2) I lost track of Ontiir. Is he a hostage of Mordru, or appearing to be so, or did he scamper off somewhere? (3) Brainy is back, as a hostage; was he grabbed by Mordru when he disappeared near Weber's World?














Last edited by Fat Cramer; 07/25/16 09:11 PM.

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#903822 - 07/26/16 07:33 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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She ran and called him Wildfire.
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244:

Ontiir disappears from the story once the Dominators are released. One might suppose he escorted them back to Weber's World, but he was a passenger on the Legion's cruiser--how would he have taken them anywhere?

Strangely enough, these are the things that stand out most to me about the issue--discrepancies such as Shady's sudden appearance--and the plot conveniences of the Legion stumbling upon the Dominators' prison, which just happens to be midway between Weber's World and Earth. (Why not on the other side of the galaxy, Mordru?) Oh, and Karate Kid's deus ex machina appearance, and that he somehow knows about Mordru already.

Such flaws are like dents in the body of a sooped-up car that otherwise runs well and has all the trimmings on the inside. It's the little things you notice which detract from the experience.

And that's a shame because this action-fest does indeed propel the story forward and feature wonderful surprises. I enjoyed the last line of defense created by Garth, Imra, Chuck, and Lu (though the latter two are conveniently taken out of the action). Wildfire comes into his own, calling the shots but listening to Jan's reasoning. Shvaughn, a throwaway character in her two previous appearances, holds her own in a fight and suddenly becomes an endearing supporting character.

Even the art has its moments. While Staton is still not my choice for Legion artist, several of his faces--especially Dirk and Imra--stand out as attractive, individual, and nuanced. I wonder how much Joe Giella had to do with this.

But, oh those petty errors! Ultra Boy, who did not need a space helmet in 241, now suddenly wears one. Cos (wearing his old costume) appears to have joined the landing party on the space station, and Jan is miscolored to resemble Garth in one panel. Sloppiness throws me out of a story.

The Mordru reveal is a big reveal indeed, though, and it was enthralling to watch things go from bad to worse to virtually hopeless for our heroes. This issue snatches the victory out from under them and pushes them to the brink of catastrophe--what a cliffhanger!

So, this is another good issue which, with a bit of editing, could have been even better.



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#904433 - 08/01/16 07:51 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy & the LSH #244: Earth War Part 4

The first thing I can’t help but notice is the artwork, which has changed mid-story, remains really tough to get used to. Like so many others, I wish Sherman had a chance to finish this story as his art was really spectacular. Here, Staton and Giella really fall flat on some pages. That being said, they have really good moments too and overall, the art isn’t bad enough to distract from my enjoyment. The first panel of page 14, showing Shvaughn, is particularly striking and the splash page on 15 looks like a poster from the Pulp era of science fiction.

And that enjoyment extends from Levitz using part 4 to basically fulfill the promise of the series: things are happening now, events are heading to a conclusion and we are going to get one hell of an ending. *That* feels good: knowing things are moving somewhere satisfying. The Dark Circle is increasingly revealed in this issue, taking things even farther in scale and Legion lore. As that unravels, we get several other bits of forward momentum: Shvaughn at last interacts with the Legionnaires to play her part, and helping her along the way is yet another return: Karate Kid! Even the usage of the Legion arsenal—mentioned continually but almost never used—is a great way to showcase this. Finally, the showdown with the Dark Circle happens and the Legion is victorious…though not quite yet. And then the ultimate ending to Earth War takes place as the true force behind all of the Legion’s trouble is revealed. The one person who could manipulate things on such a grand scale, their ultimate foe, Mordru!

Even with the story moving along now at lightning speed, Levitz takes care with each Legionnaire he shows. Colossal Boy & Element Lad have nice scenes, while Wildfire, Dawnstar and Superboy continue to have great chemistry. And of course, the reintroduction of Garth & Imra and Chuck & Luornu is just a feast for the soul. The next addition of Karate Kid moments later adds to the feel that things are coming together and each Legionnaire is playing their part.

It occurs to me how the Legion felt extraordinarily guilty about not having enough of their members on Earth to battle the Khunds and probably blamed themselves for its being invaded so successfully—even if such thoughts aren’t fair. That line of thinking would certainly back-up the oft-repeated exclamations throughout Levitz’s second run where they would bemoan having so few Legionnaires stationed on Earth. I always wondered about that, thinking along the lines of ‘who cares?’ But in the wake of Earth War, not having enough Legionnaires stationed on Earth was a very real concern for the Legion.

