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#933779 - 07/14/17 05:00 AM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Wow, 284 has already generated a lot of interesting and thoughtful commentary from Annfie and thoth.

Levitz II begins with a tale that broadens the Legion's scope to almost biblical proportions. So much happens here, and so many different characters are involved that the tone of the series feels markedly different from what has gone before. I can't help feeling that Levitz was watching "Hill Street Blues," the groundbreaking police drama which premiered only a year before. Like "HSB," Levitz introduces multiple plot lines and hints at future developments. He expands the relationships of the characters and incorporates personal dramas to create a more realistic sense of interaction among the Legionnaires than had been attempted before.


(Much-belated) thanks for the kind words, He Who.

And thanks, too, for bringing up HSB. The impact that show had on pop culture across the board cannot be underestimated. It's also no coincidence that it was one of, if not the most, ethnically diverse TV shows of its time, what with diversity being such a strong theme of the Legion. Also signficant were the every-woman quality of Officer (later Sgt.) Lucy Bates (Betty Thomas), and the casting of the dark-haired, somewhat exotic-looking Veronica Hamel as D.A. Joyce Davenport when just a couple years earlier the role would probably have gone to a blue-eyed blonde. And to digress for a moment, I have particularly warm memories of watching reruns of the most recent HSB seasons with my mother as a grade-schooler during early-80s summer vacations to the US -- good times, and very edifying to my young mind (oh, and we'd always laugh every time Belker would show up in the lunch room and unwrap one of his smelly sandwiches.)

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Not all the interactions are successful. Wildfire and Sun Boy come off as incredibly immature during the administrative meeting. Their behavior may have been intended to remind us that these heroes are still young people and can be prone to juvenile behavior. (Some of the other Legionnaires laughed at Wildfire's comeuppance.) The scene, which also illustrates how little control Garth has over these proceedings, is well-intended, I think, but comes across as too Marvel-like in its execution.


Ironically, by that time, Marvel had, by that time, refined and transcended its own cliches, thanks to an influx of more thoughtful creators such as Walt Simonson, Jo Duffy, John Byrne, and Chris Claremont, among others.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
The Blok of this story is almost unrecognizable from the lovable and innocent hunk o' rock he becomes. He comes across as severe and stern, almost sinister. He is more than willing to allow Organus to die and expresses disapproval of the Legion code. But his primary function in this story is to serve as the newbie, the stand-in for the reader. The Legionnaires have to explain things to him, such as reserve status and the membership limit, that more experienced Legionnaires would already know. While some of this information is necessary, it comes across as clunky exposition and makes Blok look as if he hasn't done his homework.


I think Levitz never quite got a handle on Blok, even with 7 years to do so. I wouldn't be surprised if part of the reason Tellus was created was so that the "wide-eyed-innocent" role could be filled by a character with far less backstory baggage than Blok.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Levitz also struggles to find his way back into Brainiac 5's persona. Since when did Brainy criticize his past inventions? In this story, he comes across as one of the guys, not the aloof intellectual into which he later develops. (It's actually refreshing to see him try to fit in socially with the others; in hindsight, I wish Levitz had developed this aspect of Brainy's persona more.)


Agreed.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
The Broderick/Patterson art is ten times better than anything we've seen in quite a while, even the Jimmy Janes run, which I generally liked. Broderick has a distinctive style, but, like Cockrum and Grell, his style does not interfere with the story telling. The space scenes are breathtaking, and the interior scenes of the HQ and the Legionnaires gathered around convey a lot of information without overwhelming the reader. Most of the Legionnaires also sport distinctive facial features.


cheers

#933842 - 07/14/17 04:20 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
I want a signal ring to call Look Up Lad for reference emergencies!


By Olsen's Bowtie! Crafty Cramer is after thoth's signal ring! Will she become Look Up Lad's Best Pal?! Read "Signal Your Intentions" in Look Up Lad #134!


"...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."
#933848 - 07/14/17 06:08 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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Annfie,
Thank you for mentioning the ethnic diversity on "Hill Street Blues." It was indeed a very diverse show for its time, and none of the characters were stereotypes. (Well, most of them weren't. Johnny LaRue was pretty much a typical Lothario, but he had a wonderful foil in Neal Washington. Lt. Howard Hunter, as a reactionary emergency team commander, was fun to watch. And Renko was a redneck--so, all the stereotypes were white!)

I hadn't thought about Veronica Hamel as being unorthodox for a leading lady/love interest, but you're right about her being dark-haired and exotic. I had quite a crush on her.

The Legion had already had such diversity for years, but it wasn't fully developed until this era of the team. Under Levitz and Broderick (and later Giffen), the team members developed more well-rounded personalities and relationships. They just happened to be blue or green or orange or Eurasian. I like to think of this era of the Legion as the HSB/St. Elsewhere era of the team. Levitz took a lot of chances with the characters, as "St. Elsewhere" did with its cast. As a reader, there was a sense that you couldn't take anything or any character for granted.


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#933849 - 07/14/17 06:31 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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So, 285 . . .

I've been mulling over what to say about this issue for some time. I appreciated thoth and FC's comments, because they both see more positive aspects than I do. To me, it's a meh story: Levitz's attempt to do a Boltinoff-era tale that marks time but really doesn't accomplish anything special. I get the feeling that Levitz was more interested in setting up Projectra's ascension to the throne of Orando, but he needed time to do this, so this story was meant to involve world building and little else.

To be fair, Levitz does a great job at this world-building. Nullport and the aggression of the Khunds are wonderful concepts that build on what we've seen before and hint at bold, new directions. Nullport takes the science fiction aspects of the Legion to more credible lengths. (Yes, it's much better than the Legionnaires building rocket ships themselves.) However, I could have done without the horsey alien, H'hrnath. (Wonderful personality, but silly appearance--a horse with human hands? And his hind quarters disappear on page 19.)

Levitz also earns props for varying the cast: Mon, Shady, Star Boy, Violet, and Colossal Boy isn't a combination we've seen before. Levitz also does some interesting things with their powers--especially Violet and Thom's unorthodox use of his mass-increasing powers. But little is done with them as characters. Gim forgets the low gravity in Nullport, and Mon forgets that Gim isn't invulnerable. This passes for character flaws?

I did appreciate the last page, in which all five Legionnaires pilot a new ship back to earth--showing, I think, that piloting starships is as common as driving a car is today. A great future to look forward to!

The art is uneven and rushed.

The backup story is much more successful in developing Nura's personality and her homeworld, Naltor. It's great that she's aware of how her usefulness as a Legionnaire is doubted. This shows that she believes in herself when others don't. As an interesting touch, she never once uses her ability to see the future in this story (well, maybe in the last panel she does). She relies only on her Legion training and her own intelligence. In hindsight, this story does an excellent job of setting up her eventual election as leader of the Legion.


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#933916 - 07/15/17 12:43 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
[b]H’hranth's talk reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn, lots of bluster.


He's Foghorn's equine cousin from "Noo Joi-zee." (The Leghorn family tree is a tangled one indeed.) wink

Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
While I found the artwork a bit uneven, especially on the faces, there were some interesting touches, such as Mon-el’s viewing of the circuitry and the backgrounds.


I agree, that was a nice, imaginative touch on Broderick & Patterson's part.

Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
The Dream Girl story adds a lot to her character, revealing her insecurities as well as her determination. It also sets her up as a very bright mind and a skilled fighter, which Levitz will develop further in future issues.


Well said, Cramey. She was definitely the "surprise breakout star" of this Legion era.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
I get the feeling that Levitz was more interested in setting up Projectra's ascension to the throne of Orando, but he needed time to do this, so this story was meant to involve world building and little else.


Good point. That's often the biggest problem with writing a team book that's heavy on the slow-burn subplots.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
The art is uneven and rushed.


Reluctantly, I have to agree for the most part. That said, I think the fault lies mostly with Patterson's inks. The finesse that he showed in the previous issue comes and goes in jarring ways, often undermining the strengths at characterization which Broderick had shown in said previous issue. Ironically, given that I felt the climactic pages of 284 were the weakest artistically, I feel that the climactic pages of 285 (specifically, Pages 14-18; the last page is one of the washouts) are actually the best-drawn. Exhibit A: The last panel on Page 16 -- my girl Tasmia hasn't looked this pretty or this fierce since the better Jim Sherman issues. Exhibit B: The entirety of Page 15, with Thom, Gim, and Mon charging at the Khund ship as it fires on them, and Gim, with Mon's help, making like a guided missile (as an aside, the payoff to Gim's attack on the ship works better on the front cover, which I think is near-faultless -- if not for that cheesy "comical" word balloon, it would be perfection IMO.)

