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#895487 - 04/25/16 01:59 PM Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14  
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Café Cramer
Posting Monday evening since I may not be available tomorrow...

JLA # 147-148 by Martin Pasko & Paul Levitz, Art by Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin, October-November 1977

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

The JLA and JSA get together when Mordru drops in and spoils the fun. The Legion guest-stars.

For first-time readers, an explanation of Earth One and Earth Two is given. After helping the JLA capture the Psycho Pirate, members of the JSA prepare to return home - but the dimensional transporter has to warm up, so everyone stays to mingle - and trade snide comments.

Power Girl, in another room to examine JLA trophies with Superman, screams and the other heroes rush in. Both she and Superman are held by a giant hand, which Doctor Fate pronounces as magical. The hand grabs ten of the superheroes and withdraws from the JLA Satellite, carrying them through space and time. From the JLA: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and Black Canary; from the JSA: Power Girl, The Flash, Green Lantern Hawkman and Dr. Fate.

They appear in 2977, in the palm of a disgruntled Mordru, who throws them to the ground, saying he has no need of "more puny mortals". An hourglass at his feet, filled with sand in the top half, contains five other puny mortals: Legionnaires Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Shadow Lass, Lightning Lad and Ultra Boy.

Superman recognizes Mordru, who, in true supervillain fashion, proceeds to explain what he's up to: he wants to steal the Red Jar of Calythos, the Green Bell of Uthool and the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath - and now he's mad. The 20th century heroes go on the attack, but fail and are themselves imprisoned in a globe. However, Mordru decides (thanks to a suggestion spell cast by Dr. Fate) that he can use the superheroes to get these mystical objects for him, which he will use to free three demons and recapture the planet Zerox. He had tried to get the objects by using Legionnaires (holding the five in the hourglass as hostages), but believes they have failed and now takes Arrow & Canary as hostages until the others bring back bell, jar and wheel.

Mordru further explains, at the insistence of Black Canary, the backstory of the demons and the artifacts, which goes back to the beginnings of the JLA. (Also explained by the more reasonable ExNihil in his podcast on Felix Faust.)

The rest of the story shows different teams of Legionnaires trying to get the objects where they come to rest by 2977, and teams of JLA/JSA finding and helping them. The hostages, with Mordru, follow the action on display screens.

Mordru reluctantly releases the Legionnaires and begins the spell. The heroes realize that Arrow and Canary are still hostages in the hourglass, with the sand running out. The spell is completed, the demons appear and send the JLA/JSA back to their own time. They then knock out Mordru, claiming the world will be theirs once they destroy the three objects. Canary and Arrow are still hostages in the hourglass, becoming submerged in sand.


#148 opens with Green Arrow (still stuck in the hourglass with Black Canary) recapping the events of the previous issue.

The demons, having cast the magic objects to the floor and destroyed them, are now free. They command the Legionnaires to take Mordru's astral body to his physical form. By moving him, the hourglass tips, enabling Arrow and Canary to breathe - but if the sorcerer's spirit is buried with his body, they too will be buried and die.

Things are looking good for the demons, until Abnegazar says he likes the peace and harmony that humans have achieved in the 30th century. Rath wants to make the humans slaves and amass wealth while Ghast wants to get rid of the humans. Now it's war among the demons, but with perfectly equal power, they have to choose proxies to fight. Fortunately for them, there are three separate groups of superheroes.

Abnegazar appeals to the Legion to save Earth; the other two take control of the JLA and JSA, hauling them back from the past, and the rest of the story details the complicated fight among the three hero groups. The JLA are physically controlled, but mentally aware; the JSA are completely manipulated. At one point, Green Lantern frees Ollie and Dinah, who then come under Ghast's control. The Legionnaires can now reunite Mordru's spirit and still-buried physical form without killing the two JLAers. Mordru is now out of the picture.

Both Superman and GL realize that Power Girl is not mentally controlled (because she's younger, according to her); this gives Hal an idea. He fakes a fight with Power Girl, broadcasts it on his ring to the other JLAers, who realize that Ghast only thinks they're without free will. Dinah suggests that faking a defeat of the JLA and arranging a stalemate between JSA and Legion would force the demons to fight themselves. This stalemate is accomplished by JLA members. Abnegazar and Rath destroy one another; only Ghast remains. Dr. Fate is able to summon the broken pieces of the JLA Satellite to recombine around Ghast; the residual energy left by the magical objects is enough to imprison the demon.

The heroes are all pals again but, before the 20th century heroes leave, GL gives everyone the old post-hypnotic suggestion to forget anything from the 30th century that relates to their own personal futures. Superman takes JLA & JSA home, encased in a Lantern-generated bubble.


Comments:

This is really a JLA/JSA story; Mordru is a Legionverse villain, but his quest for bell, jar and wheel relates to one of the earliest JLA adventures. The Legionnaires are either hostages, or less competent than the 20th century heroes. There's some good banter between the characters, but generally the "adults" are rather condescending to the teen Legionnaires. Apart from Wildfire, we don't have too much sense of individual Legion personalities; the JLA characters are better developed as individuals. Well, it is their book.

The two issues total 67 pages and present a fairly dense story. There's an early Adventure-era quality to the planets and beings that held the three mystical objects. Consequently, the various missions had their silly elements, but the efforts taken to retrieve the objects were interesting. While the Legionnaires assist, it's the JLA/JSA who really get the job done.

Mordru is bombastic and chatty, despite being a true menace. For all his power, he needs others to retrieve the three objects. He claims to be bound to the Earth and 2977, yet he was able to reach into the past as an astral body, as well as appear in the Legion HQ and take hostages.

For a Legion fan, it's not the greatest story, since our guys don't come off that well in the first part and aren't the key players in the second part. Nevertheless, the characterization of those Legionnaires who do get some panel time is well-done. Saturn Girl complains about Wildfire, Brainy goes off in a complicated direction, Wildfire calls Superman on his patronizing attitude and Sun Boy, looking square-jawed and noble, upholds the Legion code against killing. There's a reminder of the election that Wildfire "stole" from Superboy. We also see, in Part 2, a couple of 30th century sights: the Global Tunnel through the center of the Earth and Ice City in Antarctica.

The second part is one fight/confrontation after another, as hero is pitched against hero. These make good use of the various powers, but there's nothing particularly gripping about the fights. Power Girl, who is younger, is able to resist the demon's mental control; the Legionnaires are left uncontrolled by their demon, who prefers to enlist their voluntary help. I wonder if there was some message there about the independence of youth, but it's never expressed in any clear form.

It's curious that two females are key to defeating the demons: Power Girl, for being resistant to mental control and Black Canary, who comes up with the idea to have the demons fight each other. (She gets rewarded with a kiss from both Bats and Supes for this and told that she's beautiful.) Nevertheless, the victory is truly a team effort: every JLA member and Dr. Fate from the JSA plays an active part in the scheme.

I wonder if the demons were killed, or just vanished to some other dimension. Was there ever a follow-up to Ghast left as a prisoner in the JLA satellite? I don't recall any further appearance by him or the others, but I'm wondering if this ties in somehow to the later story in which Invisible Kid I appears to come back to life.

As a 1970s comic book, the story delivers a lot of content; not too much depth, but there's a lot going on to entertain. I would have liked to read more references to this adventure in succeeding Legion issues, since meeting JLA and JSA members must have had some impact on the Legionnaires.




Holy Cats of Egypt!
#895517 - 04/26/16 04:13 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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If you don't want my peaches, ...
Major thanks to FC for continuing to lead the charge with this "fictional" 14th Archive we've created for the LSH. I hope to be back with my thoughts on this story later today.

For those of you who may want to jump in to this excellent era of LSH history, the Archive #14 thread will proceed as follows:

- JLA / JSA Crossover in JLA #147-148 (reviewed at once)
- Superboy & LSH #233
- DC Super-Stars #17
- Superboy & LSH #234
- Superboy & LSH #235
- Superboy & LSH #236
- All New Collectors Edition C-55 (Tabloid Issue)
- Superboy & LSH #237
- Superboy & LSH #238
- Superboy & LSH #239
- Superboy & LSH #240
- Superboy & LSH #241
- Superboy & LSH #242
- Superboy & LSH #243
- Superboy & LSH #244
- Superboy & LSH #245

Also, the uber-talented Future has created an amazing Archive cover design--complete with "back cover" design as well. I'll let him post it so as not to steal his thunder!

Last edited by Cobalt Kid; 04/27/16 12:26 AM.
#895557 - 04/26/16 02:42 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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If you don't want my peaches, ...
Justice League of America #147-148

So I have to say, I didn't really enjoy this story much at all.

I have always loved JLA / JSA crossovers, and I loved the choice of all the heroes used for each team. But adding my favorite superhero team to a tradition I love should have produced great results and instead all I can focus on is:

- LSH basically relegated to non-players here, and at times totally patronized by the other heroes.

- even Mordru getting the shaft story-wise, played by the obscure and kinda lame Demons Three.

- random sexist dialogue in the beginning about women's lib, on top of a weird Power Girl hitting on Superman sequence to start to the story.

- a story that kind of rushes through its first part, adds in a long drawn out "stop and fill the readers in" sequence, and then bounces around in a ton of different directions that don't really give any sense of tension or drama.

I don't know. I wanted to enjoy this story but it felt very flat. The plot was thin and no single character stood out as all that compelling. I'm kind of surprised by how disappointed I am, as I read this story once before when I was a teenager and liked it.

#895560 - 04/26/16 03:21 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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click to enlarge click to enlarge


Looks like I almost missed a great lead-in by Cobie to post these. I thought these faux covers may be a fun way to get myself to contribute more to the thread. The Archive 13 cover sort of set the bar real low. ...yeah, I said it.

Onward to our fictitious Archive 14! Lots of classic tales within!

I haven't re-read the JLA/JSA crossover in awhile. A lot of the included comments are appreciated as they jog my memory and bring up ideas I hadn't thought about, such as the possible subtle commentary about youth culture. I do recall that leading up to this adventure, I figured this was when the Legion hit the big leagues and stood side by side with other team powerhouses. The first reading shocked me with how much they really didn't factor in, though this makes sense as their title didn't contribute to the crossover. It was still a fun tale and I'm glad they got some moderately good press in those pages.

#895561 - 04/26/16 04:08 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Cobalt Kid]  
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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 Cobalt Kid

For those of you who may want to jump in to this excellent era of LSH history, the Archive #14 thread will proceed as follows:

- JLA / JSA Crossover in JLA #147-148 (reviewed at once)
- DC Super-Stars #17
- Superboy & LSH #234
- Superboy & LSH #235
- Superboy & LSH #236
- All New Collectors Edition C-55 (Tabloid Issue)
- Superboy & LSH #237
- Superboy & LSH #238
- Superboy & LSH #239
- Superboy & LSH #240
- Superboy & LSH #241
- Superboy & LSH #242
- Superboy & LSH #243
- Superboy & LSH #244
- Superboy & LSH #245



Let's not forget 233.


Check out my new Power Club website!

The Semi-Great Gildersleeve - writing, super-heroes, and this 'n' that
#895562 - 04/26/16 04:10 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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She ran and called him Wildfire.

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The Plateaus of Ecstasy
Great cover, Future! I like that you used the splash page from the first Earth War issue. That's a powerful shot of the Legionnaires flying into action.


Check out my new Power Club website!

The Semi-Great Gildersleeve - writing, super-heroes, and this 'n' that
#895563 - 04/26/16 04:39 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Cobalt Kid]  
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He Who Wanders Offline
She ran and called him Wildfire.
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She ran and called him Wildfire.

Joined: Jul 2003
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The Plateaus of Ecstasy
Originally Posted by Cobalt Kid
Justice League of America #147-148

So I have to say, I didn't really enjoy this story much at all.

I have always loved JLA / JSA crossovers, and I loved the choice of all the heroes used for each team. But adding my favorite superhero team to a tradition I love should have produced great results and instead all I can focus on is:

- LSH basically relegated to non-players here, and at times totally patronized by the other heroes.

- even Mordru getting the shaft story-wise, played by the obscure and kinda lame Demons Three.

- random sexist dialogue in the beginning about women's lib, on top of a weird Power Girl hitting on Superman sequence to start to the story.

- a story that kind of rushes through its first part, adds in a long drawn out "stop and fill the readers in" sequence, and then bounces around in a ton of different directions that don't really give any sense of tension or drama.

I don't know. I wanted to enjoy this story but it felt very flat. The plot was thin and no single character stood out as all that compelling. I'm kind of surprised by how disappointed I am, as I read this story once before when I was a teenager and liked it.


This sums up my reaction, as well. As a kid, I'm sure I loved this story--but more for what I imagined it could be than what's actually here. On re-read, I it took me three sittings to get through 147. I just wasn't into it.

There is indeed a lot of content to this densely plotted story, but little of it means anything. The story ultimately comes down to a game of the JLA and Power Girl outwitting the demons and their enthralled comrades. However, I was not convinced by the notion that GL could not control his actions but could control his will (and, hence, his power ring), or that Superman could fake being defeated so easily. It's all too convenient.

There's so much going on in 148 that it's difficult to keep track of heroes and their various missions and schemes. As a reader, I did not feel engaged in the story. I felt I was along for the ride and being forced to trust a driver who couldn't bother to tell me where we were going. (The self-congratulatory captions made things much worse. "Gee, gentle reader, look how clever we are! Bet you wonder how our heroes get of this mess. Well, we will tell you ... later.")

The Legion is an afterthought. The team provides the setting and the first villain, but then becomes assimilated into a swarm of heroes who constantly trip over each other.

I did enjoy the Superman/Wildfire moments. There were nice reminders of their feud (which, ironically, was old news to Kal but fresh to Drake). Mentioning that Wildfire won the election was a nice touch.

No, I don't think we ever saw the JLA satellite or Ghast again. That's a shame, as the ending was the one thing I did like. The destruction of the JLA satellite was mentioned at the beginning of the story, so its reassembly provided a nicely fitting closure. I also felt sorry for Ghast, who, despite it all, had lost everyone--even his eons-old companions, and now was totally alone, trapped once more.

I just wish I could have felt something for the heroes, as well.


Check out my new Power Club website!

The Semi-Great Gildersleeve - writing, super-heroes, and this 'n' that
#895575 - 04/26/16 11:40 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Future]  
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Originally Posted by Future
click to enlarge click to enlarge


Looks like I almost missed a great lead-in by Cobie to post these. I thought these faux covers may be a fun way to get myself to contribute more to the thread. The Archive 13 cover sort of set the bar real low. ...yeah, I said it.

Onward to our fictitious Archive 14! Lots of classic tales within!



Excellent cover, just excellent. Had me fooled for more than just a moment... as I did not buy #13 when it came out cause I own all the single issues, I thought I might have missed #14 smile

#895576 - 04/27/16 12:26 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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If you don't want my peaches, ...
Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Originally Posted by Cobalt Kid

For those of you who may want to jump in to this excellent era of LSH history, the Archive #14 thread will proceed as follows:

- JLA / JSA Crossover in JLA #147-148 (reviewed at once)
- DC Super-Stars #17
- Superboy & LSH #234
- Superboy & LSH #235
- Superboy & LSH #236
- All New Collectors Edition C-55 (Tabloid Issue)
- Superboy & LSH #237
- Superboy & LSH #238
- Superboy & LSH #239
- Superboy & LSH #240
- Superboy & LSH #241
- Superboy & LSH #242
- Superboy & LSH #243
- Superboy & LSH #244
- Superboy & LSH #245



Let's not forget 233.


Good call!

#895577 - 04/27/16 12:31 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Future]  
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If you don't want my peaches, ...
Originally Posted by Future
click to enlarge click to enlarge


Looks like I almost missed a great lead-in by Cobie to post these. I thought these faux covers may be a fun way to get myself to contribute more to the thread. The Archive 13 cover sort of set the bar real low. ...yeah, I said it.

Onward to our fictitious Archive 14! Lots of classic tales within!

I haven't re-read the JLA/JSA crossover in awhile. A lot of the included comments are appreciated as they jog my memory and bring up ideas I hadn't thought about, such as the possible subtle commentary about youth culture. I do recall that leading up to this adventure, I figured this was when the Legion hit the big leagues and stood side by side with other team powerhouses. The first reading shocked me with how much they really didn't factor in, though this makes sense as their title didn't contribute to the crossover. It was still a fun tale and I'm glad they got some moderately good press in those pages.


I agree with Chem--this is just absolutely phenomenal. Future showed me a quick preview a day earlier and I couldn't wait for him to post it. Talk about creative! I love it! And I love that Earth War image too on the cover, one of the more iconic panels of the LSH in this era IMO.

And HWW, glad to see we're on the same page. You mentioned it took you three tries to get through #147 and I had a similar experience. By the middle of #148 I was starting to just look at the art and skip dialogue. That's when I know I'm at my most bored. It's a shame and a missed opportunity (though obviously, the LSH didn't suffer all that much at the time).

#895653 - 04/28/16 07:15 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Café Cramer
Of all the Archive front covers, I think this one has the most dynamic image. There are a few with Legionnaires flying, but they show more (and smaller) characters, which dampens the effect.

Thanks Future! I hope you're working on covers for Archives 15 through....? I dunno, maybe we should stop at Archive #247.


I'm also relieved to read that others found these JLA issues hard to get through. Although not entirely without interest, they were just a common slugfest for the most part. I don't think I ever reread this story after it first came out and, strangely, the only thing I remembered was Power Girl waltzing off with Superman at the start. I didn't even remember that the Legionnaires had appeared in the story!



Holy Cats of Egypt!
#895671 - 04/28/16 10:55 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Touring Bgtzl and Bgztl with M...
Justice League of America 147 & 148

A giant, ghostly hand plucks superheroes through time from their orbital headquarters. As scope goes in these things, that’s pretty decent.

Big, bold and brash, and that’s the way the rest of this two parter comes across. Wildcat and Arrow are nearly at each other’s throats early on, and this passes for characterisation along with Power Girl hitting on Earth-1 Superman. We learn more form the large, introductory captions to the characters than we do through the story itself.

Mordru is a large, mouthy villain combining feats of space and time crossing magic along with large exposition dumps. He’s powerful enough to kill the heroes, but is duped by a magical suggestion from Fate.

Even the message of the story is a little too loud. Dispatched to retrieve three artefacts, each of the JLA/JSA teams saves the Legionnaires through their greater knowledge or experience. And they do belabour the point even as the Legion’s significance dwindles before them. The Legion have already defeated Mordru a couple of untold times, as well as the ones we’ve seen, thank you very much. But they are not written anywhere near that potential here. A later balance that the young have the vigour to resist the demons, seems weak in comparison.

The relics retrieved, no amount of experience can help the heroes, if they forget two of their members are being held hostage. But Mordru is equally forgetful. He doesn’t really put much effort into a protective circle before summoning demons. He’s only himself to blame when they easily defeat him, and look to carve up the Earth for themselves.

But, in a twist I liked, they are unable to agree Earth’s fate. But where to find three groups to fight on their behalf? Aha! A lot of the second issue involves the various groups being controlled in mind and body and fighting each other. Along the way they hatch improbable plans that result in the defeat of the demons. Everything goes conveniently well for them, including handily having someone immune to certain magical effects.

There are a few things I’d like to have seen used later.

Clearly, the residents of Antares II were enslaved to become Venturan walking money later on. What happened?

A planet with a bas relief of a dragon on it. A planet that could have become either a Lythl or the home of the legends that created Dragonwing.

Even the JLA satellite. It’s reformed with a demonic prisoner 9innn a nice panel of it peering through the glass). Did it become Dr. Gym’ll’s Medicus I?

Is Power Girl’s resistance to magic an early hint that’s she’s Arion’s relative?

It’s a story crammed full of characters but the fight scenes still seemed padded and rather static, as they moved between plot points. There were nice touches. The way the demons were used; Fate being reduced to the Helm of Nabu and Superman’s explanation of his association with the Legion. There aren’t many of the big character-fest JLA stories that work well for me, and this is another one. Despite all that big scope, the story never really seemed to match it in plot, dialogue or art.


Great Cover Future!


"...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."
#895915 - 05/02/16 05:54 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Chemical King]  
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Originally Posted by Chemical King
Originally Posted by Future
click to enlarge click to enlarge


Looks like I almost missed a great lead-in by Cobie to post these. I thought these faux covers may be a fun way to get myself to contribute more to the thread. The Archive 13 cover sort of set the bar real low. ...yeah, I said it.

Onward to our fictitious Archive 14! Lots of classic tales within!



Excellent cover, just excellent. Had me fooled for more than just a moment... as I did not buy #13 when it came out cause I own all the single issues, I thought I might have missed #14 smile


The fake cover had me fooled as well. I thought maybe I missed a new release!

#895927 - 05/02/16 10:40 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Café Cramer
#233 The Attack of the Infinite Man! by Paul Levitz, art by James Sherman & Bob Wiacek


[Linked Image]


Sklarian Pirates attack a team of Legionnaires transporting an experimental hyper-time drive to Legion HQ. The battle is short-lived, with heavy hitters Superboy, Lightning Lad, Star Boy fighting the women and Brainiac 5 protecting the machine with his force shield.

Arriving at the HQ, Dream Girl rushes out to hug Star Boy as Rond Vidar thanks the team for bringing the hyper-time drive. Wildfire disses Dream Girl's power and breaks up their smoochy reunion.

Vidar explains that he's testing a theory that time is circular as Phantom Girl escorts Professor Jaxon Rugarth into the room. Rugarth is the volunteer chosen for the experiment - and quite happy to be sent "full circle" through time, despite possible dangers.

The time machine is activated and returns in a fraction of a second, surprising Vidar and Brainy. Out of the machine bursts a form, berating them for their mistaken knowledge. Rugarth not only went full circle through time, but was in an infinite loop for eternity, which transformed him into the Infinite Man. He's insane, exceedingly powerful and very, very angry with Rond Vidar.

He brings forth dinosaurs and tanks from the past to fight the Legionnaires; Wildfire and Star Boy fail to stop him. Superboy is hurled through other dimensions, but manages to return, surprising the Infinite Man, who announces a retreat to perfect his attack on Rond Vidar.

Wildfire appoints Superboy to protect Rond and sends Brainy, Phantom Girl and Dream Girl off to look for answers to the problem: how to destroy the Infinite Man. Brainy visits Colu and is met with useless theorizing, Nura attends the High Seer of Naltor, gains some knowledge but nothing that can help in time, Tinya appeals to some eternal psychic beings who refuse to help her.

Meanwhile, the Problem has gone beyond time, somehow increasing his powers and planning how to maximize Rond's suffering. The Infinite Man returns to nervously waiting Legionnaires, who are unable to bring him down. Then Brainy appears, throws Rond his force field belt and announces that an overload would stop anything. Good thing he made that announcement, because he gets zapped by the Infinite Man, which leaves Superboy to realize that destroying the fail-safe mechanism on the hyper drive will allow an overload.

As more menaces from the past distract the Legionnaires, Rond fiddles with the time machine and, because of power it has absorbed from Lightning Lad and Wildfire, he's able to send the Infinite Man back into an infinite cycle of time that the former Rugarth can't break.

Whatever came from the past is suddenly returned to its rightful temporal place. The Legionnaires stand amid the wreckage as Rond hopes a cure can be found for Rugarth and Brainiac 5 underlines the urgency, since the Infinite Man will continue to strengthen as he circles through time.

Comments:

I'm a sucker for time travel stories, so I may regard this issue more benignly than it deserves. The concept is captivating, although not unique: the human compelled to repeat for eternity. From Sisyphus to Ground Hog Day, it's a haunting proposal. In this story, the infinite repeated has driven Rugarth mad - but not so mad that he doesn't understand what's happened to him.

It's also a cautionary tale of the unintended consequences of scientific experiments. The Legion and Vidar fix the immediate mess, but are left with a problem that they know may come back,
with even worse results, in the future.

Rond Vidar is a welcome addition to the Legion family. He provides, here and in future stories, a linch pin for time travel tales as well as a character who's the near-equal of Brainiac 5, at least in some areas of study. Although Superboy destroyed the fail-safe mechanism, it was ultimately Rond Vidar who figured out, in practical terms, what to do to save the day. It's disappointing that we never got more of his backstory, such as who was his mother? Did he grow up with Universo?

Wildfire as leader gets the job done, even if he does ruffle feathers. Not a good motivational decision to criticize Nura's powers, but he was right to break up the loving couple when there was work to be done. He assigned the most powerful member, Superboy, to protecting Rond Vidar, the target of the Infinite Man.

He also made good use of the available people by sending those without punching power to seek help for dealing with the Infinite Man. Those three missions were interesting in that we saw three different planets - Colu, Naltor and Gendyx - all which possessed great knowledge, but none which could contribute anything.

Brainiac 5 claims that his trip to Colu gave him the solution to defeat the Infinite Man, but I didn't see the connection. It seemed to develop off-panel, all in his head.

Lightning Lad is uncharacteristically optimistic and simplistic, saying the Infinite Man probably destroyed himself, problem solved.

The fight scenes make appropriate, but not surprising use of the Legionnaires. As a villain, the Infinite Man isn't as threatening as he should be; maybe he's weakened by madness. You'd think he'd be able to overwhelm the Legionnaires completely with dinosaurs, armies of the past (or future), halting time. Maybe it's a learning curve. If he's too powerful, there's no story, and the tale ends ominously, with the Infinte Man out there, able to return at any time, more dangerous than before.

The Sklarian Pirates were a good addition to the story, building up the Legionverse but fitting in well with the plot.

This doesn't look much like Sherman's art to me, I guess because Wiacek was inking. The Infinite Man has some interesting effects, such as transparency, but looks a bit silly. The Time Trapper is a lot scarier with his simple cloak and unseen face. There are some good scenes, such as Thom stretched out Dali-like as time is eliminated, or Colossal Boy lying on the ground under
an unconscious pterodactyl, but focused on the menace.



Last edited by Fat Cramer; 05/02/16 10:47 PM.

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#895965 - 05/03/16 07:48 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy 233

The use of the Skalrian raiders to intercept the Hyper Time (later used by DC to bring back the multiverse) device, provides us with some action while introducing us to the plot.

Wildfire is pretty dismissive of Dreamy and her powers. There are some lingering looks between her and Thom after his put down. I see the look of a couple who are considering being away from the Legion for a while. I’m reminded of later run ins Wildfire had with Dreamy after she became leader. He had trouble accepting her there too. But she had authority to put him firmly in his place. He has trouble generally in that department.

It’s a nice premise to the story. Is time linear or cyclical? The short explanation, the reintroduction of Rond Vidar and the thrill of exploration from him, Brainy and Jaxon Rugarth all build up nicely to the experiment.

Obviously being comics, stepping into the unknown means the creation of a threat: The Infinite Man. Levitz has commented that he was better at revising older villains than creating new one. While The Infinite Man may have an abstract similarity to Time Trapper, but he’s distinct enough that the two would be foes later on.

Despite having cycled (gone through, rather than been on a bike) through time, the inner nerd of Rugarth can’t resist bringing back dinosaurs for the Legion to fight. Sherman’s visuals for Colossal Boy are usually a highlight, and seeing him grapple a T-Rex is another example of this. Another highlight is Gim smashing the helmet of Rugarth. It’s the sort of collateral costume damage that Giffen would enjoy doing later in the Baxter era and into the TMK run.

Rugarth hurtles Superboy into strange areas of space time. Using Superboy’s knowledge of such areas is to Levitz’s credit. It really uses Superboy’s established powers and background, in a way that that he doesn't often get to have when working with lesser powered peers. It also gives the Infinite Man pause to reconsider his strategy when Superboy returns to renew the battle. No other foe could prove so formidable. An echo of that scene might be the Trapper's admission that Mon El could destroy him in the TMK run. It's that level of surprise.

Sherman’s depictions of beyond space and time add a lot to the Infinite Man’s threat that he can devise a plan across millennia only to appear seconds after his last encounter with the Legion. Our heroes do look pretty worried and Levtitz does a good job of showing the suspense without anyone falling to pieces.

Oddly, Dreamy is sent away by Wildfire, as her powers aren’t considered useful in a fight. I’d have thought someone with the power to see ahead in time would be perfect, considering Rugarth's time based powers. Her side mission adds some background to the Legionverse, even if it doesn’t provide a solution to the story. Tinya’s powers could have been very useful too, but the Legion opt for a blast first policy when countering Rugarth.

Rugarth’s return to exact vengeance on Vidar results in another battle with a dinosaur and some cavemen. He may have travelled across infinities, but he still thinks like a kid with his toys.

The solution of overloading the Hyper Time device is a bit clichéd. It's a step above reversing the flow of energy in the device. But the execution of propelling Rugarth back through the cycles of time in a way that he would struggle to break free of, came across a little better than it's first suggested. Better yet, there's the knowledge that the Infinite Man would grow stronger with each cycle, and would eventually break free to fight the Legion once more.

I enjoyed this one. Sherman made the Infinite Man visually distinctive and threatening. Those visuals went some way to cover that a cosmic class villain couldn’t get past dinosaurs to threaten his opponents with. He was used just long enough to not outstay his welcome as a villain, and retained some threat as a result.

I noted that Star Boy’s mind was rather stretched by the Infinite Man’s powers, and wondered about his later mental issues when subjected to the multiverse once again years later.

I had expected Dreamy to be more useful in the end. But we’re left with Wildfire’s attitude towards her unchanged.


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#895967 - 05/03/16 07:55 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Cramer
Lightning Lad is uncharacteristically optimistic and simplistic, saying the Infinite Man probably destroyed himself, problem solved.


A nod to his later leadership, where he'd not face a problem directly too well either?

Originally Posted by Cramer
As a villain, the Infinite Man isn't as threatening as he should be; maybe he's weakened by madness.


Although he's been through countless cycles of time, perhaps he's not really picked up a lot of wisdom as a result. Perhaps he has cosmic powers, but only a child's aptitude with them, hence the dinosaurs and the cavemen. He's not been free of his travels for long after all. He may need to mature into his new freedom. Something that the Legion don't allow.

Originally Posted by Cramer
Colossal Boy lying on the ground under
an unconscious pterodactyl, but focused on the menace.


Oh Gim. Not again...>shame< smile


"...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."
#895983 - 05/03/16 09:58 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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233/Infinite Man

When I first read this story, it became my favorite issue since Grell and Shooter left. Still is.

The issue just rocks. Levitz fires on all cylinders, creating a menace truly worthy of the Legionnaires. As a plus, he brings back a long unused supporting character and makes him an integral part of the story and its solution. Levitz works in numerous character bits to flesh out the Legionnaires' personalities and create realistic internal conflict for the team. (Yes, Wildfire is a sonofabitch, but he's a damned effective sonofabitch!)

There are also a lot of other little touches that work. We get more insight into the political situation of the 30th century and the fact that some worlds envy the UP's technology and will go to great lengths to steal it. There are nice day trips to Colu and Naltor, which, though they prove inconsequential in solving the story's problem, give us some insight into Nura's and Querl's worlds. There's even a nod to continuity when Thom mentions that Dr. Regulus interrupted Klordny Week.

For me, though, the real highlight of the story is the Sherman/Wiacek art. Wiacek brings out all of the best qualities of Sherman's stylized, fluid style while apparently adding details of his own or enhancing ones that are already there (something Staton never did). Of special note is the use of mirrors (Page 5, first panel, and on Wilfire's visor throughout)--an effect that must be difficult for any artist to pull off. (In the Legion Companion, Sherman admitted that it took hours to do one panel, such as the one on Page 5).

The Sherman/Wiacek art also shines in the cosmic scenes, such as the Infinite Man's realm on Page 15.

The issue ends with Brainy and Rond giving "crash priority" to finding a cure for Rugarth. This is one of a number of plotlines that weren't followed up on--at least not for some time. It's just as well. The Infinite Man was a unique villain, and his single appearance for many years gives weight and power to this story. Repeated appearances would have been hard to top this effort.


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#895984 - 05/03/16 10:14 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by thoth lad


Despite having cycled (gone through, rather than been on a bike) through time, the inner nerd of Rugarth can’t resist bringing back dinosaurs for the Legion to fight.


Great explanation for why Rugarth relied on cavemen and dinosaurs!

Re-reading this story reminded me of the Marcus Immortus story in the much reviled Avengers 200, even though that story came later. In it, the Avengers, too, find themselves overwhelmed with dinosaurs as well as warriors from various time periods.

I can only assume that space limitations prevented Levitz and Sherman from bringing in menaces from other eras to battle the Legion. It's just as well. Too many other concepts might have been a distraction.

Quote
Sherman’s visuals for Colossal Boy are usually a highlight, and seeing him grapple a T-Rex is another example of this. Another highlight is Gim smashing the helmet of Rugarth. It’s the sort of collateral costume damage that Giffen would enjoy doing later in the Baxter era and into the TMK run.


Good catch. The helmet shattering and Gim lying under the unconscious pteradactyl are among the many artistic touches that stand out. Another is the effective transition of Thom and Brainy nervously fidgeting with their flight rings (Page 16).


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#895986 - 05/03/16 12:08 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Thanks for mentioning the reflections used by Sherman HWW. I forgot to add that in, and it's one of the many flourishes Sherman brings to the Legion. Wildfire's visor is often used to capture the rest of the team's reflections to good effect.

Nods for the effective use of Rond. He's someone, like the Fatal Five, who is consistently used well in the Legion, whether it's at the Time Institute, against the Infinite Man/Trapper or against his father.

I wasn't so sure about the Sklarian raiders logic of blowing up half of Earth to get the technology. It's a bit self defeating in the long run. No more tech when all the UP is left in smoking ruins. Bad raiders.


"...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."
#895988 - 05/03/16 12:40 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Most terrorists/saboteurs/etc. use little logic in their plans: suicide bombers, for instance. One imagines that the Sklarians similarly thought of themselves as martyrs for the betterment of their world.

Quote
I had expected Dreamy to be more useful in the end. But we’re left with Wildfire’s attitude towards her unchanged.


Good point about Wildfire's attitude having not changed. For that matter, nothing else changes in this story, and that leaves an emotional hole at the end. Even if Rond had learned not to tamper with forces he couldn't control, that would have been something.

Even when I first read this story, I thought Brainy's "crash priority" speech came across as dodging the issue: Yeah, we screwed up but we'll get around to curing Rugarth . . . some day.


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#896024 - 05/04/16 06:08 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Good point about Wildfire's attitude having not changed. For that matter, nothing else changes in this story, and that leaves an emotional hole at the end. Even if Rond had learned not to tamper with forces he couldn't control, that would have been something.


Off the top of my head here, but is that sort of emotional resolution within an issue on the way out with the advent of Levitz's approach?


"...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."
#896027 - 05/04/16 06:30 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Possibly, and I don't think comic book writers then or now necessarily focus on an emotional resolution as the payoff for stories. Mostly, it's about good guys beating bad guys. Still, it's always great when something "changes" in a story.


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#896044 - 05/04/16 10:35 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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It's not a necessity, but it can add a bit more depth to a story. However, it can just as often slow down a decent action/ adventure story with a preachy/ tired moral. So, I guess it's all in the execution.


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#896045 - 05/04/16 10:53 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy & the LSH #233

I also like this issue a real lot. One major thing I also noticed was I thought the art great was really great here, with some very dynamic poses and panel arrangements. I agree that Wiacek's inks may have been a great contributing factor. HWW also mentions the usage of mirrors which i agree was fantastic.