Minor complaint: Brainy appears as one of the captured Legionnaires. His being taken by himself earlier suggested he would have a bigger part to play in the story, so his inclusion here feels thrown in and like a lost opportunity. Granted, they were running out of room and a case can be made that they simply wanted the smartest Legionnaire off the playing field, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Lastly, I just love the ending sequences. A lot of it is comic book science, but the timing of it all just flows so naturally. Mordru’s appearance is dramatic to the max, and the stakes have never been higher.

#904434 - 08/01/16 07:55 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer

We see more valiant heroism from Shvaughn, embarking on what must have seemed like a suicidal last stand, saved only by Karate Kid ex machina. It stretches credulity that Val would arrive at just the right moment, but battles have been won or lost on such unexpected events. (At least in the movies... perhaps historian Cobie can confirm or deny this.)


The arrival of the Swedish army in the 30 Years War comes to mind, though I honestly can't say if that happened in reality or more "in spirit". But your point is well made. It is always accepted that such unexpected arrivals can change the course of history!

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
So, this is another good issue which, with a bit of editing, could have been even better.



I agree, and I'm surprised at how much of it is artistically driven: specifically where certain Legionnaires are placed. It doesn't detract from the story IMO, but when one thinks of "missed opportunities" to creating one of the absolute best Legion stories of all time, these little things gotten right would have made it even better.

Last edited by Cobalt Kid; 08/01/16 07:56 AM.
#904509 - 08/01/16 09:14 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#245 Mordru Master of Earth by Paul Levitz, art by Joe Staton %+& Murphy Anderson, Colours by Cory Adams

[Linked Image]

Mordru sneers at four Legionnaires and admits he's made mistakes with the Legion – but not this time. He encloses them in a force field of gravity.

Saturn Girl telepathically commands the mage to lessen the force and Val and Superboy smash the field. Mordru admits he goofed, again. Before he can take action, Garth blinds him with lightning. The Legionnaires escape, led by Superboy tunneling through the Earth, at Imra's suggestion. The four emerge on a tropical beach, a Legion hideaway.

Mordru sets the entire Khund invasion force on the hunt for the Legionnaires, which gives him time to recap his backstory.

Khunds search Legion HQ, looking for a hint of where the four may be, without success. Mordru decides to handle the search himself, but Imra is able to quickly blanket their thoughts and so remain hidden. However, Superboy is more susceptible to magic and his mind is affected by Mordru's search. With some difficulty, Val subdues him until Mordru's search has passed by. Garth takes the lead and decides on offensive tactics: to free the other Legionnaires.

Using super super super speed, Superboy expands a bubble to encompass the encapsulated Legionnaires and flies far above the Earth, all in the time it takes a mystical bolt to travel from Mordru to himself. Although he is struck and knocked out, the other Legionnaires are now free.

Legionnaires attack en masse, Imra mind-links everyone, but although weakened, no one has an idea of how to defeat Mordru. Jan appeals to Brainy, Imra mind-links them, and Brainy supplies Jan with the chemical formula to transmute the hydrogen atoms of space into soil that successfully imprisons Mordru.

Epilogue: The Legionnaires meet in their HQ and amend the Constitution so that married Legionnaires need not resign. Garth and Imra joyfully accept to return while Chuck and Lu prefer to live their own lives. The team then attends a ceremony honoring them and announcing a thousand-year peace treaty with the Dominators.

Comments

This issue is weaker than the previous ones: instead of devious plots, mysteries and armed invasion, we have one big battle with a single, talkative foe. Apart from the fact that Mordru looks like a Persian cat, he's pretty menacing. Pretty menacing... he seems to make a lot of goofs and underestimate the Legionnaires. I do like this power he has of scanning the globe, whether through servants or his own mind. He did the same thing in his original appearance and would use probes in 5YL. He seems to be better as a back-room planner than an active battler. Maybe he's exhausted at this point from all his machinations.

Superboy's weakness in the face of magic is well written here. Not only are his powers affected, his mind is less resistant as well. This enables others to shine in his place.

Garth is again assuming leadership – and seems quite happy to be back in the Legion. Given his desire to settle down in married life, I wonder if he's deceiving himself about one life choice or the other. Imra may be emotionally stronger, but Garth certainly behaves like the man of action.