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
The backup story is much more successful in developing Nura's personality and her homeworld, Naltor. It's great that she's aware of how her usefulness as a Legionnaire is doubted. This shows that she believes in herself when others don't. As an interesting touch, she never once uses her ability to see the future in this story (well, maybe in the last panel she does). She relies only on her Legion training and her own intelligence. In hindsight, this story does an excellent job of setting up her eventual election as leader of the Legion.


It's a well-written story, a much better script in many ways than the lead story, but the artwork takes me out of it.

Yes, the time has come for me to make my first LSH Re-Reads comment on Keith Giffen. [sarcasm] And I'm sure all of Legion World's Giffen fans are just giddy with anticipation. [/sarcasm] wink

All kidding aside, I have been planning ahead for this moment, so that I can make my best effort to be constructive and fair and to stay focused on Giffen's pencil art and co-plotting of his first several LSH issues -- no more, no less.

So here are my three main beefs with Giffen's early LSH work, in particular when the assigned inker is not a good match (yes, I'm a heretic, I don't he and Larry Mahlstedt went well together -- and I do like a lot of Mahlstedt's work for Marvel in the 1990s, for other pencilers) :

1) THE FACES: It bewilders me that my favorite of Giffen's LSH successors, Greg La Rocque, takes so much guff from Giffen fans for his faces -- overall, the criticisms boil down to "inexpressive, samey, and ugly." Uh...as if Giffen's faces did not commit the same aesthetic sins, only worse? I'm willing to concede that La Rocque's faces were inconsistent (I'll elaborate on this once the Re-Reads reach the Baxter Era), but if Giffen's were consistent, they were consistently bad (IMHO.)

2) THE RHYTHMS: In a word, FLOW, or the lack thereof in the case of this pencil artist. To use a musical analogy, the rhythms of Giffen's compositions and layouts remind me of amateur musicians trying to play atonal jazz -- think of that horrible, creepy Bill Lava music from the dregs of the Looney Tunes cartoons (circa 1963) and I think you'll get the idea.

3) LACK OF DISTINCTION: I'll be blunt with this one -- most of the time, Giffen's LSH work looks to me like a bad imitation of John Byrne, who, at the time, was the hottest artist in superhero comics thanks to Uncanny X-Men and Fantastic Four. That's one of the things about Giffen in general that most confuses me -- for a guy with such a...um...colorful public persona, his artwork itself has always come up short on personality to me. LSH is no exception.

However...I shall approcach the remainder of my allotted Re-Read issues from this era (286-294, plus Annual 1) with an open mind and hope that I am pleasantly surprised. IIRC, 286-289 are inked by Patterson, so there's a glimmer of promise there.

#933935 - 07/15/17 08:59 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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I'm not disputing any of the flaws you found in Giffen's art, though I found them less distracting than you do. To me, Giffen's art almost always evoked a sense of fantasy, imagination, and even romance. 285 is not fully representative of this (Dream's Girl hair, for one thing, never looks right), but the elements are there. The splash page with Nura standing before the high seer looks like it comes out of a fantasy story, and the top panel of the next page, where they are looking at crystal ball-like viewscreens, further expands the sense of wonder of this place. The candles in the slanted tubes remind me of the Fortress of Solitude in the first Superman movie, with an equal feeling of this place being foreign and magical.

Some other images which stand out to me include the bottom of Page 4 (Nura gestures in a dramatic, dance-like pose as she causes part of the wreckage to spring up out of the floor), the top of Page 7 (Nura, in silhouette, flies across the top of the page; below that is an image of the gyrostabilizer, which looks like an old, wooden spinning wheel), and the three masked robbers, whose look is simple but tells us they do not belong here without making them look silly. (No horse-like aliens, at least!)

A year or so after this, I would discover Nexus, published by First Comics. The artist, Steve Rude, conveyed a similar feeling of a futuristic setting combined with the romantic flair of fantasy.


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#934009 - 07/16/17 03:04 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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Fair enough, He Who. And good call mentioning Steve Rude. His style took some getting used to when I first encountered it around 1994-ish (I'd only seriously started collection superhero, sci-fi and fantasy comics around 1991), though despite their common ground in atmospheric decorations, in other ways Rude is the inverse of Giffen, all clean lines and smooth, straightforward storytelling, kind of anticipating Allred and Cooke. I found the early issues of Nexus (seen via Dark Horse trade collection) to be a bit TOO clean, as in, where are the details? But I came around when I saw Rude's later work, especially his painted covers (Rude has one of the richest perceptions of color I've ever seen), and when Rude was noted as an influence on my boy Steve Epting (whose style over the past 10 or 12 years has gotten more and more like Rude's.)

Come to think of it, either one of the Steves would be a great pick to draw a Legion story.

#934011 - 07/16/17 05:27 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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I would love to see a Steve Rude Legion.


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#934107 - 07/18/17 01:40 AM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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LSLH #286 Old Friends, New Relative and Other Corpses! By Paul Levitz, art by Pat Broderick & Bruce Patterson, colours DíAngelo, letters Costanza

[Linked Image]

A group of Legionnaires enjoy some R&R on Brandeís World estate. Guest appearance by Superboy.
R.J. tries to connect with his son Reep, who rebuffs his new-found fatherís affection.

Dr. Regulus arrives, seeking final revenge with the death of Dirk Morgna. He takes over Brandeís fusion dome, absorbs its energy and vows to destroy the Legionnaires. His power is now too much even for Superboy, but it doesnít stop Phantom Girl, who heads to the core to prevent an explosion. Sun Boy confronts Regulus directly.

Cham has returned to Legion HQ, where some members are debating the Khundsí new aggression. As leader of the Espionage Squad, he orders them to join him on a mission to Khundia. Although some question him, they go along.

Sun Boy and Regulus battle, until Regulus flees in his ship. R.J. and the Legionnaires realize that the fusion dome is now running wild and send Superboy, directed by R.J. via Saturn Girl, to stop it. The radiation overcomes him, but Sun Boy is there at the controls and gets the dome under control. Dawnstar finds Regulus and Colossal Boy grabs his ship with giant hands.

When Lightning Lad learns of Chamís departure back to Earth, he is angry that Cham did not ask his permission to leave.

Back-up: A Crown for a Princess by Paul Levitz, art by Keith Giffen & Bruce Patterson, colours Gene DíAngelo, letters Adam Kubert

Jeckie and Val discuss her new status as Queen and he vows to stay by her side. They are interrupted by a challenge from her cousin Prince Pharoxx, who accuses her of regicide. According to tradition, he has a right to challenge Jeckie to trial by combat. She falls in the arena, since Pharoxx knows about her illusion power, and Val takes up the challenge in her place. He fights vailiantly, but falls; Pharoxx, as new king, imprisons Val and Projectra.

Comments:
This was a good issue. We saw the Legionnaires at play, bantering among themselves; R.J. and Reepís story took a new turn, promising future developments; Sun Boy was not only heroic, but surprised even himself by being super-smart; Colossal Boy didnít goof up when it came to capturing Regulus and the ill-fated mission to Khundia began. At this point, itís not clear that it will be ill-fated but itís off to a bad start with Cham acting on impulse.

R.J. Brande is further developed as a personality, with some speech peculiarities creeping in, and reminding us that money canít buy you love.

Superboyís appearance was unnecessary, but he didnít hog the action, so maybe that was the point of it.

Iím not sure what Phantom Girl thought she could do Ė materialize long enough to fix something and sacrifice her life? How would she even know what to do?

I felt that Levitz was taking a jab at the Adventure era when he has Dawnstar comment on the unmissable golden ship.

Sun Boy claims an exploded fusion domeís effect could reach Earth in less than five mintues. If Brandeís estate is near Mercury (as previously written) and light from the Sun reaches Earth in eight minutes, perhaps Brande has moved his planetoid closer to Venus.

For someone who doesnít want to be leader, Lightning Lad is taking the job pretty seriously. His anger at Cham leaving Brandeís estate without permission seems to be an overreaction, although the surprise attack by Regulus showed that Legionnaires shouldnít just wander around at will if they want to keep the galaxy safe.

The Projectra story was more of a set-up for future issue, but what a set-up! It played to sword and sorcery fans, but presented Jeckie as someone who wanted to introduce more modern ways to her home planet. Was she overconfident and thought her illusions could disable Pharoxx? She had reason to be, having defeated considerable foes with her power as a Legionnaire, but she failed quickly. The reader ends the story wondering if Val and Jeckie will battle their way out of prison, or if a Legion team will somehow come to the rescue.


Holy Cats of Egypt!
#934162 - 07/18/17 03:51 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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LoSH 286

The cover leaves us in no doubt that this is another mission of vengeance by Doctor Regulus against the Legion, and specifically Sun Boy. Not having read the Regulus tales in any order, they merge to some degree for me in terms of plot.