The Infinite Man in general has a few pros but a lot more cons. A lot of these are all the same problems of Time Trapper (too powerful, hard to define powers, etc), but then he's also coupled with the very fact that he's a bit redundant because of TT. Despite all of this, he's got a really great origin here, and the fact that we experience it firsthand with the Legionnaires makes it more appealing. I think he also has a great visual. And despite all those time-related "cons", I like time travel enough that I'm willing to forgive a whole helluva lot. So all in all, it's well executed here.

HWW also points out that since he didn't continually reappear and get watered down, it adds to his mystique. I agree. Great point!

I love the inclusion of Rond Vidar here, and FC provides a nice overview of why. His presence is a nod to past continuity and also nicely expands the Legion's "world" of close friends and allies in their inner circle. This issue also firmly establishes Rond's expertise in time travel which gives him a terrific reason to continually appear. That's a stroke of genius. He's one of my favorite LSH supporting characters and I love when he's included; like FC says, there's also so much unexplored material for him too.

My one complaint is I wish Jaxon Ruggarth had been a closer colleague of Rond and Brainy--someone better known to them and even a friend. It doesn't need to be too overboard, but it gives all his future stories extra gravitas.

I think Levitz used good action here with lot of Legionnaires, including Superboy. The science is wonky but comic book logical so it's just about forgivable. The action dragged too long at times and ended too quick but the soliton was pretty ingenious. It was also sadly cruel--made all the more by what we know eventually happens to him.

And he also does other great things which you guys have mentioned: more great characterization, more expansion of the Legion's "world" and most of it referencing previously established (and forgotten by most probably) continuity.

It was also cool to see the Sklarrian Raiders--as Thoth points out, it's a good interlude but also sets up the story.

#896098 - 05/05/16 06:33 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I quite liked the inference of a wider academic circle around the work that Brainy and Rond do at the institute and elsewhere. Rugarth reading papers that Brainy produces gives some insight into his broader life.

There have been little hints about his worth to the UP. But the place I saw it most was in DnA's Legion parallel Hypernaturals. Their Brainiac stand in, Thinkwell, is immersed in academic life following his retirement from the team.

So in this case, I was fine with Rugarth's introduction and fate, without him having to have been a member of the supporting cast.

Looking at the way he's drawn, he could just as easily come out of the experiment as Sasquatch. It's a scene that bristles with the potential of origins. smile

It's a good point about coming in at the start and comparing Rugarth to the Trapper. The Trapper has done well to have moved away from some (powerful) but anonymous guy in a robe to being a sort of avatar of entropy at time's end. His multiple possible origins have worked for him, when they could easily have undermined the character (Tenzil: No! It's my turn to be Trapper this month! No one wants Timber Trapper Brin!) No such issues with Rugarth. He ends up reminding me of a number of Marvel's Silver Age cosmic class entities, while the Trapper could be any number of Golden Age hooded villains.


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#896227 - 05/06/16 10:53 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders

Even when I first read this story, I thought Brainy's "crash priority" speech came across as dodging the issue: Yeah, we screwed up but we'll get around to curing Rugarth . . . some day.


Brainy focused on the return of the problem (Infinite Man getting stronger) while Rond thought about the man, finding a cure for Rugarth. That makes Rond more human and Brainy more removed from emotion for me, whether it was intended or not. Maybe Rond took it more to heart, being responsible for the whole experiment and Brainy was just thinking like a Legionnaire should.

Originally Posted by Cobalt Kid

My one complaint is I wish Jaxon Ruggarth had been a closer colleague of Rond and Brainy--someone better known to them and even a friend. It doesn't need to be too overboard, but it gives all his future stories extra gravitas.


Agreed - it could have been established with a few lines of dialogue. Too bad they never did a Time Institute mini-series.

Originally Posted by thoth lad
It's a good point about coming in at the start and comparing Rugarth to the Trapper. The Trapper has done well to have moved away from some (powerful) but anonymous guy in a robe to being a sort of avatar of entropy at time's end. His multiple possible origins have worked for him, when they could easily have undermined the character (Tenzil: No! It's my turn to be Trapper this month! No one wants Timber Trapper Brin!) No such issues with Rugarth. He ends up reminding me of a number of Marvel's Silver Age cosmic class entities, while the Trapper could be any number of Golden Age hooded villains.


That's true, it would have been much less effective to have someone who was just a Trapper copy. Also, Infinite Man has a wild, unhinged madness about him, flinging things about like an insane toddler, screaming "I hate you!"; the Time Trapper, whoever/whatever he is, schemes and manipulates.



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#896270 - 05/07/16 10:29 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
Brainy focused on the return of the problem (Infinite Man getting stronger) while Rond thought about the man, finding a cure for Rugarth. That makes Rond more human and Brainy more removed from emotion for me, whether it was intended or not. Maybe Rond took it more to heart, being responsible for the whole experiment and Brainy was just thinking like a Legionnaire should.


That's a really interesting look at their characters. No wonder he misses the likes of Rond and Lyle so much. I wonder how much more balanced Brainy would be, with their, and Kara, being around more than they were.


Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
Also, Infinite Man has a wild, unhinged madness about him, flinging things about like an insane toddler, screaming "I hate you!"; the Time Trapper, whoever/whatever he is, schemes and manipulates.


That links nicely into that feeling that he's almost childlike in the discovery and use of his powers, when he escapes his time loop.



The Legion loop Rugarth round the ‘90s music scene…

Tunnelin’ through time like an outdoor mina’
If you’re Rond Vidar, I’m gonna find ya

Drop T-Rexes on your @ss, as easy as my flow
Back to the dawn of time, that where’s we’re gonna go

Ain’t got no Time Bubble
That’s gonna keep ya outta trouble…

Ain’t got no Time Bubble
That’s gonna keep ya outta trouble…

…Trip Hop Trapper


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#896273 - 05/07/16 11:02 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer

Brainy focused on the return of the problem (Infinite Man getting stronger) while Rond thought about the man, finding a cure for Rugarth. That makes Rond more human


This is as it should be, as Rond is human, and Brainiac 5 is not.

In the old Legion cartoon, not really human at all.


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#896278 - 05/07/16 11:53 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer

Brainy focused on the return of the problem (Infinite Man getting stronger) while Rond thought about the man, finding a cure for Rugarth. That makes Rond more human and Brainy more removed from emotion for me, whether it was intended or not. Maybe Rond took it more to heart, being responsible for the whole experiment and Brainy was just thinking like a Legionnaire should.



Good point in how they reacted differently.

Also, good observation on the differences between the Infinite Man and the Time Trapper.


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#896367 - 05/08/16 11:46 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I hope nobody minds if I go ahead and review the backup story in 233. I don’t want us to forget it.

233/The Final Illusion

For me, the standout and most disturbing image of this story is the first one: Jeckie lying in a very revealing pose on a lab table while Cham, with oversized ears and antennae, looks on. What is he thinking?

For that matter, what are Nura and Imra thinking? Their expressions suggest more curiosity than concern for their teammate?

Perhaps it would be uncharitable to describe Mike Nasser’s art in this story as voyeuristic, but he provides plenty of images of the helpless Jeckie lying in provocative poses. It’s also interesting that the only significant male character in the story (other than a nondescript doctor and illusory figures such as Val and Universo) is drawn with exaggerated parts of his distinctive anatomy. (This idea is not as silly as it may first seem. In one of his books, Leonard Nimoy described an unauthorized cartoon ad which showed Spock with limp ears. After he drank whatever beverage was being advertised, his ears perked right up. The sexual allusions, according to Nimoy, were unmistakable.)

The story’s disturbing sexual imagery is made even worse by its premise: So distraught over her lover returning to the 20th century is Jeckie that her mind shuts down and she becomes unable to separate reality from illusion. The idea itself is not bad—in fact, it sounds like the premise for a Victorian novel—but it seems somehow out of place in a series which had sought to establish its female characters as strong and independent. Indeed Levitz’s previous scripts had shown Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, and other female Legionnaires to be strong and competent, and to have distinct personality traits. Here Jeckie is once again helpless, as she was in two previous stories (206 and 209, albeit by different writers). This time, it’s not a disease that waylays her; it’s the stereotypical notion that she can’t face reality without her man.

Yet despite some rather strange assumptions underlying both the story and art, “The Final Illusion” possesses a few positive qualities. Nasser’s close-ups, such as Jeckie’s joyful smile on page 3, are expressive and beautiful, and the images in her nightmare are imaginative and frightening. One very nice touch is how her hair changes lengths in the third panel of the last page, symbolizing her dream-self waking up to reality.

The resolution of the story is also clever: At Cham’s suggestion, Imra deprives Jeckie's dream state of that which she most wants—Val—so she wants to return to reality. It may be a simplistic application of psychology, but it fits the story. (A similar psychological trick will later be used to cure Brainiac 5 of insanity.)

So, this story is not among my favorite backups. It’s pretty much dispensable as it tells us nothing new about Jeckie or the other Legionnaires.

The idea of Jeckie’s power turning on her, incidentally, came from Nasser—hence his credit. According to The Legion Companion, he had discussed several story ideas with Levitz, but this is the only one which made into a full story.


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#896374 - 05/08/16 05:09 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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[snip]

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
I hope nobody minds if I go ahead and review the backup story in 233. I don’t want us to forget it.

233/The Final Illusion

For me, the standout and most disturbing image of this story is the first one: Jeckie lying in a very revealing pose on a lab table while Cham, with oversized ears and antennae, looks on. What is he thinking?


Probably that the poor woman is going to catch a chill, if somebody doesn't throw a blanket on her.



Did this story appear before or after the story featuring Grimbor and/or the one featuring Brainy's Supergirl robot?

ElasticLad



I like to think that I would've picked up on the overtones you mention, but maybe after reading those other two stories, my Innuendo-Meter blew up and never got repaired.

I definitely remember Jeckie's revealing poses. They were tough to avoid. But definitely not the other stuff.

Last edited by cleome49; 05/08/16 05:18 PM.

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#896375 - 05/08/16 05:35 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: cleome51]  
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Originally Posted by cleome49
[

Probably that the poor woman is going to catch a chill, if somebody doesn't throw a blanket on her.


I like to think that the lab table provided its own source of heat. But maybe not. shake

Quote
Did this story appear before or after the story featuring Grimbor and/or the one featuring Brainy's Supergirl robot?


After both. Grimbor first appeared in 221, and the Supergirl robot was from 204.

There's nothing wrong with a little bit of cheesecake/sexuality in the art. The depictions of the males were also exaggerated in most stories. But this one went too far for my taste.



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#896376 - 05/08/16 05:52 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Alas, I don't have the books in front of me, but I did find the image. It's here:

http://legionofsuperbloggers.blogspot.com/2015/08/superboy-and-legion-233.html

Yeah. At the very least it's just... odd. Despite the explanation that he's scanning the room for a solution.


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#896382 - 05/08/16 10:52 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Thanks HWW for the review & Cleome for the link. This story wasn't in my copy of #233 (and I see the Super-Bloggers place it in Archive #13 (?)). Maybe we're all in parallel universes that intersect on the Internet. wink

This certainly isn't the best story for Projectra. Is she the Legionnaire most likely to pass out? Maybe it's a side effect of illusion powers. She doesn't even save herself in her nightmare, it's Val who comes to the rescue.

The images are rather provocative! I hadn't made the connection about Cham's big ears although I noticed them (how could one not?). Perhaps a more child-safe explanation is that he extends his antennae and ears to "read" a life form (although we haven't seen that before) - and here he's trying to get some insight into what's plaguing Projectra.

I did find the doctor looked a bit like Val from the back, the white, belted tunic, short hair and boots. Could Jeckie's subconscious be picking up on that image?

Does Saturn Girl use Universo as the threat (which would say more about her) or was he already in Jeckie's nightmare?

It's curious that Nura claims her people don't understand their own clairvoyant powers. I find that sort of weakens her as well.

I did like the final message, that reality is better than fantasy.

Good catch on the hair length!

The Super-Bloggers point out that we have three of the four Universo Project characters in this story; if the doctor had been Brainiac 5, all four would have been included.


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#896383 - 05/09/16 01:27 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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When I read this on last week I wrote only two notes:

1) the story is an excuse for Netzer to draw crazy splash pages. Some of these are pretty dynamic. Some of them are super sexy. But like HWW says, a few are a little too sexy, and there is definitely a "creep factor" lingering here that I also felt.

2) Jeckie comes off really poorly--AGAIN. And since its already happened twice, that kind of makes this story more annoying than anything else.

The best story where Jeckie is subdued and her powers run rampant is actually the Jeka story in Adventures of the DC Universe. That one removed all the negatives these stories have had and focused on the fun, superhero-y elements instead.

#896427 - 05/09/16 11:42 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
This story wasn't in my copy of #233


How is that possible? Are there pages missing from the back? if so, you didn't get your 60 cents worth. smile

Quote

Does Saturn Girl use Universo as the threat (which would say more about her) or was he already in Jeckie's nightmare?


Very good question. It reminds me of Jeckie's illusion of Mordru back in 224. Apparently any Legion villain can serve as the bogey man.



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#896440 - 05/09/16 01:23 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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The Final Illusion

You've all picked up on things I didn't spot in this one. I wasn't taken with the idea of Jeckie's mind turning against her, just because Val is spending time in another century. Despite the fact that he's made plenty of appearances in the book since he left, and she ends up visiting the 20th century, it just makes her look pretty weak and hysterically dependant on him.

Nasser's art is pretty suggestive for Jeckie, but then Dreamy and Bikini Imra are also around. I put it down to better artists, and more revealing costumes, making it a bit more obvious. There's also Universo's toes for the foot fetishists smile

I'm not convinced about the solution to Jeckie's problems either, whether it's the traumatising her further or showing her the emptiness of her illusory world. I'm not too convinced by Cham superior understanding of illusion either, and how it would apply to Jeckie. But I can see what was intended.

As mentioned, Dreamy saying that Naltorians don't know how their powers work (despite her being one of the Legion's foremost biologically based scientists)makes her a passenger in the story.

On Cham's enlarged...extremities...I was expecting the source of the threat to Jeckie to be in the room. I thought he was scanning for it. When nothing happened with that, I didn't really bother, putting it down to artist interpretation, like Ralph Dibny constantly using his power for no real reason.

Excellent catch about the appearances of the Universo cast in the story. That doctor could have been Brainy for all the difference it would have made. The doctor is awfully familiar with "Cham" in the last panel. I think Universo was there as a projection of Imra. The later Levitz story certainly brought out the impact of the villain tampering with minds.




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#896457 - 05/09/16 09:05 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by thoth lad
The Final Illusion

You've all picked up on things I didn't spot in this one. I wasn't taken with the idea of Jeckie's mind turning against her, just because Val is spending time in another century. Despite the fact that he's made plenty of appearances in the book since he left, and she ends up visiting the 20th century, it just makes her look pretty weak and hysterically dependant on him.


One could make a case (as an exercise) that Projectra is mildly to severely insane and we're just seeing indications of it in this story. Royal lineages have their problems.... She did kill Nemesis Kid pretty quickly and without compunction or even a "Legion Code be damned" thought. There was the whole personality change with Sensor Girl. She let Orando decline to famine and fall under the influence of the Dark Circle, then it was all picnics and ball games with her Legion pals. Maybe Val, at the end of the last Levitz run, was indeed an illusion. No wonder Waid wrote her as a psycho in the Threeboot, there was enough basis for it.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
This story wasn't in my copy of #233


How is that possible? Are there pages missing from the back? if so, you didn't get your 60 cents worth. smile


The previous owner was obviously a Projectra fan and removed the offending story. smile


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#896458 - 05/09/16 09:12 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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DC Superstars #17 Secret Origins: The Legion's First Case by Jack C. Harris, art by Juan Ortiz art, Bob Smith inks, Liz Berube colors

[Linked Image]

Wow! That Huntress story is fantastic! That was seared in my mind from the first day I read it!

But this is the Legion discussion, so onwards to “The Legion's First Case” aka “The Secret of the Quintile Crystal!”

An SP Officer shows the three founders and Superboy the Quintile Crystal, a fist-sized crystal which has been powering Metropolis for a decade and is due to be replaced. Superboy questions why the Legion is needed for this task and is told that the crystal was involved in the Legion's first case. As the team waits for the old crystal to cool, Cosmic Boy begins the tale.

We all know how the three teens foiled the attempt on R.J. Brande's life; in this version, he brought them together to fight crime and injustice, citing Superboy as a model. R.J. tells them about the Quitile Crystal, “recently discovered by Floyd Marr, the famous star explorer”. It's enough to run the new powersphere – or would be, had it not been stolen. Diplomatic considerations prevent official intervention, but Brande's contacts claim that someone will be smuggling it through customs to sell it to an Earth enemy.

Reminding the three that he's incredibly wealthy, he provides them with a space cruiser and clearance to dock at the Space Station customs. Saturn Girl discovers the thief/smuggler and the boys apprehend him, only to be stopped by an SP Officer who tells them that the man is Lord Lorval, an ambassador of Oianus, with diplomatic immunity. He certainly looks like a sneaky one and flourishes a box which must contain the Crystal, but won't press charges – and leaves. The Officer explains that Earth wants to simply buy back the crystal to avoid diplomatic problems.

Nevertheless, the kids prefer action, and begin to hatch a plan.

Lorval, in the lowest levels of Metropolis, arrives at a secret meeting attended by three other figures in purple cloaks, and begins the auction. He gets angry with the low bids (no more than four million credits) and vows to sell the crystal to the Khunds. Too bad for his Lordship, who sees the three Legionnaires throw off the cloaks; the crystal can't be moved, since Cosmic Boy has magnetized it.

Lorval trots out the old “This means war!” threat, but Rokk says they're not from Earth, so no diplomacy issues – and there are no witnesses either. Garth says they only want the crystal, not Lorval and Imra reminds the ambassador that he has unclean hands, having stolen the crystal himself.

The three run across town to take the crystal to R.J., who gets it back to the government and later leaks the basic details of its recovery, making the teens heroes to the populace.

They're escorted by Brande to S.P. Headquarters and informed that the Legion now has honorary membership on all U.P. worlds as well as the authority to make arrests as deputized S.P. officers.

By now, the old crystal has cooled and the S.P. officer hands it to Rokk for the Legion's trophy room, saying this has redeemed him – since he was the one who tried to arrest them on the Space Station.

Comments: This isn't a bad addition to the origin story. After a brief recap of how they saved R.J. Brande, we're given the first case that the three founders bumbled through, but persevered to a successful conclusion.

It makes sense that they'd be impetuous and make mistakes their first time out. Was R.J. Brande out of his mind to trust three kids with a spaceship and a mission? Wouldn't they be traced back to him if it all went wrong? Nevertheless, R.J.'s faith in the three is rewarded, indicating that he was a better judge of character and potential than I would have been. For me, that's where the worth of the story lies: it establishes the three founders as exceptional people right from the start.

I'm surprised they didn't give the S.P. officer a name; I suspect that's something Levitz would have done. The crooked ambassador is named, but we see neither him nor his planet again. There's a nice touch with his peculiar fingernails – natural or fashion statement? Purple robes must be the apparel of evil in the 30th century – but there's no connection drawn to either the Time Trapper or the Dark Circle. Lorval does mention the Khunds as potential buyers of the crystal; this could have been all set up by the Khunds to weaken Earth, but the story didn't go that far.

Too many characters would weaken the story, but it seems unlikely that there wouldn't have been a few technicians around for the crystal exchange. In a similar vein, were the Legionnaires the only bidders at the crystal auction? Did they dispatch the other potential buyers and take their places?

The full-circle ending was a pleasant one, but the Legionnaires didn't look surprised – and when the SP officer takes off his helmet, his face is meaningless to the reader as well.



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#896460 - 05/10/16 04:19 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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DC Superstars #17

The Legion story has Jack C. Harris taking what E. Nelson Bridwell had previously established as the Legion’s origin and then expand upon it to show their first case. What I like about this is it reaffirms for another generation what the Legion’s past continuity was: for a new reader in the 70’s, this was how it had always been; whereas an original Legion reader from the 60’s didn’t get the origin until near the tail end of the Silver Age. It also shows RJ Brande once more as a crucial part of the Legion’s story, despite it being somewhat amazing at just how rare a Brande appearance has remained for the first 20 years of Legion history.

This story is a minor one but it has a lot of things I like. The rookie Legionnaires learn firsthand about official business, authority and what they can and can’t do. This bureaucratic side of superheroes has always interested me, and I loved that part of the Avengers as a kid.

I also like Cosmic Boy’s “damn the man, we’re going in” attitude, which Levitz later references in his 2nd run. Other characters may question the morality of stealing from a thief, but Cos has no doubts, and that makes me, the reader, not even bothering to second guess it.

Lastly, the story is anchored by a brief, but effective, heart & soul in the form of the “Policeman who tried to arrest the Legion of Super-Heroes on their very first case”. The idea that he had been kidded throughout his career about this, and then gets to meet them again later on, is very appealing. In a way, I’m glad he never really shows back up in any storylines (where tons of stupid crap could happen to him). It makes it feel more real yet whimsical.

Some Other Thoughts:
Green Arrow story has some tremendous Grell artwork and is a pretty good, straight forward Green Arrow origin story.

The final story, the Huntress origin, is fantastic. We’ve talked about it on LW in the past in the Gym’lls forum, but reading fresh just now reaffirmed how awesome it is. The pre-Crisis Huntress was such a phenomenal character, and its always been a shame to have lost her, even when the post-Crisis Huntress was good. This story is a good example of when the late 70’s and early 80’s could be darker and grittier but still maintain a readability factor for kids. It could be serious but still be superheroes. Somehow, that was lost in the 00’s.

#896474 - 05/10/16 06:47 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by thoth lad
The doctor is awfully familiar with "Cham" in the last panel.



Once again, this is an example of poor word balloon placement. The "What's going on, Cham?" speech almost certainly belongs to Jeckie.


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#896475 - 05/10/16 10:58 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
She did kill Nemesis Kid pretty quickly and without compunction or even a "Legion Code be damned" thought.


Digressions....of spaaace!

Despite the Legion code, Jeckie didn't hesitate for a moment in carrying out what she felt was her duty and royal privilege. I think it showed that the Legion code will only take some members so far. I recall Element Lad pulling the trigger against Roxxas. Brainy's actions in Baxter #50 in using Rugarth would be another example. Only in Brainy's case did we see any really fall out, as he was called to account and quit.

I think Jeckie's execution of Nemesis Kid was a strong piece of characterisation, highlighting the different values by which she was raised and governed. No remorse, no guilt. Simply duty, will and action.




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#896485 - 05/10/16 12:12 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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DC Superstars #17

By the time I got to read the issues containing revisits to the Legion’s origins, they looked like dated variations of the original, without much of the charm.

I’m supposed to be seeing a gap in the Legion’s history filled through the use of a brief, but functional, framing sequence. I’m supposed to feel pride as the Legion moves from its humble beginnings to being the galaxies greatest super heroes.

Instead, I wince at “Call me Cosmic Boy—My plan’s official business!”, the clunk of “The Legion Cruiser” or watching the heroes run through the streets because no one gave them credits for Space Cabby or rocket packs.

I wonder why Brande needed the teenagers. He’s already identified who has the crystal and where it’s going to be. The Legion's first case turns out to be an espionage squad mission, before there was an espionage squad. I can imagine Lyle and Reep doing all the leg work on this case, behind the scenes, before being brought into the Legion by Brande later on.

Of the three we do see, Imra is the only one that’s needed. She identifies the villain and plucks the whole plan straight out of the villain’s mind. That just raises more questions. If it’s so sensitive diplomatically, you’d have thought using a telepath would have huge repercussions later on. What’s to stop Oianus (do we ever see them again) getting their own telepaths and spying on the UP and so on?

Even the framing sequence doesn’t work. The officer who had to redeem himself, knew full well who the villain was. The SPs had their own operation in progress, and Brande and his protégés had stepped all over it. He has nothing to feel embarrassed about. He’s not the one who endangered crew and passengers by breaking the anti-gravity systems or by electrocuting diplomats.

In the first issue of TMK’s run, they had to put in a little page showing some of the Legion’s history and the Quintile crystal got a mention. So, the story lived on.

“It’s happening all over…and I love it!” says garth about the adulation from citizens. That made me think of the personality TMK showed him to have that would lead on the feistier Livewire versions of Garth.

Even the rough and ready approach the Legion showed in this story lived on in the TMK version of the team’s origin, so it seems that this issue made an impression with them.

The villain’s trademark purple robe and the clandestine grouping made me think of the Dark Circle.

Rokk trying on the purple robe, meant that his descent into becoming the Time Trapper started off really early in his Legion career.

Finally, where is Floyd Marr, Star Explorer? What is his connection to RJ Brande? Perhaps there’s yet another origin reprise in there…


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#896486 - 05/10/16 12:14 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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DC Super-Stars # 17:

Cramey and Cobie hit the highlights of this brief but memorable story. What I liked about it at the time was that it expanded on the Legion's established origin while remaining faithful to it (also not a commonly accepted practice then) and seeing the old Adventure-era costumes again.

In fact, this tale fits in very faithfully between the panels of the Legion's origin back in Superboy # 147 (reprinted in Secret Origins # 6). In that story, the three teens accept Brande's offer and then are sworn in as Science Police deputies. It's a charming origin story of the time, in that it takes for granted that the Legionnaires were always received as heroes. DC Super-Stars # 17 fills in the blanks, showing how they earned that trust.

And it is a worthy story--one in which the stakes are very high but secret enough that the mission can be entrusted to three teens without public disclosure. (If they had failed, the UP could have disavowed their involvement--take that, Impossible Missions team!) The story presents a credible problem, a realistic obstacle (the villain's diplomatic immunity), and a clever resolution on two fronts (hoodwinking the villain and the officer revealing his identity).

Cramey's right that the officer's face means nothing to the readers, and that's a shame since the artist had gone to great lengths to hide his face in the present day. If we'd seen the blonde hair in the scenes set in the past, the connection might have resonated better.

Cramey's also right that the Legionnaires don't seem surprised. In fact, they seem rather sullen. C'mon, guys! It's time to forgive and forget.

In spite of such gaffes, Ortiz acquitted himself well in this story. The faces are expressive and the action clear and easy to follow. He also faithfully depicted the Adventure-era costumes--again something that was not always done with accuracy by other artists.

For me, the most interesting aspect of this story is the officer's dialogue that he had been kidded about nearly arresting the Legionnaires for ten years. It's a throwaway line, but it establishes that the Legion had been operating for a decade. The notion that a definitive chronology could be worked out for the Legion was something Levitz would later explore in depth. It was also something I became obsessed with as a fan.


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#896796 - 05/14/16 02:11 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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In the Best of the Legion Outpost Jack Harris talks about setting this tale between the two panels of the Legion's origin.

He's asked if the science police officer was being set up to be a recurring character.

"I thought so at the time, but no one ever picked up on it."

"...I thought it would be kinda neat to have some sort of guy that we recognised in the Science Police, almost like a Commissioner Gordon type of guy who would be their liaison. But no one ever picked up on it. But yes, that was my intention."

Officer Erin would fill the liaison role, first appearing in #241. Chief Zendak is possibly the closest to a Commissioner Gordon type. He first appeared in Annual #1


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#896812 - 05/14/16 03:07 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Thanks for the info, thoth. It's always interesting to read writers' behind-the-scenes intentions.

I'm fine with the guy not becoming a recurring character. Not everybody in the Legion's history needs a return appearance (*cough* Double Header *cough*). Besides, Shvaughn was a great addition. The Legion needed a recurring female non-Legionnaire.


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#896928 - 05/16/16 07:54 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I guess someone really did pick up on his idea, even if it wasn't the specific character he expected.

I do like the behind the scenes stuff as well. I just wish I remembered more of it, as I just rad for the enjoyment of reading them. It was luck that I happened to see that just as we reread this issue smile


"...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."
#896967 - 05/16/16 09:13 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#234 Wanted – Dead or Alive: The Composite Legionnaire by Gerry Conway, art by Ric Estrada & Jack Abel; colors by Tony Tollin

[Linked Image]

The four Legionnaires from the Klordny dance (Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Superboy and Shrinking Violet) in #232, plus Colossal Boy, fly towards the planet Imsk. They are hunting a space dragon and Saturn Girl tries to capture the beast solo, with a neutro-blast. The dragon's more fierce than it looks and she has to be rescued by Garth. His lightning blasts don't subdue it; Violet reminds them that only all five Legionnaires' tractor-rays will control the creature. After Imra apologizes for jumping the gun, Vi explains the history of Imsk and the space dragons. Short form: Imskians depend on the radiation emitted by harvested dragon scales to maintain their shrinking powers so that, when their planet goes through its shrinking phase, the inhabitants will survive.

Meanwhile, a gap-toothed, decrepit man on a far planet is accosted and killed by a bounty hunter, appropriately named Bounty.

Back at Legion HQ, Wildfire rages at Earthgov President for supporting a bill to force U.P. oversight on the Legion. Phantom Girl and Chameleon Boy debate the President's position, while Duplicate Boy of Lallor contemplates Wildfire's lack of a physical body.

Back at the space dragon, Gim decides to expedite the harvest by taking a giant crowbar to the scales to pry off a dozen at once. Unfortunately, this causes the dragon to explode and four of the Legionnaires are merged into one composite figure, leaving Superboy amazed, then stunned by the Composite's maddened attack. The Composite grabs the Legion cruiser and heads for home....

...where Cham and Tinya continue their debate on Wildfire's leadership. The cruiser lands, evoking suspicion since it's back from Imsk well ahead of schedule. Cham and Tinya investigate; both are knocked out by the Composite.

Wildfire is distressed, sad and/or angry, looking at pictures of his former self, when Duplicate Boy alerts him to the problem that is the Composite raging through the city. They join Cham and Tinya to fight the creature, with no success. They realize (or believe?) it's four fellow Legionnaires, somehow combined.

Eighteen hours later, the Legionnaires confront Earthgov President to protest the reward that has been offered to capture the Composite, since that treats Legionnaires as common criminials. Wildfire accuses him of playing politics; Bounty has arrived and is set to claim the reward.

Superboy shows up with a plan and the Legionnaires leave to find the Space Dragons. They net the herd and Wildfire absorbs their radiation, passing out from the pain.

Bounty spends several pages in escalating combat with the Composite. When the Legionnaires return to Earth, Superboy arrests Bounty for using a nuke on the Composite, since nuclear weapons are outlawed on Earth. Wildfire is revived enough to be dropped on the Composite and emit the radiation, which restores the four Legionnaires. However, it appears that Wildfire is dying. To be continued....

Comments: I truly dislike composite hero/villain stories and this one is no exception. It didn't make much sense and the fight scenes, which took up much of the issue, were tedious. While it was good to see the Legionnaires look for a different approach to an opponent they couldn't defeat, it was Superboy, once again, who came up with the idea that saved the day.

Bounty is a typical tough-talking tough guy straight out of Hollywood B-movies. Nevertheless, he submits to Superboy's arrest with little more than a gosh darn.

The character he apprehends early in the story looks like an older version of the Imskian who picked a fight with Violet in #232. That scene introduces Bounty the ruthless pursuer, but otherwise adds nothing to the story.

Saturn Girl acted completely out of character by boasting of her fearlessness and underestimating the dragon's ferocity. Colossal Boy also acted rashly by harvesting a dozen dragon scales at once, not following Violet's direction. And where did he get that giant crowbar?

What was Duplicate Boy doing there? No explanation. His girlfriend's off with her love-sick admirer Gim and he's hanging out at the Legion HQ. Trying to pick up with Tinya maybe? Nothing is said, nothing developed regarding the Salu-Gim-Ord triangle.

Princess Projectra shows up out of nowhere in the second half, but doesn't do much except threaten to dunk Bounty in the water.

The history of Imsk was interesting, if somewhat implausible. I did appreciate that the mission to Imsk from #232 was continued. The discussion of politics and leadership between Tinya and Cham gave some depth to their characters. There appears to be some friction building between the Legion and the government (although I don't recall to what degree this will be developed in future issues).

Wildfire hotheaded in public while privately moped over his lost physical form. At the time this was written, that behaviour probably wasn't as worn as it is now, so that gets points for character development as well.

However, since Wildfire doesn't have a body, how can he feel the pain of radiation absorption?

The ending is abrupt, shoved into three small panels - and not really an ending. The Composite is no more, but Wildfire may be dying. We don't know what the four Legionnaires who became the Composite experienced, or even remember. There's not even a “Don't miss the riveting conclusion in next month's issue” at the end, just “Only time will tell...”, which leaves me wondering when they'll complete this story.






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#897025 - 05/17/16 10:17 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy 234

The story opens with a look at two groups of hunters. The first group is the Legion, collecting renewable space dragon scales that contain radiation that will prevent a planet from shrinking. That really doesn’t read any better having typed it, than it did in the story.

The second hunter is Bounty, a ruthless bounty hunter who is happy to bring his victims back dead as alive. As long as the reward is active, he doesn’t care how long ago the crime is.

Bounty reminds me of the hard as nails sci-fi anti-heroes of British comics. He relies on technology rather than super powers, he’s determined and operates in a morally grey area. It’s not Bounty who commits the crimes. Nor is it he who sets the punishments or the rewards.

Back to the Legion. We learn a lot about the history of Imsk. Violet is getting some exposure in recent issues, and this fleshes out why they are so concerned about hunting rights around their planet, to the degree that they would leave the UP to protect them. There are a couple of interesting moments for the others. Firstly, Gim tries to impress Violet by taking off lots of dragon scales at Colossal size, creating the conflict in the story as four Legionnaires are merged together by the weird dragon radiation.

More interestingly, we see Imra acting rashly. While it shows the reader the danger of the dragons, she puts it down picking up habits from Timberwolf. It reminds me of all the moments we don’t see in the comic in a group that shares the same HQ. In this instance, perhaps it leads all the way up to the asteroid embrace between Imra and Brin in #289.

Our Merged Legionnaires return to Earth and go on a creature feature rampage.

It’s particularly bad timing, as Wildfire has just had a falling out with the president of Earth. The government want to put an oversight committee over the Legion. I don’t recall what happened with this plot. However, it looks as though it was picked up by TMK when the Legion was later railroaded into disbanding. In both instances, the Legion have not their greatest leaders in place in Polar Boy and, here, Wildfire. Neither threaten to simply leave Earth and regroup elsewhere.

There’s some rather clunky posturing this issue. Leaving the Bounty/Legion methodology comparison aside, there’s a little Tinya lecture about democracy, while Wildfire seems to put anything he doesn’t quite understand in a big basket called “politics”

It seems unlikely that our composite Creature doesn’t kill anyone as it tears down buildings, but that’s what we’re told. The Legion can’t stop it, so Bounty is called in.

More attacks against the creature fail. None of the four Legionnaire that make up the creature is invulnerable, so it must be the dragon radiation that makes it so tough. That’s probably the reason it managed to knock out Superboy early in the story too. Convenient.

But while Bounty escalates his attacks by increasingly large, and ineffective weapons (possibly the real message of the story there) the Legion realise that a more subtle approach is needed. Blowhard Wildfire redeems himself by absorbing the radiation of the dragons and using it to change the Composite back. But at what cost to himself. For all their Adventure affection, there have been a number of issues around this period that TMK also mined. Wildfire would sacrifice himself again in the Black Dawn incident. TMK would also use at least the Bounty name, as it became an energy being ( a la Malice in the X-Men books) that possessed Dawnstar. In one of their not infrequent underutilised plot threads, we never found out the reason for the possession or if there was any connection to this Bounty.