Jan has done quite well in this arc. It appears that he's the one who thinks of how to entomb Mordru; Brainy just supplies the specs.

Chuck and Lu mention having a family to build, but they never do have children. I wonder if that's yet another untold tale or the idea just got lost in the shuffle.

How ironic the peace treaty ceremony seems in hindsight! The “ever-watchful Ontiir” guards the ambassadors to the very end. Suspicions about him were never resolved, so readers may make of that what they will.

The ending is a good wrap-up, acknowledging that Khund and Dark Circle forces had to be dealt with, as well as physical destruction on Earth. There are even a few dents remaining in the Legion HQ.

I liked the idea of a Galactic Coordinator – haven't taken the time to check, but I believe later in the series the same position will be held by a woman with a mohawk haircut.

Where did Shvaughn disappear to? She was in the final panel of #244 and just vanished. That was a disappointment.





Holy Cats of Egypt!
#904525 - 08/01/16 11:54 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy & LSH #245: Earth War Finale

The fifth and final issue of Earth War arrives with an explosive start and it never lets up throughout. Like the entire storyline, this issue does not disappoint either, as Levitz does something most comic book writers need to work on: he delivers a great ending.

Two things are noticeable right in the start of the issue: first, the artwork is really dynamic, and I think a lot of that is because of the legendary Murphy Anderson being “co-artist”, whatever that means. His role in this issue has always been unclear, but its notably more exciting that the last issue, and I think he’s the reason. Second, Mordru himself is incredibly well-depicted. He is meant to be seen as the Legion’s greatest foe and that actually comes across here in every page that he’s shown. His size, the raw power coming from him, his facial expressions…all of it serves to make us believe.

In a way, chapter 1 of this issue parallels Adventure Comics #369 with four Legionnaires on the run, who ultimately decide that the only way to be victorious is to face their enemy head-on. I’m sure that was done on purpose by Levitz, and he makes it more “Earth War Centric” by having their direct goal be freeing the other Legionnaires.

From there, we get the epic battle of Mordru versus the Legionnaires and its probably the best, most epic battle from a “battle” perspective that we ever get against Mordru until the reboot. Much like Crisis on Infinite Earths and various JLA stories, it showcases a multitude of Legionnaires using their powers together all at once, and most importantly working as a team to overcome him. What sets this apart is the emergence of Element Lad to have his finest moment thus far, which only comes after Imra realizes no one has an idea on how to beat Mordru which leads to immense despair. This is really well done and is the most memorable sequence. One might argue Mordru is beaten a little quickly but I don’t think so: do we really need another 10 pages of action? I think the whole choreography was well done from start to finish. And I love that just like the previous 4 issues, the “die on your feet rather than live on your knees” attitude is present in every panel.

What happens next, in the epilogue, is just the perfect way to end the story and foreshadows dozens of similar scenes in the Legion’s history from this point forward. The entire team is assembled in a meeting (and by entire team, I mean one is shown not only full drawn but colored) and we get some bits of Legionnaire business that we usually don’t see. I love these scenes and evidently so does everyone else as we’d eventually get more of them. This is made all the sweeter by the dissolution of the old “no married Legionnaires” rule, as Imra and Garth rejoin the roster. Duo Damsel and Bounding Boy do not, but at least they get a few panels to say why, while Karate Kid is firmly back on the active roster hereafter. And then of course the Legion gets the much deserved thanks from the UP and the rest of the supporting cast, which is icing on the cake.

Two additional thoughts hit me as I read the final pages as well:

- First, there must be at least one great untold Legion story about the “clean-up” of Khundish forces in the UP that takes place between Mordru’s defeat and the epilogue.

- Second, when one considers the TMK version of the future and the idea that the Dominators were slowly trying to take over Earth throughout all this time, one reads the “1,000 year peace treaty” in a wholly different light. Of course, they’d naturally want to help the UP and Earth stop Mordru and the Khunds…and they’d eventually want Earth for themselves.