Our story starts off a bit more quietly than the cover, with a picnic game of volleyball. Gim uses his powers impulsively, cheating at the game, while claiming he just got carried away. Itís a similar reaction he was shown as having at Nullport. Acting first, without necessarily being aware of the consequences. Gim would later be called ďHands On AllonĒ and this is where a lot of that comes from.

Phantom Girl doesnít let him off the hook. She takes a very principled stance on such things, even during games. She gets her own back with the aid of Dawnstar. They both agree about the principles of fair play, while Gim childishly laughs it off. Itís the returning Superboy who cools things down.

Broderickís art has a distinctive look. Where itís characters who live in the 30th century itís mostly fine, but Superboy has looked a lot better elsewhere.

Levitz doesnít escape unscathed here either. RJ Brande and son Reep are reintroduced. Reepís scripted reaction to being reunited with his dad has the wrong emphasis for me. The pressures behind it are interesting though. RJ isnít exactly introverted, and I can easily see his personality seeming like an intrusion on Reep. Not to mention all the many issues behind why he had no father growing up. RJ knows that heís overcompensating, but canít help himself, leading to further alienation.

This panel develops into a broader scene that results in Reep flying off under the pressure of the relationship and the impact itís having on him.

Broderick has spent a lot of time on Regulusí spaceship. It reflects its grimly vengeful pilot so much, it even comes with its own evil toothy grille at the front. Itís gold coloured of course, fitting in with the villainís methods and background.

The plot, like so many involving Regulus, is far from subtle. Heís targeted the Legionnaires, on Brandeís private planetoid, because it contains a fusion dome. The dome is part of Brandeís research into star making, and itís perfect for a villain who can absorb solar radiation. The only time heís spent on the plan is to find a way to disrupt Brandeís security system. Like so many villains, he doesnít think to consider to use that knowledge to have a normal, productive life. Itís all about vengeance here.

Regulus lands and begins to manipulate the fusion dome. Itís easy for the Legion to find the cause of the problem. They confront Regulus, only for him to blast them back. Perhaps thatís part of why Regulus is used in the same way so often. He has a huge amount of power that a lot of the other human antagonists simply donít. Thereís enough wiggle room in those abilities for him to be able to hold off Superboy. Thatís another big plus for Legion writers, as an alternative to Kryptonite, magic or Forced Plotting.

Regulus subdues the Legionnaires, giving an extra dose of red solar radiation to Superboy. While he may have one trick motives, weíre going to get three possible solutions form Levitz to the story. Regulusís powers canít affect Tinya. She moves through the villain and into the fusion dome to shut it down. It might be the last thing she does, but the start of the story showed how seriously she takes the role of Legionnaire.

Iíve already mentioned that Broderick draws a very cool Regulus (and ship). This continues right through the issue, and extends to Sun Boy. Dirkís powers have come a long, long way from emitting bright light. Here, heís handling the power of stars. Visually, he has a corona of energy around him. Heís almost transformed into an energy form in a couple of panels. Itís an effect I would have put down to Giffen later on, but it really started here.

On the other hand, I do credit Broderick for giving Garth his worst ever haircut.

We get a look into Dirkís skills in a one panel reminder. Back in his origin he was an assistant. Weíre told here that he was a nuclear scientist, so he wasnít just blundering around his dadís lab when he interrupted Regulusí experiment. Dirk also says that itís been years since he was that assistant, showing that heís not necessarily kept his skills in that area up to speed since he became a Legionnaire. This adds a bit of depth to him. Heís skilled in an area, but itís not necessarily the thing that defines him. Heís also well known for his socialising and his pilot skills too, for example.

As Dirk faces up to Regulus, we return to Earth to continue the Reep & RJ subplot. I guess I donít reread this issue much. I had forgotten that this was the scene that takes them to the Khund home world. So, Levitz does a fine job in ensuring that Reep has a reason for leaving Brandeís planetoid and in getting him off before the Regulus encounter. That keeps the leader and other members too busy to overrule him.

Unfortunately, this is where Reep takes his personal life into his job. As the head of the Espionage squad he orders those present to join him in scouting the Khundian home world. I found a few things particularly interesting due to my lack of rereading.

Firstly, was that the other Legionnaires were already starting to discuss the same idea when Reep arrived. Star Boy and Blok were considering it, as Ultra Boy and Brin assessed the threat. It was the lack of discussing a plan, rather than the reason for going that was the problem. But how often have we seen hero groups fly off and plan on the way, if at all, and get out unscathed?

Secondly, Brin has a strong reaction to being dragged on the mission. At this point his character seems to be capable of being involved more in the planning and decision making than perhaps he would be later on. Brinís parting remark for Ayla to take care came with a fair bit of foreboding.

Thirdly was that Levitz makes it clear that the reason for going in the first place was due to the attack on Nullport in the previous issue. So, what seemed like a self-contained story was really an early chapter in a wider story. Like Brinís parting remark, I wonder just how far ahead Levitz was already in the plotting. At the end of this scene, we see Valís face on a monitor. This links the end of last issue to the back up story in this one. Under Levitz, the back ups are being used to either provide spotlights or that are offshoots form the main storyline.

Finally, I hadnít realised that so many were in the room with Reep when he ordered the mission. He only takes Brin and Vi when he could have also had Jo, Thom, Ayla and the admittedly easier to spot Blok.

In the energy duel that is also a fixture of Regulus vs Dirk stories, Dirk wins out. But Regulus doesnít have to stay around to see the planet explode. He escapes to absorb the radiation from orbit, as Dirk melts the domeís containment wall (well, itís all going to blow up anyway I suppose). There, he hopes to use what he can remember from his training to shut down this power sphere. This is the second possible solution.

Regulus melted at least one of the controls he was using to land the ship. I wonder how important it was to taking off again. It didnít seem like he planned to be using it once the planet exploded after all.

The third possible solution comes as part of a Legion power crossover. A recovering Superboy follows Dirk into the reactor. Although heís super smart, and has created all sorts of things in the past, heís getting direct information from RJ Brande, courtesy of Saturn Girlís telepathy. Imra already knew what the plan was going to be by mind reading her colleagues. Iím beginning to wonder if there was ever a time she was reluctant to do this sort of thing.

As the rest of the team goes after Regulus, we have three Legionnaires ready to sacrifice themselves to save the planetoid. The otherwise uninhabited planetoid. So option four could have been to abandon the place, get Dirk to beat Regulus in orbit and fly him far away. Mind you, there was the hint earlier that the planetoid would be as powerful as a nova. Perhaps it would incinerate Earth. So, we have three Legionnaires ready to sacrifice themselves to save the planetoid after all. smile

Dirk and Kal look to be able to get to the controls ahead of Tinya who went in first. Thereís a suggestion sheís a bit lost in there, without the knowledge of how it all operates. Kal tells her to evacuate, leaving us with two in the building. But itís Kal who succumbs to the solar radiation, falling unconscious before he can even instruct Sun Boy. Imra tries to contact Dirk directly. Solution five was her contacting him pages earlier to see how he was getting on. Perhaps that extends to the lack of confidence they have in Dirk compared to Superboy. But Dirk has already worked it out, directly handling the reactorís control rods, and shutting down the process. Dirk reinforcing his identity on the team is done more subtly than most stories, as itís only a small part of this plot. After a run of prominent Wildfire appearances, perhaps Dirk will begin to become more centre stage.

Regulus spends at least a few panels in his appearances waiting for things to give him power. It must be a constant disappointment to see those power sources fade away. In a little error, Lightning Lad responds directly to Regulusí thoughts, even though the villain has no telepathic ear plug to communicate to them with.

Weíre reminded of Dawnyís tracking abilities as they find Regulus, even if they are diminished by Lightning Ladís comments that Regulus wasnít hiding. Both Dawny and Garth act as decoys so that Colossal Boy can sneak up behind the villain and squash him into unconsciousness. Itís good to see Gim successful in combat. Thereís the danger of writers making him a big target, but he uses his powers well here.

Like the multiple solutions to the problem, this is a nice bit of writing as it provides one bookend to the story that started with Gim using his powers all the way back in the volleyball game.

At the storyís end Garth finds out that Cham has returned to Earth. I hadnít read enough of the Adventure issues before I had read this one. So, I didnít fully appreciate the overriding Duty to Administration that some interpretations of the Legion have had. To me, Garth was just being a jerk.

The back up story picks up from the death of Jeckieís father on Orando at the end of the last issue. Itís a lovely opening page that sets out the distinctive architecture and medieval fantasy trappings of that world. Itís an approach that will help strongly define the Legionís universe. Levitzís use of Encyclopaedia Galactica in other stories is another example of this. Giffen clearly had a lot of fun with the panel compositions in this back up and there are some excellent results, combining foreground intricacy with storytelling clarity.

With her father gone, Jeckie will now be Queen and she feels alone. Sheís pretty much testing the strength of their relationship, and Val has no qualms about staying with her forever. Although, in true comic tradition, her question about him leaving the Legion is left hanging as she is violently interrupted. Her uncle Pharoxx accuses Jeckie of being behind the death of her own father.