I can’t say I’m a fan of Batman/Superman composites, Outsider composites or Composite Legionnaires. But it does the job of having a rampaging creature with more emotional punch.

It’s a mystery why Superboy couldn’t use his expando-cape to whisk it way though. Another mystery is the inclusion of Duplicate Boy. I was expecting some progress in his relationship with Violet. Perhaps a Gim/Dupe/Violet triangle being set up. But there’s nothing, leading me to wonder who he’s replacing in the story.

It’s a shame to see Bounty wimp out at the end, but I understand it’s a fitting end to a one shot villain who wasn’t much when he wasn’t the one doing the hunting.

While I’m not usually an Estrada fan, the art was very much a plus for this issue.


"...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."
#897038 - 05/17/16 11:56 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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234 is a mess. It reads like it was written in a rush by a writer who couldn't decide to aim for an older or younger audience.

On the "older" side, we've got more on the political conflict concerning Imsk. The origin seems plausible--until we get to the revelation that the dragons ate all the rocks which allow the Imskians to shrink. Is Conway writing for a Saturday morning cartoon or something? Such a convoluted explanation seems unnecessary. Why not just say the dragons' scales are needed to process the shrinking formula? (Furthermore, the exposition is dragged out much longer than necessary.)

The moral ambiguity of Bounty would also appeal to an older audience. Unlike Cramey, I quite liked Bounty's introductory scene as it establishes his ruthlessness but also that he acts within the law. (I also felt sorry for the fugitive, who, whatever his crimes were, just wanted to live in peace.) Bounty shoots this helpless old man in the belly, watches him die, and kicks his corpse. I'm set up to hate this guy but also to fear him.

Unfortunately, Bounty never progresses beyond being a one-dimensional villain. If we had been shown that he does indeed have some respect for the law, then his realization that he broke it might mean something. Instead, he's just a cartoonish baddie who's easily defeated.

The political tensions between Wildfire and the president are also very interesting and adult-oriented. This was still the late '70s, post-Nixon, post-Watergate and during Carter's ineffectual presidency. Politicians could not be trusted. The Legion was slow in incorporating this theme, but it seems real and palpable that they would be caught up in the wrangling of an oversight committee being established to look in on them. (This reminds me of a similar plotline in Avengers which came later.)

So we have all the makings of a mature and sophisticated drama. However ...

We also have Legionnaires acting rashly and out of character.

We also have Duplicate Boy hanging out at Legion HQ for no reason. (Did Conway think he was Tinya's boyfriend?)

We've got Cham getting injured, appearing in battle, and shown being injured again.

We've got Wildfire screaming at the top of his non-lungs when his teammate is only injured, not dead.

We've got Projectra appearing in the story for no reason and contributing nothing.

We've got a cliffhanger resolution that (SPOILER ALERT) will be resolved in a backup story in the next issue--and no real resolution to the Composite Legionnaire plot, the Bounty plot, the Imsk/dragons plot, or the government plot.

So we've got a lot of great ideas which go nowhere.

Thoth does a great job of showing how later writers picked up on some of the ingredients of this half-baked entree which has a lot of garnishing but doesn't go down well. In the end, this full-length course left me feeling I'd eaten a lot but came away undernourished.


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#897047 - 05/17/16 12:52 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Cramer
Bounty is a typical tough-talking tough guy straight out of Hollywood B-movies. Nevertheless, he submits to Superboy's arrest with little more than a gosh darn.


I put the gosh darn approach down to Bounty knowing and working within the law as his career. He'll get punished for this transgression, but fighting further will just delay his return even longer. It does make a change from the villain vowing his return/self destructing etc.

Originally Posted by Cramer
The character he apprehends early in the story looks like an older version of the Imskian who picked a fight with Violet in #232.


Now we know what Vi will do if she becomes the Time Trapper. Go back and frame people who have always annoyed her smile

Originally Posted by Cramer
Saturn Girl acted completely out of character by boasting of her fearlessness and underestimating the dragon's ferocity. Colossal Boy also acted rashly by harvesting a dozen dragon scales at once, not following Violet's direction. And where did he get that giant crowbar?


Good spots on the crowbar and Jeckie. I did notice her sudden appearance, but didn't flip back to check assuming I'd just missed her. After all, Dupe Boy was in there for no reason. Like HWW, I thought he was a Jo stand in. But why? It may be that Conway though he really was part of the team.


"...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."
#897154 - 05/18/16 10:57 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
234 is a mess. It reads like it was written in a rush by a writer who couldn't decide to aim for an older or younger audience.


That's a good explanation of the issue.

Quote

The moral ambiguity of Bounty would also appeal to an older audience. Unlike Cramey, I quite liked Bounty's introductory scene as it establishes his ruthlessness but also that he acts within the law. (I also felt sorry for the fugitive, who, whatever his crimes were, just wanted to live in peace.) Bounty shoots this helpless old man in the belly, watches him die, and kicks his corpse. I'm set up to hate this guy but also to fear him.

Unfortunately, Bounty never progresses beyond being a one-dimensional villain. If we had been shown that he does indeed have some respect for the law, then his realization that he broke it might mean something. Instead, he's just a cartoonish baddie who's easily defeated.


I think Bounty would have had potential if he'd been less cartoonish. The Legion could have worked alongside him, even with the moral ambiguity.

Quote
The political tensions between Wildfire and the president are also very interesting and adult-oriented. This was still the late '70s, post-Nixon, post-Watergate and during Carter's ineffectual presidency. Politicians could not be trusted. The Legion was slow in incorporating this theme, but it seems real and palpable that they would be caught up in the wrangling of an oversight committee being established to look in on them. (This reminds me of a similar plotline in Avengers which came later.)


It is likely that they'd clash with government/political oversight, especially as they moved beyond the teen crime-fighting club phase. Many of the Legion's clashes with government were or would be a result of government being controlled by outside forces (Universo, the Dominators), so Wildfire bickering with the President is a good change of pace.

Quote
Thoth does a great job of showing how later writers picked up on some of the ingredients of this half-baked entree which has a lot of garnishing but doesn't go down well.


Nice analogy. We need a "Burp" smiley.

Originally Posted by thoth lad
Superboy 234
Bounty reminds me of the hard as nails sci-fi anti-heroes of British comics. He relies on technology rather than super powers, he’s determined and operates in a morally grey area. It’s not Bounty who commits the crimes. Nor is it he who sets the punishments or the rewards.
...

But while Bounty escalates his attacks by increasingly large, and ineffective weapons (possibly the real message of the story there) the Legion realise that a more subtle approach is needed. Blowhard Wildfire redeems himself by absorbing the radiation of the dragons and using it to change the Composite back. But at what cost to himself. For all their Adventure affection, there have been a number of issues around this period that TMK also mined. Wildfire would sacrifice himself again in the Black Dawn incident. TMK would also use at least the Bounty name, as it became an energy being ( a la Malice in the X-Men books) that possessed Dawnstar. In one of their not infrequent underutilised plot threads, we never found out the reason for the possession or if there was any connection to this Bounty.


Interesting point that Bounty relies on weapons, not superpowers, and escalation. Apart from the Bounty concept, I hadn't thought about this as as source material for TMK. Which came first: the Bounty entity or Bounty himself, who inspired the name for the entity? We'll never know.



Holy Cats of Egypt!
#897206 - 05/19/16 11:18 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Over in Tom Bierbaum's Blog there's his thoughts on Bounty.


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#897215 - 05/19/16 01:33 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Tom never mentions the Bounty from 234. It's just as well. They were two different characters who happened to share the same name.

The idea of this Bounty and the Legion working together poses some interesting possibilities. Since the Legion was sworn not to kill and Bounty preferred to kill when he could legally do so, the situation is ripe for conflict should the Legion somehow be forced to work with him.


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#897420 - 05/22/16 08:46 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I think there may be a mention elsewhere then, as I was opening up a few links along with the one above. It's much the same message though. Al Gordon created that particular concept, and TB didn't really know for sure if there was a connection between the two.

When I read it, I thought there had to have been. But nothing was ever done with it. Form what I remember Dawnstar spent most of the rest of the run in bed or being shipped back to Starhaven. A brief return coincided with Zero Hour, so that was that.


"...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."
#897630 - 05/23/16 09:14 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#235 The Legion's Super Secrect by Paul Levitz, art by Mike Grell & Vince Coletta; colors by Jerry Serpe

[Linked Image]

Superboy thinks he's just getting a routine psycho-medical exam, but it's really a Hypno-chair mind-wipe – and it's causing him considerable pain. Timber Wolf, Light Lass and Cosmic Boy look on; Brainiac 5 is at the controls. Cosmic Boy questions the treatment, but Brainy asserts that it's necessary.

Unbeknown to the Legionnaires, a circuit breaks, affecting the Hypno-chair. The Legionnaires are interrupted by an emergency alert that Sklarians are attacking the Life Institute. Superboy is reviving, although Ayla cries out that the treatment hasn't ended. A woozy Superboy regains his senses, then flies off after Brin and Ayla to deal with the Sklarians. Brainy sees that the brainwashing treatment didn't work and suggests that there could be serious consequences if Superboy's suppressed memories surface. He and Rokk join the others to battle the Sklarians.

Sklarians need some technology that the Life Institute possesses but, despite their best efforts, are stopped by the Legion team. Their escape is stopped by the Science Police and the Legionnaires focus on helping the Life Institute staff. Brainy tries to divert a suspicious Superboy's attention; a doctor is surprised that Superboy hasn't heard of the Institute's work.

Aboard a Legion cruiser checking Earth's space for other Sklarians, Sun Boy asks if the Sklarians were after the Life Institute's serum stock. It's supposed to be a secret location, but if the secret's out, Rokk asks why Superboy can't know about it. Brainy explains he could use the knowledge to play God and destroy the 20th century; this information is so important that they can't use the standard post-hypnotic command but must brainwash Superboy.

Back at Legion HQ, eavesdropping Superboy hears this as he plays a ball game with Ayla, Brin and Tasmia. Their game is interrupted by another alert of Sklarian attack, this one on Technos, a cutting-edge lab orbiting above Earth. SPs and Legion battle the Sklarians once again. Brainy warns Superboy to stay away from the Life Sciences section so that he doesn't damage any equipment. Supes is suspicious, but obeys. Sun Boy even refuses Superboy's help, causing further suspicion. The Sklarians are defeated and make a desperate appeal to the Legionnaires. The U.P. gave Sklaria some limited technology, but it destroyed their society; they want the full technological banquet to pull things together. Brainy tells them outright that societies can't be brought up to ultra-modern technical levels all at once, or the shock would be too great.

As the SPs take them into custody, Rokk questions whether they should be called pirates and cites his own planet's experience. Brainy interrupts him and declares they should go home and finish Superboy's psych exam. Superboy isn't buying it. He thinks the secret is the creation of artificial life; Brainy and Rokk confirm that's it – and Superboy might accidentally reveal the secret in the 20th century. The universe could be unbalanced by “countless artificial beings needing to be fed”. With that explanation satisfying him, Superboy leaves for the 20th century.

An aged Doctor B'relden congratulates the Legionnaires on their deception, remarkable thinking for people who aren't even 50 years old. The reader learns that the secret is really a serum that extends life for centuries – and even Superboy might be tempted to use it on people he loves. This life extension serum is also why people in their twenties are still called “Boy” or “Kid”. This life extending serum is gradually being made available to planets. One day, the doctor muses, the entire universe will be ready to handle true immortality, which he's working on.


Comments: I believe this is the story that Paul Levitz regretted writing. The idea of selective life extension and the resulting justification of “boy” and “girl” monikers for what we regard as adults could have presented logic problems for future stories. Grounds for revolt, if not war, since it would certainly be hard to keep that secret for long. I'm not sure the idea was ever entirely disavowed; perhaps it remains the elephant in the Legion HQ to this day.

(The Coluans, with their 300 year lifespans, pretty much soak up the extended life possibilities in the Legionverse in future stories – and not much is done with that. Did they originally invent it and incorporate it into their DNA? Could the serum have been outlawed but still available on a premium black market? Many untold tales remain!)

Unlike the Time Institute, the Life Institute and Technos do not become entrenched in the Legionverse.

The plot is about keeping a secret from Superboy – and the reader. I think this would have been interesting for a first time reader; it's clearly an important secret and many possibilities come to mind as the story advances.

For all his suspicions, Superboy accepts the explanation given without question or further curiosity. Why did the brainwashing cause him such pain? Was he fighting to retain knowledge of the life serum, or was this a prophyalactic treatment for something he might learn later? I think the story might have been better if Superboy had been out of it entirely and it was just a battle between Sklarians and the Legion.

The Sklarian attacks add interest along the way as well as upping the ante: the secret is a technology so valuable, they're taking great risks to steal it. At the least, you've got to love sexy ladies on flying sleds. Brainy must have a hard heart to stare into those big sad eyes and tell her no advanced tech for you.

I liked to see Rokk question the Hypno-chair therapy as well as the treatment of the Sklarian people. It added a lot to his character while providing a platform for the other side of the debate. Grell did a good job of converying Rokk's worried expression.

The question of bringing advanced technology to relatively backward societies is a fascinating one and has figured in many sci fi stories, not to mention historical accounts in our own time. I'm sorry this wasn't explored at greater length in the Legion series, although it's likely not the best medium for such a complicated issue. It will emerge from time to time, whether regarding a particular society or a villain's quest for immortality. That the question was addressed at all makes me appreciate this story and I'm glad that Levitz at least put the matter on the table.



I'll post Part 2 of Issue #235 on Saturday; anyone who wishes to forge ahead and review it earlier is most welcome to do so!


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#897636 - 05/24/16 02:44 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy and the LSH #234

Some last minute thoughts on S&LSH #234 before we move on--apologies for tardiness!

I agree this story was a total mess. And like FC, I hate these type of ridiculous "composite" stories where everyone combines into one being. It's a bad premise and this is about as bad as it gets. Add in some weak moments where people are out of character (Imra, Gim, etc) and the sci-go in the beginning that is rife with potential but then goes totally off the rails, and it's a forgettable story.

Bounty reminds me of a lot of Conway's creations at Marvel, like the Punisher, (and others who followed that mold) who were becoming prominent in the 70's. His opening sequence is good, but he quickly becomes forgettable too. If he was used in a different story--perhaps tracking Jo when Jo is wanted for murder--then he may have shined more.

One thing I did like was the Superboy / Wildfire scenes. As Wildfire starts to finally show cracks in his confidence, its ironically Superboy who gives him a pep talk, finally having come to respect his colleague as leader. The scene could have used some real polish, but I like the sentiment after all the build up we've seen.

Duplicate Boy's presence makes no sense. A theory I have is that it was originally Condo but had to tweaked on the art. Perhaps if this and Conways other story were drawn early than Condo's death? A little far fetched but for the life of me, I can't figure out what purpose it served to use Duplicate Boy unless someone screwed up.

#897665 - 05/24/16 09:27 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Good catch about Superboy giving Wildfire a pep talk. It was nice to see a transition in their relationship.


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#897669 - 05/24/16 10:54 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy 234

It was only a matter of time before Superboy would figure out he’d travelled to the future of the Legion of Evil. It was only a matter of time before the villains would have to deal with him once and for all.

But that’s not this issue. This issue, we see the Legion try to brainwash the embodiment of their own inspiration. They note that it’s getting harder to do each year, sowing the seeds of a time when Superboy simply won’t be coming back. But this isn’t the usual mind wiping we see (frequently) in the Legion. They are trying to prevent Superboy from knowing something about his time in the 30th century. I thought he already had a post hypnotic suggestion to forget all this stuff. This story seems to think that’s not enough.

I thought it would all be related to something about his parents. But the scope is bigger than that. In the Legion’s time, they can extend lifespans into the centuries. The whole story is designed to explain why the Legion still use “boy” “lad” and “lass” when they are now into their twenties. With far longer lifespans, the Legion are all still comparatively young.

The Legion subject Superboy (and presumably Supergirl) to annual extra brain tampering so they won’t be tempted to use this sort of knowledge to extend the lives of their nearest and dearest back in the 20th century. Such meddling would result in a stern telling off from the Time Trapper. Perhaps that’s why there’s an iron curtain of time. It’s the Trapper’s way of keeping even more advanced technology out of the hands of the Legion, without needing to book in hypno-sessions for them all.

Trapper: Who’s my 12:30 today?
Glorith the receptionist: That’ll be a Mr Rokk Krinn.
Trapper: Really? That has...possibilities. Anyway, after that, tell all callers I’m playing golf with one of the Endless.
Glorith: A date with Destiny? Haven’t we all.

There’s a lost series where Krypto, having not been brainwashed, organised an immortal army of super pets that fought heroes from across time. That’s why you stopped seeing the Super Pets.

Superboy works out that something’s not right when his treatment is interrupted by the Sklarian raiders. They are looking particularly slinky this issue, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t notice the well-choreographed fights, where everyone gets to show off their powers. It’s a treat to see Brin and Ayla work well together.

During the course of the story, Superboy pieces things together. He confronts Brainy, and the truth is… not revealed to him. The Legion lie to Superboy, telling him that in the future they can create new life and that the Legion guard that secret. I’m reminded of the later blue probes in the TMK run, as well as shades of the immortal Ivo.

This is one I had to buy for the reread threads. Previously, I had read snippets about the attempts to explain the “kid/lad/lass” stuff with a grimace. They all seemed unnecessary and clumsy in execution.

I do still feel the whole story is unnecessary. It goes out of its way to explain something that doesn’t necessarily have to be explained. There’s a whole thread that could be devoted to that.

However, if such a thing had to be explained, this was a decent way of doing it. Having “Kids” in their late twenties or older seems odd. But that’s more from our difficulty in grasping the social pressures of such a long lived society from our own limited lifespans. The explanation poses all sorts of questions about this future society from societal structures to resource management.

There are plenty of other questions raised from the tale. We learn of Braal and Sklaria’s social issues. There’s a developmental hierarchy in the United Planets. There have been catastrophic consequences in advancing some worlds too quickly. Ironically, this was just the charge that would be levelled against the Fatal Five.

There are lots of stories and world building that could have come from this. Levitz did take a lot of time to expand the cultures of the30th century. I don’t think we saw Technus again, which is a shame. The story certain puts the actions of the Sklarians in a different light. They’re a lot different here, than the petty thieves as portrayed later on.

Rokk Krinn’s actions in this issue are interesting. He’s clearly very unhappy at putting Superboy through the treatment. Brainy warns him away, in case Rokk’s powers interfere with it. Considering Rokk’s control over his abilities (he doesn’t cause computer chaos in other issues) is there a hint form Brainy that Rokk might derail it sort of on purpose? I see hints of Rokk the Braalian revolutionary in this one. It’s emphasised by his sympathy for the raiders.

Brainy continues to be particularly harsh throughout. I think it’s partly his way of showing his distaste at treating Superboy this way. But it’s also from following the conclusion that this has to be done, with sentiments like Rokk’s not helping it get done any quicker. Or he’s just a git, with questionable judgement.

We’re shown that despite the names, the Legion aren’t kids. They have huge responsibilities for the worlds in their galaxy. That they have to so thoroughly mind wipe their friend and lie to him, would suggest that they have not only outgrown the wonder of the early Superboy tales, but that the relationship is now damaging to all concerned.

The life extension is another classic sci-fi what if scenario, along with one of my recurring Legion favourites of mind control being used as enforcement.

In summary, it’s a story seeking to answer a question that shows the evolvement of the book from the Weisinger days, but that poses many more interesting questions along the way. The Grell art certainly adds a lot to the script too.


"...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."
#897681 - 05/24/16 01:22 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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235/Legion's Super-Secret

Thoth is right that this story answers an unnecessary question of why Legion sticks with the "Girl" and "Boy" codenames, but I see the issue as deeper than that, and that's why--controversy aside (or maybe because of the controversy)--this remains one of my favorite Legion stories of this era.

The "Lad/Lass" element is a superficial explanation for a deeper evolution going on in the comic: The Legion is growing up. Two issues hence, two more of their members would get married and leave. 235 subtly acknowledges that this evolution has already taken place, and that the Legion has, in some ways, outgrown Superboy.

It is, of course, disturbing that the Legion brainwashes their iconic inspiration and lies to him--but it's supposed to be disturbing. And that's what makes this story stand out to me: there are no simplistic right or wrong answers. As readers, we're left wondering if the Legion did the right thing--just like in real life.

To illustrate why I think the Legion may have made the right choice, let's pretend that the surviving US presidents form a club, and a secret CIA experiment allows them to travel through time. They decide to invite Abraham Lincoln into the present and to join them. It all sounds great, but, as Abe becomes a regular visitor to the 21st century, Barack, Bill, Jimmy, George, and George W. are faced with a dilemma: Should they tell him to avoid the Ford Theatre on April 14, 1865, or not? And if they decide not to, should they try to keep him from finding out through films, books, etc., what will happen there?

And even if Abe's a noble sort who is willing to face his own death for the sake of the union (there's some evidence of this), what if he got it in his head to take modern medical advances back to his own time to save his sons, Edward (who died in 1850) and Willie (who died in 1862)? Would the temptation be too great even for him?

Viewed in that context, the Legion's actions make sense. They were looking beyond friendship to the larger context: Could even Superboy resist the temptation to save his loved ones?

The story handles this idea in a highly mature fashion, and the subplot of the Sklarian raiders provides another dimension: Are they greedy technological thieves or is the UP withholding technology they need? There are no clear-cut answers. Each side thinks they are doing what's right.

There are, of course, some problems with the story (aren't there always?). As FC suggests, Superboy accepts the brainwashing too readily at the end. The notion that his friends and teammates have been lying to him since day one doesn't bother him a bit. Well, good for you, Super-Saint.

Actually, that's pretty much the only problem I have with the story. I was going to say that the Sklarian raiders plot seemed too drawn out, but I think only the splash page on Page 14 is unneeded, though it is nice to look at.

Among other things I enjoyed:
--The palpable tension between Brainy and Supes. It is unnerving to see these guys who have fought side by side for years suddenly at odds with each other. (Hint to fellow writers: Unnerving the reader can be a good thing.)
--Rokk's role. He waivers in his acceptance of the brainwashing (even though it was initiated when he was leader) and then reveals that his homeworld, Braal, paralleled the circumstances faced by Sklar. This deepens his character immeasurably and builds nicely off of what we know of his origin (i.e., he came to earth to find a job because of Braal's economic problems).
--The scene of the Legionnaires having fun in the courtyard. Such scenes of our heroes hanging out as friends are always a plus.
--Grell's art (yay!), though I miss Wiacek's inks.


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#897683 - 05/24/16 02:27 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy & LSH #235

This was a story with a lot of good things but also with some weak delivery that made the story feel flat rather than effective in places. The big one off the bat is that Grell returns, which should be a huge deal, but his art feels rushed and scratchy here--almost unfinished. I know his schedule was chaotic at the time and he was doing a bit of a favor, but it feels like a lost opportunity to me.

The story itself, based on keeping a secret from Superboy, has potential but I found myself not enjoying it. Brainy is a bit too dickish, and the plot itself, with extended life feels forced. It *could* be good, but it feels more like Paul wanted to simply address the Legionnaires having "boy" and "girl" code names still, and that type of slavery to continuity is something I've grown to dislike immensely. I do think there is a place for good stories about Superboy being prevented from learning things about the future, and I also think there is a place for stories about the Legion getting older (which frankly is one of my favorite things about this era). But this story feels like neither in execution.

I do like the concept of worlds getting an influx of technology they aren't ready for yet. Cos's commentary on Braal and the usage of the Sklaarians worked well here, and this was much more interesting than the "secret" story.

So a mixed bag here: a lot of good, and some failed execution in places.

#897684 - 05/24/16 02:29 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Also, I agree with you guys on Rokk's dislike of the brainwashing. That added a good side to the tension that fleshed it out more.

#897743 - 05/25/16 10:27 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Cramer
I believe this is the story that Paul Levitz regretted writing.


I wonder if it’s really that people couldn’t quite get their head around it, and considered it to be a failed attempt at fudging the issue. That would be a shame, as it does have some logic to it, and as you mention…

Originally Posted by Cramer
Grounds for revolt, if not war, since it would certainly be hard to keep that secret for long. I'm not sure the idea was ever entirely disavowed; perhaps it remains the elephant in the Legion HQ to this day.


Originally Posted by Cramer
Did they originally invent it and incorporate it into their DNA? Could the serum have been outlawed but still available on a premium black market? Many untold tales remain!


Originally Posted by Cramer
it's clearly an important secret and many possibilities come to mind as the story advances.


Originally Posted by Cramer
I'm sorry this wasn't explored at greater length in the Legion series…


… It’s certainly a story that opens up the 30th century to a lot of strong questions and ideas, raising it above your standard comic story.

Originally Posted by Cramer
For all his suspicions, Superboy accepts the explanation given without question or further curiosity. Why did the brainwashing cause him such pain?


I think his powers were adapting to it. He’s invulnerable to pretty much everything else, and he’s starting to resist it. I do think that it’s really a way of indicating that, as Superman, Clark won’t be with the Legion.

Originally Posted by HWW
As FC suggests, Superboy accepts the brainwashing too readily at the end. The notion that his friends and teammates have been lying to him since day one doesn't bother him a bit. Well, good for you, Super-Saint.


Superboy has been figuring it out through the story. Sure, he may or may not realise Brainy’s lying to him even at the end. But Clark is super smart on a human level that Brainy probably will never grasp. I think he’s ready to come back to get the brainwashing precisely because he’s seen the ramifications of having access to those secrets. He understands that it’s not easy for his friends to do this. And because they are his friends, he trusts them to do the right thing by him.

It still hurts though. He’s very quick to race back to Smallville to take care of something, and his “see ya!” farewell is a bit abrupt, and tells me he wants a little space from them for a while.

I think it hurts all the more, because that same intelligence and outlook means that Superboy would be the one not to fall to such temptations. Because he understands the consequences so fully.

As I posted earlier, I think the story shows that the relationship between Superboy and the Legion has changed as the Legion are no longer “kids” as we’d know them, despite what they call themselves. Superboy, too, has been growing up in the title for some time. I think that’s a key part of the story, and that it wouldn’t have worked so well with just the Legion and the Sklarians.


"...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."
#897755 - 05/25/16 02:49 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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That's a wonderful interpretation of Superboy's actions, thoth. It shows his total faith in and loyalty to his friends.


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#897771 - 05/25/16 11:36 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by thoth lad
Over in Tom Bierbaum's Blog there's his thoughts on Bounty.


While reading Tom's comments I came up with a theory of my own. What if Bounty (the entity from 5YG) was actually Boston Brand? After hanging around for 1000 years, who knows what his mental state would be?


First comic books ever bought: A DC four-for-47-cents grab bag that included Adventure #331. The rest is history.
#897784 - 05/26/16 02:46 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: the Hermit]  
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Originally Posted by the Hermit
Originally Posted by thoth lad
Over in Tom Bierbaum's Blog there's his thoughts on Bounty.


While reading Tom's comments I came up with a theory of my own. What if Bounty (the entity from 5YG) was actually Boston Brand? After hanging around for 1000 years, who knows what his mental state would be?


Or, the Red Jack entity from Star Trek TOS 2xO7: A Wolf in the Fold.



I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
#897835 - 05/26/16 01:37 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: the Hermit]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
That's a wonderful interpretation of Superboy's actions, thoth.


Thank you for the comment that made me think about it, or it wouldn't have got posted. smile


"...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."
#897883 - 05/27/16 04:04 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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If Boston Brand had become Bounty, I wonder if he could be rehabilitated. That would be an interesting and unusual connection to present day DC. Evil spirits, djinns, etc. have a long history of possession for malign purpose. Seeing that it was used in a Star Trek episode brings to mind that it is a sort of alien encounter, and well suited to sci fi stories.

Thoth came up with a reasonable and rather poignant explanation of Superboy's behaviour. The Legion is growing up, or being grown up, as is Superboy. The alternative is Peter Pan, so I guess we should welcome this development.

Something that never occurred to me is just how smart Superboy is. I guess I figured he's super-smart, like he has super this and that power, but if his father was a top notch scientist, he could be well above average intelligence throughout the galaxy.



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#897884 - 05/27/16 04:07 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#235 - Second Story - Trial of the Legion Five by Gerry Conway, art by George Tuska & Vince Colleta, colors by Jerry Serpe

Marko Chang, Earthgov councilman, stands in court to accuse Timber Wolf, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Shadow Lass and Brainiac 5 (in absentia) with murder. Other Legionnaires observe from the gallery. Jeckie suggests that this is payback for some trouble they caused Chang in an election; Superboy muses that they don't know the facts.

Chang testifies that his son, lying in a stasis cylinder as Exhibit 1, died from Synapse Syndrome, which gradually destroyed his nervous system's electrical activity. Dad believed he had found a cure: a Titanian Psycho-Beast, while dying, would emit radiation which would restore the young man's system. Despite the youth's protest than a creature would have to die, Chang left for Saturn's moons; on arrival, he encountered a team of Legionnaires. Brainiac 5 declared that the Legion needed the Psycho-Beast and Timber Wolf attacked Chang, knocking him unconscious.

Coming to, he saw that Brainy and Beast had gone; the SPs were summoned but, in the meantime, the boy had died, so Chang blamed the Legionnaires. Chang's testimony is deemed true by the Truth Tube – or at least the truth as Chang understands it.

Saturn Girl testifies for the Legion: when attempts to save Wildfire's life failed, she remembered the Psycho-Beast legend and, as a last resort, went to get the Beast themselves. She also is deemed truthful, but the Court wants more information.

As Shadow Lass takes the stand, Lightning Lad ponders the question of whether the Legionnaires were right or wrong to put Wildfire's life above Redvik Chang's. Meanwhile, two shaded figures approach the courthouse and enter, disabling the guards.

Shady and Garth complete their testimony: after they found the Psycho-Beast, Timber Wolf fought and stunned it with a powerful blow. Suddenly, Wildfire bursts into the court, holds an energy-emitting hand over the dead youth, who revives. Brainy, following him, explains that he carted the Beast off to a secret lab and used the dying creature's radiation to revive Wildfire. Since Chang so resented the Legion, Brainy knew it would have served no purpose to talk to him on Titan; better to save Wildfire first, who could then come to the court to revive the younger Chang. Truth is complex, concludes the Judge. Case dismissed.

Comments:

Something about this story seems clumsy, but I can't place it. Is it telling the story through courtroom testimony? The too-quick wrap-up by Brainiac 5 and the immediate restoration to full health of Redvik? An over-demanding suspension of disbelief?

This story serves to save Wildfire, last seen dying from over-exposure to Space Dragon radiation. Instead of drawing out that particular event to fill pages, Conway made Wildfire's rescue part of a bigger story. The search for the Psycho-Beast takes up a few pages, but the real interest is why Chang believes the Legionnaires murdered his dying son. This mystery is compounded by the convenient addition of the Truth Tube, the assertion by Superboy that none of the other Legionnaires know the facts, Lightning Lad's internal self-doubts that they might indeed be responsible for Redvik's death and Brainy's unexplained absence from Court.

The final resolution is not clear-cut: does the elder Chang still believe that the Legionnaires killed his son, even if they did revive him?

There's a backstory to Chang and the Legion, but we're only given some vague information. A potential is established in this story for a future conflict with Chang, which never comes to pass. It seems to me that the Legionnaires got off a bit lightly; Brainy might have been charged with infliction of mental suffering.

A radiation overload put Wildfire close to death, yet it is radiation that restores him. It's a further bit of mind-bender to think that this radiation would be equally effective on a dead young man as on a fading energy being.

We're given a number of clues as to who the two shadowed figures are breaking into court - a forcefield around one, the manner in which they speak. It's clear in retrospect, but I expect there might have been some mystery for first-time readers.

One point that isn't addressed is the killing of the Psycho-Beast by Timber Wolf. Young Redvik raises some concern about a creature dying so that he might live, but the Legionnaires do not. They exploded a Space Dragon a few issues ago as well. Maybe Conway wanted to be a big game hunter?

The Psycho-Beast is a big bruiser. It seems unlikely that it could have remained a myth living on a moon full of telepaths. Could it have just become very, very good at hiding after being hunted to death for generations?

It's a quibble, but I find the persistence of the medieval peasant look in these Conway stories to be a bit strange. Everyone but the Legionnaires looked liked backwater thugs.



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#897891 - 05/27/16 05:48 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
If Boston Brand had become Bounty, I wonder if he could be rehabilitated.



How does one rehabilitate a ghost? A paranormal support group? Counseling sessions for the damned? (Hm. There may be a fanfic in there.)

With few exceptions, I don't like the idea of established heroes turning evil and then being "rehabilitated." Once you've crossed that line and harmed others, it's hard to go back to the other side. Something really drastic has to happen, as in a character flaw, to justify the shift to "evil" in the first place.

Such a shift requires abandoning the morals, principles, and values one holds dear to begin with. If one chooses to be a hero, it follows that one values helping others, doing what benefits the community, or devotion to something one holds as "good" (a country, religion, or family, for example). Abandoning such values suggests one had only a superficial connection to them in the first place--which probably explains 5YG Dirk and reboot Jan "coming over" to the dark side.

The notion that people could turn evil after spending centuries or millennia on their own also strikes me as a superficial rationale. It makes people victims of circumstances in their lives (or deaths) and removes agency. Yet real people overcome horrific events--some of which have led to lifelong debilitation--and choose to make something good of them. (NPR aired an interview with a woman who, at age 13, survived the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima. She recounted in horrific detail what she experienced and observed. Today she is an anti-nuclear activist.)

I know little of Boston Brand as a character. However, I'm willing to accept the Spectre's loss of humanity following his death, and Jan and Dirk giving in to their less-than-noble impulses, because they are the exceptions to the rule. Most heroes would find some way to turn their circumstances to their advantage.


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#897900 - 05/27/16 06:25 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
#235 - Second Story - Trial of the Legion Five by Gerry Conway, art by George Tuska & Vince Colleta, colors by Jerry Serpe

Comments:

Something about this story seems clumsy, but I can't place it. Is it telling the story through courtroom testimony? The too-quick wrap-up by Brainiac 5 and the immediate restoration to full health of Redvik? An over-demanding suspension of disbelief?


My vote is for all of the above.

Just why are Redvik Chang's body and coffin in the courtroom? Mighty convenient.

Again, Conway seems to be injecting mature themes into a story aimed for children. The result is a mishmash of ideas and actions that do not fit together well.

I love the idea of the Legion having a longtime political opponent who would even use the death of his own son to bring the team down. This fits in well with the hatred and self-serving malice we see in real-world individuals and groups. The competing goals of Chang and the Legionnaires (one wanting to save his son, the others wanting to save their teammate) creates realistic tension.

I also like the idea of the Legionnaires giving different testimony. This creates an almost Rashomon-like effect, which could have been expanded further. As it is, I appreciated the judge discounting Shady's testimony as hearsay. It shows how "eyewitness" testimony can be unreliable.

But, yeah, clumsy is the word. I could do without Superboy's melodramatic thoughts (or even with his presence in the story). Garth's doubts while he is on trial are more believable, though.