And so, Earth War ends! And with a fresh read now done, I can say that my earlier feelings about it being one of the great Legion stories in LSH history still stands, and if anything, has only been made stronger! The share epic scale of the entire thing: encompassing the Khunds, the Resource Raiders, the Dark Circle, Mordru, Shvaughn, Relnic, Ontirr, and a whole host of Legionnaires that included the returning Garth & Imra, Karate Kid, Chuck and Lu plus the Subs, just sets it apart from everything else that came before. But more than that, it’s the execution of the whole thing, which despite inconsistent artwork, is told masterfully by Levitz from start to finish as tensions build, action is dynamic and promises of an epic are realized at the end. And its all done with great characterization and a clear love for the LSH franchise. You can’t really ask for more than that.

While our next fictional Archive will review the remaining LSH stories that feature Superboy as an active member of the roster and co-headliner of the series, I like to really think of Earth War as being the culmination of all that’s come before. It truly takes the Legion to the next level and at a time when comics in general (and DC especially) were transitioning to a new era of more refined and mature storytelling sensibilities. The Legion had gone through quite the whirlwind since they left Adventure Comics and after finding their footing gradually, first with art, then with writing, then with general story-telling improvements, Earth War basically brings it all together and at the same time pulls open the curtain to the larger Legion universe. It’s hard not to feel incredibly optimistic about LSH comics when you finish this story, even knowing we have to slog through Conway’s run and even knowing where we are here in a LSH comic-less 2016.

#904526 - 08/01/16 11:59 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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And a few thoughts from FC's post:

- I also like the Galactic Coordinator role! Seems like the perfect role for a grown up Legionnaire like Jeckie or Nura.

- good catch on Luornu and Chuck wanting to start a family. A very interesting and perhaps heartbreaking untold tale. And perhaps it relates to our own speculations about the two halves of Luornu being at odds in the background throughout all these stories.

- Agree about Shvaughn in the finale. With Levitz leaving the series, I wonder if it was decided to just scrap her from the series? Whatever the case, her missing from #245 is one of the most jarring things about the story.

#904617 - 08/02/16 10:42 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Cobalt Kid]  
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Originally Posted by Cobalt Kid

- First, there must be at least one great untold Legion story about the “clean-up” of Khundish forces in the UP that takes place between Mordru’s defeat and the epilogue.


At least one! It couldn't have been easy. I wish they'd given us some idea of the time involved.

Quote
- Second, when one considers the TMK version of the future and the idea that the Dominators were slowly trying to take over Earth throughout all this time, one reads the “1,000 year peace treaty” in a wholly different light. Of course, they’d naturally want to help the UP and Earth stop Mordru and the Khunds…and they’d eventually want Earth for themselves.


I can't believe I missed this obvious motive for the Dominators. I was just thinking they're playing nice to deceive, but of course they'd be actively protecting the jewel they seek to eventually steal for themselves.

Cobie and I have somewhat different views on Mordru in this issue. The fact that he could even be temporarily disabled by Garth, and his mental search blocked by Imra, seemed inconsistent with the incredible plotting and control of characters he'd accomplished. Of course, every villain has his weak points, and there wouldn't be a Legion story if they couldn't beat him. However, there was a good sense of the despair they felt before Jan came up with the ultimate solution - and they continued to stand their ground, even in the face of defeat.

It could have been an interesting twist to keep Mordru in the background for longer, blame the Dark Circle and Relnic, and have Mordru emerge even more unexpectedly several issues later. That would have caught the Dominators off guard and disrupted their plans for Earth.

In any event, it's really a shame that this story hasn't been collected in a TPB. It's full of so many gems.


Last edited by Fat Cramer; 08/02/16 10:43 PM.

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#904832 - 08/04/16 04:33 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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She ran and called him Wildfire.
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The Plateaus of Ecstasy
245
Surprisingly, I don’t have a lot to say about the conclusion of Earthwar. In part, this is because RL has kept me busy this week, but also because re-reading the story sparked no fresh insights or rekindled any standout memories.

Mordru’s second major recorded battle with the Legion simply lacks the finesse and scope of his previous outing. In Adv. 369-70, the wizard was so terrifying that four Legionnaires fled into the past to escape him. There was a palpable sense of danger as the Legionnaires adopted identities to avoid being discovered, and a feeling of inevitable horror when they were eventually “betrayed” by their friend, Lana Lang (who served as a vehicle for Mordru’s all-seeing power). Even the Devil’s Jury portion, though flawed, furthered the impression that Mordru was so overwhelming and unrelenting that he was the one villain who could crush the Legion. He was Voldemort, Moriarty, and Darth Vader all rolled into one.