Itís trial by combat on Ornado. It seems unfair that itís just Uncle Pharoxx and his lizard mount (just one of those lovely Giffen details), against two seasoned Legionnaires. Certainly Jeckie and Val seem confident enough. But Pharoxx is immune to Jeckieís illusions, as the world is steeped in traditions and magic.

And while Val may have been able to best Pharoxx in martial prowess, we never find out as Val has no defence against a magic blast. Pharoxx is a very capable threat here, and his call to dispatch the two ďtraitorsĒ he has bested carries real menace.

Summary

Like the Organus and the Nullport stories, thereís more going on behind the main tale. Here, the one trick Regulus is used to showcase Dirk and to provide a jumping off point for Chamís relationship with his father and his trip to Khundia. Thereís noticeable characterisation of Gim, Tinya and Kal while Lightning Ladís leadership issues continue to simmer away each issue.

Elsewhere, Thom is involved in more than just back up duty and Brin seems to have moved a fair distance from his broody, loner self already. Vi does seem to be very aware of her own personality traits. Blok doesnít add a great deal. But if his history with the assassins is considered, his agreement to a mission to warlike Khundia takes on a darker tone.

The Orando subplot has been built up very nicely over the three Levitz issues weíve had. You can see the structure of the Levitz paradigm beneath it, as some of the multiple plotlines are progressed to their next stages.


"...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."
#934261 - 07/19/17 08:07 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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286:

The Hill Street Bluesization of the Legion continues in some odd ways. The main story, for me at least, is merely average, but the subplots keep things moving in new and uncharted territory. On HSB, the bad guys were never that interesting--pickpockets, gang-bangers, run of the mill street criminals, but it was the officers' and detectives' efforts to catch them and deal with an inept and corrupt system that fueled the drama. Here we have Dr. Regulus, a run-of-the-mill bad guy with a run-of-the-mill motivation (revenge for losing his job? Get over it, Zax baby. With your skills and power, what the heck to do you need a job for?). The conflict could be used to bring out some new facets of Dirk's personality, but that doesn't really happen. Dirk is heroic (what else?) and even figures out how to shut down the reactor on his own--but we would expect nothing less of a Legionnaire. The lengthy recaps of his origin likewise tell us nothing new about Dirk or his relationship with Regulus. Levitz is absolutely correct, I think, when he says he never had a handle on villains; alas, his grasp of heroes also needs work.

The scenes which rock, however, are those with the Legionnaires just being friends and colleagues. The volleyball game is a winner in bringing out both Gim's and Tinya's personalities. Then Superboy shows up to ruin things by having nothing to contribute to the story. I guess he was included just to remind us that he was a Legionnaire once more. Most of the other Legionnaires on Brande's world are just there to fill up the numbers.

The main exception is Chameleon Boy, who leaves Brande's world without Garth's permission and returns to earth to lead his teammates on an impulsive mission to Khundia. At the time, Reep's actions didn't make sense to me, but now they kind of do. Reep's whole world has been upended by learning that R.J. is his father, so he's out to prove something--what isn't clear to the reader or even, I suspect, to him. Maybe he just wants to get his mind off of thoughts and feelings he'd rather not deal with. Whatever the cause, he isn't thinking clearly. If even Timber Wolf calls your mission "dumb," there must be something to it.

The backup story, once again, is much better. It's shorter and more focused yet has room to develop its plot and characters well. Jeckie is now queen of Orando--at least momentarily--a huge blow to the stasis most Legionnaires have been in for years in terms of their personal development. The Legion, like most super-heroes of their day, seemed to be stuck in a realm where no one really changes--except for the odd costume switch, the odd marriage, and the occasional death. But other real life events were not allowed to creep into these four-color fantasies. Jeckie's ascension is all too real and, for its time, groundbreaking.

The ascension is not without complications; Pharoxx proves to be a worthy adversary. He accuses Jeckie of murdering her own father, proving that "alternate facts" are alive and well even on 30th century medieval planets. He takes advantage of Jeckie's overconfidence and, when he can't best Val, he cheats. Things don't look good for our lost Legion lovers...but hope lies in the message Val left at HQ in the issue's first tale.

When this issue came out, I probably loved it because it featured Dirk, one of my favorite Legionnaires. At the time, the reader had to wait months for a particular character to be featured, and Dirk seemed to have disappeared for much of the Conway and Thomas runs. In hindsight, the story has a lot of promise but Levitz's interest seemed to lie more with his subplots.



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#934263 - 07/19/17 08:23 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer


For someone who doesnít want to be leader, Lightning Lad is taking the job pretty seriously. His anger at Cham leaving Brandeís estate without permission seems to be an overreaction, although the surprise attack by Regulus showed that Legionnaires shouldnít just wander around at will if they want to keep the galaxy safe.


Garth's reaction reminded me of Mon-El's similar reaction when Invisible Kid went derelict on duty back in # 203. In both instances, I think, the leader's reaction was warranted. IK went missing during a training exercise, and Reep left when his teammates were just having fun. But a leader must always know where his troops are in case an emergency arises.

Quote
The Projectra story was more of a set-up for future issue, but what a set-up! It played to sword and sorcery fans...


Good point. Like the Dream Girl story last issue, Levitz and Giffen are beginning to envision a 30th century that is far more complex than any we've seen before. Orando isn't just a planet that looks medieval; it feels medieval with its traditions and use of magic in the form of illusion-casting.

Last edited by He Who Wanders; 07/19/17 08:23 PM.

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#934270 - 07/20/17 06:27 AM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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LEGION OF SUPERHEROES 286

I must admit that, thanks to the keen observations of the Re-Reads regulars, I am developing a greater an appreciation for just how innovative Levitz's prime-time TV inspired approach to writing the Legion was at the time. Just a couple caveats -- one, Levitz would probably be the first to admit that his approach also had its roots in the better books coming out of Marvel between the mid-1960s and the late-1970s, books such as the Avengers, which Levitz has readily admitted was among his favorites during his fan days; and, two, while Levitz was reinventing the wheel as far as the DCU went, I don't think he "hit the ground running," so to speak, and that the first few years of Levitz-LSH Mark-2 are something of an awkward transitional phase towards what I consider the creme de la creme of Mark-2, the 2nd and 3rd years of the Baxter Legion.

So what we end up with here, in this issue's lead story, is another rather pedestrian "A-Plot" undermining the stronger "B-and-C-Plots" which Levitz has simmering on the back burners. That said, I like "Old Friend, New Relatives..." quite a bit better than the lead story of 285 or the book-length 284 story. As the others have already noted in their reviews, the characterizations really start to jell here, and there's much more of a sense of scope and substance to Levitz's efforts at an expansive portrayal of the universe in which the Legion lives, loves, and fights.

Pat Broderick & Bruce Patterson are, as in the better moments of 284, both seemingly giving it their all, which is a great relief to me after the erratic quality of their work in 285 (particularly Patterson's inks.) Standout sequences for me would have to include Page 5, with the expressiveness that the art team brings to Brande's failed attempt at bonding with his son, Reep; Pages 12 & 13, a very well-executed one-on-one battle between Dirk and Regulus which segues into Dirk's breaching the out-of-control dome with fierce determination to save the day; and Pages 17 & 18, with multiple Legionnaires taking down Regulus amidst typically impressive Broderick-style star-scapes, and the bittersweet aftermath back on the surface of Brande's world -- damn, does John Fogerty Garth Ranzz look angry in that last panel after he learns of Reep's rash actions!

The back-up story leaves me less enthused, and not just because Giffen pencils it -- but even though Patterson provides what I consider a much smoother finish than Mahlstedt, showing a much better talent for faces, and also at conveying the illusions of solidity and plausible shadows, Giffen's layouts continue to underwhelm me, for the same reasons as before: 1) Lack of originality, in this case a superficial resemblance to some of the better early-mid 70s Marvel artists such as Paul Gulacy and Tom Sutton before THEY transcended THEIR influences; 2) Lack of fluidity in the compositions, with a lack of flow both within the panels and the segues from one panel to the next. It's not that I think it's all that bad, it's that I don't think it deserves to be held up as the gold standard of 1980s Legion art.

Then there's Levitz's script, which I feel tries in vain to hide how ineffectually Projectra and Val come off behind all the ornamental details; neither character has ever been a favorite of mine, and this story doesn't change my mind -- Projectra's illusion fails to take down Pharoxx, so what does Jeckie do? She tries ANOTHER illusion, which doesn't work either. And Val becomes a boastful boob at the worst possible time, giving Pharoxx a clear opening to defeat him (THIS is the supposed greatest non-powered warrior of the late 30th Century?) Pharoxx doesn't really impress me, either, he kind of reminds me of a generic Silver Age Gardner Fox villain, who can pull a new power out of his butt every time the plot requires him to.