Yet it all comes down to the premise that the Legionnaires needed to save Wildfire so they could, in turn, save Redvik Chang, and they knew this (or at least Brainy figured it out) before or during the fight. Either that, or they were just being selfish. In the fight scenes, the Legionnaires come across as bullies who use their superior powers to best Chang, who only wants to save his son. (Of course, these scenes are told from Chang's biased point of view, but the Legionnaires never dispute the basic facts of the case.)

And it is all resolved nicely and neatly. Chang looks like a bad guy who let his hatred of the Legion influence his actions by wasting the court and public's attention with a trial. No one seems to care that he was a grieving father--least of all the Legionnaires, who could have reached out to Chang at any point and explained their plan. (Just how long does it take to arrest people and put them on trial in the 30th century? Given the urgency in saving Wildfire, it looks as if the trial took place later the same day as the encounter with the psycho beast.) Chang may have refused such overtures, but the Legion could have tried.

Of course, maybe they kept silent because they weren't sure the plan would work. Why get Chang's hopes up, after all? Just let him go on grieving and hating and wasting the court's time.

It is interesting, though, that both this story and the lead feature portray Brainy--and to some degree the other Legionnaires--as being cold and unsympathetic toward civilians and the Sklarian raiders. The Legionnaires have their own agenda to pursue and woe to anyone who gets in the way.

Quote

It's a quibble, but I find the persistence of the medieval peasant look in these Conway stories to be a bit strange. Everyone but the Legionnaires looked liked backwater thugs.



That is certainly odd--but it ties in with my comment above about the Legion being "above" everyone else. smile


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#897939 - 05/27/16 12:31 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
Thoth came up with a reasonable and rather poignant explanation of Superboy's behaviour. The Legion is growing up, or being grown up, as is Superboy. The alternative is Peter Pan, so I guess we should welcome this development.

Something that never occurred to me is just how smart Superboy is. I guess I figured he's super-smart, like he has super this and that power, but if his father was a top notch scientist, he could be well above average intelligence throughout the galaxy.



Clark is always tinkering about with advanced science/ engineering projects in his basement workshop. Not only that, his ingenious solutions, with or without powers, show an advanced intellect and ability to apply it.

In this issue he even says that the Legion's secret must be "something unknown on 20th century Earth ---- or Krypton!"

So, not only does he have a pretty good grasp on the extent of Earth science, but also the super advanced science of Krypton in the 20th century, with it's rocket ships, and phantom zone projectors etc.

Being with the Legion is about having a peer group with which Superboy feels comfortable and with friends. But there might also be a part that views 30th century Earth as a reminder of the advanced Krypton of the 20th century. So it's a little like going home for him.


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#898227 - 05/29/16 11:45 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy #235 Backup

Imagine you’re taking a walk, minding your own business. You don’t look for any trouble and you just want to be left in peace to get on with your life.

Suddenly a group of people try to kidnap you. They are confronted, not by someone looking to save you, but by another man looking to kidnap you. They fight and the first group takes you away, after beating you up.

Neither group wants a ransom. Neither group makes demands. They simply want to kill you for what you are.

That’s the lot of the Psycho Beast of Titan. The last of its kind, presumably due to all its loved ones having been killed off.

While the story plays with the idea of perspective forming each person’s truth, it completely misses the actual crime committed by everyone taking the stand.

It’s Brin Londo who stuns the beast, so that Brainy can take it off to kill it. If groups of hunters had arrived for Brin in his Furball days, for a similar reason, would the Legion have been so keen to hand him over?

The only redeeming character is Redvik Chang. He didn’t want the creature’s death on his conscience. He’s the only one who understands that his life has no more value than the Psycho Beast’s. It’s a shame that Brainy and his accomplices didn’t come to that conclusion, as it marks a low point in the Legion for me.

But this may not be the end of the story. The Legion has a history of transferring the energy of one being, upon death, into the body of another. Margie Spears’ excellent article gave us the Eltro Gand personality in Mon El and the Proty personality in Garth Ranzz. Could this be a third instance?

I’m particularly struck by Redvik’s expression as he leaves the court room in the last panel. There’s an eerie intensity to it. Could the Beast of Titan now share a mind with Marko’s son?

Of more specific Legion relevance, is the Titan Beast now sharing a mind with Drake Burroughs?


The thoughts and actions of the Legionnaires are odd. Cham, the master of subterfuge & investigation, is stumped beyond wanting to actually help them.

While it’s not a positive in the sense of the group or its utopian future, we see that there’s a certain anti Legion sentiment on Earth. It’s not just a point for debate either. These people “violently oppose the Legion’s extra-Legal standing.”

Are they the usual clueless lemmings we see rallying round any political demagogue?

Is there a genuine feeling that super heroes don’t belong in this ultra-scientific future of mankind? There are strong parallels with Lex Luthor and the Watchmen on that one?

Or are the mob using the Legion as stalking horses, to display their real resentment at the Supreme Court, its truth tubes and mind controlling devices?


"...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."
#898290 - 05/30/16 04:36 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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Thoth's post made me re-read the story, and . . .

The major failing of the story is that it never explains what the psycho-beast died from. Did B5 kill it, or was it going to die, anyway? This much is not clear.

I think this is important because it highlights a distinction in our culture that many of us take for granted. Animals are animals, and people are people. People are more important than animals, and, therefore, people can kill animals in order to eat them or control them for any reason pertaining to human interests (e.g., driving them out of their habitats, putting them in zoos, etc.).

Perhaps Conway's biggest error in this story is that he never questions this assumption. Rather, he focuses on how Marko Chang's truth is entirely subjective. In his testimony, Chang claims the Legionnaires attacked him, yet Lightning Lad calls this an "out and out lie." Both are telling the truth, according to the truth tube. (I agree: the truth tube is a silly device, but it serves the needs of this short story.)

The real point of this story, I think, is that Marko Chang was so consumed with hatred that his feelings blinded him to a solution that could have saved both his son and Wildfire (and which did, anyway, because the Legionnaires took matters into their own hands).

It's interesting to look at this story now and see the psycho-beast as simply a creature that had its own right to live. That's clearly not how Conway saw it, and, as a reader at the time, I don't think I saw it that way either. Human beings capture animals and eat them or force them into servitude, so the treatment of the psycho-beast doesn't seem totally out of step with the assumptions of many people then or now.


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#898293 - 05/30/16 07:20 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders

The major failing of the story is that it never explains what the psycho-beast died from. Did B5 kill it, or was it going to die, anyway? This much is not clear.


Marko Chang: In it's death throes the beast produces an uncanny radiation.

Definition of "death throes": the process of dying or ending in a very painful or unpleasant way.

Redvik Chang: But father, if the Beast ahs to die--
Marko Chang: No price is too great to pay for your life.

The story bolds the "no" and there's nothing there that suggests that Marko cares less about the health of the Titan Beast. Brainy simply tells Marko he can't have it. Again, there's not a hint that there's any concern over the Titan Beast's health.

Having invaded its territory with the sole purpose of causing it harm it, the Legionnaires relate how the beast "swiped at him viciously" No kidding. As it's fighting for it's life, the Titan Beast doesn't look ill or wounded or particularly old. So, there's nothing to suggest that it's was going to die any time soon.

"and the beast fell stunned," shows that it was still very much alive when Brin attacked it. Since everyone else in comics gets up after being stunned, there's no reason the Beast couldn't have went along with its life.

Instead, we next see it strapped to a transference table in Brainy's lab. He uses it's "death energy to revive Wildfire." Now how does the creature move from being "stunned" to having "death energy"? Brainy would have to kill it, to save Drake in the time they had.

Worse, for "death energy" see "death throes." Although the creature looks still, I don't think it died easily. I think we're seeing it after Brainy has finished with it. I'd very much like to be wrong on that one. but Conway set it up that a violent death releases the energy. Since they are trying to save Wildfire, perhaps this puts the Beast's violent death up there with the moral heights of animal testing.

If the Titan Beast was the last one of its kind, then it's species wasn't going to survive. But the Legion have the distinction of being the ones who officially made it extinct. I'm surprised we don't see it's head mounted in HQ. Cramer mentioned big game hunting, and this was very much like that. Then there's the question of why it was the last of its kind...

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Animals are animals, and people are people. People are more important than animals, and, therefore, people can kill animals in order to eat them or control them for any reason pertaining to human interests (e.g., driving them out of their habitats, putting them in zoos, etc.).


You make the distinction of "in order to eat" going up to "any reason pertaining to human interests." This story is very much one of the latter. The Legion did it because they could. I was thinking of the Legion Outpost's KAL-EL (Keep Alien Legionnaires Exotic Looking). I also mentioned a Furball analogy last post. Would the legion have these attitudes with a Devil Fish in their ranks? How would they react when the Gil' Dishpan turn up and say "it's only a lesser creature" about Tellus as they set out their cutlery.


Since I'm posting, I was thinking a little more about a Wildfire/ Titan Beast combination following the energy transference. How would that be spotted. Would Wildfire seem lonely at being one of a kind? Would he seem cut off form others? Would he look to reach out to others more in some way? We saw the creature aggressively defend it's territory. Would Wildfire be aggressive around his interests?

Then I realised that's pretty much Wildfire anyway. If this happened, I think it's a good fit. Perhaps it helped Drake reach out to the likes of the academy students and Dawnstar. Perhaps it gave him more of a self of being. A reminder of being alive again. And certainly the cost of being alone and one of a kind.


"...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."
#898300 - 05/30/16 09:30 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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A 3-story issue. Part 1 today, part 2 on Thursday, part 3 on Saturday. Anyone who wishes to cover all three at once, write long and prosper!

#236 1st Story: A World Born Anew! By Paul Levitz & Paul Krupperberg, art by James Sherman & Bobo McLeod, Colours by Anthony Tollin

[Linked Image]

Brainy monitors Rokk and Lydda relax on Braal and grouses about never getting leave himself. Superboy consoles him and offers a rematch at 3D Chess.

On Braal, Rokk and Lydda play magnoball with brother Pol and his girlfriend Polla. Suddenly, the ground turns to sludge, engulfing Polla and then Pol, who are rescued by Rokk and Lydda.

The two superheroes meet with the President and learn that massive geological changes have been occurring on Braal. Rokk calls in the Legion to investigate and he and Lydda begin to look into the problem.

They encounter a vessel operated by a cigar-smoking sentient, Worldsmith, who blasts the couple. They're rescued by Superboy as the other Legionnaires tackle Worldsmith's “Planetchanger” machine. An enraged Worldsmith, worried about cost overruns, uses his power to enclose the team in a stone sphere. Superboy and Colossal Boy fail to break out, but Element Lad, after some consideration, turns the stone to oxygen. Projectra emerges from the cruiser to announce that she has an idea how to beat Worldsmith.

Worldsmith resumes his project, only to be interrupted by Cosmic Boy, who appears to now have world-changing powers of his own thanks to a combination of Jeckie's illusions and Legionnaire powers. Finally, an angry Worldsmith acknowledges failure due to escalating costs and disappears in a space warp, threatening that he will not be forgotten on Braal.

The team looks around and sees that Worldsmith has left a series of statues resembling his own face, which happen to look just like Earth's Easter Island figures. Superboy tells the others that Worldsmith must have been on Earth a long time ago.

Comments:

Worldsmith is a comedic character and the story, while taking a swipe at rapacious developers, is a light story to give some insight into a few Legionnaires, with an unexpected, joke ending.

Brainy monitoring Rokk and Lydda on vacation is exceedingly creepy – where does it end? - but universal surveillance was a common element of Legion stories. In this case, it's used to show that Brainy doesn't have much of a life outside the Legion – which could have been accomplished by him simply griping about Rokk and Lydda's fun-filled vacation.

Continuing the “Superboy is really smart” concept, he's not only a match for Brainy at 3D chess, but also shows a sympathetic, caring attitude.

It's pleasant to see Rokk and Lydda having fun, her winning the game despite a lack of magnetic or night-enhanced power. Maybe he's just letting her win. The relationship must be serious is he's taking her home to meet the family. Easy access to the Braalian president reinforces the high esteem in which the Legion is held.

That Worldsmith could be terraforming Braal without prior discovery does stretch credulity. The changes could have occurred in remote locations and/or at night (sort of like crop circles...), mystifying the residents until Rokk and Lydda actually found the source. Who is the client? Does the client intend to take over Braal once the project is finished or is this just a vacation home? Surely Worldsmith could have been a useful partner to someone like R.J. Brande, but he wasn't used again. Fed up with those pesky kids, no doubt.

Nevertheless, he's formidable enough to create a stone sphere that even Superboy can't break. Does Element Lad wait to turn it to oxygen because he expects Superboy to save the day once again? I thought his delay in taking action was interesting.

There's also a hint that all is not well in the Gim-Salu-Ord triangle, with Gim claiming that the Legion is not always a happy family.

Edit to add: Projectra uses illusions to help Rokk deceive Worldsmith, but other Legionnaires also pitch in with their powers. I think Jeckie could have accomplished the whole thing by herself, but she's continually underplayed in these stories. Of course, it is Rokk's tale - but this is the girl who overwhelmed the Legion on her try-out, stalled The Persuader and helped defeat Mordru. Now she just sort of hangs around and comes up with the occasional idea. She won't exercise the clout that she could until she takes on the Sensor Girl role.

Last edited by Fat Cramer; 05/30/16 10:53 PM.

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#898361 - 05/31/16 12:59 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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236/A World Born Anew

When I first read this story, I had never heard of Easter Island--so the ending left me mystified. Was I supposed to recognize those giant heads? And what about that scarab-type symbol on the ground?

My confusion, I think, illustrates a disconnect between what I'd come to expect from Legion stories (and comic book stories in general) and what Levitz was trying to do. I was so used to having all the information I needed spoonfed to me, to having everything explained, that I was at a loss to account for this ending, which required the reader to know something other than comic books. (Duh!) During the Boltinoff era, this tendency to spell everything out was in full force--expectations of readers were very low. (One fan didn't recognize Star Boy in his old costume in 211's flashback.) But Levitz and his new editor, Al Milgrom, respected readers' intelligence or at least expected more from them. It took me awhile to catch on to this.

And not all of Levitz's efforts are successful. Gim's "not all one happy family" line comes out of the blue (or black, since they're in space). Is he referring to his unrequited love for Vi or something else? We never find out.

Not all of the action scenes are convincing either. I, too, was puzzled as why Jan held back, especially since he so easily turned the rock into oxygen. The Jeckie scenes are contrived, though I suppose they were an attempt to show the Legion using teamwork. These scenes come across as amateurish and remind me of Levitz' less-than-stellar turn on Karate Kid # 1.

However, this story has lot of pluses. The premise of a "worldsmith" transforming existing worlds poses an original threat and opens up a new mystery. (Just who is his client?) It's good to see Rokk and Lydda having fun, and to get a sense of their relationship outside of the Legion. (But there go Lydda's self-esteem issues again: Rokk is too busy showing off to pick up on her not-so-subtle hints, but she loves him anyway.)

Brainy's moping about not having a vacation could be seen as early signs of his madness (which will come to the fore in 239, though we won't realize it until much later.) I wonder if Levitz had planned on Brainy's breakdown this early.

As for the Worldsmith--I like the concept of the character and his singular focus on business. But the character's appearance put me off then and even somewhat now. I get where Levitz was going with the character--his unsubtle digs at developers--but the cigar, business suit, and overweight appearance struck me as too stereotypical of a 20th century businessman. This character and Sden back in 230 seemed like throwbacks to the childish aspects of early Legion stories and out of place in a series that was trying to grow up.



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#898383 - 05/31/16 04:05 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy 236

The villain of this issue isn’t exactly subtle. You’d be as well calling the Worldsmith, the Capitalist. A cigar chomping, pin striped suited wearing despoiler of resources. His operations are finely costed. When there’s no profit, he’ll move on.

I’m reminded that there has been at least one Doctor Who villain, similarly obsessed by costs. There’s also the George Lucas film THX 1138 where police pursuits are costed and called off when no longer viable.

Sherman’s art is nice, even if a few of the faces seem a little exaggerated.

Pol has grown up here. Was he portrayed as younger when they moved to Earth later? Why they’d want to move form a nice part of Braal to Metropolis was perhaps for economic reasons. Is Polla a girlfriend or a Krinn relative?

Magnetic bracelets would give Rokk help Rokk get his powers back late into v4. However, they had a detrimental effect on his mental health. I wonder if that’s the same for other Braalians who use them.

Braal was later portrayed as a bit of an industrialised dump. Considering the President of Braal states that the Worldsmith is affecting sites all over Braal, perhaps he’s one reason why this is.

Brainy seems a little stressed that he never has a vacation, hinting at thing to come. Gim foreshadows it further with the subtlety of a brick a little later.

The devil horned Worldsmith is more than Galactus style world plundering equipment. He has the power to shape things to his will. He punishes the Legionnaires by trapping them in a stone sphere that would later appear on the cover of Gilgamesh II. Suddenly Superboy can’t break through it. Not even a mention of Kryptonite.

Element Lad just stands there heroically, doing absolutely nothing until prompted. Sure, he’s powerful and writers are often careful with him. But there are times where he seems very slow to act. I’m reminded of poor Mon El in Levitz’s last run, who could easily have been saved had Jan bothered himself.

I was going to say that the Worldsmith is a bit of a caricature. But then, neither he or is client are ever caught and punished for their money at all costs actions. Just like here! We don’t even find out why he chose Braal.

Forced away, the Worldsmith signs off with some Easter Island statues. A little odd, since he doesn’t look like them. Perhaps that’s who his clients are? I’m sure there’s a couple of stories out there, where the statues reveal buried bodies and come to life.

For someone whose costume should block sunlight, Night Girl’s is more than a little revealing.

In summary, the villain is a bit one note. He’s overly powerful for no real reason. Why have machines at all, when you can reshape the world yourself? That would cut costs. Without any backstory, he has more in common with the JLI’s cosmic redecorator than a serious villain.

Sherman’s art is nice and there are plenty of nice visuals as the Legion fool the Worldsmith into leaving Braal.

But it’s hard to see Rokk being so rubbish at Magnoball. Champions fall hard.



"...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."
#898389 - 05/31/16 10:50 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Re: 235 and the murder of the Psycho-Beast - I was re-reading the Conspiracy arc for another project and saw that Polar Boy cited the Legion Constitution:

"4.3 Members shall be subject to expulsion for any failure to conform to the provisions of this Constitution applying to them. Grounds for expulsion shall include, but not be limited to:
...

(viii) knowingly taking the life of a sentient being in other than a provable situation of self-defense or as a provable only available alternative to the death of sentient beings."

We could make a case that the Psycho-Beast wasn't considered to be a sentient being (like the Proteans, until they rallied for recognition). Furthermore, it could be argued that this was the "only available alternative" to the death of Wildfire, as well as Redvik.

Nevertheless, pretty cold-hearted by our current standards. An interesting aspect of this re-read is to consider how much our attitudes, values and expectations have changed in four decades.




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#898390 - 05/31/16 11:03 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Re: 236 - Both HWW and Thoth suggest that this is the prelude to Brainy's madness. I hadn't realized that was coming up so soon and missed that connection. Gim's gripe does foreshadow all sorts of problems ahead. Levitz is giving us a warning signal: things are going to be shaken up.

Also curious is HWW's point that we've had a lot of grown-up themes in childish stories. Growing pains? Maybe it takes a while for writers to get the change in tone, or to see how readers react to more serious topics. It does explain why these stories, while building the Legionverse, don't have the same appeal as the later ones; they're just somewhat out of sync.

I always attributed Braal's degeneration to the war with Imsk, but like the idea that Worldsmith could have started it. Perhaps there was more damage to the landscape - and the economy - than was indicated in this story. The geological changes could have set off natural disasters later. It could also explain why the Krinns moved to Earth - Braal was a mess, no jobs, environmental and natural disasters. A weakened planet would look like easy pickings to the Imskians.




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#898440 - 06/01/16 11:17 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
Re: 236 - Both HWW and Thoth suggest that this is the prelude to Brainy's madness. I hadn't realized that was coming up so soon and missed that connection.


I'm never exactly sure when he goes off the deep end. I don't know whether it's the odd sequence I read these in, or the numerous creative team changes that gave lots of false starts and delays.


Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
It could also explain why the Krinns moved to Earth - Braal was a mess, no jobs, environmental and natural disasters. A weakened planet would look like easy pickings to the Imskians.


That would make a lot of sense. The president did hint at global upheaval. I think v4 had Braal attack Imsk only to lose in the end. Of course, the Imskians could have provoked it or faked a Braalian attack. That happens often enough. But there's also the though that a desperate Braal looked to attack Imsk because their own planet was such a mess, that they needed to relocate/ minerals etc. They'd need that shrinking ray though.

Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
Re: 235...(viii) knowingly taking the life of a sentient being in other than a provable situation of self-defence or as a provable only available alternative to the death of sentient beings."


First online dictionary ...

1. having the power of perception by the senses; conscious.
2. characterized by sensation and consciousness.

So that's a yup in both for poor old Titan Beast.


"...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."
#898467 - 06/01/16 09:04 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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2nd Story: Mon-el's One-Man War by Paul Levitz, art by Mike Nasser and Brubinstein/Bryant, colours by Mike Nasser

Mon-el is on vacation at the edge of the galaxy. He's stopping at a highly secretive U.P. operation which is mining a form of stellar energy that's so experimental nobody knows how to use it. Khunds attack, using drone ships. Mon-el repels them, only to be met with a second invasion minutes later, which turns out to be a massive Khund battleship. This one's more of a challenge, but Mon-el defeats it in short order, disabling the ship, but leaving the life support system intact.

He decides to continue his vacation, but will mention the incident to Wildfire on his return to Legion HQ, so that the U.P. may consider whether the Khunds are preparing another military attack on Earth.

Comments:

It's good to see Mon-el shine in a solo story. It struck me as out-of-character that he wouldn't at least have sent a report on the incident to the Legion and U.P. - but his devotion to duty is an aspect that will be more developed in future stories. Nevertheless, he's the real deal hero, not quitting, not calling for back-up and thinking through how to preserve life while disabling the threat. This story also establishes his love of deep space isolation.

I had to wonder if this is the first step in dialing down the Superboy presence and shifting the powerhouse focus to Mon-el. Or the second step, since an earlier story showed him fighting to break out of Superboy's shadow.

Mon-el's reputation is established: he believes that the Khunds wouldn't have sent an armada of drone ships if they'd known he was in the area - implying that it takes something with a lot more military clout than drones to take down Mon-el.

More mining, though.... I swear, doesn't anybody manufacture teddy bears or widgets or toothpaste? Could this star energy be connected to R.J. Brande's star-building business?

There's a gentle dig at Karate Kid's stubbornness, of which we have seen evidence in earlier tales.

I've always wondered who the Khunds are modeled after – Soviet Russians or Mongolian raiders? Here their leader looks somewhat like a Saracen at the times of the Crusades.


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#898497 - 06/02/16 11:06 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#235 - Second Story

This is a simple tale of Mo El on vacation, saving a mining station form a huge Khund battleship. Mon-El shows that he's a strong enough character to solo in a short tale. He's powerful enough to take on any threat, but there's still the odd moment where he can get blasted away, if only to return. It's nice to see a story without Kryptonite or red solar radiation getting in the way of a super character.

Mon-El's idea of a vacation is exploring deep space. I recall this being what his adult self was up to way back in Adventure #354 The um...shadow.. of Shadow Woman's death sort of hangs over seeing Lar by himself. Another plus is that they don't appear as a couple here. There's no mention of Shadow Lass at all. Seeing her on vacation later in the issue, or attending to duties on Talok, by herself would have given some balance.

We get some history of the Khunds' involvement with the Legion. They have been a persistent threat. Their dislike of the Gands would increase when Laurel Gand was retconned in to have been fighting them more directly in v4.

Nasser's art is very good here, keeping the sci fi and not have the same facial exaggeration as the odd Sherman panel. The drones and the battleship are impressive.


"...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."
#898498 - 06/02/16 11:11 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
More mining, though.... I swear, doesn't anybody manufacture teddy bears or widgets or toothpaste? Could this star energy be connected to R.J. Brande's star-building business?


Battle Bears, Drone Widgets and Expanding toothpaste, yup.

Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
I've always wondered who the Khunds are modeled after &#150; Soviet Russians or Mongolian raiders? Here their leader looks somewhat like a Saracen at the times of the Crusades.


I think they are a combination of them. A horde that relies on sheer numbers rather than super powers, with technology that may not be quite as sleek as the UPs but has more guns attached to it. I thought their name was a play on a not very nice word.


"...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."
#898507 - 06/02/16 01:08 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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235/Mon-El's One-Man War

This story was an unexpected treat for me when I first read it. After being ignored for much the Superboy run, Mon finally gets his own solo spotlight. The story is competent, with a believable threat to the UP installation, and Mon's personality comes off as confident, bold, and even cocky. He reminds me of a soldier marching into battle: The enemy, no matter how big and powerful they may be, are going down.

All of these qualities are still there on re-read, and yet I felt underwhelmed. The Khund vessel doesn't really pose a threat to Mon-El, though it does make him work harder in thinking of a way to defeat it. However, he doesn't even break a sweat in battle. (Yeah, I know sweating is not likely in the space, but still.)

More, we learn nothing new or interesting about Lar. The story builds nicely off of what's been previously established about him (e.g., his love of space exploration), but it treads no new ground (pun not intended). It's like listening to a friend tell a story he's told before--one in which he comes off looking good. (Okay, but what did you learn about yourself, or the world, or anything?)

I do find it interesting that Shady isn't even mentioned. Perhaps Mon needed a vacation from her? smile

The art is dynamic and forceful, especially in the two full-page spreads of the Khund ship on pp. 5 and 7, the latter cleverly broken up into a series of smaller panels to show Mon's flight path. These panels convey the impressive size of the ship well. However, the inking is too heavy on the first four pages (Rubenstein's contribution, I guess). The art lightens up a bit during the rest of the story, and Mon's knowing grin at the bottom of page 8 conveys how easy the victory was.

Mon's decision to wait until he's finished his vacation to call for a UP Defense Council session seems irresponsible, but it could also be an indication of his confidence. Notice that he says he will "have" Wildfire call for the session, not ask. Drake may be in charge, but Mon knows who he is and what he can do, and he knows the Khunds will be busy with the "debacle" of their stranded vessel for some time.


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#898580 - 06/03/16 03:01 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by thoth lad

Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
I've always wondered who the Khunds are modeled after &#150; Soviet Russians or Mongolian raiders? Here their leader looks somewhat like a Saracen at the times of the Crusades.


I think they are a combination of them. A horde that relies on sheer numbers rather than super powers, with technology that may not be quite as sleek as the UPs but has more guns attached to it. I thought their name was a play on a not very nice word.


I always thought the Khunds were the Legion's version of the Klingons--hence their militaristic culture and name that begins with "K".

I also thought the name was play on a dirty word--but whether it was a insult aimed at women or African Americans I couldn't decide.

It's an interesting name, though. "Hund" is German for dog, and we've got the "K" initial, which, as I noted, reminded me of Klingons. Perhaps Shooter studied German as well as Spanish (Mano).

And just how is one supposed to pronounce "Khund"? Does it rhyme with "wound" (the painful kind) or with "fund"? Perhaps the Kh uses a sort of German/Yiddish pronunciation, similar to clearing one's throat.


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#898582 - 06/03/16 03:25 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
And just how is one supposed to pronounce "Khund"?


carefully.


"...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."
#898583 - 06/03/16 03:27 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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^ smile


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#898612 - 06/03/16 09:03 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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3rd Story: Words Never Spoken by Paul Levitz, art byJames Sherman & Joe Rubinstein, colours by Tony Tollin

Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad are getting all smoochy on Titan. They've come here to help Imra decide if she wants to get married. Garth's all for it, but she's holding back; what's more important to her, Garth or the Legion?

She's going to seek direction from her professors at the Academy of Psychic Science. Prof Vndaar seems especially happy to see her, greeting her with a tight embrace. He suggests Imra and Garth use the “Sensacomp Stimulator” (later called the Simulator), which will cancel her powers and put them both in harmless artificial situations.

The couple go through a series of not harmless, but dangerous simulations. Even though these are illusions, they could die. At one desperate point, they do manage to communicate without words or telephathic thought, because the bond between them is so strong. They defeat the illusory opponents, the session ends and Imra realizes that she wants to marry Garth. We're all invited to the wedding in the next issue.

Comments: Good grief, what if she'd said no? The logical approach would have been to propose a change to the Constitution which would allow her to remain in the Legion. Why would the other Legionnaires oppose this?

However, the story presents a Saturn Girl who, for all her competence, determination, confidence and mental abilitites, can't make up her own mind. Know thyself, young Imra! She looked a bit weird with all that make-up; I know it was sort of spoofing the Romance comics, but still... this is Saturn Girl.

The Simulator (was that a planted joke that the youngsters would miss, initially calling it the Stimulator?) is a contrivance; the only thing it adds that a real Legion mission wouldn't have is the blocking of Imra's power. It's not clear to me what the intention is: to help clear her mind, force her to think differently? The couple already know that they can face danger together.

I expected something to develop with Professor Too-Close-For-Comfort, but that was just a throwaway scene. He claimed that the machine malfunctioned – or did he mess with it? And what was that bit about them dying in real life if they die in the simulation?

The psychedelic transitions were well-illustrated but the simulations were not particularly interesting, only leading to a point where the two soul mates could achieve perfect communication. I can't help but think that a comparable test would be to see if they completed each other's sentences.

Regardless, I find it interesting that Levitz didn't write an all roses and bluebirds story. Garth and Imra are realistic characters. They don't have stars in their eyes and appreciate that marriage isn't without sacrifice, obstacles, misgivings and doubts.





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#898640 - 06/04/16 07:05 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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235/Words Never Spoken

Cramey pegged this story for what it is--an attempt to say something meaningful that relies too much on contrivance. Why don't they just change the constitution? Why do Garth and Imra have to go to such lengths to clarify how they really feel? Why does the simulator (heh) malfunction? Why would they die in real life if they died in the simulator?

There are a lot of unanswered questions because the writer never bothered to think of them. He wanted to write a "mature" tale about two people coming to a momentous decision, but he still had to put in some super-hero danger and action. A truly risky story would have dispensed with all that and dealt with the real issue at hand: Do they stay in the Legion or get married?

It would have been more interesting, I think, if there truly had been an obstacle to changing the constitution. Considering how difficult it is to change the US Constitution, it shouldn't be too hard to think of similar problems in modifying the Legion's constitution. Garth and Imra could even have mentioned that they'd already tried, but their proposal had been shot down for one reason or another.

I don't mind Imra not being able to make up her mind on this matter. She's worked hard in her career and doesn't give it up lightly. Garth, on the other hand, seems all too willing to move on. Significantly, he's the only founder who has not served as leader at this point. Perhaps he feels he has less invested in the team than Imra and Rokk do.

But, anyway, the tale accomplishes what it needs to. A decision has been made which will result in a significant change for the book. It will also lead into the tabloid-sized wedding special. This was something I was both excited and nervous about because newsstand distribution in my area could be spotty for comics with special formats. (I had missed Giant-Size Avengers # 2 a few years earlier.) I was quite elated when I found the tabloid.

I still couldn't accept that Garth and Imra were getting married though. I was only 14 at the time. How could they even think of giving up being super-heroes for marriage? Blecch!


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#898655 - 06/04/16 10:16 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#236 - Third Story

Trapped in the Matrix, before that became a thing, the depth of Imra & Garth's relationship pulls them through and helps them make a decision.

And depth is what really makes this story work. The Legion has been going for twenty years by this point. We get a story that is a natural growth from the very early issues. In those days the emphasis was on plot rather than characterisation. But even so, Garth and Imra felt strongly enough to want to sacrifice their lives for each other.

This story emphasises the characterisation, while still having some action. But nothing has changed for either of them. There’s no hesitation as they both face danger for each other, when the Simulator goes awry.

“They were little more than children at the time. A decade later, they are older and wiser.”

They have experienced so much over the intervening years, that Imra’s “Obviously something has gone terribly wrong” before getting on with things, brings a smile. There’s no panic, just a desire to solve the issue at hand.

More depth is revealed when we get to visit Titan. We know of Imra’s background, and there have been moments when we’ve seen the personal cost of having her powers. That comes together here, where we see more of her training before she was ever a Legionnaire. As a graduate of the Titan Academy, Imra was looking to continue a career with the Science Police. She was by far the most prepared of the three Legionnaires we saw all those years before.

But, as Garth mentions, returning there is a cold way to decide on their future. It reads as a critical statement, but there’s a lot of support in words and actions. Both characters have their flaws and both have been all too willing to make adjustments. >Gasp!< a mature relationship in a comic book.

The personal cost of Imra’s powers is also spotlighted by her mentor Vndaar. His warm hug startles her, even as he tells her that her flaw is not being connected with her sense of self. She’s too focused on self-control, and her mentor shows her that both ability and self are attainable.

On the other hand, the creepy hug could mean that Vndaar is the descendant of Terry Long.

Imra tells Garth that there wasn’t anything like the Simulator in her day, nicely emphasising that them of history and change. I note that there’s a lot of group learning going on. I wonder if that was there in Imra’s day. I imagine that it possibly wasn’t which may have led to some of what she feels are problems.

There’s also a brain-in-a-tank and I wonder if all the brain-in-a-tank villains are actually vengeful Titan escapees.

Garth’s electrical powers are responsible for making the Simulator lose control. No doubt it’s a very sensitive device, but I’ve wondered why Garth and his sister don’t cause more damage due to their powers. We got a recent hint of something similar when Brainiac warns Cosmic Boy away from brainwashing Superboy, due to his magnetic powers.

The scenarios within the Matrix Simulator are basic. Although they are beside the point of the story, they don’t provide anything more than a setting. Having said that, urban decay/ sci fi movies were picking up steam around that time, so it probably had more impact then.

Without any way of communicating in the simulation, it’s their understanding look that allows them to defeat the machine. Levitz is a little vague (“somehow conveys the idea”) on the bond that the whole story has been showing us they have. That bond includes all that legion training and combat together, as well as complete faith and comfort with each other. There’s not really any need for it to be a vague psychedelic panel there.

Which brings me to Sherman’s art, which is a real treat. Those psychedelic panels are lovely and we get a well realised setting as well as excellent character art.

Sherman combines very well with Levitz’s script. Levitz doesn’t hit the reader over the head about all the changes the couple have been through. There’s no need for flashbacks here. There’s nothing forced as Sherman shows us two adults reaching an important crossroads in their lives.

That brings me all the way back to depth. The crux of the story is that the couple are deciding to get married even if it means leaving the Legion. The clause was probably in there so that a spouse wouldn’t be too emotionally involved to make the tactical decision in combat. Couples like Jo and Tinya mooning over each other for decades really undermined it. Actually, it was probably in there to keep the cast young and the emotional teenage angst high. This is what happened in the book as the final panel shows us. What Levitz hinted at in an earlier issue, and what the adult Legion stories showed us will begin to change the team. Evolution of any book brings lots of fresh and difficult challenges, and this decision will have important repercussions later on. It’s fitting that this issue also showed us Pol Krinn & Lydda Jath who would be part of those changes.