In this rematch, he’s just another villain whose powers and weaknesses change to fit the needs of the story. It doesn’t help matters that Levitz borrows a page or three from the Adventure story. Superboy and three fellow Legionnaires have to go into hiding. Mordru again uses his all-seeing power to search for them. The Legionnaires again decide they are tired of hiding and take the battle to him. Homages are great, but when the plot closely mirrors the original story, you have to wonder how much originality Paul could spare.

Also, the previous story ended with a nice twist of the Legionnaires learning that Mordru had been outsmarted by three girls, Dream Girl, Princess Projectra, and the White Witch (a quaint notion which seems sexist now but which fit the times). Earthwar, however, concludes with a typical free-for-all in which all of our heroes throw everything they’ve got at the villain. (In some cases, this confrontation doesn’t make a lot of sense—did Jeckie really think Mordru would be afraid of a wolf-like creature? Nura emits some sort of mysterious radiation from her hands—but, hey, you gotta have every Legionnaire do something.) It’s nice that Jan came up with a pseudo-scientific resolution, but the big drama over Brainy’s cooperation seemed pointless.

There are some nice touches. I enjoyed Val’s recollection that he and Superboy had fought only a few weeks (and ten centuries) earlier, in his own mag. (I’m surprised, though, that Paul didn’t mention their first tussle back in Adv. 346.) Garth comes up with the battle plan, which nicely sets up his election as leader in two issues. And the entire epilogue with the Legionnaires amending the constitution and then being celebrated as heroes is classic—easily the best part of the issue.

But then there’s more sloppiness to throw me out of the story. Shvaughn’s disappearance is a huge error, and Garth somehow hurls lightning bolts out of Superboy’s sand bubble without destroying it.

All in all, it feels like Levitz bit off more than he could chew in trying to deliver the Legion’s first multi-part epic—and he admitted as much in his Legion Companion interview. I applaud him for trying, but he didn’t have enough skills or writing experience to pull it off. He could probably also have used a tighter editorial hand than Milgrom seems to have provided. It’s interesting to compare this story with the Adventure original, written by a much younger writer and presided over by a strict editor. Though Shooter has spoken at length about how abusive Mort was, the latter seems to have brought out the best in his young charge.

On a personal level, I had mixed feelings about Garth and Imra rejoining the Legion. Again, Paul seems to have borrowed the idea from the Adventure run—351, in this case, which ended with almost all of the Legionnaires made whole (except Lu, who is likewise excluded from rejoining the Legion here). It’s always great when a family is reunited, but that’s a safe approach to storytelling. It was gutsy to marry off Garth and Imra and have them leave the Legion, just as it was gutsy to have Garth lose an arm and to expel Star Boy and cause Bouncing Boy to lose his power. To undo those things is to take a giant step back into children’s fantasy land, where nothing Bad ever happens.


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#904844 - 08/04/16 11:38 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Best story ever.

Plot hole? Dark Circle is going to destroy Earth with a negative whatever but the DC (hmmm, just noticed that) is really Mordru who wants to take over the Earth because it's you know, Earthy.

#930876 - 06/05/17 08:44 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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(Testing the waters, what with me being on the verge of re-joining the Legion Re-Read with the soon-to-come issues 283-294 & Annual 1)

SUPERBOY & THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #240 -- 2ND STORY, "DAWNSTAR RISING"

Writers - PAUL LEVITZ (plot) & PAUL KUPPERBERG (dialogue); Artists - JAMES SHERMAN (pencils) & BOB MC LEOD (inks)

Secret Origin of: DAWNSTAR

Introductory appearances of: POWER BOY (Jed Rikane) and SHADOW KID (Grev Mallor)

First, I was initially shocked that this gem of a backup story got inspired so little discussion the first go-round...but then, factoring in both the Re-Readers' understandable eagerness to get to the Earth War story-arc and Dawnstar's relative unpopularity (at least in my observations) among Legion fandom, it's more understandable. Coming to it relatively "cold", as I now have, I came away feeling like it was a true example of a buried treasure within a VERY uneven era of the LSH saga.

Secondly, and segueing from the point above about Dawnstar's unpopularity, I want to address the character herself, and her portrayal from her mid-70s introduction through the end of the Baxter years during the late-80s (I don't consider 5YL to be canon; I don't presume to take away 5YL fans' right to consider that controversial era canon, but I myself choose not to.)