Baby steps for the LSH book, then, but hopefully it'll learn to walk sooner rather than later.

#934532 - 07/24/17 11:30 AM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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Originally Posted by thoth lad

The cover leaves us in no doubt that this is another mission of vengeance by Doctor Regulus against the Legion, and specifically Sun Boy. Not having read the Regulus tales in any order, they merge to some degree for me in terms of plot.


They certainly are repetitive!

Quote
Levitz doesnít escape unscathed here either. RJ Brande and son Reep are reintroduced. Reepís scripted reaction to being reunited with his dad has the wrong emphasis for me. The pressures behind it are interesting though. RJ isnít exactly introverted, and I can easily see his personality seeming like an intrusion on Reep. Not to mention all the many issues behind why he had no father growing up. RJ knows that heís overcompensating, but canít help himself, leading to further alienation.


It also struck me as a radical change from his initial reaction. The comment Reep made about getting used to luxury also seemed odd, although he did show a taste for upscale women in previous stories.

Quote
Thirdly was that Levitz makes it clear that the reason for going in the first place was due to the attack on Nullport in the previous issue. So, what seemed like a self-contained story was really an early chapter in a wider story. Like Brinís parting remark, I wonder just how far ahead Levitz was already in the plotting. At the end of this scene, we see Valís face on a monitor. This links the end of last issue to the back up story in this one. Under Levitz, the back ups are being used to either provide spotlights or that are offshoots form the main storyline.

Finally, I hadnít realised that so many were in the room with Reep when he ordered the mission. He only takes Brin and Vi when he could have also had Jo, Thom, Ayla and the admittedly easier to spot Blok.


That's one of the revelations of this reread for me - how far in advance these various plots begin. Brin & Vi are certainly the most stealthy of that group, although you'd think Jo would have brought some welcome physical clout.

Quote
Itís trial by combat on Ornado. It seems unfair that itís just Uncle Pharoxx and his lizard mount (just one of those lovely Giffen details), against two seasoned Legionnaires.


Good spot on that detail. If he were a good guy, he might have ridden a unicorn.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
The Hill Street Bluesization of the Legion continues in some odd ways. The main story, for me at least, is merely average, but the subplots keep things moving in new and uncharted territory. On HSB, the bad guys were never that interesting--pickpockets, gang-bangers, run of the mill street criminals, but it was the officers' and detectives' efforts to catch them and deal with an inept and corrupt system that fueled the drama.


I really like this comparison to HSB. Whoever's on monitor duty should say, "Be careful out there".

Quote
When this issue came out, I probably loved it because it featured Dirk, one of my favorite Legionnaires. At the time, the reader had to wait months for a particular character to be featured, and Dirk seemed to have disappeared for much of the Conway and Thomas runs. In hindsight, the story has a lot of promise but Levitz's interest seemed to lie more with his subplots.


It is enjoyable to see Dirk back in the action (and, as thoth wrote, have Wildfire recede). Perhaps Regulus could have been taken out of the story altogether: just an unknown agent who set off the fusion dome, turning this into a shorter, tighter tale and turning the tracking down of the villain into another subplot.

Originally Posted by Ann Hebistand
Then there's Levitz's script, which I feel tries in vain to hide how ineffectually Projectra and Val come off behind all the ornamental details; neither character has ever been a favorite of mine, and this story doesn't change my mind -- Projectra's illusion fails to take down Pharoxx, so what does Jeckie do? She tries ANOTHER illusion, which doesn't work either. And Val becomes a boastful boob at the worst possible time, giving Pharoxx a clear opening to defeat him (THIS is the supposed greatest non-powered warrior of the late 30th Century?) Pharoxx doesn't really impress me, either, he kind of reminds me of a generic Silver Age Gardner Fox villain, who can pull a new power out of his butt every time the plot requires him to.


Was Val disoriented by events or has pride gone before a fall? A guy who takes on Superboy and the Fatal Five by himself should have been more of a match for Pharoxx. Projectra's poor performance is pretty inexcusable, but then we wouldn't have much of a story if they just toddled off, got married and ruled Orando.

BTW, enjoyed your insights into the art, Annfie, but no comments since that's out of my league!


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#934549 - 07/24/17 07:33 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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Annfie is our resident art critic!

I like to think that Val and Jeckie were both just a tad overconfident--and Val didn't know what to expect since he had never encountered Pharoxx before and had no idea that the dude knew both martial arts and magic. But the episode certainly doesn't reflect well on either Legionnaire.


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#934550 - 07/24/17 08:42 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Fat Cramer]  
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer


Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
The Hill Street Bluesization of the Legion continues in some odd ways. The main story, for me at least, is merely average, but the subplots keep things moving in new and uncharted territory. On HSB, the bad guys were never that interesting--pickpockets, gang-bangers, run of the mill street criminals, but it was the officers' and detectives' efforts to catch them and deal with an inept and corrupt system that fueled the drama.


I really like this comparison to HSB. Whoever's on monitor duty should say, "Be careful out there".


I keep waiting for Brin to call someone "hairbag"!


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#934561 - 07/25/17 09:01 AM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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LSH #287 Save the Espionage Suicide Squad by Paul Levitz, art by Keith Giffen & Bruce Patterson, colors DíAngelo, letters Costanza

[Linked Image]

Garth appears at Legion HQ, furiously demanding to see Cham.

Cham and his team approach Khundia; Brin and Vi are reluctant. Cham Turns himself into a layer of rock around a hollow asteroid and the three use their flight rings to land it on Khundia.

Garth then learns that Mon-el and Ultra Boy have been sent to Orando to rescue Jeckie and Val, then learns from Gim that the U.P. wants nothing to disrupt peace negotiations with the Khunds. In anger, Garth resigns and leaves Element Lad as leader.

On Khundia, the three Legionnaires disguise themselves as Khunds. Brin accidently bumps into a warrior, who demands he recite ďthe honorable litany of shame and apologyĒ. When Brin fails to do so, he is challenged.

Ayla appeals to Imra to help rescue Brin from the Khundia debacle; the two share a rare emotional moment.

Kharlak the Khund transports the Legionnaires to a Challenge Court and a fight ensues, with many Khundians watching and wagering. They defeat Kharlak and flee as a battle cruiser appears, followed by a Legion team which rescues them and escapes in a ship ďborrowedĒ from President Allon.

Saturn Girl comforts Brin, who is confused as to why she is there. Cham slinks off. Gim, piloting the ship, prepares to leave warp speed just as the shipís navigation is damaged by collision with space debris.


Back-up: Prologue to Darkness by Paul Levitz, art by Pat Broderick & Larry Mahlstedt, colors DíAngelo, letters Kubert.

Mon-el and Shady interrupt their vacation when asked to investigate a wrecked planet. Shady gripes, Mon-el is dutiful. They are attacked by blasting crawl-tanks, which are even too much for Lar to handle. The tanks pull back when they hit Shadyís shadow field.

On the other side of this world, unknown to the two Legionnaires, a non-human being slowly awakens from many years of sleep. Shady and Mon leave, having received a distress signal from Val and Jeckie, and decide to have the planet marked off-limits. Mon is puzzled why darkness stopped the tanks. The awakened being laughs and declares they should worship the darkness until it comes for them.


Comments: Lots to like in this issue. Thereís some great and welcome world-building of Khundia from writer and artist. Garthís explosive reaction and resignation as leader surprised even his telepathic wife. Chamís team has escaped, but one senses that this is far from the end of that story. The rescue ship looks like itís about to be in serious trouble. The second story promises very dark and dangerous events ahead, beyond the immediate dangers facing Val and Jeckie on Orando.

We see a lot of emotion from Imra, which is rare, but sheís been hit with a lot of events in a few minutes. Is she letting her guard down because sheís speaking to her sister-in-law rather than another Legionnaire?

Sheís maybe the only one among available Legionnaires who could pull off the rescue mission. Brin is surprised itís her and, one assumes, not Ayla who has come to help. But Imra has the experience, the authority as a founder/former leader and the sheer force of will to get away with it; whoís going to argue with her? Itís a mess, and she deals with it. Interesting tidbit that Gim borrowed a ship from his motherís private shipyard Ė is that private as in private presidential, or private Allon family? Nevertheless, it indicates that this is a sub rosa rescue mission in a volatile political situation.

Cham as a rock layer and the hollow asteroid is another of these far-fetched bits that doesnít bear much thinking about. The actual battle with Kharlak is thankfully (for me) short-lived, but provides a good occasion to display Brinís considerable athletic talents.

I liked the depiction of Khundia and the fact that there were women who werenít dressed like ďI Dream of JeannieĒ.