You certainly get a lot for your pennies with this issue. It’s taken us across the week to review it. Three stories that focus on the founders and a key member in Mon El who can easily carry a story when given the space to do so. We’ve seen more of Braal and Titan, as Levitz looks to let us live and breathe in the 30th century with his cast. We get character progression as well as hints to plotlines lying ahead, such as Brainy’s issues.



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#898845 - 06/05/16 01:51 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by thoth lad
#236 - Third Story

Trapped in the Matrix, before that became a thing, the depth of Imra & Garth's relationship pulls them through and helps them make a decision.


You ought to write log lines for movies, if you don't already. smile


Quote
More depth is revealed when we get to visit Titan. We know of Imra’s background, and there have been moments when we’ve seen the personal cost of having her powers. That comes together here, where we see more of her training before she was ever a Legionnaire. As a graduate of the Titan Academy, Imra was looking to continue a career with the Science Police. She was by far the most prepared of the three Legionnaires we saw all those years before.


Good catch. This story rounds out Imra's background nicely.


Quote
The personal cost of Imra’s powers is also spotlighted by her mentor Vndaar. His warm hug startles her,


Vndaar was looking for the missing vowel in his name. He wondered if Imra Ardeen had stolen it.


Quote
Imra tells Garth that there wasn’t anything like the Simulator in her day, nicely emphasising that them of history and change. I note that there’s a lot of group learning going on. I wonder if that was there in Imra’s day. I imagine that it possibly wasn’t which may have led to some of what she feels are problems.


Another good catch. It can be startling to go back to one's hometown or old school and see all the changes that have been made. It can make one feel left out.

I started my teaching career at the same university where I earned my BA. When I went back, there were new buildings, redesigned suites, and smart equipment in every classroom. I was glad for the changes, but it made me feel as if part of my own educational experiences had been erased.

Quote
There’s also a brain-in-a-tank and I wonder if all the brain-in-a-tank villains are actually vengeful Titan escapees.


The Brain-Globes of Rambat: The secret origin!

Quote
Garth’s electrical powers are responsible for making the Simulator lose control. No doubt it’s a very sensitive device, but I’ve wondered why Garth and his sister don’t cause more damage due to their powers. We got a recent hint of something similar when Brainiac warns Cosmic Boy away from brainwashing Superboy, due to his magnetic powers.


A recurring theme seems to be that the Legionnaires don't have complete control over their powers, or perhaps are emitting radiation when they don't intend to. Interesting.


Quote
Sherman combines very well with Levitz’s script. Levitz doesn’t hit the reader over the head about all the changes the couple have been through. There’s no need for flashbacks here. There’s nothing forced as Sherman shows us two adults reaching an important crossroads in their lives. ... You certainly get a lot for your pennies with this issue. It’s taken us across the week to review it. Three stories that focus on the founders and a key member in Mon El who can easily carry a story when given the space to do so. We’ve seen more of Braal and Titan, as Levitz looks to let us live and breathe in the 30th century with his cast. We get character progression as well as hints to plotlines lying ahead, such as Brainy’s issues.



More great points. There's a lot more to this issue that I thought. Thanks for pointing all this out.


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#898931 - 06/06/16 10:27 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Originally Posted by thoth
There's also a brain-in-a-tank and I wonder if all the brain-in-a-tank villains are actually vengeful Titan escapees.


The Brain-Globes of Rambat: The secret origin!


Another Lost Tale of the Legion! smile


Originally Posted by HWW
Originally Posted by thoth
Garth's electrical powers are responsible for making the Simulator lose control. No doubt it's a very sensitive device, but I've wondered why Garth and his sister don't cause more damage due to their powers. We got a recent hint of something similar when Brainiac warns Cosmic Boy away from brainwashing Superboy, due to his magnetic powers.


A recurring theme seems to be that the Legionnaires don't have complete control over their powers, or perhaps are emitting radiation when they don't intend to. Interesting.


As an earnest bunch, the Legion have been shown using their powers in emotional displays. Lightning Lad and Lass, Cosmic Boy, Wildfire and Sun Boy among others. Their world is hugely dependant on technology (emphasised in Magic Wars and Tharok destruction stories).

But we don't see any impact on those surrounding when there's a power outage form the Legion. I imagine it's just the sort of thing Earthgov cited in order to shut them down. It doesn't have to be an out of control applicant to cause real problems.

This was a subplot used by Gery Conway in Firestorm. It also introduced Felcity Smoak. She would be used in other media and Conway would out DC's dreadful creator equity programme.


Originally Posted by HWW
More great points. There's a lot more to this issue that I thought. Thanks for pointing all this out.


You're very welcome HWW. smile

Another reason why Garth and Imra felt so close, and extra perceptive of each other's thoughts and feelings, could be because they just spent an issue in the same form, as the Composite Legionnaire.

The experience didn't dampen Gim's affections for Vi. Any additional connection felt by her, must have been lost in the disappointment of Gim not noticing she had been replaced by a Durlan impostor later on.


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#898949 - 06/06/16 11:49 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by thoth lad

Another reason why Garth and Imra felt so close, and extra perceptive of each other's thoughts and feelings, could be because they just spent an issue in the same form, as the Composite Legionnaire.

The experience didn't dampen Gim's affections for Vi. Any additional connection felt by her, must have been lost in the disappointment of Gim not noticing she had been replaced by a Durlan impostor later on.


Makes one wonder why Garth didn't fall for Gim or Violet or some combination thereof.

A menage a quatre. Now that would be interesting. eek


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#898952 - 06/06/16 12:41 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Makes one wonder why Garth didn't fall for Gim or Violet or some combination thereof.

A menage a quatre. Now that would be interesting. eek



Wasn't that the plot of the TMK reunion annual? smile

Actually, could the Composite Legionnaire story have provided Gim with an extra attraction to the form shifting Yera?


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#898992 - 06/06/16 08:56 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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SLSH Collector's Edition - The Millenium Massacre by Paul Levitz, art by Mike Grell & Vince Coletta, colours by Gerry Serpe, Tony Tollin and S. Harrison

[Linked Image]

Superboy arrives in the 30th century for Garth and Imra's wedding at Legion HQ – only to find a future he doesn't recognize. Metropolis is heavily armed; the SP Officers who apprehend him wear skulls on their helmets. Legionnaires arrive and accuse him of not using the necessary passwords. A befuddled Superboy's questions are interrupted by a Lunarite attack on Earth, which he and the Legionnaires repel.

At Legion HQ, Projectra reminds Superboy that mankind has been in a constant state of war ever since the U.N. dissolved in 1978.

Superboy maintains that something is terribly wrong. However, the wedding awaits. Garth and Imra tie the knot, leave for their honeymoon, then are captured in another Lunarite attack. Wildfire cries out for the team to get to their ships and head for the moon to rescue the couple, but Superboy once again tries to tell the team that the 30th century has been terribly changed and they must go back in time to find the problem, not rescue Garth and Imra. Some of the Legionnaires support him.

The Legion angrily divides into two camps: one for the rescue under Wildfire and one for the time fix under Superboy. A small team remains to guard HQ.

Chapter 2 Murder by Moonlight: In New Cathay on Luna, Oseldan Kahn informs Garth & Imra that they are hostages for bargaining in his war with Earth. Imra accuses him of having no intention of releasing them; he slaps her, which ignites Garth's anger. The couple escape, steal a ship but are forced to crash land on the moon when attacked.

Wildfire's team has arrived, fight off Lunarite attacks and detect where Garth and Imra had been held. Dawnstar can't track them anymore, since her powers are “nearly useless except in the void”.

Without a life support system, Garth and Imra prepare to die; Garth vows to blast them both to powder to avoid suffering. However, Cosmic Boy has been able to track Garth's effect on the magnetic field, using Ayla's residual lightning power as a template. At the last minute, they're rescued by the Legion and Wildfire vows to deal with Superboy and his “renegades”.

Chapter 3 The Twisted History Mystery: Superboy's team have taken a time bubble to 1978 New York City. It's a powerful group: Brainy, Mon-el, Star Boy, Shadow Lass, Karate Kid and Projectra. Since you can't be at two places at the same time, Superboy has to remain in the Time Bubble while the others investigate the strange flux in the time-stream that Brainy has now detected. Disguised in 20th century garb, the Legionnaires track down a mystery man common to the three U.N. delegations responsible for the dissolution. They trace him to an abandoned building at the old World's Fair site and are met with considerable resistance: it's the Time Trapper. As he immobilizes them and completes his tasks, he declares that he will at last be triumphant, then leaves for the End of Time.

Chapter 4 Showdown at the End of Eternity: Both Wildfire's and Superboy's teams arrive back at Legion HQ, 2978. Things are still militarized. Wildfire angrily accuses Superboy, who counters with a statement that his suspicions were right all along, confirmed by Brainiac 5. The two nearly come to blows, but Imra stops them, saying she knows both believe themselves to be right. The entire Legion meets, hears the evidence and concludes that the Time Trapper has meddled with time. Imra, back in uniform, connects Superboy's subconscious to Dream Girl's mind to discover where/when the Trapper has gone.

Rond Vidar supplies the hypertime drive, Tyroc is chosen randomly by the computer to guard the HQ, and everyone else departs for the End of Time.

The Time Trapper is a tough opponent, however, and once he's reduced the Legion to impotence, he reveals himself to be a Controller. He's going to use the Miracle Machine, which he grabbed from Legion HQ, to conquer all time. First, he'll use it to kill the Legionnaires – but the thought energy moves slowly, giving the Legion enough time to think hard enough in unison to take over the Machine themselves. They send the Time Trapper back to the Controllers' universe where he shall surely meet justice.

Epilogue: Time and history are restored to their rightful destiny; the Legionnaires return home to a clueless Rond and Tyroc, Wildfire apologizes to Superboy and Garth and Imra leave on their honeymoon.

“Never the end” closes the issue.

Comments: 60 pages of story! Double splash pages! Group shots! Extras!

The wrap-around cover differs significantly from the actual story, but I think it's impressive enough to merit a larger image in this recap.

The wedding is a beautiful double-page spread – but what's a Legion wedding without a disaster? The capture, escape and near-death of Garth and Imra may have been a bit melodramatic, but showed their devotion to one another. Although they're officially out of the Legion, when duty calls, they're right back in uniform. One gets the rather reassuring idea that they'll never really leave.

The fights with the Lunarites are standard Legion fare, as are the encounters with the Time Trapper. They're no less enjoyable, largely due to Grell's art.

Shady supported Superboy in his claim that history had been changed. She had also supported him in opposing Wildfire after the election. It's realistic to see some personal divisions within the Legion – as well as to see some of those divisions patched up in the end. The 20th century team is logical for the most part: Shady believes Superboy, Mon-el goes because she's going, Karate Kid is going “on faith” (although he might have claimed to have useful knowledge of that time period), Projectra goes along with him; Brainy is curious and I'm not sure how you'd explain Sun Boy joining them. Perhaps it's his scientific side which has pulled him into the mystery.

I'm not a big fan of putting the Legion in the 20th century, but this one worked out well enough – the U.N./New York City was a different setting from the usual Smallville. In great comic book tradition, they even managed to work in a fairground.

Mon says both he and Superboy are weakened by red sunlight. Is that an effect of the Time Trapper's manipulation? It seems unlikely Levitz would make such an error.

The Time Trapper has been so many different people/forces by 2016 that the shock value of him being a rogue Controller is pretty diluted. It actually makes more sense to me that such a powerful being as a Controller is the Time Trapper rather than Rokk Krinn, entropy, Glorith or Superboy Prime.

The Time Trapper has come a long way since his Glorp! Days. He's a considerable threat, but has underestimated Superboy, or entirely neglected to take him into account. But Holy Mandela Effect! The first thing Superboy should have thought of was the Time Trapper – although that would have been less of a story.

A Time Trapper story allows for all sorts of anomalies, but this one hasn't changed the Legionnaires themselves or their reason for existing. Apart from the warring worlds, the Chinese control of the moon is the only significant alternative development. Why is the Lunar settlement so primitive after nearly 1000 years? They only figured out a way to get water now? Blame it on the Trapper.

Would a first-time reader have expected the Infinite Man to appear, given that Rond Vidar shows up with his hypertime drive?

“Never the end” was the same closing for the final Levitz issue of the most recent series. It's a great wrap-up line for a Legion fan and, if you like the Levitz Legion, this issue is one big nostalgia trip.



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#899043 - 06/07/16 12:06 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Collector’s Edition c-55

Feh! Call that a dystopian future Giffen? I’ll give you dystopian!

Not only is the 30th century Superboy travels to, riddled with paranoia and impending warfare, it’s always been like that! Superboy doesn’t recall anything like this in his previous journeys. So we have a mystery and an everyman character to take us through it.

A future where superpowers colonise space, only to take their conflicts with them, is always a grim, but fairly realistic, outlook. Seeing it mixed with the 30th century provides the reader with the clear vision of what could be lost along the way. Even if they get as far out as Winath, the conflict goes with them. Even the cultures that they meet want nothing more than warfare.

On Earth, it’s more of a constantly heightened state of tension, than a devastated world at war. That also adds to its realism. It’s a cold war of terror. No one really wants a parade of triumph through a radioactive warzone.

There’s still a Legion, but “it’s the power of the Legion that keeps the universe from falling apart.” You wonder how much power they have, and how it has changed them. They certainly seem to be holding the balance of power between the cultures. I was hoping that we’ see some alternate Legionnaires as a result of this, but they end up the same as the legion we have always known.

The Legion has heightened security because of the threats from the Tyrants of Mars, the Venusian Hegemony & the Lunarites. But Superboy points out they really did use to have secret code words. We’ve previously heard of secret handshakes, and the Legion has been infiltrated on a fairly regular basis. So, there are close parallels to the past issues in this version of the future.

The double page wedding spread is really Garth, Imra and wedding guests of an alternate future. But you couldn’t tell the difference. Initially I was disappointed that it was a small HQ bound ceremony. Despite their ties to the team, it’s certainly cheaper than the Mars wedding of Chuck & Lu. But there are real security reasons behind this, as we see from the attack as the couple take off.

Wildfire wants to deal with the issue at hand, while Superboy, knowing something is wrong with the time stream, wants to go back. We get a genuinely tense split of the team. Previous Wildfire and Superboy conflicts add a lot into the argument. That it’s the kidnapping of two of their founders, makes it an emotional decision for them all. “…and those of you who have souls—help us save my brother and Imra!” exclaims Ayla.

I don’t think Superboy’s team are randomly chosen. I like to think it’s because of the Mordru story that it’s Shady who is first to Superboy’s defence. Mon El, also in that story, and now Shady’s partner, also goes back.

With Dream Girl relegated to watching the HQ, Briany and Dirk are the Leigon’s two best scientists. They are joined by the very self-contained Val who has recent time travel experience and Jeckie, who sees things from a different, royal, perspective.

I think it’s a team of people who can see a broader picture, while Drake’s team are more emotionally driven. Dirk’s womanising wasn’t quite the thing it would become later.

Levitz makes sure that all the Legion teams do well, and doesn’t play favourites. Garth & Imra aren’t you’re ordinary kidnap victims and escape. They are picked up by the Legion who succeed in tracking them. Back in the 20th century, the tam identify the source of the time disturbance, through some mission impossible spying. I’m disappointed Dungaree Jeckie didn’t keep that outfit.

Although we get a big villain in the Time Trapper, you wonder just how much persuasion he needed to give in order for the world to descend into war. We’re not far before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for example.

The villain’s base is the old World’s Fair site, later popularise in Roy Thomas’ All Star Squadron. Post Crisis, this story would have had the Trapper using their old base and security features. One of which is a huge vault door that is also reminiscent of the Mordru issue.

But the villain isn’t the sorcerer, it’s the Time Trapper. He stops the Legion and escapes. Much like Crisis, the plot hinges on the master villain giving the game away by telling them all where he’s off to next.

Superboy and Wildfire have a confrontation. Wildfire is convinced by the evidence. It’s a shame we don’t see that happen. We get a pic of a full Legion meeting, which is nice, but it could have been resolved in the earlier scene. We could have seen Wildfire grow as a character at that point.

Despite Superboy knowing where the Trapper is, it takes an interesting power boost for Dreamy to pin point the location. Years later, we’d see the JLA combine powers to defeat the bad guys. To think that approach happened all these years earlier, with Imra, Superboy and Dreamy connecting.

The Legion, with help from guest star Rond Vidar go to the end of time. There’s no barrier, the Leigon’s journey is a lot easier pre crisis, and they see that the Trapper has a home here. It’s not all wasteland as per Giffen drawn issues. Poor Tyroc doesn’t get a line.

Having recently introduced his own temporal villain in The Infinite Man, Levitz reveals the identity of his version of the Time Trapper. It’s a renegade Controller. They have appeared throughout the group’s history, and so it’s a fitting enough reveal. He certainly has the power and has even stolen the Miracle Machine.

The collective will of the Legion, particularly with Imra there, allows the Legion to take command of the Miracle Machine. But it still hangs in the balance. It takes the pure, selflessness of Superboy to tip that balance against the power lust of the Controller.

It’s not as trite as it sounds. The Controller is driven by a focused personal goal. The Legion live in a world where their police force has a skull as an emblem. Who knows what compromises they had to make. Only Superboy is free from those focused concerns. His will is the only unfettered one in the room.

I note that the device the Controller reveals as the Miracle Machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the one Superboy ended up sacrificing himself on later in the Baxter series.

The Legion return to a restored 30th century. Rond Vidar doesn’t recall why they left, again pre-empting similar memory loss during the Crisis. Tyroc is there, but maintains his silence. Perhaps DC got his voice powers confused with Marvel’s Black Bolt?


I think Levitz revisited this concept of a militaristic alternate future for the Legion in #300. That story also begins with Superboy arriving at Legion HQ. Warfare also consumes their society. There’s a split in the Legion with Superboy and Wildfire taking different sides. But it’s nothing to do with the Trapper. Superboy leaves, never to return.

Star Boy & Dreamy, told to stay behind for part of this story, bemoan the loss of married Legionnaires. Garth & Imra are cited, and this story shows their marriage. As an additional similarity, Tyroc is killed in that story where he is clearly singled out as not being wanted in this one.

In summary, the scope of this story was impressive. In the Time Trapper we have a powerful villain. That's only increased when combined with a Controller. We get Time Travel as well as espionage. We get a marriage as well as a resolution to the Wildfire/ Superboy conflicts. We also got some very nice Grell art.

Finally, when I got this one I didn't notice the wraparound cover. I just read it once and didn't bother looking. It was only tripping across an online reference to it years later that made me dig it out for another look. I also stored this one with the annuals, and not in date order making it an utter pain to find. Grrr.


"...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."
#899069 - 06/07/16 02:10 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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C-55 (a.k.a. “That Damn Tabloid” by fans who couldn’t find it)

By coincidence, I just finished reading From History’s Shadow, a Star Trek novel by Dayton Ward, which deals with a convoluted premise of aliens trying to change earth’s history. Of course, the idea was not new even in 1978 and had already been mined by Star Trek (“The City on the Edge of Forever,” et al.). “The Millennium Massacre,” our tabloid story, reads like one of those inevitable tales—one that had to happen because our heroes are set in the future and time travel is involved, etc.

The plot throughout feels very by-the-book. Superboy arrives in the future. Things are not as he remembers them. Two of our beloved characters are kidnapped. There’s a division in the ranks. Fighting. Espionage. A big showdown. The will of the good triumphs over the will of the evil. Etc. Etc. Etc. We talked about how some earlier Legion stories felt as if they had been borrowed from movies and TV shows; this one seems to be a mishmash of several generic plots in science fiction and adventure stories.

Levitz, to be sure, makes the most of it. He uses the occasion to marry off Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl and then to focus on the two being heroes as they bravely face death on what should be their honeymoon. There are no tears or cries of how unfair the universe is. They stoically face their situation and take the only action they can. They would have bravely died if Tinya had arrived a few seconds later.

The conflict between Superboy and Wildfire is also extremely well handled. It builds well off of their previous relationship and escalates like a match being struck too close to a gunpowder keg until the inevitable explosion happens.

My favorite scenes, after Garth and Imra’s escape from Oseldan Khan, are those of the Legionnaires in the 20th century, staking out the UN. This is an espionage mission without the Espionage Squad (Cham, notably, is not involved); it affords us the chance to see some of our heroes in a different setting and to slow down the pace of the story a bit. There are also some great character moments. I loved Val’s line about people in the UN dissecting Brainy if he showed his green skin.

And, in all the speculation about why Mon-El joined the mission, let’s not forget the obvious one: He’s Superboy’s “big brother” and was probably the first to believe him, even though Shady was the first to act on her belief.

Speaking of Shady, I find it interesting that she sticks up for Superboy here and goes after him in back in 225. A former poster on these boards once had a theory that she was Superboy’s friend based on the scene in 225. I always thought all the Legionnaires were friends, at least a bit, and saw nothing special in that scene, but, when combined with this one, it does suggest a close relationship. Perhaps she had become fond of her lover’s “little brother.”

The showdown at the End of Time has become my least favorite part of the book. This is truly by-the-books superhero fare, with our villain appearing omnipotent—he’s even stolen the Miracle Machine out from under the Legionnaires’ noses. The resolution, in which our heroes overcome him through sheer willpower, smacks of cliché (though I like thoth’s explanation that Superboy’s purity won the day).

I did, however, appreciate the revelation of the Time Trapper’s identity. It came as quite a surprise when I first read it. (I think I had only recently found a back issue of Adventure 357—“The Ghost of Ferro Lad”—so the Controllers were not unknown to me.) I agree that this identity makes much more sense than any of the Trapper’s other identities over the years.

This revelation also built nicely off of past continuity. In fact, there are many references to past stories throughout the book, solidifying the sense that the Legion has a real history and exists in a cohesive universe. Among Levitz’s many accomplishments, this sense of unified history is surely among his finest.

As for the art, it was great to see Grell return. Colletta, however, does him no favors. The artwork comes off as scratchy and underdeveloped in places—flaws that are only magnified in the larger panels. Also, the colorist really should have tried harder to keep Superboy and Mon-El straight. Both Grell and the colorist seem to have confused Jeckie with Ayla on p. 45.

Because of its large size (both in terms of page count and page size) and the momentous events of the wedding and the Time Trapper revelation, this story was indeed a treat when it came out. On re-read, it holds up very well—much more so than most of the monthly stories.

Its long-term impact, though, is negligible. Garth and Imra did leave the Legion, but only for a short time, and the Time Trapper revelation/defeat went nowhere. As with most stories in which the timeline has been changed, the reset button is pressed without any lasting consequences.


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#899143 - 06/08/16 07:15 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders

And, in all the speculation about why Mon-El joined the mission, let’s not forget the obvious one: He’s Superboy’s “big brother” and was probably the first to believe him, even though Shady was the first to act on her belief.

Speaking of Shady, I find it interesting that she sticks up for Superboy here and goes after him in back in 225. A former poster on these boards once had a theory that she was Superboy’s friend based on the scene in 225. I always thought all the Legionnaires were friends, at least a bit, and saw nothing special in that scene, but, when combined with this one, it does suggest a close relationship. Perhaps she had become fond of her lover’s “little brother.”


I like that explanation better than Mon just following Shady's lead.

Quote
This revelation also built nicely off of past continuity. In fact, there are many references to past stories throughout the book, solidifying the sense that the Legion has a real history and exists in a cohesive universe. Among Levitz’s many accomplishments, this sense of unified history is surely among his finest.


Agreed; it's quite interesting to reread these stories and see how many elements were introduced in each issue which either strengthened the connection to the Adventure-era or built into the Legionverse that has endured for so many years. I wonder if Levitz had that sort of grand scheme world-building in mind or was just connecting things for his own enjoyment. It's more than Easter Eggs, as you say, it's a developing cohesive universe.

Quote
Its long-term impact, though, is negligible. Garth and Imra did leave the Legion, but only for a short time, and the Time Trapper revelation/defeat went nowhere. As with most stories in which the timeline has been changed, the reset button is pressed without any lasting consequences.


Why are timeline change stories so often negligible? If the Legionnaires remember everything, I wonder why they couldn't have brought this big adventure up in future issues. The cohesion thing again.... Maybe even some lingering resentments against those who didn't believe Superboy, or vice-versa. Ayla was certainly catty enough about how people with souls would help rescue her brother.

Originally Posted by thoth lad


A future where superpowers colonise space, only to take their conflicts with them, is always a grim, but fairly realistic, outlook. Seeing it mixed with the 30th century provides the reader with the clear vision of what could be lost along the way. Even if they get as far out as Winath, the conflict goes with them. Even the cultures that they meet want nothing more than warfare.

On Earth, it’s more of a constantly heightened state of tension, than a devastated world at war. That also adds to its realism. It’s a cold war of terror. No one really wants a parade of triumph through a radioactive warzone.


Do you sometimes feel that Legion stories are highly predictive?

Quote
There’s still a Legion, but “it’s the power of the Legion that keeps the universe from falling apart.” You wonder how much power they have, and how it has changed them. They certainly seem to be holding the balance of power between the cultures. I was hoping that we’ see some alternate Legionnaires as a result of this, but they end up the same as the legion we have always known.


It would have been fascinating to see how this Legion came into being. If there's no United Planets, how did they get the authority to operate? Are the Legionnaires considered to be traitors on their home planets? Is R.J. an arms dealer in this version? Maybe one who saw the destruction his product wrought and devoted his efforts to peace? I digress.


Quote
The double page wedding spread is really Garth, Imra and wedding guests of an alternate future. But you couldn’t tell the difference. Initially I was disappointed that it was a small HQ bound ceremony. Despite their ties to the team, it’s certainly cheaper than the Mars wedding of Chuck & Lu. But there are real security reasons behind this, as we see from the attack as the couple take off.


I missed that very logical connection to the small, HQ-based wedding and the security concerns.

Quote
I don’t think Superboy’s team are randomly chosen. I like to think it’s because of the Mordru story that it’s Shady who is first to Superboy’s defence. Mon El, also in that story, and now Shady’s partner, also goes back.

With Dream Girl relegated to watching the HQ, Briany and Dirk are the Leigon’s two best scientists. They are joined by the very self-contained Val who has recent time travel experience and Jeckie, who sees things from a different, royal, perspective.

I think it’s a team of people who can see a broader picture, while Drake’s team are more emotionally driven. Dirk’s womanising wasn’t quite the thing it would become later.


That's another great explanation for the Superboy team's motivations.


Quote
The collective will of the Legion, particularly with Imra there, allows the Legion to take command of the Miracle Machine. But it still hangs in the balance. It takes the pure, selflessness of Superboy to tip that balance against the power lust of the Controller.

It’s not as trite as it sounds. The Controller is driven by a focused personal goal. The Legion live in a world where their police force has a skull as an emblem. Who knows what compromises they had to make. Only Superboy is free from those focused concerns. His will is the only unfettered one in the room.


As HWW noted, that's a very good point about Superboy's purity of spirit, and a moral lesson about personal gain versus selfless motivation.




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#899164 - 06/08/16 10:54 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
Do you sometimes feel that Legion stories are highly predictive? [/qupte]

I think that one of the general strengths of sci-fi is the ability to show us variations on our world in an entertaining way, while still retaining a core that we would recognise.

Originally Posted by Cramer
[quote=thoth]The collective will of the Legion, particularly with Imra there, allows the Legion to take command of the Miracle Machine. But it still hangs in the balance. It takes the pure, selflessness of Superboy to tip that balance against the power lust of the Controller.

It&#146;s not as trite as it sounds. The Controller is driven by a focused personal goal. The Legion live in a world where their police force has a skull as an emblem. Who knows what compromises they had to make. Only Superboy is free from those focused concerns. His will is the only unfettered one in the room.


As HWW noted, that's a very good point about Superboy's purity of spirit, and a moral lesson about personal gain versus selfless motivation.


It's not so much purity as openness. I see the Miracle Machine as a source of endless possibility. It's something that can reshape reality. I feel that since Superboy is the only one in the room who can harness more of that possibility then that's enough to tip the balance.

The others are too focused on themselves. The Controller wants power for himself. The Legion are focused on the constant warfare across their worlds. Superboy is the opposite. He's always looking to create a better world for everyone else. It's his selflessness that opens the doors of possibility and therefore the potential; of the Miracle Machine.

Incidentally, when I read it my first impression was much like HWW's. I reread the scene when I was checking to see if Imra was in it, when I changed my thoughts a bit.

Although I'm sure Imra made a huge difference too. Despite their power the Controllers may seldom get to actually exercise it, preferring to build sun-eaters and such. Imra uses her powers constantly.

Originally Posted by Cramer
“Never the end” was the same closing for the final Levitz issue of the most recent series. It's a great wrap-up line for a Legion fan and, if you like the Levitz Legion, this issue is one big nostalgia trip.


Brilliant spot Cramer and it leads nicely into...

Originally Posted by HWW
This revelation also built nicely off of past continuity. In fact, there are many references to past stories throughout the book, solidifying the sense that the Legion has a real history and exists in a cohesive universe. Among Levitz’s many accomplishments, this sense of unified history is surely among his finest.


and ...

Originally Posted by Cramer
Agreed; it's quite interesting to reread these stories and see how many elements were introduced in each issue which either strengthened the connection to the Adventure-era or built into the Legionverse that has endured for so many years. I wonder if Levitz had that sort of grand scheme world-building in mind or was just connecting things for his own enjoyment. It's more than Easter Eggs, as you say, it's a developing cohesive universe.


I'm much more used to reading the later issues of Levitz (at least I read some of those in order) so the rereads threads are certainly reminding me that Levitz knew more than enough of the Legion to make lots of subtle connections beyond just brining back villians. I think he did enjoy making those connections and wanted to make the Legionverse a consistent believable one. I think that's in an Interview somewhere too.

It is a shame that Ayla's comments or simmering tensions didn't come to the fore again. I do think Levitz had a clear idea of the interpersonal relationships later on. I wonder just how early he had those and if events such as this issue shaped them.

I'd also have liked to have found out more about the Worlds at War Legion. A Legion not formed by heroes but possibly by political power brokering to keep, if not peace, then from total annihilation. But that would have meant having more representation of Venusians (Cosmic King) Lunarians (Lady Lunar) and Mars (Miss Martian, although Gim Allon might have done). There are so many Elseworlds possibilities for the Legion, and it makes stories like these all the more enjoyable. And yeah, Arms Dealer Brande would have been a great fit!


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#899208 - 06/08/16 02:45 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Quote
Cramey wrote:
Why are timeline change stories so often negligible? If the Legionnaires remember everything, I wonder why they couldn't have brought this big adventure up in future issues. The cohesion thing again.... Maybe even some lingering resentments against those who didn't believe Superboy, or vice-versa. Ayla was certainly catty enough about how people with souls would help rescue her brother.


That's a very good question. I think the answer is two-fold:

1. If the timeline isn't restored to exactly the way it was, then our heroes have failed, and what kind of heroes are they?

2. In episodic fiction (such as TV shows and comics), there usually wasn't enough time to linger on details from past stories, which might also confuse new or occasional viewers, so introducing a "change" which would have to be explained was a no-no. Novels can get away with this, however. One thing I liked about the Star Trek novel I mentioned at the beginning of my post was that the author briefly mentions Kirk's still conflicted feelings over Edith Keeler from "City On the Edge of Forever." In that story, the time line was restored to normal, but at great personal cost to Kirk. The TV series never had room to explore these feelings, unfortunately.

Lingering resentments among some Legionnaires might have worked as a lasting consequence, but, since Superboy was ultimately proven right, most would have put their feelings behind them.

I'm not sure what sort of long-term ramifications might have worked for this story. One, though, is that I would like to have seen the Controller Trapper be the "real" Trapper. Knowing his identity does not reduce the threat he poses to the team in subsequent appearances. In fact, this revelation might have broadened his character a bit since we could have gotten into the history and motivations of the Controllers and why this Controller was so out of step with their peaceful mission.


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#899217 - 06/08/16 03:34 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
long-term ramifications


But if Garth and Imra were only married in a timeline that no longer exists, are they really married? And when will we see the wedding that wasn't interrupted by invading Lunarites?


I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
#899240 - 06/08/16 11:02 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Good point! I think we could cobble together some explanation from the next issue, in which they depart from the Legion a second time.


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#899246 - 06/09/16 01:50 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Presumably, they were married "for real" since they went to the End of Time and retain their memories of the old timeline. If legal issues were involved, it would be a simple matter to hold another ceremony or have them sign some papers before the start of 237, in which they are shown officially leaving the Legion.

But, yeah, time travel paradoxes are a headache.


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#899299 - 06/09/16 09:48 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Presumably, they were married "for real" since they went to the End of Time and retain their memories of the old timeline.


Not married for REAL REAL but for PLAY PLAY?! - paraphrasing a great Lash post that makes me smile.

Imra: It wasn't even a *real* wedding, so I can sleep with whatever Protean I like!
Garth: You do that. After all, I'm not even Garth!
Imra: >gasp< Ayla!

I felt that if they had to stop and explain differences, then the pace of the story would have been affected.

The two weddings happening on the same date is a key example of avoiding that. But it's important to the story that the reader experiences the same surprise as Superboy when he realises that something is very, very wrong with the future.


Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
1. If the timeline isn't restored to exactly the way it was, then our heroes have failed, and what kind of heroes are they?


But what if the hero tries wins, but can't take it back to exactly the way it was. Does not being a master of temporal physics make him a failure? It's a huge cliché that *everything* goes back. Although I think Flashpoint might have played with that, and the Glorithverse certainly did.

But what if the Legion had tracked the Trapper. They do identify him and stop him form convincing the nations to ditch the UN. The future is saved. But to identify him, the Trapper had to begin his chats with the delegates. He has changed their paths, albeit more slightly.

The heroes restore the future, but it's not quite the same. The Trapper's taint has affected things, if only subtly. Are the heroes failures for not being able to paradoxically stop the trapper before his schemes caused their return to stop him?

I do like to think that some comments will make it into the cliques that we see hints of later on.

The Trapper's multiple identities seem to work for the character. It gets a certain "Who is it behind the cowl in this reality?" sort of vibe. Controller, Rokk, Prime, Glorith?

The Controller by itself *should* work better, and has ore jumping off points into other stories from that reveal. But for a recurring time based villain the multi-trapper works fine it seems.


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#899305 - 06/09/16 12:04 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Just to be clear: I like the idea of the time line being subtly different because of the Time Trapper's meddling, but I don't think DC operated that way then. (Not sure if they do now.) For our heroes to be heroes, there must be a Total Victory. That's also why Levitz went to great pains to explain that nobody dies when the Legionnaires fight the Lunarites (at least none were killed during Garth's maneuvers), even though being at war would seem to justify killing. They are still Legionnaires and the good guys win totally.

It's a tad unrealistic, but such were the expectations of comics and TV heroes then. I recall reading in George Takei's book, To the Stars, that he objected to the scene in Star Trek III in which a burly transporter chief calls Sulu "tiny." Takei felt it would diminish his character (figuratively) if he were addressed that way. Of course that scene sets up Sulu's memorable come back, "Don't call me Tiny," later in the movie--after he has defeated the transporter chief. Takei admitted that the audience's cheers and laughter changed his mind about the scene, but it illustrates, I think, how action heroes were held to an infallible standard.