In their reviews of the story, He Who and Cramey get right to the core of the "Dawnstar Dilemma":

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
"Dawnstar Rising" possesses a lot of good qualities. It was one of the few Legion stories I'd read to this point in which one of the Legionnaires grows and learns something. Before this, they had always been portrayed as know-it-alls who were super-competent in everything they did. To see Dawnstar humbled like this was quite a revelation.

The story endeared her to me for this reason. It takes a truly mature individual to admit she was wrong, to promise to do better, and to learn the value of friendship in those she had previously dismissed.

I also appreciated the character bits Levitz worked into the story: Drake asking Dawny on a "date," her rebuff of him, Laurel calling her out on this, and Dawny's dismissal of Laurel. These characters sound and act like real people. I also appreciated Dawny's origin, which introduces us to a different culture in the 30th century and to her less-than-altruistic reasons for joining the Legion.

Is she the only Legionnaire who gets a salary? I think we were told at some point that the others get a stipend, but would that be enough to cover more than basic living expenses? If Dawny were paid more for her services, it would certainly create some jealousy. In any event, it's totally realistic that businessman R.J. spotted talent and recruited her to the Legion by offering her money. It gives us a very different perspective on the "every kid wants to be a hero" assumption behind the Legion.

On re-reading this story, though, I found it somewhat less than satisfying--I guess because Dawnstar is so thoroughly humiliated by her failure that I was left wondering what was heroic about her. If this had been my introduction to the character, that might have been my firm impression of her (and why does it have to be a Native American character who is so thoroughly humiliated? In the era of racial sensitivity, this comes across as demeaning--not unlike the "Tyroc-in-chains" cover. When you have few minorities in a comic to begin with, they tend to come across as symbolic of the entire race.) Fortunately, we've had a few stories in which Dawnstar is shown to be a competent Legionnaire (229 and 237, specifically); still, I wish she had "earned" her victory or redeemed herself in some way.

It helps to know, though, that this story takes place before her introduction in 226. A letters page comment will reveal that a caption, which would have clarified the chronology, was omitted. Knowing that we're seeing the "before" to earlier stories' "after" makes her journey more understandable.


Being largely ethnic myself, descended of Russian and German Jews on my mother's side and of Ecuadorian Incas and Spaniards on my father's, I feel I have a certain degree of insight into both sides of the sensitive topics which He Who broaches. Yes, it is true that pop culture of the late 20th Century portrayals of minorities often erred on the side of being unflattering, and sometimes even insulting. But that also raises the question of whether the (admittedly less frequent) portrayals of minorities as nearly impeccable and infallible is, in its own way, as much as or more of an insult. Brown girls like me, in particular, had a tendency during the 2nd half of the 20th Century to be presented as pure, virtuous, pious, and virginal, such as Marvel's Firebird; on the flipside, there was the hot-blooded Latina stereotype who couldn't complete a sentence without switching from English to Spanish along the way -- take a bow, Wildcat II. In my view, I'm actually more offended by Firebird -- she's dull and completely unthreatening to white parochial sensibilities, and I don't see how that constitutes any real kind of progress; OTOH, Wildcat, as cringe-inducing as her speech patterns are, at least seems more real and relateable, even if she is ultimately more a caricature than anything.

Which brings us to Dawnstar. After giving this story under discussion my first well-considered read, I have to say it's a pity that subsequent writers never built on the depths hinted at her -- even Levitz left most of the heavy lifting to the artists (James Sherman, who pencilled this story, and Greg LaRocque, who pencilled a great deal of Dawny's most iconic apperances, would have to be her definitive delineators in my mind.) Levitz & LaRocque did capture lighting in a bottle with one beautifully executed page during the Baxter era's post-Pocket Universe decline, where Brin makes Dawny laugh, but, like so many promising bits from the latter part of Levitz Mk. II, it went nowhere.

Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
We...get some insight into frosty Dawnstar's background.

Wildfire as instructor is appropriately outspoken and direct, but does not sound like a hothead. Dawnstar's rebuff of his invitation made me wince a bit; we know how the story turns out, but there will always be that bit of chill from her.

Dawnstar's working childhood raises the point that not everything is easy in the future; some planets/cultures struggle to survive. It also explains her hardness towards other people.