The second story was good for setting up the major dramas ahead, on Orando and with Darkseid. I wouldnít have thought it was Darkseid at the end, just figured it was some new villain. The artwork on Shadow Lass seemed a bit off to me, as did her whining about their interrupted vacation.


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#934576 - 07/25/17 11:35 AM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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Thanks a lot for spoiling the villain at the end FC! wink

#934604 - 07/25/17 05:28 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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Touring Bgtzl and Bgztl with M...
LoSH 287

This is a cover thatís never captured me. A mediocre looking villain bests three Legionnaires, while the display tells us that they didnít stand much of a chance. Looking at it now, the leering crowd is probably its best feature. Design wise, itís by the book. Split it into three horizontally and you have the logo plus the ďvs KharlakĒ while the middle has the action and the bottom has the crowd. All nicely separated. Split it vertically and Kharlak takes the centre, with space on either side to focus our attention on that action. Actually, that Legion logo could be part of the betting display so it gets some points for that. - From " A cover in Nine Panels " by K Giffen.

Inside, we pick up from last issueís development that Cham is going off to Khundia while Garth is less than pleased about it. Heís so unhappy that he and the grumpy alien that lives on his head and passes for a haircut come crackling into a room filled with electronics.

Iíve always been struck (ow!) by Aylaís reaction to Garthís tantrum. Sheís hesitant around him in that mood. Are there things about Garthís childhood we donít know about? Is Mekt the only volatile one? Considering Garthís Livewire retcons later on, it would seem not. Even though Ayla may not have seen Garth this wild, I wonder if thereís more behind this one.

Garth shows that heís not all about anger. He can sulk like a champ too. When Cos calms him down regarding leadership crises, Garth pretty much moans that no one has problems like heís having.

It doesnít help that the lights then go out. Garth is about to lose it completely before they all realise itís a Giffen mood panel.

Leaving Garth to question his team matesí courage, we nip off to somewhere near Khundia. Unfortunately, the macho posturing disease that has afflicted Garth has spread here. We donít get more than a couple of panels and itís all about Chamís authority, as he and Brin square up. Vi seems to place her duty to do a job under Chamís authority, over the sense of it.

Disguising Legion teams as asteroids would be used by Levitz later on in v7 to reach the Dominators. Itís a come down for the snazzy Space parachutes they got to use to infiltrate Talok back in the Mission: Impossible Adventure days. A trio of Legionnaires against the Khunds seems very few this issue, and I remember all those they could have brought with them.

Back on Earth, someone tells Garth the bad news. His hair was never in fashion. Worse, his plan to use Mon El and Ultra Boy to rescue the others isnít possible as Element Lad, as Deputy Leader, has sent them off to Orando. Gim then tells him that his mom, President Allon, has ruled out Legion missions against the Khunds as there are ongoing negotiations with them.

It a lovely catalogue of mounting problems, all taken from the subplots around the team. Itís in these moments a leader would find a solution. Say, sending Dawny and Wildfire off to help, using warp technology seen in the Adventure days or perhaps contact the White Witch. But Garth just quits.

Giffen has been showing us transformations when the Legionnaires use their powers, and not just as expected for Cham. Dirk became surrounded by fire when facing Regulus; Vi has a mist like quality when she shifts her size while Garth emits crackling, angry electricity. It consumes him much as the pressures of leadership have, and he storms (pun!) off.

Back on Khundia, our scouting party has landed, We get more lovely visuals from Giffen that immediately identify the world to accompany the encyclopaedia entry. Itís a grim place. Years later, when Brin went off to Lithyl, he must have been reminded of Khundia. Here, we get reminded that he has super speed, Cham gives a recap on how his powers work (this will have a pay off much later on) and we see the Legionís distorter technology. Vi has another moment to shut down the mission, as Cham clearly isnít emotionally stable enough to be leading it. But in they go. Cham changes into a very alien creature to reflect his mood, but Brin is not impressed in a nice touch. I remember Vi saying she was actually creeped out by Chamís powers and wonder what she thought of that one.

Emotions are also heightened back on Earth. We see Ayla very emotionally dependant on Brin, trying to persuade Imra to do something. Imra sees that Aylaís love for Brin is greater than anything she has for herself. Feeling isolated and cold, she agrees to help. Itís a strong, crisply dialogued scene. Like a lot of others, it will have far reaching consequences. Ayla will be forced to confront her dependency as Imra will once again stand out as one of the teamís strongest members. It should be remembered that Imra had a similar bonding experience with Tinya when they thought Jo had died.

Three disguised as Khundians go into the capital. It doesnít go well. In the aggressive, packed environment a single bump leads to a challenge and transport to the combat arenas. In the arena, Cham ask the others not to use their powers. Why Brin canít use them and maintain his disguise is a mystery. Gharlak may be a champion of the courts, but heís outmatched by Brin in whatís proving to be a very good spotlight mission for him. Much like the organleggers a couple of issues ago, Levitz doesnít shy away of showing the Legion as very capable, if they clearly outmatch their opponent. It probably makes the losses, such as to Pharoxx, have more impact. It does mean that it's another main story where the villains play their part among the other subplots, rather than hog the limelight. Perhaps that will change soon.

With no escape plan, and a Khundian warship approaching, Brin expected more from the team leader. Fortunately, they are rescued by Gim and Imra. The pair have taken a ship from Gimís mom (does this come from the presidency?) and manage to pick up their teammates.

Unfortunately, their ship is damaged during the escape and our cliff hanger panel shows them crash into an asteroid. As Cham had slinked away form his failure a few panels before, itís unlikely heíll hollow out this one for a return visit to Khundia.

I have a few mixed feelings about this story. Garthís personality in this arc is what I remember most about him. Most of the worst parts of that are evident here. In fairness, his authority has been questioned and undermined for a long time, resulting in at least one blow out. Perhaps that has weakened his resolve when he feels that things have gone against him here. But previously, before Levitz, there was every chance Garth was getting through his leaderís angst. Here, itís back with added Space Melodrama. He lashes out against his teammates, he sulks, he moans and he offers absolutely nothing as an alternative. Just as Wildfire, absent here, was doing a few issues ago.

Iím willing to go along with Ayla feeling that her world would end without Brin. Someone should have had a word with her ages ago. But lots have people have been there. If anything, Levitzís arrival has seen Brin act more as a team player than ever, providing a lot of hope for them as a couple.

Iíll go along with Imraís realisation that she doesnít have anything as powerful as Aylaís feelings. Weíre all different, so itís not something that you necessarily have to beat yourself up about. However, Imra has been emotionally isolated from her teammates for a very long time. Just remember the comments they made about her during the Reflecto arc. Her wish to change things, and to rescue Brin is a strong moment for her. I wonder if this is overcompensation, and that itís this that becomes an issue in the stories to come.

What bothers me is Brinís reaction of ďWhy you?Ē when Imra arrives. Itís very forced and will lead onto further scenes I feel are similarly pushed at the reader. Look at all the other cavalry saves in previous issues. No one said ďWhy you?Ē in any of those.

While Chamís reasons to go to Khundia were genuine enough, it bothered me why heíd leave so many others behind. Even on a scouting mission, the Legion would be stronger in numbers. Similarly, why would Ayla not be part of the rescue team? Sheís pleading Imra to organise it, yet isnít there. Very odd and, as weíll see, very forced in order for the next part of the story to work.

Iím not convinced concerning Chamís mission either. I can see him going off ill prepared. But it all becomes far too vague as the characters are put through the plot hoops leading to their rescue. What exactly are they there to do? What are their goals?

But for all the over egging, having the side missions eat away at the Legionís resources was more subtly done. It will presumably lead into the subplots too.

Last issue Giffen had a lot of intricate foreground work within sparse backgrounds. This time round nearly every panel has a lot going on behind the characters. From the technology of Khundia through the circuitry of Legion HQ to space warping rescues. Yet, he does change for certain panels such as Ayla and Imraís moment. Losing all the light for Garthís gloomy panel was funny, and is a precursor to all those unlikely later Giffen shadows. The panel breakdowns across each page are very varied, while the action sequences are excellent. Thereís a fluidity to the movement of Cham, Brin and Vi. Tapping into Shermanís work, Gim seems always to be using his powers. Itís visually impressive if a little odd when he even has an oversized pilotís chair.

One thing Iím looking forward to are the political ramifications of Chamís actions. Gim has used him momís ship to rescue Legionnaires who have clearly been seen by all of Khundiaís capital. All this while the UP is negotiating with the Khunds. Itís not going to look good. It shows the Legion operating in a more highly defined universe, reminiscent of some of the more in depth older stories.


"...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."
#934675 - 07/26/17 03:28 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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Ann Hebistand Offline
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Ann Hebistand  Offline
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Originally Posted by Fat Cramer
BTW, enjoyed your insights into the art, Annfie, but no comments since that's out of my league!