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#899528 - 06/11/16 09:31 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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The standard of the times would be the primary reason for no killing, but it would also make sense for a Legion that has formed as a counter-example to warring nations. Pacifists, but realists; they carry guns to disable or for self-defense.

As in the Takei example, the true hero rises above insult and injury.

On the question of subtle changes, it will be interesting to speculate how some of the cliques may evolve out of this time-altered experience. Do Wildfire and Superboy maintain their mutual respect? Does Ayla resent Sun Boy joining Superboy's group; maybe she can explain the others' motivations to herself, but not his? It's hard to imagine someone wouldn't be changed by the events of this issue. At the least, wouldn't you redouble your efforts to work for peace after seeing the alternative?


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#899549 - 06/12/16 05:08 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Good point about people being changed at least in terms of redoubling their efforts for peace.

I don't see Ayla holding it against Sun Boy that he chose Superboy's side. 1) She and Dirk haven't had that much interaction, so there's no indication that she would see his actions as unusual or out of character. 2) Superboy was proven right, so that trumps everything else. Wildfire can be a hothead and hold a grudge (at least until he's proven wrong), but it would be childish for any of the Legionnaires to hold onto those feelings past this story.

Ayla's comment about souls and her near-attack on Dawnstar make sense given the emotional pressure she was under. But once her brother is safe and the timeline restored, it would be petty for her to hold her teammates' actions against them.

(Of course, maybe she could be a petty individual, but she's not been played that way.)

I agree that heroes should rise above insult and injury. The Takei anecdote tells us so much about him and how he regarded Sulu, though.


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#899810 - 06/13/16 09:14 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#237 No Price Too High by Paul Levitz, art by Walt Simonson & Jack Abel, colors by Adrienne Roy

[Linked Image]

The Legionnaires have gathered on R. J. Brande's asteroid estate to attend a farewell ceremony for departing Garth & Imra. Cosmic Boy presides and presents the couple with a gift, a model of the original club house, which is revealed by their biorythms.

Garth & Imra depart as R.J. muses about them. Suddenly, he falls under attack as his robot guards are demolished by microdroids. As Legionnaires discover R.J. unharmed, a figure appears, encloses himself and R.J. in an energy shield and announces that his name is Arma Getten. He has taken Brande hostage to compel the Legionnaires to find and bring him three objects.

Brainy warns the field is unstable and to touch it will destroy R.J. and Arma; as it is, the shield will only last for a few hours.

Mission 1: Superboy, Sun Boy, Dawnstar and Mon-el go to the Helics star mining operation, which Mon-el visited in #236. Khunds are planning to attack the mine again to seize the star core. Khunds assume that anyone flying in space like Mon-el must be equally affected by red sun radiation. They blast and only Dawnstar evades them. However, Sun Boy was faking unconsciousness, and blasts the Khunds with his own solar energy; meanwhile, Mon and Superboy are recovering. Guided by Mon-el, Dawnstar finds the large drone ship which he had previously disabled. He and Superboy fling it out of that solar system. In gratitude for saving their lives, Director Vxeraz permits them to borrow one of the star core samples.

Back at Brande's estate, the Legionnaires are shackled and learn that R.J., through his Steller Spice Company, bankrupted Getten's father.

Mission 2: At Legion HQ, Wildfire and Projectra are on guard duty; she kvetches about being stuck there while everyone else is at R.J.'s and launches into criticism of Wildfire. An intruder alarm interrupts her. Wildfire races to the source of the problem and lets loose with a blast – but Phantom Girl, Violet and Shady all evade his energy bolt. As Wildfire enters the room, Shadow Lass diverts him with seduction him as Phantom Girl grabs the Quintile Crystal and escapes. Projectra arrives, asks where the crystal is; Violet suddenly grows to full size, grabs Wildfire and disperses him. An angry Projectra is disabled by Shady and Vi, who then join Phantom Girl and leave for Brande's asteroid...

...where Getten is putting on a show for his hostages, constructing a weapon of mass destruction, to be powered by the Quintile Crystal. He has a deadly energy force arm, created by his father.

Mission 3: The third team (Cosmic Boy, Light Lass, Timber Wolf) is in the Kingdom of the Graxls, seeking the Crown of the Graxls, which generates energy, as well as energy trails which capturing ships in what is called the Sargasso Sea of Space. A Graxl ship attacks the Legionnaires, but is overcome by them. The Graxls thus assume the Legionnaires must be the ones who built the massive Crown and bow before them. Rokk and Ayla return to the ship, Brin disables the guards; the Crown is stolen with Rokk's magnetic power, and the Legionnaires take off, with the Graxls in distant and ineffective pursuit.
Back at the estate, Star Boy attempts and fails to attack Getten; Getten observes Chameleon Boy is missing but his robots can not find the Legionnaire.

As the three teams approach Brande's asteroid, Dawnstar senses something is out of place; Superboy confirms that it's wobbling and infers that Star Boy has increased its weight (mass?) as a tip-off. This leads Superboy to deduce that Getten planned to destroy the entire solar system.

Leaving the three objects in space with some of the Legionnaires, a group led by Superboy alights at the Brande estate. Despite the threat to the solar system, Superboy refuses to sacrifice R.J..

R.J. himself pushes Getten into the force field, claiming that no life is worth a solar system's; the field dissolves without harming either of them. After he fails to knife R.J., Getten activates his force arm to destroy everyone. However, the forces come apart, turning Getten into atoms.

Dawnstar reports that he must have been dissolved or teleported away and R.J. laughingly congratulates the team.

Epilogue: Someone explains to R.J. that Cham didn't actually escape; he was disguised as Star Boy. Star Boy could then use his power since the robots were only searching for Cham.

The Graxls are freezing to death since their Crown was taken, but the Legion has returned to help them. Brainiac 5 has modified Getten's doomsday machine, following R.J.'s instructions. The machine is launched into the Sargasso Sea of Space and becomes a star, which will save the Graxls' world.

Comments:

First off, I loathe names like “Arma Getten”, although I recognize that it may have been customary for comic book villains. It makes the story seem sillier than it should be. Now that that's out of the way....

Does Wildfire stay behind because he's just being a dutiful leader, or do these human milestone events disturb him?

Jeckie has gone Full Princess, sulking that she's pulled guard duty – and takes it out on Wildfire by belittling his lack of a body. Cruel! Is this one of the subtle changes that we discussed could result from the Time Trapper's machinations? It's not explained how those two were selected for guard duty. Computer? Planetary Chance Machine? Wildfire's the Leader, so it's his responsibility. If he appointed Jeckie, was it to punish her for something, or maybe he just doesn't like her? For Lu & Chuck's wedding, Mon-el and Shadow Lass stayed behind. Would Val have stayed behind with Jeckie? He isn't at the ceremony – is he back in the 20th century?

In the previous issue, Garth & Imra were leaving on their honeymoon. Is this ceremony held after they return? Or did they get married again on R.J.'s estate, since their time-changed marriage might be questioned? Get married in an armed camp, get kidnapped and nearly end it all in a murder-suicide pact? It's said that the most memorable thing about your wedding is the disaster, but, personally, I'd want to re-do that particular ceremony.

Is Rokk wearing a ceremonial cape? We never saw it again. I like the idea that the Legionnaires would have dress uniforms for ceremonies – but they generally don't, alas. At the ceremony, he's flanked by Phantom Girl and Superboy, the earliest members after the founders (since member #4, Triplicate Girl, is herself no longer active in the Legion). This ceremony reminds us that Cos was the original leader, not just Garth and Imra's first Legion friend.

Watch out!! Imra is wearing a medallion!

That was a very nifty futuristic gift that Brainy invented. Did he get a patent?

R.J. looks very fat, dressed in Henry VIII style clothing.

The attacking microdroids, which Brin refers to as “bugs”, have become a fact in our own time. It's uncanny how predictive the Legion comic could be.

Getten is an all too typical, chatty villain with a quest for vengeance disproportionate to his grudge. The three teams seeking three objects as someone is held hostage is essentially the same story as the JLA-JSA-Legion crossover, with technology replacing magic.

The first team's mission to get the star core builds well on Mon-el's earlier adventure and reminds us that those Khunds are not going away.

The second team's story, which also builds on a prior event with the Quintile Crystal, is actually quite sad: after Jeckie has insulted Wildfire for being a sack of energy, Shady makes a false play for him and Violet furthers the humiliation by releasing his helmet. Will there be payback for all this? He's the leader; couldn't they have explained the situation to him and just taken the crystal? Why would he prevent them?

The third team's mission leaves the Legionnaires with an unpalatable choice: save their financial backer and Earth's solar system, or leave the Graxls with their source of energy and materials. Too bad for the Graxls: they look funny, they're ignorant and R.J. is more important. It's a dog eat dog galaxy.

The wobbly asteroid “tip-off” struck me as very clumsy. It ruined the effect of finding out that Chameleon Boy had impersonated Star Boy, after wondering what the “escaped” Cham was up to. Once again, it's Superboy who figures out the clue.

Dawnstar searches for a trace of Getten, but can't find any. She'll do the same thing in Legion Lost II. I wonder if the Lost writer took that from this story, or if it's just a natural thing for a tracker to do after someone appears to have been blown to atoms. In Legion Lost II, she's scanning for DNA in organic matter; here she's just tracking something unspecified. It's an interesting aspect of her power.

R.J. emerges as the true hero of the story, ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of everyone else. He also is the one who rescues the Graxl's by providing them with an artificial, life-sustaining star.










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#899923 - 06/14/16 11:18 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy 238

Ineffectual villain revenge allows the Legion to relive JSA plots as they rescue their founder.

Garth & Imra depart again, but in the correct timeline, this issue. It’s a tearful farewell, as it doesn’t look as though they’re even allowed to visit with the team’s oh so earnest bylaws. There must be marriage cooties in the 30th century the way the Legion make such a big thing about it.

Our villain is Arma Getten. Visually, he makes an impressive first panel. Then you realise he’s just nicked Loki’s costume. His dialogue isn’t great and he has tremendous powers considering who he is. Teleportation, attack droids, assemblers and an energy shield. Despite that power, the corny name pretty much ruins him.

Brainy must be really good with force fields. He can spot an unstable one at ten feet. It must be all the time he spends fiddling with his own force field belt. The Legion can’t rescue Brande from within Getten’s forcefield without killing everyone.

Before Getten tells us his aims, he wants a ransom for Brande’s life. He wants the Legion to emulate a Gardner Fox story. So, they are forced to split into three groups to collect mcguffins.

Following on from Mon-El’s very recent encounter with the Khunds, Levitz switches things, really allowing Dawnstar and Sun boy to shine when the team face them this issue. It’s always good to see Dawny do well, as my early Legion reading was all about her relationship and powers not working. The team retrieve a starcore sample from a grateful mining operation.

The second team infiltrate their own headquarters. Wildfire and Jeckie are there, having a friendly chat. You know, the way friends casually mention that you’re no longer human and when they start referring to you as “creature.” Thanks Jeckie. Both are beaten by Tinya, Salu and Shady.

They don’t bother with explanations, because that would make sense (see Tyroc issue when it looks like he’s a villain.). They just beat their friends. Not only is Wildfire reminded of his inhuman status when Salu opens his containments suit, but Shady flirts with him. Not only will that close contact give him issues, but it being a ruse won’t help his state of mind much either. Shady’s character reinforces the idea that she joined the team to get an attractive mate. The espionage team retrieve the Quintile crystal that appeared in a recent issue.

Like the previous teams, our third, and final, one get to use their powers to good effect. But it’s Brin who gets the spotlight. Levitz reminds us of his loner status, even going so far to have bring think of himself as a “wolf in the fold.” The team steal a giant crown from the Graxls. I thought they were just going to be handed it after impersonated the Graxls gods, but in the end they have to pinch it. Unlike the first two missions, I didn’t pick up a recent Legion reference in this one.

As mentioned, the structure of the story is quite old school. Levitz does also have interludes showing Getten’s goals. He wants the items to power a giant weapon with which he’s going to destroy the solar system. The returning teams are tipped off, because Superboy think that a wobbling Brande’s planetoid can destroy the solar system in a chain reaction. Um…. It’s a plot that’s really not worth dwelling on. It does give us another entry in the Legionniares disguising themselves as each other theme though.

When Brande attacks Getten, the force field is destroyed. As everyone lives, it means that Brainy was incorrect earlier about it killing Brande if tampered with. Had he analysed it correctly, we would have had no story.

Getten produces another couple of wonder items, in an electro knife and a force arm. The use of the weapon inexplicably reduces him to atoms.

Inexplicable just about sums up the plot. We don’t know how Getten got his abilities. They seem to be technologically based. Were they from his father? Was the malfunctioning force arm the reason why it was his dad’s last invention?

What was the reason behind the man’s bankruptcy? We’ve discussed a shadier history to Brande recently. How was Getten’s father ruined?

There aren’t any answers here. Levitz does have more fun with his galaxy building. He plays with sci fi ideas such as Dune’s spice mining to give Brande a history with a Stellar Spice Company. His Sargasso Sea of Space was originally from Charles Fort.

We meet more races and cultures. We also have space to see a few Legionnaires really shine, and the others all get their moments too. Simonsen’s art is not always to my taste, but there are lots of pluses in having it here.

So there are good things. But the villain was a real let down, with a name and plan that just didn’t add up.

To be read listening to Def Leppard - "Armageddon It"


"...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."
#899933 - 06/14/16 01:00 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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237:

For me, this issue is memorable mostly because it's the one in which R.J. Brande adopts the persona he has had pretty much ever since: a benign cross between William Howard Taft and Daddy Warbucks. The Henry VIII clothes are a bit much, but his larger-than-life personality and "By damn!" catchphrase befit someone audacious enough to start the Legion.

Otherwise, I agree with thoth and Cramey's assessments: 237 consists of a JLA plot, a ridiculously named villain of unexplained power, and a lot of plot conveniences needed to make the story work.

Once again, the series is caught between trying to pursue more adult themes and having to cater to the younger crowd. Not only is the villain given a silly name, but the Graxls are cute and silly aliens, and even the Khunds take on a stereotypically Snidely Whiplash appearance. But on the other hand, we've got Legionnaires sniping at each other in cruel ways and Shady's come-on to Wildfire for the purpose of distracting him . . . and this is from a writer who purports to be a fan of the Legion. Given how mean-spirited the Legionnaires act, it's a wonder the author isn't Harlan Ellison.

But I did appreciate the teamwork displayed by Superboy's team, and how the story built nicely off of Mon's solo story last issue. It's good to see Dawny portrayed as a competent and resourceful hero.

I also appreciated the ending, in which the Graxls, resigned to their fate, get much more than they bargained for when the "bright beings" give them a sun. This is the Legion doing what they do best: making the world a better place for some (which is fitting, of course, since otherwise they would have left the Graxls to die).

However, it also was a presumptuous gesture. Since the Graxls worshiped the crown, perhaps they didn't want a sun. And just what were the Legionnaires going to do with that crown, anyway? Save it for Jeckie after her head swells to the appropriate size?

This issue feels like it's marking time. When I first read it, it was quite a letdown after the tabloid, which, whatever its faults, was a story worthy of the Legion. However, in the next original story, 239, the Legion goes full-tilt in the adult direction, making this offering even lamer by comparison.






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#900041 - 06/15/16 09:19 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
Does Wildfire stay behind because he's just being a dutiful leader, or do these human milestone events disturb him?


I meant to mention in my post, but there was something about Shady's words that reminded me of Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen. It was along the lines of him losing his connection with humanity, even to the point where the putting on a pretence of interest is beyond him.

It might have been a powerful arc for Drake to go down. Possibly with Dawny pulling him back in a Quislet generated (and Titan Beast (tee hee) held together) body. Or he would become the Anti Monitor. One of the two paths.

Cramer posting that it may really be happening to Drake, means that Jeckie is making an observation, in the blunt fashion that her upbringing allows.

Originally Posted by Cramer
Watch out!! Imra is wearing a medallion!


That gave me a chuckle. Thanks Cramer.

Originally Posted by Cramer
That was a very nifty futuristic gift that Brainy invented. Did he get a patent?


My brain cell is connecting it to a metallic device years later in the Titans. Was it Minion? It could create battle suits or something. No doubt it could create metallic clubhouses too. I reckon it was something Rokk picked up on one of his secret time travel jaunts. Brainy just reprogrammed it as a toy.

Originally Posted by HWW
However, it also was a presumptuous gesture. Since the Graxls worshiped the crown, perhaps they didn't want a sun. And just what were the Legionnaires going to do with that crown, anyway? Save it for Jeckie after her head swells to the appropriate size?


I sort of skimmed the very last part. Pretty much at the point from where the Legion create the sun for the Graxls. I didn't think these words at the time, but "meddling clowns" sums it up.

"Never mind that we stole your sacred artefact, here's something new. Enjoy as we won't bother checking in to see how the huge change causes religious carnage and social upheaval!"

Next Month: A Corona Crown for a Colossal Kid: Gim puts on the crown and thinks he's a Sun God!

Or they could have just left the poor guys in peace...


"...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."
#900051 - 06/15/16 02:26 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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The month after: The Graxls declare war on the UP for taking away their god. R.J. Brande repossesses the sun because the Graxls didn't make their down payment. ("Those ungrateful rodents, by damn!") The Legion must now store the Graxls' sun with the crown in their oversized storage room rented from Dr. Who.

Brande learns that the Stellar Spice Company is secretly a front for the Spice Girls. (That will teach him not to pay attention to his business empire.)


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#900072 - 06/15/16 04:07 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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During the later Conspiracy story, Brainy would get the heart of the sun they had stored in their tesseract to power the time cube.

With it's ability to navigate and travel across the universe, the UP and Brande insist that Worm Lad joins the Legion in place of Dream Girl and Dawnstar. Brande is pleased tha this Stellar Spice Company connections have paid off. Worm Lad saves millions of lives when other technology fails both in the Magic Wars and when Tharok attacks the UP.


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#900077 - 06/15/16 04:21 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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During 5YL, Worm Lad resigns in disgust, claiming he was always used as bait.


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#900079 - 06/15/16 04:34 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I'm seing Worm Lad as a preboot Gates, but using a little Quislet ship for self trasportation across the universe. The sensory driven worm is much more like Lightle's interpretation on Quislet than the energy being.



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#900105 - 06/15/16 09:28 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I think the crown, as well as the crystal and the star core, were used to assemble Getten's weapon as he had designed, but to explode it with R.J.'s modifications in the Graxl's space. Sort of turning plowshares into pruning hooks.... They did get their crown back, but wouldn't have known it, so they still would have felt that great loss. No doubt Worm Lad would have had some insightful philosophical remarks about this development, had he ever made it into the Legion.

Drake as Doctor Manhattan! Could have been interesting. He did toss a denigrating "human" remark at Jeckie as he sped off to inspect the intruder alert.

The Legionnaires are rather mean-spirited lately, aren't they? I find Projectra in particular fares very poorly in this period of their history. She doesn't do much and now she's acting bitchy.


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#900121 - 06/16/16 02:55 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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The "human" remark was no doubt in response to her catty remark about him being a ball of energy.

I'm just as glad that the writers didn't pursue the idea of Drake being a proto-Dr. Manhattan, losing touch with his humanity. Drake was always portrayed as a very human character who had just lost his physical body. I always likened him to someone who is paralyzed from the waist down. Those needs and feelings are still there; you just can't physically express them.

This would make Shady's actions all the more cruel.

I've also thought of Drake as similar to the Thing. Like Ben Grimm, he's human and has all the thoughts and emotions that go with that; however, his physical condition makes normal relationships almost impossible. (At least with Alicia, he had something of a normal dating life.)


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#900126 - 06/16/16 04:19 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Shadow Lass certainly has had it out for Wildfire since his election for Legion leader (maybe before that?). It makes her personality all the more interesting from a story-telling point of view, although it disappoints me to see a character I favour acting like that.

This is an aspect of Shadow Lass that I hadn't noticed until this re-read and I'll be most curious to follow its development in later issues.

Although Wildfire is usually described as a hothead (by myself as well), the very fact that he manages to continue day by day without any more than a few short-tempered or sarcastic remarks does indicate considerable self-control, or insight. Unless there's an untold tale in which he pulls horrible pranks on Shady and Jeckie for their treatment of him....

Still, you have to wonder why there couldn't be a sweet little energy being somewhere in that galaxy for Drake.


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#900155 - 06/16/16 09:31 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer

Still, you have to wonder why there couldn't be a sweet little energy being somewhere in that galaxy for Drake.


I love this idea. There's even a precedent for it. Superboy 183 introduced a pair of "wraith-mates" who were romantically involved with each other.


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#900161 - 06/16/16 11:59 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
I love this idea. There's even a precedent for it. Superboy 183 introduced a pair of "wraith-mates" who were romantically involved with each other.


May I also refer my fellow reviewers to Null Girl ?


"...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."
#900185 - 06/16/16 05:24 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Um, thoth, I'm not seeing a reference to Null Girl on the page you linked to, or even on the page Reboot linked to on the page below yours.

But any girl (or boy) who could make Drake happy gets my nod of approval.


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#900202 - 06/16/16 07:29 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Ah, just scroll up to the top of the page in the link.


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#900204 - 06/16/16 09:29 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Two possibilities, right off the bat. There's a date for everybody in the future!

A quick search turned up a few more at TV Tropes.

Wildfire represents a diversion from the trope: he is a very ordinary/normal human in terms of emotions, not the detached, advanced or celestial level sentience often associated with the energy being concept.


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#900234 - 06/17/16 06:01 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Right. Fixed the link to this Null Girl one.

Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
Two possibilities, right off the bat. There's a date for everybody in the future!


Or nobody in the future, in this case.

Before I forget. If a younger RJ Brande was involved with a Dune-like Space Spice Corporation, are our worm like teleporting Space navigators the Gil'DishPan? If so, does Brande have a connection them in the way he has connections to the Proteans?







"...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."
#900262 - 06/17/16 03:43 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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Null Girl: The energy being of my dreams (or maybe Drake's).


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#900289 - 06/17/16 10:53 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Weekend Special: #238 was a reprint of Adventure 259-260, with an apology from editor Al Milgrom (artist pressures due to the many pages of the comic) and a new wrap-around cover by Jim Starlin:

[Linked Image]

The cover expands and adds considerably to the Takron-Galtos scenes in the actual story. Most notably, we have unicorns, a bare bone, a giant cat-like creature hovering over a bowl (the source of the bare bone?), reptilitan guards with whips, Dream Girl, in chains, collapsed on the ground and Saturn Girl chained, hands and feet, to the rocks. Two pink moons hang in the sky. Takron Galtos never looked so interesting! I think the rather nasty-looking unicorns were a particularly great touch.

The reprint ended with an essay by Jay Zilber on parallel 30th century worlds extant in the DC line-up of the time. He speculates that an R.J. Brande of Earth-2 might have been inspired by Power Girl to form a different Legion - but that "There are no editors, writers or artists anywhere who even want to think about adding another 20-odd characters to the LSH's already enormous backlog of supporting characters!"

Oh Mr. Zilber, how limited your ambition!



Holy Cats of Egypt!
#900300 - 06/18/16 06:25 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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I remember Zilber's essay. In fact, my 14-year-old self took it as a challenge to create "another 20-odd characters" to populate the Legion of Earth II. Like the JLA/JSA, I had variations on established characters as well as totally new ones. Instead of Lightning Lad, I had Electric Lad. He and Cosmic Boy were brothers.

I even sent some of my characters to DC in order to propose an Earth II Legion. Never heard back from them.


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#900303 - 06/18/16 08:03 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
I even sent some of my characters to DC in order to propose an Earth II Legion. Never heard back from them.


Decades later in the DC Offices... another pointless free for all ensues around continuity.

Dan: We can't have the Legion on Earth-1, now that we're cancelling the book. It will mess with our plans. We're handing it over to the safe, respectful hands of Giffen.
Paul: But it's my baby!
Dan: I appreciate that and your work here. (pause to watch large amounts of Before Watchmen books go by now that Paul has been out of a position to stop them for a whole minute.) But it's not on.
Paul: If only there was a solution. I know! What if they were all in a pocket universe, where a purple robed...
Dan: Nah! I'm now the Trapper in DC's So Nu It's Almost Precognitive-verse!
Paul: Darn! Looks about frantically... and spies a pile of old papers... Hey! This kid, He Who Wanders, is suggesting a Legion on Earth-2! That's perfect!

And so in the last issue of the Legion, DC shifted the Legion across to Earth-2, even if they did make a continuity mess of even doing that for a few panels. And all would be right in the world in the new reboot forever...well, for about an hour before the next reboot came along anyway.



"...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."
#900307 - 06/18/16 08:40 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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DC . . . let's talk. smile


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#900309 - 06/18/16 08:49 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I heard a rumour that the new (Nu/uN/Fu) Phantom Stranger would have the subtitle of He Who Wanders. smile


"...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."
#900310 - 06/18/16 08:58 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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Seems appropriate. A few years ago, I used the Phantom Stranger as my LW avatar.


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#900471 - 06/20/16 04:14 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Collectors Edition C-55

I am catching up once more with the goal of reading Earth War week by week with you guys. Thus, I finally was able to read that "damn tabloid issue" this morning while on a plane, which was a true treat as I've never read it before. I was utterly delighted with what I found: a huge, epic story that featured a vast number of Legionnaires, a perfectly paced story that allowed for both big and little moments and amazing Grell art from start to finish.

I was hoping for something special and the story surpassed expectations. It's probably the best Time Trapper story thus far in LSH history and it has the truly momentous event of Imra and Garth being married. But it's also chock full of nice characterizations, including the great Wildfire / Superboy tension, Shady sticking up for Supes, and various Legionnaires showing great concern for Imra and Garth. One could have a lot of fun analyzing why which Legionnaires choose to go where--you guys mentioned Mon which makes sense. For example, Sun Boy? Perhaps he's truly convinced? He's been shown to be making more progress since Cockrum's run to overcome his self doubt; perhaps he choose the logical idea over the emotional one, since he's well known to be very close friends with Garth? It could be a bit moment for him.

Alternative timeline stories are probably my least favorite in comics but this was effective in its subtleties. I love the various ideas presented and the very measured, limited way we get them.

All in all I loved this issue. It was a true treat as part of this reread. Much of the story is negligible in terms of future connections to LSH adventures; but the farther implications are that it showed what could be done when the creators had a lot of room to flex their muscles. I think the positive reaction to this story must have influenced the decision to do Earth War, which in turn led to GDS years later and then subsequent epic stories.

#900576 - 06/20/16 08:42 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#239 Murder Most Foul by Jim Starlin/Paul Levitz; art by Josef Rubinstein, colours by Cory Adams

[Linked Image]

Ultra Boy enters the seedy Hotel Orion on Rimbor, called there by his former girlfriend An Ryd. He questions why she wants to meet and how she got a message through LSH Communications. She's fallen on hard times and has sold him out. Jo, caught off guard, is blasted and knocked out by a masked assailant, who then murders An. Jo awakens in an unfamiliar ship, flight ring gone and doesn't know where he is.

Suddenly, Legionnaires appear. He's relieved to see them, but they say he's in big trouble and wanted by the police. Adult advisor Marla Lantham tells him he's to be arrested for An's murder; she was killed with a heat beam and his ring was found on her corpse. Tinya asks for a moment alone with him; confirms that she believes his innocence. He uses the opportunity to escape, evading all the Legionnaires and even manages to have Superboy and Mon-el collide. As he flies off in the Legion cruiser, Shady commiserates with Tinya.

Dawnstar has been disabled for at least a day with a nerve block, so no one can track Jo. He destroys the cruiser and returns to Rimbor to think about what to do. In disguise, he heads for his friend Sy's inertron-lined apartment and is surprised when the couch turns out to be Chameleon Boy. As head of the Espionage Squad, Cham knew about Jo's Rimbor-based friends and their dwellings.

Cham gives him the benefit of the doubt but agrees that Marla, who had been getting youth treatments, was over-zealous in his condemnation. He states that anyone in the Legion, as well as Marla, could have framed Jo and intends to investigate.

The Legionnaires are arguing about Jo and, while Marla condemns him and expresses concern that this will help the U.P.'s anti-Legion factions, Superboy argues for getting the facts. Wildfire announces that they will return to Rimbor, since that is the most likely place for Jo to hide.

Cham checks out each Legionnaire's physical IDs and confirms there are no imposters. Only Brainy's computer files are messed up, but that's par for the course, and Cosmic Boy had been experimenting with some files. Not only facts, but instinct, leads Cham to conclude that “the most dangerous Legionnaire” is behind the murder and frame-up.

On Rimbor, Wildfire suggests that Superboy and Mon-el look for an x-ray proof building that isn't a lab or government facility – that's where Jo is likely to be. Jo senses Mon locating the apartment and crashes through multiple floors to escape through the sewer, only to be met by Legionnaires. He manages to escape from each one, stealing Sun Boy's flight ring, but is ultimately taken by Superboy and Mon-el.

Before he can be turned over to the legal system, Cham announces that Jo is a victim of an imposter: Wildfire. Rather, a robot impersonating Wildfire, who is being held in a force field in his quarters. The robot Wildfire, however, is just part of the frame, not the killer. Cham is afraid to name the killer until he has proof.

Thus, Jo is exonerated. He tells off Marla and thanks Cham. As he and Tinya share a kiss, they are monitored by the masked killer, who tells himself that next time he plays with the Legionnaires' lives, it will be for the destruction of the universe.

Comments:

This story is a big change in tone from the previous ones and begins a devious and challenging murder mystery. We don't know who the villain is, or what he really wants; it's a man in a mask, working in the shadows, and, most interesting, a Legion insider. Could it be Marla, brain affected by youth treatments? Cosmic Boy? Brainiac 5? Wildfire himself, the robot Wildfire being a diversion? There are clues, but they aren't conclusive, or could apply to more than one character.

Ultra Boy does well in this issue. Although the usual “stupid Jo” remark is made, he does show skill and resourcefulness in evading his fellow Legionnaires. It ultimately takes the combined forces of Superboy and Mon-el to bring him down. However, one wonders if he was chosen as a fall guy because he was considered to be less intelligent.

However, it's Chameleon Boy who's the brains of this tale, living up to his role as leader of the Espionage Squad, staying a step ahead of his teammates and giving Jo the benefit of the doubt. He's come a long way from impersonating waste baskets. His deep intel on his fellow Legionnaires makes him into J. Edgar Daggle.

The Legionnaires were pretty quick to condemn Ultra Boy, based on circumstantial evidence. Were they influenced by Marla? Superboy, once again the moral voice of the comic, argues for an examination of the facts. Shadow Lass steps back in both helplessness and sympathy, having had her own planet once turn against her. Regardless of their position on his guilt or innocence, the Legion did step up to take care of their own: they rushed to find Jo before the Science Police could get him. Perhaps they weren't even really trying very hard to capture him.

Marla Lantham is back as a character. The former Adult Advisor is far more concerned with the political ramifications of R.J.'s Legion project than with the well-being of the kids themselves. His rapid condemnation of Jo must have been particularly hurtful, given that he had been Jo's supporter for Legion membership. Marla's rejuvenation treatment picks up the thread of long-lasting youth that was explored in #235.

Taking out a character who can easily solve a problem is often handled clumsily, but this case (Dawnstar tracking Jo) was dealt with in a believable manner which involved Timber Wolf teaching a super-nerve pinch to Ultra Boy.

The writer even tied this story into the previous issue's reprint, with Jo accessing a cache of supplies he stored after the events of Adventure #359-360.

This is the beginning of the Rimbor as crime planet concept. Up until now, it was just another planet. It will slide further into degradation in the years ahead, maintaining its bad reputation through the decades and different versions of the Legion.









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#900654 - 06/21/16 08:14 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Jo has been portrayed as a traitor to the Legion way back in the Adventure days. He would later be shown as a pirate, a smuggler, and from the wrong side of the tracks. But here, his clean cut heroism sticks out like a sore thumb.

Whatever Jo’s history things have got a lot worse on Rimbor, and there’s a rare touch of noir as an old flame betrays him to the issue’s villain.

It’s worth noting that we don’t see the Legion spend a lot of time with friends and other acquaintances. Jo left his behind when going to Earth. Perhaps it’s the Foreign Legion inference in the title. That the heroes are devoted only to the team. Or perhaps it’s just that the artists had enough to contend with.

Jo is blasted unconscious. Later, Jo would reveal that he doesn’t drop his powers unnecessarily. In that instance, his Ultra Invulnerability was revealed to be on. Perhaps that’s due to his betrayal in this issue. He learned not to drop his guard.

He recovers in an unfamiliar ship on an unfamiliar planet. TMK would devote a nicely paced subplot dropping Jo back in time and space in v4.

While it’s tough to really imagine Jo escaping Superboy & Mon El, it was really nice to see Shady not try and capture him. Levitz not only picked up on some of her own personal history, but cemented the Shady/ Tinya friendship.

Another well worked reaction to a previous Legion adventure is finding out that the team have little caches of emergency supplies stashed away across the galaxy in case of emergencies. Considering foes like Universo, their sometimes outlawed status and their various espionage missions, this makes a lot of sense.

Speaking of espionage missions, Cham is the one who manages to track Jo down. The switch from action to detective works well, and we get a pretty much definitive look at how Cham thinks. Better yet, Cham knows that Jo will get caught. So, he advises him to run in order to give Cham time to investigate.

We’re expected to think that Marla, Jo’s advisor back when he joined, will be the villain. Marla gives a hint that there are UP factions opposed to the idea of a Legion. We don’t see much of this, but it does give a more complex impression of their world. Much like the demonstrators of Marko Chang did.

We learn that Marla has been undergoing youth treatments. Now bearing in mind the issue where it was revealed that life extension was available. Does this mean that the technology is fairly recent, and that Marla hadn’t the opportunity to take advantage of it? Or does it mean that Marla is really from a world that the UP didn’t see fit to give that particular technology to (See Sklarrian Raiders)? After the murdered An Ryd, Marla provides a darker look at the Legionverse.

Cham does throw in Cosmic Boy and Brainiac as other possible suspects. He opens it up by thinking that the Legion’s most dangerous member could be behind it. So that could be Mon El, or even Superboy. Strangely Cham dismisses Jo being able to set himself up, which is exactly what he did in that old Adventure story, when he pretended to turn traitor.

Cham’s work is well underway by the time the Legion arrive on Rimbor, showing what an advantage the Durlan’s reasoning can be. Seeing Superboy and Ultra Boy both using their vision powers reminded me of the cover where Ultra Boy was introduced.

We get another fun series of mini fights as Jo, once again, tries to evade his comrades. Timberwolf threatening to rip Jo’s throat out, is tempered by the context and Jo mentioning that they are regular sparring partners. It’s a deliberate touch that Brin would be the one to track Jo down first, emphasising those wolf traits.

But this time, Superboy and Mon-El are more than a match for him. But Jo has done enough, for a guy that Wildfire hints isn’t the smartest. Cham has had time to reveal the villain as … A Wildfire robot! There is reasoning behind it, but the robot is really just a stand in for the real villain, who remains unrevealed. It’s a little bit of a let down, as I’m reminded of the Brainiac 5 robot that was revealed as an impostor issues ago, but who then just sat around doing nothing until it was destroyed. There is a tell-tale reveal to who the possible traitor is in some of the bold text on page 32.