R.J. Brande got her a place in the Legion - and it worked out. It would have been interesting to see what would happen if he sent a candidate who wasn't well-qualified. I did get a laugh at how she even managed to snark at R.J., while bringing up the idea of the Legion as entitled show-offs, something we've had hints of in recent issues.

Her clothing, when she meets Brande, is generic future style. I haven't been a real fan of the fringed costume, but her look would have been weakened if she had kept that blue & yellow number.

Her regret at going solo led to a rather hasty turn-around: the relief of the moment. While it may have made her realize that it was better to depend on and work with others, she will maintain her prickly personality, for which I'm grateful. It distinguishes her and makes her a more interesting character.


I concur with almost everything Cramey says above, my only caveat being that Dawnstar's personality quickly -- all too quickly -- calcified into a superficial persona, which did her no favours, and which I suspected contributed greatly to the negative perceptions of her by all too many fans. To reiterate, a pity.

But it's not just Dawny who provides all the goodness here -- Laurel Kent finally comes alive here (speaking of characters who got a raw deal), and we get good initial impressions of Grev Mallor and Jed Rikane, the last whom I'd like to think that, somewhere, in one of the infinite alternate Legion timelines, became Mon-El's successor as the team's designated heavy-muscle. This story is also all of a piece with Wildfire's general portrayals during the LSH stories published circa 1978-1979, where he first gained the depth, heart, and soul which Drake fans like me shall always be able to use to fly in the face of his detractors. And, finally, the art team of Sherman & McLeod -- whom I usually consider second only to Giffen & Mahlstedt as the most overrated LSH art team -- really and truly shine here, showing a greater degree of control and precision than in most of their other Legion work.

All told, "Dawnstar Rising" holds up as one of the best Legion stories of the 1970s, in my humble opinion.

#930909 - 06/05/17 03:15 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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She ran and called him Wildfire.
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You've passed the "test"! Welcome back, Annfie!


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#931030 - 06/06/17 05:43 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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It was a dazzling review...just not for one of the issues in this thread....>innocently shuffles backwards out of thread, pushing review behind him<


"...not having to believe in a thing to be interested in it and not having to explain a thing to appreciate the wonder of it."
#931067 - 06/07/17 10:12 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
You've passed the "test"! Welcome back, Annfie!


Thank you, He Who. And thanks, too, for coining a special nickname for my Alt-ID. "Annfie," I like it. smile

It does appear like I accidentally caused Cramey and Thoth to post their 282 reviews in the wrong thread (this is v. 14, not v. 17, because the issue I partially reviewed was 240.) Apologies. blush

#931069 - 06/07/17 10:21 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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thoth lad Offline
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I blame Cramer - Lemming Lad


"...not having to believe in a thing to be interested in it and not having to explain a thing to appreciate the wonder of it."
#931082 - 06/07/17 11:52 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Fat Cramer Offline
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Café Cramer
I blame the Reflecto Saga.

I tried moving my post to the Archive 17 thread, but it appears to have disappeared into the inter-dimensional zone. I'll repost but will leave Thoth's post since I don't want to obliterate what he's written as well.


Holy Cats of Egypt!
#931083 - 06/07/17 11:52 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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He Who Wanders Offline
She ran and called him Wildfire.
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She ran and called him Wildfire.

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The Plateaus of Ecstasy
Originally Posted by thoth lad
Legion 282


We're in a time warp! Must be the same one which led to Superboy having Jo's memories. smile


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The Semi-Great Gildersleeve - writing, super-heroes, and this 'n' that
#931084 - 06/07/17 11:55 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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He Who Wanders Offline
She ran and called him Wildfire.
He Who Wanders  Offline
She ran and called him Wildfire.

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The Plateaus of Ecstasy
Has the Archive 17 thread disappeared? I see it listed two threads below this one.


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The Semi-Great Gildersleeve - writing, super-heroes, and this 'n' that
#931086 - 06/07/17 12:02 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Fat Cramer Offline
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Café Cramer
No HWW - I posted in the wrong thread, tried to move the post to Archive 17 and ended up with two Archive 14 threads by mistake. Should be fixed now.


Holy Cats of Egypt!
#931098 - 06/07/17 01:19 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Ann Hebistand Offline
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Always causing confusion, even with the best intentions -- I really AM Ayla Ranzz! lol LightningLass

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