Originally Posted by He Who Wanders
Annfie is our resident art critic!


Thank you both so much. That makes all the thought and effort that goes into those posts worth it.

And I'm happy to say that I'm mostly pleased from start to finish with the art in the issue currently under discussion, LSH 287.

Giffen gets his first shot at the LSH lead story, and I think he -- with no little help from Bruce Patterson -- performs above and beyond the remit. Because although it's still very much in the mold of the most popular styles of the early 80s (this particular case reminds me not so much of John Byrne as of George Perez circa his brief JLA run, particularly when Perez was inked by John Beatty), it's perfectly efficient and effective, same as Paul Levitz's meat-and-potatoes old-school space-opera script. The latter is a good reminder that Levitz, IMHO at least, tended to be a better LSH writer when he didn't overreach himself with the metaphysical and deconstructive aspects of the Legion mythos, and just stuck to the gutsy Galactic Grand-Guignol thrills.

Broderick, in what will be, IIRC, his last Legion contribution until Levitz's writing was in quality free-fall during the middle installments of Conspiracy, does the back-up here, and, as Cramey noted above, it's not his best work. I am tempted to put the lion's share of the blame on Larry Mahltstedt -- whose Legion work, as I said before, is less to my liking than his 90s work on Marvel books such as New Warriors and Spider-Man -- but I also get the feeling that Broderick may have been champing at the bit to get cooking on Firestorm's upcoming solo book, whose first issue gets an ad in this very LSH issue, and so he simply did not put his most focused effort into the LSH backup. (A digression: it's easy to forget just how popular Firestorm was at that time, thanks largely to his appearances in the Perez/Conway JLA -- within only 2 years of his solo book's premiere, he'd make the leap onto the Super Friends animated TV show, a much more rare honor back in those days for a relatively new character!)

Having said all that, even below-average Broderick is still more to my satisfaction than 90 percent of above-average work from other artists. It's erratic, yes, but it definitely has its moments of power and splendor, same as his work on the lead story of 285. My one real bone to pick with the art on the backup (and, by implication, the script as well) is that it doesn't make it clear HOW the Mystery Villain is awakened and set free. As a Tasmia lover and a Mon-El detractor, I'd like to think it was Mon's fault, and that while he was carelessly wrecking everything, he also accidentally shorted out the devices that kept the villain imprisoned. The thought that Tasmia would have accidentally released both Mordru (Adventure #369-370) AND this very ominous Mystery Villain is anathema to me. OTOH, if that IS the case, then it certainly supports my theory that Umbra is a superior iteration of Tasmia to both her Preboot and Threeboot counterparts.

In short, 287 is just plain good comics, and I only hope the remainder of my allotted Pre-Baxter issues not only surprise me equally, but maybe even convince me to not take a hiatus between LSH #294 and Baxter #1.

#934701 - 07/27/17 04:24 AM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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Chemical King Offline
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Chemical King  Offline
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Bamberg, Germany
I really love those Pre-great Darkness stories. They do have the right mixture that I consider make the Legion so great: There are a lot of tiny tidbits from different characters, nearly everybody plays at least a minor role or has a minor story. There is a larger story with Chams expedition to Khundia, but there is still time for smaller character pieces and shorter stories like Medicus One. And the artwork is terrific!

These stories are kind of special for me for another reason: They are the first ones that were no longer translated into German (they somehow stopped with Reflecto, doing just two further specials publishing the Annual #1 and #300). So they kind of are the stories that are a direct sequel to my childhood Legion days, and it took me over ten years to finally be able to read them in the English original.

In the Annual, there are references to Chams Khundia adventure and Imras intimate moment with Timber Wolf - it was very interesting to actually see that so many years later. I am glad that these stories are included in the Great Darkness Hardcover version smile

#934728 - 07/27/17 01:08 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
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Harbinger Offline
Harbinger  Offline


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here, more often than not
This issue gives the basis for every Khund character in my fan-fics - the gossip, the gambling, the disdain for others, the strict hierarchy and paranoia - it all comes from here.

Sorry I don't have the time right now to join in the discussions properly but I will o in a couple of weeks when I have more time.


Legion Worlds Four - awesome ongoing adventures set in the Retro-Boot, only in the Bits o' Legionnaire Business Forum.
#934741 - 07/27/17 02:53 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Chemical King]  
Joined: Sep 2013
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thoth lad Offline
Tempus Fugitive
thoth lad  Offline
Tempus Fugitive

Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 18,520
Touring Bgtzl and Bgztl with M...
Originally Posted by Harbinger
This issue gives the basis for every Khund character in my fan-fics - the gossip, the gambling, the disdain for others, the strict hierarchy and paranoia - it all comes from here.


There's so much more to work with seeing a society so tense in such packed, volatile conditions. Much better than the standard Khunds....in..Spaaaace! invading warlords we'd seen before.

Originally Posted by Harbinger
Sorry I don't have the time right now to join in the discussions properly but I will o in a couple of weeks when I have more time.


Looking forward to it.

Originally Posted by Chemical King
I really love those Pre-great Darkness stories. They do have the right mixture that I consider make the Legion so great: There are a lot of tiny tidbits from different characters, nearly everybody plays at least a minor role or has a minor story. There is a larger story with Chams expedition to Khundia, but there is still time for smaller character pieces and shorter stories like Medicus One. And the artwork is terrific!


There's something refreshing with a cast reshuffle under a new writer. Levitz does seem to give everyone something to do, which is always welcome. I'm sure from lettercols that giving panel time to everyone was something he considered. Like you said Chemical King, it's just that right mixture during this period.

Originally Posted by Chemical King
These stories are kind of special for me for another reason: They are the first ones that were no longer translated into German (they somehow stopped with Reflecto, doing just two further specials publishing the Annual #1 and #300).


They probably thought it couldn't get any better after Reflecto smile "Great Darkness Saga? Feh! It is nothing compared to the creepy identity crisis of Kal-Jo!"


Originally Posted by Chemical King
So they kind of are the stories that are a direct sequel to my childhood Legion days, and it took me over ten years to finally be able to read them in the English original. In the Annual, there are references to Chams Khundia adventure and Imras intimate moment with Timber Wolf - it was very interesting to actually see that so many years later. I am glad that these stories are included in the Great Darkness Hardcover version smile


Thanks for sharing that. That's something in the favour of continuity. That references in future issues make getting the earlier stories all the more enticing.


"...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."
#934914 - 07/29/17 04:02 AM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Harbinger]  
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 15,346
Fat Cramer Offline
Fat Cramer  Offline


Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 15,346
Cafť Cramer
Originally Posted by Dave Hackett
Thanks a lot for spoiling the villain at the end FC! wink


Tsk! Since I'm on the spoiler roll, the baby is Izaya. smile And Brin & Imra get all huggy next issue!

Originally Posted by thoth lad

This is a cover thatís never captured me. A mediocre looking villain bests three Legionnaires, while the display tells us that they didnít stand much of a chance. Looking at it now, the leering crowd is probably its best feature. Design wise, itís by the book. Split it into three horizontally and you have the logo plus the ďvs KharlakĒ while the middle has the action and the bottom has the crowd. All nicely separated. Split it vertically and Kharlak takes the centre, with space on either side to focus our attention on that action. Actually, that Legion logo could be part of the betting display so it gets some points for that. - From " A cover in Nine Panels " by K Giffen.


You just made the cover more interesting!

Quote
Iíve always been struck (ow!) by Aylaís reaction to Garthís tantrum. Sheís hesitant around him in that mood. Are there things about Garthís childhood we donít know about? Is Mekt the only volatile one? Considering Garthís Livewire retcons later on, it would seem not. Even though Ayla may not have seen Garth this wild, I wonder if thereís more behind this one.


Mekt went evil, Garth had a breakdown. Maybe his 5YL calm was the result of medication. Or Imra worked a few mind tricks on him.

Quote
Back on Earth, someone tells Garth the bad news. His hair was never in fashion.


It worked for Prince Valiant!

Quote
Giffen has been showing us transformations when the Legionnaires use their powers, and not just as expected for Cham. Dirk became surrounded by fire when facing Regulus; Vi has a mist like quality when she shifts her size while Garth emits crackling, angry electricity. It consumes him much as the pressures of leadership have, and he storms (pun!) off.


Good point, power made visual adds to the power.

Quote
I have a few mixed feelings about this story. Garthís personality in this arc is what I remember most about him. Most of the worst parts of that are evident here. In fairness, his authority has been questioned and undermined for a long time, resulting in at least one blow out. Perhaps that has weakened his resolve when he feels that things have gone against him here. But previously, before Levitz, there was every chance Garth was getting through his leaderís angst. Here, itís back with added Space Melodrama. He lashes out against his teammates, he sulks, he moans and he offers absolutely nothing as an alternative. Just as Wildfire, absent here, was doing a few issues ago.