Now if someone could replace Wildfire with a robot, frame a Legionnaire and kill one of their acquaintances then you’d expect the team to be on edge, and desperate to track down the culprit. But it won’t be until issue 250 that this is picked up on again (well there’s at least one hint before then).

Despite the strong characterisations of Jo, Tinya, Shady, Cham and seeing the others in action, not everyone came out well. Marla and Jo’s relationship has soured, due to Marla seemingly desperate to see Jo behind bars. His appearance was a nice nod to Jo’s debut and offered an alternate villain. Marla claimed it was for bigger reasons, but he really just didn’t want his student to be an outlaw.

The other character who didn’t come out at all well was Dawnstar. If you don’t want something tracked, she has to be the first one knocked out. Worse, it would seem that Timberwolf has trained at least Jo in how to do just that. Why? We don’t see them use it on anyone else. Poor Dawny. It’s just one of the many times that her power won’t work, can’t work or isn’t available due to unconsciousness.

Overall it’s a strong issue and Starlin on the art chores was always going to make it look good. Sharing the writing duties with Levitz also seems to work in the issues favour. It’s just a shame that the follow up was so long in coming, due to reasons that will no doubt come up at the time of that re read.


"...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."
#900698 - 06/21/16 03:06 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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239:
This is one my favorite single Legion issues ever. It just rocks. At the time, it left me excited that Jim Starlin might become the regular Legion writer/artist. I was disappointed when he did not.

“Murder Most Foul” is indeed a marked departure from recent stories, and a welcome one. The Legion finally feels like it’s aimed at a more adult readership, as the story touches on themes of seduction, murder, and betrayal. We’re left with the tantalizing revelation that one of the Legionnaires is a murderer. That revelation alone took the Legion in a much different direction than any previous story had dared to try.

In the decades which followed, DC would expend much effort in “darkening” its heroes—turning Hal Jordan into a drunk driver, for example—a trend that continues today with the cinematic depictions of Batman and Superman—and this story might be seen as a precursor to that trend. However, in the Legion’s universe, such a revelation arguably makes more sense and doesn’t jeopardize the overall sensibility of the characters. In fact, it stands in stark contrast to the altruistic heroes we’ve come to know; it's an anomaly. When we learn what one of our heroes is truly capable of, it comes across as a real shock—not the gratuitous emotion usually generated by “dark” heroes.

On a story-telling level, the tale keeps moving but never feels rushed. An Ryd is introduced on Page 3 and murdered on Page 4, yet she comes across as a vivid personality—an old love of Jo’s who’s fallen on hard times. We sense that Jo still cares about her, which makes her callous betrayal of him all the more painful. I also felt sorry for her, instead of thinking she had received her just deserts, when the masked man turned on her.

Starlin (with assistance from Levitz) does a masterful job of making us care about Jo. I felt his confusion when he was confronted by his teammates and even his old mentor, and then learned he was accused of An’s murder. The shot of him saying he can’t explain what happened reeks of despair.

But Jo will not stay a hapless victim. He takes matters into his own hands, demonstrating courage, skill, and resourcefulness in taking on and defeating eight of his teammates. His one-power-at-a-time limitation is used to great effect here and in his battle with the Legionnaires on Rimbor; it gave me plenty of reason to root for him. Despite overwhelming odds, Jo perseveres and comes close to getting away.

The story also affords other Legionnaires a chance to shine in new and unexpected ways, especially Shady and Cham. Shady’s role is small but crucial. She’s the voice of reason—the one who knows she doesn’t have a chance of stopping Jo and doesn’t want to try anyway; this is consistent with the rebellious and independent streak she’s shown in other recent stories. Cham is the inscrutable detective—the one who maintains his calm and sense of logic throughout, yet shows loyalty to his friend, Ultra Boy. It’s a telling comment when he says “And I’ll see you when you get caught!” He knows this is going to happen, but Jo’s fugitive status buys Cham the time he needs to figure out what’s going on. There is a stoic quality in this Cham that I find very appealing.

As for Marla—the story needed an identifiable “bad guy,” and this one-off Legion mentor fits the bill well. We know next to nothing about him, but he provides a nice tie-in with the story of Ultra Boy’s first appearance. Marla is someone we come to hate in this story, and that makes Jo’s parting shot—“Haven’t you got to go the Science Police or something, Marla?”—highly satisfying.

There are, of course, some problems in logic, story-telling convenience, and even an error or two. (Is Jo wearing the cloak of an undertaker or an executioner—or both?) But, to me, these problems pale in comparison to Starlin’s achievements as both writer and artist. He gives the Legionnaires individual faces, uses inventive layouts (such as the tension-building panels of the masked man pointing the gun on Page 3), and infuses the story with a dynamic energy throughout.

It is indeed a shame that this story wasn’t followed up on until almost a year later. If I recall correctly, there were behind-the-scenes reasons for this. The original plan was to turn the sequel into another tabloid, but when DC cancelled the tabloids, the decision was made to split the story into two issues. Starlin, I understand, was not happy with this decision and that’s why he took his name off the credits of 250 and 251.

Whatever the cause for the delay, this story raised the bar considerably in terms of story and art quality. It also pushed the boundaries of what could be done with the Legion. The only downside was that subsequent issues could not maintain these qualities, and the lengthy delay in resolving the story became a constant letdown.


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#900699 - 06/21/16 03:19 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by thoth lad
There is a tell-tale reveal to who the possible traitor is in some of the bold text on page 32.


Are you referring to Cham's force field comment? Good catch!


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#900797 - 06/22/16 06:56 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Are you referring to Cham's force field comment?


I am.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Good catch!


thanks! smile


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#900805 - 06/22/16 08:36 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I haven't posted to this thread much, but I want to say this is an absolutely awesome issue. It came out when I was maybe 14, and a story with this kind of depth was a magical thing.

#900871 - 06/23/16 12:47 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I also love this story too, and HWW does a great job at summarizing why. Its masterfully told with the art being stylized and dynamic while the dialogue is crisp and pacing is steady and unrushed. Jo comes off better than ever as capable and heroic, feeling a complex array of things about his predicament. And both Cham and Shady shine here for various reasons: both show great character and both are strong and firm in their own ways.

The issue has a much more serious tone, as Starlin uses a lot of the darker inks and space opera suspense techniques he had mastered at Marvel throughout the decade. As HWW says, it's a welcome evolution of the series that is long overdue. It isn't grim and gritty--comics haven't gotten there yet--but there's a level of sophistication that is now being reached. We see that in other ways: the lack of resolution between Jo and Marla which is all to realistic, Shady standing up for Jo and Gim's obvious annoyance over it; the implied "rough times" Ann Ryd has had. All of it is exciting!

I hadn't known about the behind the scenes stuff in regards to why it took so long to follow up on. 17 years with the LMB and I still am learning LSH secrets smile.

At this point it feels like the series is on a role. Levitz has brought the series up a notch since his run began, and the recent tabloid issue was phenomenal. Simonson's art on #237 made that story feel more special than it probably deserved and this story is just terrific. With Earth War to come, there's a sense of excitement!

#900956 - 06/23/16 09:00 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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I wasn't aware of the reasons for the delay either. Thanks for that info, HWW.

Originally Posted by thoth lad
Cham does throw in Cosmic Boy and Brainiac as other possible suspects. He opens it up by thinking that the Legion’s most dangerous member could be behind it. So that could be Mon El, or even Superboy. Strangely Cham dismisses Jo being able to set himself up, which is exactly what he did in that old Adventure story, when he pretended to turn traitor.


The force field comment together with the Wildfire robot certainly does point to Brainiac 5, although the recent use of a force field by Arma Getten suggests that they may not be exclusive to the green kid. I don't think I would have associated Brainy with "most dangerous Legionnaire" at the time, so it's a good misdirect.

Interesting that Cham does dismiss Jo as setting himself up; I hadn't made the connection to that earlier story. This could be the result of Cham's early investigation and/or the fact that he's come to know Jo better since that time.

Is Marla considered to be R.J.'s assistant at this point, or just someone who worked with the Legion? Did he appear in any story since the first one with Ultra Boy?


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#901027 - 06/24/16 08:56 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Here are Starlin's comments from the Legion Companion (p. 123-124) on the delay:

"... [The sequel] was supposed to be one giant issue and it got split up. There were a lot of other problems with it, [so] I asked my name to be taken off it, and used my pen name, 'Wolfgang Apollo' or 'Steve Apollo.'"

When asked if he had done the story and its sequel back to back, he responds:

"Fairly close. Like I said, the second part was inked by Dave Hunt. Paul couldn't get around to scripting them, and so they sat for a long time. Joe Rubenstein was off on some other project at that point and couldn't ink them, and that's how they ended up with Dave Hunt."

Starlin goes on to say that he had laid out a 64-page story for Rubenstein to finish because he knew what the latter could "fix-up." However, the final product was truncated to 48 pages and completed by an artist who "wasn't prepared to deal with what I had left him."

The experience soured Starlin on the Legion, and that's why he never did another: "When something goes bad, you just don't want to go back and revisit it."

All of this underscores how important Rubenstein was to the project. Starlin may get all the glory, but the finished artwork of 239 owes a great deal to its inker/finisher.


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#901092 - 06/25/16 10:16 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer

Is Marla considered to be R.J.'s assistant at this point, or just someone who worked with the Legion? Did he appear in any story since the first one with Ultra Boy?


I believe this is only Marla's second appearance (the first being Superboy # 98). He isn't seen again until the Secrets of the Legion mini-series, when he seems to be working more closely with Brande.


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#901348 - 06/27/16 10:51 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#240 The Man Who Manacled the Legion by Paul Levitz & Jack C. Harris, art by Howard Chaykin & Bob Wiacek, Colours by Cory Adams

[Linked Image]

In the first story of this issue, Grimbor the Chainsman is hard at work devising shackles to hold Superboy and the Legion.

The Legion are providing some emergency repairs to the Atlantic Highway until the Earth Emergency Service arrives. Supreboy marvels at the wonders of the future. Cosmic Boy is sad that Garth and Imra left and that he can't marry Lydda, since the Legion is more important to him. Phantom Girl holds a grudge against Colossal Boy for assuming Ultra Boy murdered An Ryd, but still serves him and Sun Boy some Bgtzlian goodies sent by her parents.

The team is called to rescue an enchained President Boltax as Grimbor himself arrives at the scene. They are quickly bound with power-cancelling chains and taken to his citadel. There he tells them that Charma was murdered in prison by other women – and he blames the Legion. Tinya breaks free, since Grimbor only designed chains for her phantom state, and frees the others. However, she resents Gim telling her to grab Grimbor, hesitates and loses the advantage. Grimbor activates robot attackers and escapes with Superboy in pursuit.

Grimbor turns out to be a robot as well. The Legionnaires decide they should first free the President, and Superboy has deduced that it will take the simultaneous use of the five Legionnaires' powers. Sun Boy finds this suspicious; the President is also a robot - and detonates. Fortunately, the team found a tracking device chez Grimbor and use it to find the origin of the beam which triggered the explosion.

They find the real Grimbor, holding the real President; Superboy captures Grimbor and gives him a lecture about how Charma still controls him. Tinya, Gim and Dirk prepare to free the President, unaided by Cosmic Boy, who doesn't like his politics.

Comments:

Grimbor's out of jail already? Must have plead undue influence or something – unless they have a time distorter that makes a one-year sentence seem like 10 years. Different social policy from our time? Or maybe he broke out.

Regardless, he's back and he's not nearly so interesting without Charma. A bit off his game as well, since he neglected Tinya's power to rematerialize. He also had a lot riding on the chance that the five Legionnaires he had prepared for would be the ones to answer the call to rescue the President. Someone from the Pluto team might have stayed behind, or returned early, for some reason.

Worse, nearly everybody turns out to be a robot. We've had an awful lot of robot deception lately.

Charma's fate was a sad one; it's a good story but wouldn't an enlightened, future society have put her in some protective custody, or found a way to dampen her effect on females? The fact that the Legionnaires were oblivious to her fate adds to their image of privileged sentients. I'm trying to think of a better term for this disregard/disinterest, but can't come up with it at this hour of the morning. Perhaps I'm too harsh; Charma's murder could have been covered up by prison authorities since it pointed to incompetence on their part. However, we've had indications in recent issues that the Legion is sometimes regarded as cavalier in their activities. Superboy's admonishment of Grimbor at the end played into this dismissive attitude.

President Boltax, or Kandru as he's called in this issue, is back as well, after dumping the Legion in the soup with the Deregon affair. That's a good bit of continuity; Rokk's anti-Kandru comment at the end could have referred to that mission, but Superboy's light-hearted laugh suggests a less personal political difference.

I did enjoy the use of Tinya's resentment of Gim; not only was it obvious, it got in the way of their mission, as resentments often do, and she had the grace to both acknowledge and get over it. It was also good to see how Rokk was affected by the marriage and departure of Garth and Imra.

For once, it was someone other than Superboy who put the pieces together, as Sun Boy figured out Grimbor's bait.

The opening mission, repairing the trans-Atlantic highway, had a real Adventure-era feel to it. The concept was a mix of future and contemporary: a 20th-century style suspension bridge spans the Atlantic Ocean, with nine lanes of land-based cars, damaged by a 20th-century style freighter. It gives Superboy an opportunity to marvel at the future, with the hint that we should as well, but it didn't come off as very futuristic to me.

Zall Morgan and EES were a one-shot appearance. Too bad, they could have worked many missions with the Legion. It makes sense that Earth would not depend on the Legion for all its emergencies and that there must have been some response team prior to the Legion. Morgan and the EES reminded me of a team like the Blackhawks – or maybe they were based on some other comic-based group of the time?



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#901389 - 06/28/16 10:38 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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240/Man Who Manacled the Legion

This issue tries to establish Grimbor as a badass new villain for the Legion, but, as Cramey says, he's just not as interesting without Charma.

The whole issue has a retro feel to it--from the robots to the not-so-futuristic future (an expansion bridge across the ocean? Really?) to the robe-wearing minister in Kandru's court---it feels like the series has taken several giant leaps backwards after the progress of 239.

I can't understand why Tinya was upset only at Gim. Dirk, Kal, and Rokk were all part of the team that went up against Jo last issue. Why single Gim out? (I do agree that it was effective how her animosity interfered with the mission.)

Rokk's discontent over Garth and Imra leaving is handled better. I'm sure Lydda would love to hear that Rokk will never marry her so long as the Legion's around, but, considering her self-esteem issues, maybe that's a good thing. However, Rokk's feelings and Tinya's grudge-holding do contribute to a general sense of discontent that will build among the Legionnaires over next several issues, culminating in the destruction of their HQ and the revelation of Brainy's insanity. This subplot, at least, was quite effective, as I recall.

President Kandru/Boltax's appearance changes just about every time he appears. This is extremely annoying. What's handled better, though, is his sense of entitlement (or rather the robot Kandru's) that the Legion should be at his beck and call and put his safety above everything else. I hadn't thought about his portrayal here building off of his actions back in 229. Good catch, Cramey.

The art is by Howard Chaykin, whose presentation I got to attend at Planet Comicon in KC last month. He's a hoot: like listening to your New York Jewish grandfather (which is pretty much how Chaykin described himself) talk about how bad things were in the old days of the comics industry and how even worse they are now. If I'd remembered that he'd done a Legion issue, I might have taken this issue along and asked him to sign it. His take on the Legion is very different from Starlin's, but appealing in its own way.

Charma's tragic fate is the most memorable aspect of this issue for me. She was truly doomed from the start, and her helplessness echoed my own feelings at the time--feelings that intensified as I became more aware of current events in the world. Late '78 was when the Jonestown Massacre happened, and the Iran hostage situation would occur about a year later. We had an ineffective president who, although widely considered a good man, just couldn't keep "the bad guys" at bay. In that context, a 30th century prison system that couldn't protect Charma didn't seem so far-fetched.




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#901394 - 06/28/16 11:07 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy 240

There’s an artistic side to the Legion Super villains we don’t often see. We once saw the LSV gloat over a perfect model replica of a target they wanted to see destroyed. Here, Grimbor spends his spare time making drawings of Superboy in manacles. It’s not a technical spec. It’s a doodle of his trapped foe.

Elsewhere, Superboy undergoes some future shock at the technology of the future. Even though it’s just a bigger version of a bridge he’d see in his own time. Such a reaction seems a little odd from a teen who has already had so many adventures with the Legion. Perhaps it’s one of the things that gets mind wiped, so that he goes through these reactions every time he visits the future. But he’s very “gosh! Wow!” for the guy who interrogates Grimbor’s control board later in the story.

Superboy does offer some insight into why Cosmic Boy seems a little off. Kal figures that Rokk is feeling abandoned after the resignation of the other two charter members. We see a Cosmic Boy that is dedicated only to the Legion, even at the expense of his relationship with Lydda. Years later Johns and Levitz would show us a Cosmic Boy who allows allows Garth & Imra to have a family, while he supports the Legion at the cost of his own life. Here, he’s just as focused.

Yet, he also says “back to boredom” at the thought of returning to HQ without Garth or Imra there. It shows the bond that the founders must have shared. Perhaps Cos should have reached out to a few others along the way. Rokk would utter a similar “sitting around doing nothing” comment in the TMK run as the Legion were waiting for an adventure from their base on Talus.

Levitz offers a link to the last issue by developing the relationship between Gim and Tinya. She hasn’t forgiven him for acting against Ultra Boy. It’s a nice little scene that opens up the Legion’s characters.

The story, when it arrives, isn’t a particularly memorable one. A villain out for revenge captures a Swan of Legionnaires, having drawn them into trying to save a shackled President. The heroes are captured easily. The shackles are tailored for each victim, and ensnare them all without any resistance. This allows more panel space for Grimbor to tell the reader about why the loss of Charma has driven him to hate the Legion.

We then get some standard twists. Robotic Knights take the place of any attempt to use Grimbor’s trademark traps to give the Legion a battle. The Grimbor they face also turns out to be a robot. The President is another robot. I’m beginning to wonder if Grimbor supplied the Legionnaire who framed Jo with robots.

The heroes manage to track the real one, thanks to being able to track a transmission that has already been sent back to its source. That sort of plot resolution will put Dawnstar out of a job. Which is a shame, since she’s in this issue’s back up story.

Grimbor becomes just another fill in villain, without any ingenuity, here. His plot is pointlessly over elaborate. We don’t get any resolution to Cosmic Boy’s feeling of abandonment, or his focus on the Legion. Although Tinya and Gim share the last panel, there’s no real continuation of their friction from earlier in the story. Tinya was about the only plus point in the story. Her personality is enhanced and she’s the one who escapes Grimbor.


Is the Earth Emergency Service a cross between Challengers of the Unknown and Thunderbirds? Is Zall Morgan a descendant of Ace Morgan of the Challs?


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#901575 - 06/30/16 09:23 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: thoth lad]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders

I can't understand why Tinya was upset only at Gim. Dirk, Kal, and Rokk were all part of the team that went up against Jo last issue. Why single Gim out? (I do agree that it was effective how her animosity interfered with the mission.)


I wondered about this as well, why pick on Gim? Looking back at #239, one could say, with a stretch, that Gim was quicker to condemn Jo as guilty and criticize Tasmia for doubting his guilt ("It's attitudes like that Shady, that give us all headaches. You know we're just going to have to track Ultra Boy down now, and put him away."). The others just wanted to bring him in as a person of interest, give him a chance to explain.

Quote
Rokk's discontent over Garth and Imra leaving is handled better. I'm sure Lydda would love to hear that Rokk will never marry her so long as the Legion's around, but, considering her self-esteem issues, maybe that's a good thing. However, Rokk's feelings and Tinya's grudge-holding do contribute to a general sense of discontent that will build among the Legionnaires over next several issues, culminating in the destruction of their HQ and the revelation of Brainy's insanity. This subplot, at least, was quite effective, as I recall.


Rokk's gripe was something I hadn't remembered at all from this time. To have someone so central to the Legion moping about, even subtly, would surely affect team morale.


Originally Posted by thoth lad

Superboy does offer some insight into why Cosmic Boy seems a little off. Kal figures that Rokk is feeling abandoned after the resignation of the other two charter members. We see a Cosmic Boy that is dedicated only to the Legion, even at the expense of his relationship with Lydda. Years later Johns and Levitz would show us a Cosmic Boy who allows allows Garth & Imra to have a family, while he supports the Legion at the cost of his own life. Here, he’s just as focused.

Yet, he also says “back to boredom” at the thought of returning to HQ without Garth or Imra there. It shows the bond that the founders must have shared. Perhaps Cos should have reached out to a few others along the way. Rokk would utter a similar “sitting around doing nothing” comment in the TMK run as the Legion were waiting for an adventure from their base on Talus.


This presents a very consistent aspect of character for Rokk Krinn, which really contributes to taking him beyond the two-dimensional comic book character. Who, besides Garth, Imra and Lydda, were his close friends in the Legion? It would also explain his post-war depression as not just the result of acts of war, but the boredom of everyday life on Braal.


Quote
Elsewhere, Superboy undergoes some future shock at the technology of the future. Even though it’s just a bigger version of a bridge he’d see in his own time. Such a reaction seems a little odd from a teen who has already had so many adventures with the Legion. Perhaps it’s one of the things that gets mind wiped, so that he goes through these reactions every time he visits the future. But he’s very “gosh! Wow!” for the guy who interrogates Grimbor’s control board later in the story.


That really struck a false note in the story. Fortunately, we don't get too much of this in the series.

Quote
I’m beginning to wonder if Grimbor supplied the Legionnaire who framed Jo with robots.


Ah! Interesting idea. Did Brainy contract the work out? What a tidy bit of blackmail that could have been, and how enticing if Grimbor had dropped some hint about it.

Quote
Is the Earth Emergency Service a cross between Challengers of the Unknown and Thunderbirds? Is Zall Morgan a descendant of Ace Morgan of the Challs?


Challengers of the Unknown sounds like the most likely inspiration.


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#901684 - 07/01/16 11:11 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#240 Dawnstar Rising by Paul Levitz & Paul Kupperberg, art by James Sherman & Bob McLeod, Colours by A. Roy

Legion Academy students are thrown about by a large robot. Jed, Laurel and Grev are not faring well. Dawnstar proves to be an able strategist and team player and with Jed's help, defeats the robot. Wildfire, as teacher, is not pleased with the team's performance. He dismisses them but asks Dawnstar to stay behind. She rebuffs his invitation to “go out and talk”; roommate Laurel later questions why she was so cold to him.

Dawnstar recounts her life story: gifted with exceptional tracking abilities, she was put to work at a young age to earn money for her planet. After completing a job for R.J. Brande, he offered her a place in the Legion, which she accepted for the money alone, considering the Legion to be show-offs. She is also disdainful of Laurel.

The next day, the four students are taken to complete a live test: capture some escaped animals at the Spaceport. Dawnstar flies off on her own but her overconfidence is dampened by the sight of the large and deadly Arcturian Ape and Graanian Deathbeast. She is rescued by her fellow students in a fine display of teamwork and apologizes for her vanity and haughty attitude.

Comments:

This story was considerably more interesting than the previous one. We are introduced to some new characters Jed, Laurel and Grev (who don't have their superhero names yet) and 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.

Silly giant killer beasties - we're not out of the Adventure era yet. Maybe we never leave, when it comes to the exotic beasts of the future; they always seem a bit cartoonish.

This is a side note, but I did an essay on Talok VIII for the Klordny APA and, reviewing the stories, noted that Grev is a real bumbler. He's usually shown screwing up or getting flattened by an opponent. It's not evident here, since they all mess up the fight with the robot, but I've often wondered if that was an intentional attribute of his character.)




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#901703 - 07/02/16 05:29 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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"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.


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#901903 - 07/04/16 09:18 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#241 Prologue to Earthwar by Paul Levitz, art by James Shermon & Bob McLeod; colors by Cory Adams

[Linked Image]

Main story:

Wildfire, Mon-el,Ultra Boy and Dawnstar race from their HQ into the sky to “prevent a war between the galaxies”. Wildfire's haste causes an SP cruiser to spin out of control. Mon-el takes action to save the cruiser, depositing a rattled red-head safely on the ground. She calls after him, without success, worried about delivering an urgent message from Chief Zendak.

At the Mission Monitor Board, Brainy frets over the few available Legionnaires, as Sun Boy whittles at an objet d'art. Element Lad enters with the SP officer, but a space alert sends the remaining Legionnaires flying off, at Brainy's command, without ever hearing her message. Element Lad is mildly annoyed that Brainy usurped his authority as Deputy Leader. However, the team must deal with another incursion of the Resource Raiders and do so with some difficulty. Superboy arrives to save the day, Brainy continues to complain about their reduced strength.

Wildfire's team arrives on Weber's World and meets with Ambassador Relnic and Security Head Ontiir. Their job will be to prevent any attacks on either the U.P. or the Dominators during negotiations.

The Resource Raiders attack Earth once again, stealing rare earth metals from an Antarctic base. After some mishaps, the Raiders are defeated; two ships escape but, unknown to the Raiders, Chameleon Boy is aboard disguised as some ore, as per a plan devised by Brainiac 5. The giant brain leader looks rather silly, but the Raiders are creepy enough and have some interesting tech (and sheer numbers) to provide an on-going challenge to the Legion.

Cham changes from rare earth ore to Raider but is found out, blasted and collapses, as a Raider gives an instruction to fire.

A flash erupts, but it's Wildfire and Mon-el saving some diplomats from a bomb planted in their meeting room. Dawnstar finds a fragment identifying it as U.P. material and the Legionnaires are suspicious of Relnic's team.

Cham awakes, unable to shapeshift as a result of the Raider's gun blast, and face to face with their leader, a giant living brain. Superboy arrives just in time, reverses the gun's controls and blasts Cham, returning his shifting power. The rest of the team arrives and manages to subdue the Raiders. Violet finds their control room and Brainy access the controls, discovering that the Raiders were but the advance guard in a Khund attack on Earth.

Comments:

This fast-paced story does a good job of blending the action of two teams and multiple scenes. We are presented with several problems: the return of the persistent Resource Raiders, the Legion stretched beyond its available members, a brewing war and sabotage, disputes over leadership.

We meet some new characters who will be with the Legion a long time: Shvaughn Erin (not yet named) and Ontiir; Relnic returns after his initial appearance in #225. Nobody asked Shvaughn what her name was, or they forgot it – and the reader is left with the impression that she's a one-shot character.

Mon-el displays his exceptional ability by both saving the SP Officer and catching up to his mission team, taking all responsibilities seriously. He stands up to Relnic and Ontiir when they resent questioning. Wildfire's cavalier brush-off of Mon's criticism is a clear negative mark on his character.

However, Brainiac 5 surpasses him in the cavalier department, dismissing the importance of the Shvaughn's message while displaying a bit of rank snobbery and usurping Jan's role as Deputy leader.

Element Lad is very forgiving: he comments, but makes a joke of Brainy's action. Sun Boy also laughed off Brainy's gripe about few available Legionnaires. In hindsight, there may have been too much “That's just Brainy being Brainy” among the Legionnaires and acceptance of his quirks and character allowed them to miss a developing problem.

Superboy again(!) saves the mission, but he's far from the solo hero. Brainy's plan to track the Raiders without Dawnstar works, Sun Boy goofs up but saves his teammates, Brainy in turn saves Sun Boy and takes a Raider craft. The Weber World team don't have to display any action heroics, but do their job and navigate the murky waters of pre-war diplomacy.

The one hitch that disturbed me was the Shvaughn's important message: why didn't she tell Element Lad immediately, especially since he is Deputy Leader? The team races off wondering what her message was, as does the reader. This, along with the final revelation of an impending Khund attack and the mystery of who planted the bomb on Weber's World, sets the foundation for a more complex and intriguing story than the standard fare.

The artwork was a also step up from previous issues: very dynamic, with lots of shadowing to give that ominous feeling.


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#902041 - 07/06/16 07:18 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy & LSH #241: Earth War Part 1

There is so much to like in #241, that’s hard to figure out where to start. First off, at long last we get to Earth War, and I’ve been really looking forward to this from the very moment we started this big Archive reread project! Earth War has always stood out to me as one of the very best stories in LSH history and judging by how damn good I felt as I was reading this, I think that opinion will stand.

First and foremost, the story here is done extremely well, much like the latter Great Darkness Saga. Paul is opening up a pretty epic story but in the first installment, he takes his time and draws you in. He gets you comfortable with the various characters and where they are in the story, all the while building up the tension and intrigue. That build isn’t slow either—the issue starts with a bang with the Legionnaires rushing off to Weber’s World and creates a sense of urgency and importance. That sense never leaves the story.

I love that we get the classic Jo / Mon / Dawny / Drake combo flying together at top speed. It’s an iconic image and this is the first time we see it presented as such.

I love the introduction of Schvaughn Erin. She is such an excellent addition to the LSH cast: her presence makes sense and she gives us the “new” perspective of an outsider entering this world. And despite her unfamiliarity with the LSH (and her youth), she is courageous, capable and clever throughout the story.

I love that Levitz just “goes for it” and brings in a wide array of LSH canon into the story. There are various facets from various eras at play here and for continuity purposes its like a dream: The Dominator peace talks, Weber’s World, Ambassador Relnic, the Khunds, etc. He’s been doing this gradually his entire run and here it just feels like the flood gates have opened. The Legion franchise is a vast universe and in this story right here, its as if that concept is no longer being implied or hinted at: it now simply is.

I like how Levitz is setting up the payoff for the returns of certain members later in the story: Brainy complains that Imra & Garth are married and gone, while Superboy, Tyroc and Karate Kid are all on detached service. He complains about the four others heading off on a diplomatic mission too, but the point is pretty potent in that the Legion is undermanned. It’s an idea we see again many times that immediately creates a need for a payoff, and Earth War has one of the best.

I like the confidence Levitz has gained to showcase the various Legionnaires as having distinct personalities that often clash. We’ve seen that all along during his run, but by now, as the tail end of it, we’re seeing him utilizing this in every interaction. This makes the book feel more real and more exciting. Mon condemns Wildfire for being reckless while they’re flying, while Wildfire brashly doesn’t care and blames the science police; meanwhile, Brainy is annoyed at being undermanned while Dirk breezily brushes it off to Brainy’s annoyance; subsequently, Jan and Brainy have a mini-argument over Brainy usurping his command. This is all within the first 6 or 7 pages and already we’re getting a plethora of full realized personalities. It just works.

I like how Levitz also starts to reveal to the readers that many of the things he’s been doing have been building to this: the Resource Raiders, the Khunds battle with Mon-El, (and soon, even the dangling Mordru plot from Shooter).

I love the way Levitz and Sherman show the Legionnaires using their powers. Element Lad shines especially, but each and every one of the Resource Raiders group get a moment in the sun, from Brainy’s plan to Cham & Vi hiding in the ore. Very well done, and a must have for LSH stories.

I also like that although this is part 1 of a larger story, it clearly has its own chapter structure. The leader of the Resource Raiders—a giant brain-like being—is the surprise enemy here, as others lay in wait. Ontirr is also first introduced, and with a stunning visual courtesy of Sherman. Life in the 30th Century feels very alien here and its very welcome.

All in all, a terrific issue on its own and an incredible start to Earth War. I’m anxiously awaiting each installment over the next few weeks as we review it together!

Back-up story
The issue also had a back-up story plotted by Levitz but written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Avril Jones & Danny Buladdi. It’s relatively straight-forward and somewhat forgettable in its pedestrian plot, but taken for what it is, it’s still somewhat entertaining. What I like is that the creators are smart to use the space to give two other Legionnnaires not in the first story something to do: Light Lass and Timberwolf. The main story features no less than 11 Legionnaires, with more to join over time. Here, we get what two other ones are doing. Levitz will use back-up stories to do the same thing in the future, during GDS and other long form stories.

#902042 - 07/06/16 07:20 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer

The artwork was a also step up from previous issues: very dynamic, with lots of shadowing to give that ominous feeling.
Really good point on the shadowing, which I also agree with. This was done to good effect and gave the story a strong ongoing sense of suspsense, which by looking at just the script might have felt more action-oriented than anything else.

#902089 - 07/06/16 01:44 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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241/Prologue to Earthwar

Let me start by saying this is one of the ugliest Legion covers ever. Once again, our heroes are beset by a giant brain with tentacles that seem to be getting too friendly with Cham. Then there is a bunch of other cute aliens in the background, overrunning the team, none of whom look like they could hold Ronn-Karr at bay, let alone Superboy. And where is Cham? In a boiling pot? Maybe the brain isn't getting friendly after all, but stirring?

Even the colors seem garish.

Fortunately, things improve on Page 1, where we have that iconic image of four Legionnaires zooming into the sky. (But, man, are they close together. Jo looks like he's riding on Wildfire's back.) This leads to a near-accident in which my man, Mon, gets to save the day for a hot, red-headed sci cop, but he gives her the brush off before she can tell him what she has to say. Heroes don't have time to be bedazzled by pretty ladies or even to wait for them to say thank you; it's off to the next crisis.

With Page 4, things slow down a bit for us to get some character interaction and to introduce interpersonal conflicts: Mon versus Wildfire, Brainy versus everybody . . . and Shvaughn once again gets the brush off!

It's interesting to read these scenes knowing what Brainy is secretly going through. He seems overly polite in his apology to Jan and pessimistic because the Legion is undermanned (even though that's never been a problem before). His wide grin at Superboy's arrival seems strangely forced. Something seems artificial about Brainy throughout this story. It's amazing what you notice in retrospect.

The Resource Raiders are used to good effect in this story. I just wish they didn't look like cuddly toys one might find on a six-year-old girl's dresser. Their appearance undercuts the real danger they pose and make our heroes seem like wusses for putting up with them so long.

At least the danger on Weber's World is much more convincing. The artificial world is shrouded in shadows and features a lizard-like security chief who hisses the letter "s" when he speaks. Ontiir may or may not be a good guy at this point, but he sure creates tension every time he appears.

Overall, the story gets high marks. It expands the Legion's universe by drawing together strands from throughout Levitz's tenure. It also expands the Legion's story possibilities by launching their first multi-part epic (the Pulsar Stargrave debacle notwithstanding). Each Legionnaire is used to good effect by a writer who knows their powers and personalities and uses each character to his or her full potential. Cham's solo outing is a highlight for me. Although his teammates worry for his safety, he shows no signs of concern--not even when he's surrounded by enemies. This recklessness seems at odds with the stoic sleuth introduced by Starlin two issues ago, but it does hint at Cham's future troubles on Khundia.

I'm not as thrilled with Earthwar as others are, though I appreciate what Levitz sought to accomplish. The story is grand in scope and ambitious, but sloppy in places. On Page 14, for example, one of the Resource Raiders tells the others to "Fire!" on the unconscious Cham, while the next page begins with an explosion. The abrupt shift to Weber's World made me think Wildfire and Mon had somehow arrived in time to rescue Cham. What's even more confusing is that the Raiders apparently didn't fire on Cham after all. (Or, if they did, they hit him with the power-neutralizing ray, but the reader has to guess this is what took place.)

The artwork also has its ups and downs. I like the moodiness of the Weber's World scenes best of all, and most of the faces are expressive and the action scenes dynamic throughout. But at times Sherman seems to be borrowing from manga or some other big-eyed form of art (Relnic on Page 8, Panel 5; Dawny on Page 15, Panel 6). The faces can also be inconsistent (Relnic in three different panels on Page 8).