Moons of Colu! You're right. Garth is the new Wildfire!

Quote
While Chamís reasons to go to Khundia were genuine enough, it bothered me why heíd leave so many others behind. Even on a scouting mission, the Legion would be stronger in numbers. Similarly, why would Ayla not be part of the rescue team? Sheís pleading Imra to organise it, yet isnít there. Very odd and, as weíll see, very forced in order for the next part of the story to work.

Iím not convinced concerning Chamís mission either. I can see him going off ill prepared. But it all becomes far too vague as the characters are put through the plot hoops leading to their rescue. What exactly are they there to do? What are their goals?


Good points again! (You are racking them up!) Ayla could have gone along and the whole asteroid scene could have still happened; she'd just have found out about it earlier. And while Vi, Gim and Brin might have been duty bound to accompany Cham, they might have tried to question him more and get a plan in place before landing on Khundia.

Originally Posted by Ann Hebistand

In short, 287 is just plain good comics, and I only hope the remainder of my allotted Pre-Baxter issues not only surprise me equally, but maybe even convince me to not take a hiatus between LSH #294 and Baxter #1.


That's a surprise - praise for a Giffen issue, albeit with caveats! wink

Originally Posted by Harbinger
This issue gives the basis for every Khund character in my fan-fics - the gossip, the gambling, the disdain for others, the strict hierarchy and paranoia - it all comes from here.


It's a shame that Khundia wasn't further developed along these lines in the comic. They seemed to go rather one-note with a military society and left aside the gossip, gambling and paranoia.


Holy Cats of Egypt!
#934927 - 07/29/17 12:21 PM Re: Re-Reading the Legion: Archives Volume 18 [Re: Future]  
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 23,447
He Who Wanders Offline
She ran and called him Wildfire.
Happy Birthday He Who Wanders  Offline
She ran and called him Wildfire.

Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 23,447
The Plateaus of Ecstasy
Sorry for the late review; RL has kept swimming against a maelstrom this week. Iíll try to make up for it by discussing this issue more in depth than usual.

287:

ďSave the Suicide SquadĒ has the distinction of being the first fully realized lead story of Levitz Mk. II. The tale springs naturally from the characters and the situation they find themselves in (or have blundered into). Both it and the backup story, ďPrologue to Darkness,Ē bring Levitzís vision of the Legion together in an exciting package that kicks off what has become one of the most lauded eras Legion history. What follows here is a breakdown of the hits and very few misses of this exceptional issue.

THE CHARACTERS

The action in ďSave the Suicide SquadĒ springs naturally out of the characters and reveals them in new and exciting ways.

Chameleon Boy. Still conflicted over his own emotions, Cham leads an ill-advised mission to Khundia, which amounts to an invasion of a hostile world. The Legion did this sort of thing routinely in the past, but now there are constant reminders that Chamís actions may carry legal and political consequences. None of this matters to Cham, though. He browbeats the others with his right to lead the mission and to order them about. This young man desperately clings to a shred of his former identity, which has been demolished by the revelation that R.J. is his father. The only aspect that remains constant for Cham, it seems, is his role as permanent leader of the Espionage Squad.

(This shifting identity comes off as ironic, considering Chamís powers. He has made a career out of imitating other people, animals, and objects. Like an actor who has lost himself in the role he plays, Cham seems to have completely lost any sense of his own identity here.)

Cham seems intoxicated with his own power as Espionage Squad leader. I canít help but wonder if he thinks R.J.ís billions will get him out of any legal difficulties that arise from this missionóor if heís even thinking that far ahead. Perhaps Garth pegged it correctly that Cham is leading a suicide mission. In any case, I couldnít help feeling sorry for Cham as much as I deplored his actions; I wanted his mission to succeed, even though I knew it wouldnít.

Timber Wolf and Shrinking Violet. Brin serves quite well as the thorn in Chamís side. Brin knows the mission is stupid and acts out in anger because he canít do anything else. Vi serves as peacemaker between the two; as others have pointed out, she comes across as ďthe good soldier,Ē the one who follows orders without question. Perhaps, as a long-time member of the Espionage Squad, she has more faith in Cham.


SPOILER WARNING

If I recall correctly, we learn from a later story that Yera, the Durlan impostor, had replaced Vi just before the ill-fated mission to Khundia. If so, this gives us an entirely different perspective on ďViísĒ actions in this story.


Saturn Girl. For me, the real surprise is Imra. For too long, she has played a subservient role as Olí Iron Butt and as Garthís loving lackey. What brings her out of her shell is Ayla. This is the first we've seen of their relationship as sisters-in-law, and it works beautifully. In desperation to save Brin, Ayla turns to Imra, whose response reveals something very interesting and attractive about her: She cares deeply about her friends and colleagues and will break the law to save them.

Imra regains the trailblazing and self-righteous aspect of her personality which was first revealed way back in Adventure 304, when she manipulated the others into electing her as leader of the Legion to save them from death. Later writers would develop this aspect of her personality to an even greater degree in the first Legion Lost mini-series.

Lightning Lad. Garthís resignation as leader also springs naturally from his character and from what has gone before. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader, and Garth gives us a vivid demonstration of this truth. Cosmic Boy is right: Every Legion leader has faced trials, but Garthís head is wedged too far up his hindquarters to see that. He takes Chamís actions personally, and, when the Legion needs him most, he quits as leader. Good riddance.

Colossal Boy. Gim remains a bit player in all this, but an effective one. I can only speculate that he agreed to go along with Imraís mad plan because heís loyal to his teammates, he wants to save Violet (for whom he still has unrequited feelings) and/or out of defiance toward his mother, whose presidential directive has hamstrung the Legion. However, we donít really need to know his motivationónot every Legionnaire needs to ďstarĒ in every story.

KHUNDIA


This story affords us our first real glimpse into Khundia and Khundish culture. The Khunds have always seemed like second-rate Klingons, and that resemblance comes across even stronger here. The Khunds, like the Klingons, are ruled by a merciless warrior ethic with trial by combat as the preferred method of settling disputes. No matteróthe resemblance serves its purpose by showing how ill-prepared the Legionnaires are. When Kharlak orders the disguised Brin to recite ďthe honorable litany of shame and apology,Ē I knew the jig was up. This scene reminded me of any number of WWII films, in which an allied infiltrator, posing as a German soldier, is exposed when someone speaks to him in German and he does not know how to respond. Nothing ruins a cover more quickly than being asked for a match to light a cigarette.

Kharlak himself is simply a means to an end: an obstacle which exposes our heroesí identities and moves the story forward. I would have been disappointed if he had been harder to defeat. Surely the Legionnaires are better than a boastful street thug.

THE ART


As I re-read this story, I noticed some of the weaknesses Annfie has pointed out in Giffenís art. These weaknesses are most apparent in the establishing shots inside Legion HQ (pp. 2, 5, and 11, for example): There is a certain flatness and ďsamenessĒ to the backgrounds which make them appear fake. Nevertheless, Giffenís art is cleaner and more exciting than any art weíve had in quite a while.

I canít help wondering if he felt forced to draw this way. The cartoony, off-the-wall style, which he adopted later, seemed more natural to him (though, in my view, much less appealing).

THE BACK-UP STORY


ďPrologue to DarknessĒ provides an effective setup for the major story line to follow. Itís interesting to read this now, knowing the identity of the master villain and the abandoned world. At the time, I hadnít read Jack Kirbyís Fourth World titles, and Darkseid was an occasional villain Iíd encountered in JLA and elsewhere, so I did not connect the dots. However, the clues are there for those who are more familiar with the character and setting.

As with the Sun Boy ďspotlightĒ last issue, this story frustrates me by revealing little about Mon-El and Shadow Lass. They go through the motions of acting like lovers whose competing desires conflict with their duty as Legionnaires. Shady bemoans their ruined vacation while Lar puts duty first. When the action starts, Lar blunders through the planetís automated defenses, and Shady saves the dayóalbeit unintentionally. They serve the needs of the plot, nothing more.

The Broderick/Mahlstedt art is serviceable but rushed in placesóespecially the first page (Tasmiaís head looks too large for her bubble helmet) and Monís overly dramatic posturing on Page 3.

SUMMATION


When this issue came out, it wasnít among my favorites because it didnít spotlight any of my favorite Legionnaires, except Garth (and in a less than flattering way) and Mon-El (who doesn't do anything interesting). I was also used to larger mission teams, so the three-member team shown here seemed a paltry offering. However, Levitz does so much with all of the Legionnaires featured in the lead story and with the story itself, that he caused me to reevaluate my preconceptions about what good writing is. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

This story rocks. The characters drive the plot, which, in turn, reveals many surprising and long overdue insights about our heroes.


Check out my new Power Club website!

The Semi-Great Gildersleeve - writing, super-heroes, and this 'n' that
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