Even so, I would take the Sherman/McLeod combination over Staton/Abel, who would become the regular art team in two more issues.

If I were grading this issue, I'd give it an A for effort and a B+ for execution.



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#902092 - 07/06/16 02:09 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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241/My Brother's Keeper

As Cobie says, this is a pedestrian story which gives Light Lass and Timber Wolf something to do. It's mainly forgettable, though there are a couple of things I like:

-- Arvell Jones' depiction of Ayla, especially on the splash page and Page 3, both of which feature nuanced and lovely expressions.

-- The use of the government-controlled weather to track down Lightning Lord--a throwaway line at the beginning of the story that isn't so throwaway.

Two main things I didn't like:

-- The histrionic police commissioner. He made a good point about Ayla being too emotionally involved and even about the Legion sending two of its "lesser lights" (heh) to deal with the problem. Kupperberg and Levitz didn't need to work so hard to turn him into a colossal jerk.

-- In a similar vein, Mekt spouts typical super-villain gibberish such as "dolt," "fool" and "I will brook no further insolence." He even fries one of his own henchmen when the latter suggests Ayla be killed. But, hey, why bother with subtlety in the bad guy when the main purpose of this story is to watch Brin bust up a bar?


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#902116 - 07/06/16 10:44 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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The back-up story was heavy-handed unless, as HWW said, you like bar fights. It certainly wasn't the bucolic farming planet that we'll get in the Baxter series!

I did like that it showed Mekt's drive to be the leader as well as his devotion (of a sort) to Ayla, two themes we'll see again and again.

Originally Posted by Cobalt Kid


I love that Levitz just “goes for it” and brings in a wide array of LSH canon into the story. There are various facets from various eras at play here and for continuity purposes its like a dream: The Dominator peace talks, Weber’s World, Ambassador Relnic, the Khunds, etc. He’s been doing this gradually his entire run and here it just feels like the flood gates have opened. The Legion franchise is a vast universe and in this story right here, its as if that concept is no longer being implied or hinted at: it now simply is.


This is what makes Earthwar so exciting for me - so many different characters/races at once and the full (almost) Legion really give the sense of a big universe.

Quote
I like how Levitz is setting up the payoff for the returns of certain members later in the story: Brainy complains that Imra & Garth are married and gone, while Superboy, Tyroc and Karate Kid are all on detached service. He complains about the four others heading off on a diplomatic mission too, but the point is pretty potent in that the Legion is undermanned. It’s an idea we see again many times that immediately creates a need for a payoff, and Earth War has one of the best.


I didn't pick up on that foreshadowing! Good point.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders

It's interesting to read these scenes knowing what Brainy is secretly going through. He seems overly polite in his apology to Jan and pessimistic because the Legion is undermanned (even though that's never been a problem before). His wide grin at Superboy's arrival seems strangely forced. Something seems artificial about Brainy throughout this story. It's amazing what you notice in retrospect.


That's the right term for Brainy's behaviour: artificial. Something does seem off and it's hard to identify - but I'd think a regular Legion reader would have sensed something didn't quite fit. It adds to the undercurrent of bad things brewing.


Quote
The Resource Raiders are used to good effect in this story. I just wish they didn't look like cuddly toys one might find on a six-year-old girl's dresser. Their appearance undercuts the real danger they pose and make our heroes seem like wusses for putting up with them so long.


They do look a bit like JarJar Binks.


Quote
At least the danger on Weber's World is much more convincing. The artificial world is shrouded in shadows and features a lizard-like security chief who hisses the letter "s" when he speaks. Ontiir may or may not be a good guy at this point, but he sure creates tension every time he appears.


He does! And it just struck me how clever it was to make him reptilitan (cold-blooded?) and speak like a snake, given our supposedly innate human aversion to snakes.


Quote
On Page 14, for example, one of the Resource Raiders tells the others to "Fire!" on the unconscious Cham, while the next page begins with an explosion. The abrupt shift to Weber's World made me think Wildfire and Mon had somehow arrived in time to rescue Cham. What's even more confusing is that the Raiders apparently didn't fire on Cham after all. (Or, if they did, they hit him with the power-neutralizing ray, but the reader has to guess this is what took place.)


And I initially thought that explosion was Cham being shot. There's a term for this sort of scene change in cinema, but I can't think of it. It would have been more effective if we'd seen some blast coming out of a Raider's gun, but not yet reaching Cham - then shift to the explosion scene.

However, the power-neutralizing ray was a rather lazy way to neutralize Cham. Was it for Durlans only or any power? Did Superboy really know what he was doing when he simply reversed the gun's action?




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#902188 - 07/07/16 07:29 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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You may be thinking of "jump cut" as the cinema term. It's an effective technique of getting from one scene to the next, but the writer has to play fair with the viewers. Levitz does not play fair here. He leads us to believe Cham is going to be shot, but that doesn't happen for whatever reason. The explosion comes across as a blatant attempt to shock the reader.


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#902189 - 07/07/16 07:56 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I actually thought it was an effective use of the technique. Considering the pace of most of the issue, I think he was trying different things to get across the urgency of the story.

But I can see how it might be jarring for some too.

#902241 - 07/07/16 03:45 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I think that's what Levitz was trying to do, Cobie, but he doesn't have enough skills as a writer yet to pull it off. Like Cramey, I thought the explosion was meant to indicate Cham getting shot. It's just a very awkwardly placed transition.


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#902556 - 07/11/16 08:54 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#242 Startarget: Earth by Paul Levitz, art by James Sherman & Bob McLeod, Colors by Cory Adams

[Linked Image]

On Weber's World, Wildfire confronts Relnic, Ontiir and the other ambassadors over the deteriorating security situation. Ultra Boy thinks he's a bit rough on Relnic, Dawnstar defends him. Another bomb goes off, but Jo manage to detect it and rescue some ambassadors just in time, who state that Ontiir had suggested they walk along that path.

Relnic announces that war has broken out, but he didn't hear the detail that it's not the Dominators but a Khund invasion of Earth. The Legionnaires and Earth forces fight, but are overwhelmed; Brainiac 5 calls the Legionnaires back to their ship to announce that they can't win. Element Lad, angry with another usurp of his authority, refuses to give up and decides to take the war to the Khund's own world, sending Brainy off to Weber's World to seek help.

Weber's World has left the galaxy for neutral space. The Legionnaires discuss their growing concerns. The Dominators arrive, with Legionnaires guiding their ship to avoid any mishap.

Element Lad's team arrives on Khundia to seek Warlord Garlak. After considerable resistance, they succeed. Jan threatens to kill Garlak, who suddenly goes blank. Superboy detects a coded hyper-beam, so Jan blocks Garlak's ears with telepathic plugs. It doesn't work, Garlak becomes entirely unresponsive. Other Khunds threaten the team as they fly off to trace the hyperbeam's source. A group of hooded figures, observing the action on Khundia, wonder if their desire to conquer Earth has made them underestimate the Legion.

On Weber's World, a wayward truck tries to take out Jo, without success. Relnic tells the suspicious Legionnaires that trust is important; Dawnstar senses someone is watching her.

As the other team traces the hyperbeam from Khundia, they discover it's coming from Weber's World.

Comments:

This issue deepens and complicates the story with some unexpected events. War does break out, but it's Khunds attacking Earth. It looks like the Black Circle is controlling the Khunds, but how is Weber's World involved? At this point in the story, it looks like it could be Ontiir and Relnic working together. Given the number of robot impersonators we've had recently, I suppose a first time reader might suspect that one or the other of them is a robot.

The story alternates effectively between the two Legion teams, and is about to bring them together at the end. The stage is set for things to really heat up in the next issue!

This isn't the first time that the Dominators have parlayed with the U.P. and, while they're evidently a military threat, they don't come across like the A-class badasses that they'll be in the 5YL series.

Brainy continues to clash with Element Lad and it's good to see Jan assert his authority. There doesn't appear to be any communication between this team and Weber's World – no doubt the Earth-bound team had their hands full with the Khund's drone attack, but perhaps Jan was just sending Brainy to Weber's World to get him out of the way. Jan's also very assertive when confronting Garlak. This time, it's he who is the moral authority, defending Earth, not Superboy.

I'd love to know why the Legion sent a team to the Matriarchy of Taltar for help.

Dawnstar doesn't do as much as I would have liked. She senses the Dominators approaching, she senses "someone" is watching her. Should she have some idea of who/what is watching her - or does she have to know what she's tracking to identify it? I wonder if she couldn't have tracked the bombs, how they got to where they were and who put them there. Her abilities seem to vary with the needs of the story.

Ontiir is pretty creepy, not only in looks but the way he suddenly appears and compliments the Legionnaires: at once obsequious and threatening.

One thing that struck me was that Relnic is the only human-looking ambassador – but there are no alien-looking Legionnaires (yet). I wonder which planets all these sentients represent.

The cover of this issue isn't filled with silly monsters like the previous one, but it's pretty hectic. While it does promise a lot of action, I think the opening page with the four Legionnaires confronting Relnic is much more striking.

Two minor points: I don't really get the title, Star target? I keep reading Stargate, which doesn't help. Secondly, our first view of Khundia is amazingly pedestrian. It looks like a high end shopping district with good lighting, a woman with earphones, another carrying paper bags of groceries, a kid on a bicycle.


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#902617 - 07/12/16 02:00 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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242/Startarget: Earth

These re-reads have increased my respect for Sherman as an interior artist, especially when he was paired with the right inker. As a cover artist, though, he's a wash. This cover is indeed messy with Legionnaires going in every direction and mini "Saturns" covering the scene. At first glance, there doesn't appear to be any order or organization. If I study the cover, I can make out what appears to be an order for my eye to follow, but I have to work at it.

Simplicity, my friends. Simplicity.

Speaking of inkers, I don't think Rubinstein was a good match for Sherman, though he did wonders for Starlin.

The interior art is much better. It begins with four Legionnaires staring the reader in the face and Wildfire slamming his fist on the table. The faces of each Legionnaire are distinct, and such attention to detail remains a treat throughout the story. (Another example: the various shots of Weber's World, such as on p. 9.)

The story shifts into high gear, with several villains using each other, dividing the Legionnaires on two fronts. The stakes are very high, and passions escalate, as well.

The tight plot moves the story forward, yet there are plenty of excellent character bits, such as Dawny defending Drake as leader and Jo lashing out because Drake led the charge against him in 239. Jan comes into his own as a leader, and his threat to kill Garlak carries real weight for those of us who remember 211.

On the other hand, Brainy's odd behavior continues to make sense only in hindsight. At the time, I was troubled by Brainy calling the Legionnaires in from a fight just to tell them earth is doomed. They should have been troubled, too. Yet they brush right past him and send him off on a fool's errand. Some friends.

It's also odd that Jan dispatches Brainy in an auxiliary craft to Weber's World, yet Jan and the rest make it there before he does.

Speaking of which, my main complaint about this story has to do with dramatic expedience at the expense of logic. The Legionnaires go to Khundia in a Legion cruiser yet depart from Khundia and fly under their own steam to Weber's World--apparently crossing intergalactic distances. Superboy could do that, but Jan, Gim, and Dirk?

Also, Dawny's powers do indeed change to fit the needs of the story. Here she seems to have taken over Saturn Girl's role of extrasensory perception.

Yes, our first look at Khundia is pedestrian and very '70s.

My only other complaint about this story is that there's not enough of it. When I first read it, I was just starting to get into it when it ended and we were treated to yet another lackluster backup. The expanded size of the comic had a lot of pluses, but its limitations were beginning to show.



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#902728 - 07/13/16 10:46 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Lackluster backup for sure. It was an unusual group, characters we didn't see together as friends and, for once, Jeckie played a crucial role.

The police corruption echoes the concerns of the Legionnaires on Weber's World, suspecting the U.P. reps themselves of sabotage: not all officials are on the side of the angels. However, no link is made to the bigger story.

This tale could also have tied into Element Lad's remark about seeking help from the Matriarchy of Taltar: a team of female Legionnaires sent to Taltar could have gotten involved in some mess there (which prevented Taltar's assistance to Earth) and are now out celebrating a difficult mission. In that case, the story should come after Earthwar - would you be out on the town with an impending invasion?

The art was pretty rough, which didn't help.


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#902779 - 07/14/16 05:24 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I love the idea of four female Legionnaires being sent to Taltar and then celebrating some victory afterwards. Such an idea would have tied in greatly with Earthwar.

Even if Levitz and Kupperberg just wanted to show the girls having a night out, that would have been fine. But the story is very pedestrian and rough. It reads like a first draft. I don't have the issue in front of me, but I can't recall Nura using her power even once. After the first "solo" mission, we see where the story is going and all tension evaporates. It was obvious that the deputy chief was involved in the crimes; he's the only significant character who's not a Legionnaire.

(This reminds me of the scene in "Throw Momma from the Train," in which Billy Crystal's character, a writing teacher, criticizes Danny DeVito's character for writing a whodunnit with only one suspect.)

Once again, the representation of the future doesn't seem so futuristic.

The story had potential. It would have been great to see four Legionnaires who don't interact much do something together, but they don't really do much--except squabble in the typical way comic book characters did in those days.


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#903103 - 07/18/16 05:56 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy & the LSH #242: Earth War Part 2

Earth War continues in its second issue and my enthusiasm for the story has only become enhanced as it goes on. To me, all of the various things I said I “loved” or “liked” from the first issue continue in the 2nd, and in spades.

The story opens with a really dramatic splash page with Wildfire hammering his fist down and demanding the UP Ambassadors start giving the Legion some answers, with Mon, Jo and Dawny flanking him. This image has always been etched in my memory and it’s a classic one in Legion lore. It also is a great example of when Sherman’s art really just gets it right. He’s a unique artist and fans are subjective on their level of enjoyment in his linework. I generally love his artwork, and this issue in particular showcases it.

We also get right into some of the inner tensions that exist within the Legion, which Levitz has done such an amazing job establishing throughout his run. The Legion feels real and full of personality. Ultra Boy questions Wildfire’s harshness so Dawny defends Drake; Jo then reveals some animosity he still has from issues earlier where Wildfire hunted him down and makes a good point. None are wrong here and it works. Later, the Element Lad / Brainy tensions continue as Brainy boldly overextends his authority.

This scene leads to Jan taking full control of the situation, taking charge and leading his group headlong towards the Khunds. It’s a great Jan moment and perhaps his first “real” moment since the Roxxas story almost 40 issues ago. It’s also the first glimpse at what Jan will become under Levitz’s pen during his second run, as the quintessential great Legion Leader. Later in the issue we get another Jan scene and this one is more reminiscent of the last Jan issue, as here he threatens to kill Garlak. I had forgotten about this and it caught me off guard! One could read that Jan was still struggling with some very personal issues and its somewhat alarming. Another reading is that this is simply a threat and a bluff, which ultimately works. But its definitely ambiguous. Is Jan really a loose cannon at this point? As I stated a few sentences earlier, he eventually comes across as one of the most level-headed Legionnaires during Levitz’s second run. This feels more like a regression than getting to that point.

I love the way this story continues to add things to build the grandiose scale. For example, Colossal Boy appears early in the issue, marking the 14th Legionnaire featured in the story thus far (if you count Light Lass and Timberwolf being seen in the back-up last issue). Gradually, all of the Legionnaires will be featured. Meanwhile, the Matriarchy of Taltar is referenced, as Levitz continues to showcase the huge scale of the Legion’s universe—and he does it with all preexisting continuity.

At the start of this issue, the Khundian Invasion of Earth has begun. War is here and in full force, meaning all the tension from the prior issue has exploded. The stakes are incredibly high but unlike in the Legion’s past, we’ll have issues to truly feel it. On the flip side, this story does a good job at having another layer unraveled each issue of the story. Much like last issue we learned the Resource Raiders were only a precursor to the Khunds, here we learn that the Khunds are also being manipulated into war—by the Dark Circle. (Though I don’t think the DC are actually named yet).

Still a ton to love here. I’m anxious to continue onwards!

#903118 - 07/18/16 06:39 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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The Back-Up

Regarding the back-up story (or perhaps “second story” is more appropriate considering its length), I found it a little bit of a letdown. And that may just be because we’re in the middle of Earth War and I’m feeling a ton of excitement and enthusiasm for the larger epic, so to suddenly be hit with a slower paced story with the stakes considerably lower is a little like throwing water on a roaring flame.

“Girl’s Night Out” stories can be a lot of fun, and have become so common place over the decades that they are basically their own drama. While some of these stories can be memorable, they can also be overly ‘cutesy’. Or more likely in the late 1970’s, just plain old chauvinistic by their very nature—such as when the high ranking SP makes no less than 3 comments about how beautiful and charming the girls are.

What I really notice about this story is that it’s a huge missed opportunity. Rather than all of that tired ‘same old’ Girls Night Out stuff, Levitz and company should have used this story to showcase four female Legionnaires, which we aren’t seeing in the main story, and plant it firmly in the middle of Earth War! And the perfect opportunity was right there: why not have Shadow Lass, Light Lass, Dream Girl and Princess Projectra visiting the Matriarchy of Taltar? It would make perfect sense! A crew of female-only Legionnaires go to Taltar, thereby explaining one of the random throwaway lines of the story. It would also give the four Legionnaires something substantial to contribute instead of the throwaway corrupt cop / stick-up crew story that we got.

A Personal Anecdote
It’s worth mentioning something personal about this story on Legion World, as there’s a very LMB element to my enjoyment of this story. Earth War, and in fact, this entire era, were among the last issues I needed to complete my LSH collection a few years ago. (Though its still not 100% completed—those damn Silver Age issues). And I was able to do it with none other than the icon himself, Poverty Lad! In what I think was our third meet-up (or was it the first?), Pov took me to a comic book store in central or northern Connecticut somewhere and we did a little comic book hunting together. He’d already long completed his collection, so I was able to take full advantage of their S&LSH collection…and they had like every issue! So I picked up no less than 25-30 LSH stories all for about $1.00 each. In fact, all of my Earth War issues were bought that day for exactly $1.00 each. It was a great, great day for LSH comic book collecting!

This was probably about 10-11 years ago. (I think?).

So cheers Pov!

#903119 - 07/18/16 06:40 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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In reading your comments FC & HWW, I notice you had the same exact reaction on the back-up! Great minds!

In fact, it's so obvious in hindsight. Truly one of those missed opportunities we talk about in these rereads!

#903120 - 07/18/16 06:49 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Earthwar for all of $5. What a bargain!


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#903123 - 07/18/16 07:31 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Yeah, I know, right?!

And I think I got like 20% off because I bought $40 or $50 of comics. So possibly even less!

#903128 - 07/18/16 10:32 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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I've still never gotten to read Earthwar. I hate that the real Archives ended before they got there. I'd rather read it as a high-quality reprint than old faded floppies.


Still "Lardy" to my friends!
#903146 - 07/18/16 03:44 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Yeah, I can really see what you mean Lardy. Better paper and colors could help certain scenes pop like they probably did when the issues came out. Ontirr, for instance, is always well depicted and I feel that added pop would have a big effect on his panels.

#903242 - 07/19/16 02:07 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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#243 Earth's Last Stand by Paul Levitz, art by Joe Staton & Jack Abel, colours by Cory Adams

[Linked Image]

The story opens with Shvaughn Erin (now named) watching screens of Weber's World, the Khund drone invasion of Earth's space and the Legion team approaching Weber's World. We're told that she holds the answer to why all this is happening, but doesn't know it. Shvaughn recaps, to herself and the reader, what's happened so far and reveals her important message: that one of the Legion's old foes has escaped. It's as if somebody planned all this, she thinks.

On Weber's World, the Dominators are attacked the moment they emerge from their ship; Mon-el and Ultra Boy intercept the missiles as Wildfire and Dawnstar chase the snipers. The snipers escape Wildfire's energy cage and vanish as Dawnstar grabs them.

Dominators and U.P. reps bicker over the situation; Ontiir suggests that all the trouble started with the Legionnaires' arrival. However, the Dominators trust the Legionnaires and conclude that someone is provoking war. The team from Khundia arrives and Superboy confirms this. He proposes that everyone split into two teams to find the puppet master and defend Earth, but the Dominators only want to continue negotiations as planned.

In Earth space, the Khund forces are triumphing but a Legion ship blocks them from the planet. The team from the Matriarchy of Taltar has returned to fight the Khunds on their own, but fail. Only Vi and Dream Girl, piloting the ship, remain.

Brainiac 5 approaches Weber's World, grumbling. As he contacts Wildfire to announce his approach, he disappears into a black hole. Mon-el, Superboy and Ultra Boy fail to detect any trace of him and say it's as though he disappeared “by magic”.

Negotiations begin between Dominators and the U.P., but a hostile Relnic abruptly ends them.

The Legionnaires trace the Khundian hyper-beam to the conference room, but have to fight off Ontiir's security robots. Suddenly, the robots vanish.

Khundish armies land on Earth and defeat assorted forces including the Subs. The Warlord communicates victory to his overlords, the Dark Circle. While the situation looks hopeless, four former Legionnaires approach Earth: Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel.

Comments:

Things go from bad to worse: although the plot does not advance much in terms of events, it deepens in mystery and complications.

It's confirmed that the Dark Circle are controlling the Khunds, but there's somebody else in the mix – Shvaughn's escaped foe of the Legion, the “puppet master”. Puppet master makes me think of the Time Trapper, although he may have gotten that name in some later story. The hint that magic could be involved would have gone right by me initially.

It's a chilling moment when Ontiir tries to lay the blame for the sabotage on the Legion and Relnic explodes in anger. The Dominators are actually the reasonable ones in this drama, expressing faith in the Legion. It's a reminder of an earlier story in which the Legion guarded a Dominator delegation, but strikes me as very ironic given the eventual events of 5YL.

Grumbling Brainy is almost comedic amid all these dark events.

It's good to see the lovely Shvaughn and the valiant Subs in action, even if they are defeated.

Half the Legion went to Taltar? While it's a quick way to bring a lot more Legionnaires into the story, it's the one aspect of this issue that rings false. Why send so many to appeal for help?

Are Violet and Dream Girl going to pull off some Hail Mary pass and defeat the Khunds?

Seeing the four retired Legionnaires on their way to Earth, you figure it's the Cavalry arriving. While it seems impossible that they can do much against the powerful Khunds/Dark Circle, I want to cheer on their heroism. And, because it's comics, I know they're going to pull off some amazing, last minute save. It's a great way to end the issue.

The change in artist is disappointing but I won't complain about Staton's depictions. The cover, however, is really cluttered again - maybe it's just the way covers were drawn in the 70s.


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#903267 - 07/20/16 01:04 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Superboy & the LSH #243: Earth War Part 3

Earth War rages on in #243 as the story now hits that critical “bridge” point where things have to start changing and building to something in the midway point. And we get a lot of that here, which serves to introduce additional elements in the story that amp up the epic scale even further.

The issue presents a consistent increase in the cast from start to finish. First, we get all the Legionnaires we haven’t seen thus far and those from the first issue that aren’t accounted for: Cos, Cham, Tinya, Jeckie, Thom, Nura, Vi and Brin, as they unsuccessfully assist in Earth’s defense. Some of these Legionnaires were on the Taltar mission an issue earlier that was off-panel. I note, though, that Shady hasn’t appeared yet, the only active Legionnaire not yet in the Earth War proper story. Later in the issue, as the Khunds now start to outright invade and overtake Earth, we get the Legion of Substitute Heroes, who have a heroic return to defend the mother planet. This starts a series of Subs appearances over the next 10 years or so that basically amount to: when the Subs are called in, shit has really hit the fan. The Subs have a good moment where they are courageous but ultimately they too are overtaken (though big props to Color Kid who has a great moment here—perhaps his second greatest after the big save in Adventure #351). And finally, in what surely must have felt like a huge cheer-worthy moment when this issue came out, we get the return of the retired, married Legionnaires: Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy. If readers didn’t know things were ultra-serious and bleak as hell, they get the picture now! While they really shine next issue, the final pages featuring them feels both heroic and angst-ridden, as the odds they face feels insurmountable. The continued additions all story serve to make the story feel grandiose and epic. It’s just awesome, frankly.

The story also has lots of other story moments that bring the plot along the eventual “Big Bad” though I admit it is starting to take a little while to get there. But between Relnic, the Dominators, Ontirr, the Dark Circle revealed (to the readers), Shvaughn Erin, Brainy disappearing, and the Khunds, all the different pieces are being utilized. What I like are the little things we see in these scenes: The Dominators trust the Legionnaires because of prior stories. Yet the Dominators require the Legionnaires to stay on Weber’s World—a political problem that is affecting war strategy, much like all war stories have (real and fictional). I like Relnic being both diplomatic at times and then overly frustrated and aggressive at others.

Shvaughn is shown for the second time and its great to see her more. I’m amazed she wasn’t more of an instant hit and is basically forgotten about until Levitz comes back for his second run.

We also see the Dominators in full and they are still very much looking like their Silver Age selves. Todd McFarlane hasn’t given them their quintessential fangs yet in Invasion, which will become their trademark and give them the evil look they have in TMK.

The other non-story big change in this issue is the mid-story shift in art which fans have always complained about. I had even heard about it talked about on LW for years before I actually read this story the first time. And the shift from Sherman to Staton & Abel is significant. Staton & Abel do an acceptable job, but it just doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor that Sherman’s art had, or which Grell and Cockrum and almost all the Legion artists have had for some time. It’s a shame. In some panels it feels very flat, as the backgrounds are almost largely blank. I do note, however, that in some places, they do a phenomenal job. The splash on pg 18 featuring the full invasion of Earth by the Khunds is incredibly dynamic.

I also note this issue marks the DC wide scaling back down to normal sized issues, which allows the main story to be a few pages longer and eliminates the need for a back-up. At this point, that is preferred by me for the main story as I don’t want to be distracted by a back-up mid-Earth War.

All in all, I’m still enjoying the story immensely. The art is a shame, but its not terrible and not enough to hurt my enthusiasm. I’m anxious now for the showdown with the Dark Circle and then the revelation of the biggest bad of them all.

#903268 - 07/20/16 01:06 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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FC, totally agree on the ending. As unlikely as it is that these four former Legionnaires will save the day, it's still a terrific ending to the issue. It leaves me itching to read the next one!

#903287 - 07/20/16 06:00 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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243

I actually like this cover. It boasts an excellent design, with the viewer's eye being drawn in by Superboy's punch, then following in a circle from the robot's head, down to Cos, around to Mon, Dirk, and Drake, and back up to Superboy. The background is busy but subdued with thin lines which do not compete with the foreground action. Even the colors are complementary and vibrant.

The colors and the panel with the Subs do give the cover a retro feel which works against the modern approach of Grell's previous covers. But design-wise, it's a vast improvement over the previous two covers, in my opinion.

The story is full of surprises and moves the Earthwar along in substantial ways. The Dominators finally arrive, show they trust the Legionnaires, and make the sensible demand that the heroes stay to safeguard the conference. The war on earth fares badly for our heroes and, despite their triumphant return on the cover, the Subs cannot make any difference. However, the arrival of the married ex-Legionnaires is indeed a rah-rah moment.

This very good chapter could be a little better, though. For one thing, there is too much exposition, both in Shvaughn's three-page monologue and in Superboy's recap for the Dominators. This is all essential information to keep readers up to speed, but we can get there quicker. Shvaughn's scene, for example, could probably be cut in half.

You're right, Cobie, that Shvaughn wasn't a big deal at the time. She was just someone who had been brought in to deliver the Legionnaires a message and to draw out the mystery of who was behind it all a little longer. I'm actually surprised she was given a name in this issue as she didn't seem that important a character.

However, Shvaughn does show some initiative by deciding to go and help fight the Khunds. Dawnstar, our other major female character, goes from a Wildfire supporter last issue to being a full-out mother hen. She worries that Drake’s power will kill the fleeing would-be assassins and then wonders if his energy cage wasn’t strong enough to hold them. Drake’s annoyance with her is understandable.

Most of the other Legionnaires serve the needs of the story, and that’s fine. Too many character bits would have distracted from the high stakes and fast-moving plot. The outer space battle is particularly well done—brief, but it gets its point across. Brainy’s disappearance adds to the mystery, and, yes, the “magic” clue went right by me, too.

However, one aspect about this issue bothers me, which is not really the story's fault or the creators', but a trope of superhero stories in general. Lydda is shot point blank by a Khund warrior, yet she survives. The other Subs are similarly dispatched by weapons that turn out to be non-lethal. Even Nura and Vi miraculously survive when their cruiser is blasted by a Khund warship. It’s awful nice of the Khunds to play by the Legionnaires’ rules and not kill anyone.

So, in raising the stakes in his Earthwar, Levitz has created a puzzle with many twists and turns but hasn’t really considered (or been allowed to consider) the ramifications of earth going to war with a belligerent enemy or three. We will later see some ramifications in terms of earth’s financial collapse, but the war itself is presented like any other superhero battle, and, for me, that works against the believability factor. I was 14 when this issue was published, and I knew damn well that young people died in war. I knew damn well that when ships blow up, not everyone makes it out alive (even though our heroes go to great lengths to explain that no one dies when they blow up ships).

At this point, I was truly torn between the childhood fantasy neverland the Legion represented and what I thought the Legion could be. Some recent stories had dealt with more adult themes. This one, complete with its retro cover, seems to thrust the Legionnaires back into that childhood box where Everything is Safe and Nothing Bad Ever Happens.

I’m not saying our heroes should have been slaughtered—I had also seen too many movies where the realities of war were shown in graphic detail—but more thought should have been given to how our heroes would survive and what traumas—physical, emotional, and spiritual—they may have to deal with because of these events. To sidestep this reality does readers—who grow up believing in and being inspired by superheroes—a disservice, I think.


A few odds and ends:

-- Jan, who had been so prominent in the last two issues, virtually disappears from this one. He’s in maybe three panels, and, in one, he’s wearing the godawful green costume from the tabloid’s text feature. It’s nice that Legionnaires have time to update their fashion during a crisis.

--I like Ambassador Relnic as a character and was disappointed that he turned out to be a villain (sort of) in this issue. Like R.J. Brande, he’s a mature figure who serves as something of a mentor or colleague to the Legion without interfering with their autonomy or agency. I liken him to George Martin in his role as producer of the Beatles.

--I’m not sure why the Subs were brought back in their old costumes, but this also adds to the retro feel of the story. It’s almost as if DC made a conscious decision to retreat from the more adult themes and depictions of the last few years.

--The letters page of this issue contains a brief letter from erstwhile LW fan icon Thomas Fatsi.







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#903453 - 07/21/16 10:59 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by Cobalt Kid

Earth War rages on in #243 as the story now hits that critical “bridge” point where things have to start changing and building to something in the midway point.


"Bridge" is a good term to describe this issue. I was searching for something like that.

Quote
This starts a series of Subs appearances over the next 10 years or so that basically amount to: when the Subs are called in, shit has really hit the fan.


Interesting that the Subs will be repeatedly used that way. Has it ever ended? Geoff Johns had Brainy bring them in as an almost last-ditch attempt to free Legionnaires held by the Justice League.

Quote
Shvaughn is shown for the second time and its great to see her more. I’m amazed she wasn’t more of an instant hit and is basically forgotten about until Levitz comes back for his second run.


So true! She has a lot more going for her as a character than Dvron. The SP officers so far have been pretty much nameless, faceless, interchangeable figures.

Quote
We also see the Dominators in full and they are still very much looking like their Silver Age selves. Todd McFarlane hasn’t given them their quintessential fangs yet in Invasion, which will become their trademark and give them the evil look they have in TMK.


It's pretty strange seeing this version of the Dominators. Between now and their more menacing version, you figure there's an untold story of a coup and/or some serious genetic re-engineering on Elia.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders

The colors and the panel with the Subs do give the cover a retro feel which works against the modern approach of Grell's previous covers. But design-wise, it's a vast improvement over the previous two covers, in my opinion.


I'd agree with that. I guess it's the Subs panel that strikes me as cluttered; it's such a shift from the primary panel.

Quote
Dawnstar, our other major female character, goes from a Wildfire supporter last issue to being a full-out mother hen. She worries that Drake’s power will kill the fleeing would-be assassins and then wonders if his energy cage wasn’t strong enough to hold them. Drake’s annoyance with her is understandable.


That's a funny bit of character development. She's sort of gone from student to teacher. It also illustrates their growing relationship. I wonder how many other Legionnaires would speak to Wildfire like that, without provoking more than annoyance.



Quote
So, in raising the stakes in his Earthwar, Levitz has created a puzzle with many twists and turns but hasn’t really considered (or been allowed to consider) the ramifications of earth going to war with a belligerent enemy or three. We will later see some ramifications in terms of earth’s financial collapse, but the war itself is presented like any other superhero battle, and, for me, that works against the believability factor. I was 14 when this issue was published, and I knew damn well that young people died in war. I knew damn well that when ships blow up, not everyone makes it out alive (even though our heroes go to great lengths to explain that no one dies when they blow up ships).

At this point, I was truly torn between the childhood fantasy neverland the Legion represented and what I thought the Legion could be. Some recent stories had dealt with more adult themes. This one, complete with its retro cover, seems to thrust the Legionnaires back into that childhood box where Everything is Safe and Nothing Bad Ever Happens.

I’m not saying our heroes should have been slaughtered—I had also seen too many movies where the realities of war were shown in graphic detail—but more thought should have been given to how our heroes would survive and what traumas—physical, emotional, and spiritual—they may have to deal with because of these events. To sidestep this reality does readers—who grow up believing in and being inspired by superheroes—a disservice, I think.


It's certainly a dilemma for the story teller. The impact of war isn't really felt; you see more injuries in a football game. We aren't really into the "day in the life" type issues yet, but it could have been a good addition to Earthwar to have an issue at the end just showing the effect on the different Legionnaires.


Quote
-- Jan, who had been so prominent in the last two issues, virtually disappears from this one. He’s in maybe three panels, and, in one, he’s wearing the godawful green costume from the tabloid’s text feature. It’s nice that Legionnaires have time to update their fashion during a crisis.


laugh missed that!

Quote
--I like Ambassador Relnic as a character and was disappointed that he turned out to be a villain (sort of) in this issue. Like R.J. Brande, he’s a mature figure who serves as something of a mentor or colleague to the Legion without interfering with their autonomy or agency. I liken him to George Martin in his role as producer of the Beatles.


After Marla acting like a skunk, it is disappointing. Don't trust anyone over 30 in the 30th century.

Quote
--The letters page of this issue contains a brief letter from erstwhile LW fan icon Thomas Fatsi.


Which makes it an even greater issue!



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#903471 - 07/22/16 04:11 AM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer

Originally Posted by me
--I like Ambassador Relnic as a character and was disappointed that he turned out to be a villain (sort of) in this issue. Like R.J. Brande, he’s a mature figure who serves as something of a mentor or colleague to the Legion without interfering with their autonomy or agency. I liken him to George Martin in his role as producer of the Beatles.


After Marla acting like a skunk, it is disappointing. Don't trust anyone over 30 in the 30th century.


And, if they're over 50, run for the hills!


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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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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.





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#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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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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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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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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#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.
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Has the Archive 17 thread disappeared? I see it listed two threads below this one.


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#931086 - 06/07/17 12:02 PM Re: Re-reading the Legion: Archives Volume 14 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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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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Always causing confusion, even with the best intentions -- I really AM Ayla Ranzz! lol LightningLass

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