Friday, December 24, 2010

Timelines: Divergent, Parallel, and Otherwise

I just realized that the current (Retro) Legion is something that we've seldom seen in science fiction. Bear with me, and we'll get to it in a moment.

In SF we're used to the idea of divergent timelines: two or more universes that share the same past, but have different futures. To borrow Doc Brown's graph from the Back to the Future movies, divergent timelines look like this:

The best Legion example is LSH v.2 #300, when Douglas Nolan showed glimpses of these alternate timelines.

Somewhat related, and more familiar, is the idea of parallel timelines: two alternate universes that have different past, present, and futures. The graph looks like this:

The most familiar Legion example is the Legions of Three Worlds. More fundamentally, this is the concept behind the whole DC Multiverse.

The two concepts overlap; if you follow parallel timelines far enough back into the past, you may find that they diverged from a common history.

Now here's what's happening in the Legion that is very seldom seen: convergent timelines. Here, two parallel timelines come together to the same future. Here's the graph:

And here's how the concept relates to the Legion:

The Original Legion and the Retro Legion have different histories. As a minor example, in the Original Legion Mon-El visited Krypton, met Superboy, went into the Phantom Zone almost right away, and stayed there until the Leigon let him out. In the Retro Legion, he didn't visit Krypton, met Clark Kent, went into the Phantom Zone...then was released by Superman and had a 21st century career (including seeded the U.P. worlds) before going back into the Phantom Zone until the Legion released him.

If I understand DC's philosophy, though, the Retro Legion and the Original Legion share the same 31st century "present." The assumption seems to be this: If Levitz had continued writing Legion after the Magic Wars, then the group would have wound up in the same place it is today*. In Legion terms, the timelines look like this:

This idea of convergent timelines isn't brand-new in science Doctor Who there has been talk of collapsing timelines together, and also of "fixed points in time" which may represent the same idea. In written sf, Poul Anderson and Fritz Leiber have played around with similar concepts. But convergent timelines are still largely unexplored territory.

Anyway, for me this insight provides a satisfactory answer to the question of whether the current Legion is an alternate version or the real thing. That answer? It used to be an alternate version, but now it's the real thing.



*No, I don't actually believe that if Levitz had continued the Legion, it would be in the same place today.  In fact, I would vigorously argue that it would be very different. But I'm willing to accept this as an assumption for the sake of argument.

Look at it this way: The Original Legion could have ended up with today's Retro Legion. The Earth-247 Legion and the Earth-Prime Legion couldn't have ended up here. That's good enough for me.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Week of 22 December 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

"The Shape of Death"


Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Earth-Man, Element Lad, Ferro Lad (memorial statue), Invisible Kid (Jacques), Kid Psycho (memorial statue), Karate Kid (Myg) (memorial statue), Karate Kid (Val) (memorial statue), Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, Tellus, Wildfire, S.P. Chief Gigi Cusimano, Dr. Gym'll, Pheebs, Durlans

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Brin, Cham, Dead Val, Gim, Jacques, Jan, Mon, Rokk

Brande's private secretary Pheebs is the latest target of the renegade Durlans, but the Legion is there first to protect him. He explains that Brande was trying to rebuild Durla and bring it into the United Planets, and that he, Pheebs, chose the Durlan leaders who have now started a vendetta against the U.P. Council in Brande's name.

Pheebs' ultimate fate is the end of the fight he's on the ground, bloodied and unmoving, and Dream Girl says "Poor Pheebs." Alive or dead? We'll probably find out next issue.

In the meantime, Tellus brings Dawnstar to Medicus One (attended by a suitless Wildfire), where Dr. Gym'll puts her into a recovery coma. Chief Gigi asks Tellus to telepathically interrogate the Durlan prisoner, but all Tellus learns is that if even one of the Durlans lives, the U.P. Council will die. Is this yet another clue that there's at least one disguised Durlan floating around? Cos says sp explicitly: "Who knows how many Durlan assassins are on the loose?" And Phantom Girl replies, "Or who they're disguised as." (I've still got my eye on Dream Girl, who rather conspicuously did not use her power this issue.)

Cos calls for help from Brainy and Cham; Brainy decides that the two of them will head for Durla to investigate the situation there. Cos leads the phony Zendak to Brainy's lab, where the Durlan sheds his disguise and attacks Cos -- seems that since Cos was there when Brande died, the Durlan has decided that Cos must die for not having done enough to save Brande. Element Lad saves the day by imprisoning the Durlan in an airless shell of what I assume is inertron.

And finally comes the news we were all waiting for: the winner of the election for Leader is Mon-El, with Brainiac 5 as runner-up (and therefore Deputy Leader). Since Mon-El left to become a Green Lantern in the last issue, this is going to be an interesting next few issues. No wonder Paul Levitz said he was furiously rewriting a full year of plots!


Did anyone else squee in delight when Dr. Gym'll wanted cred vouchers authorized? ...And then laugh out loud when Tellus refused to put up with it? Ah, good times.

The Mission Monitor Board shows six groups of Legionnaire symbols. At Headquarters are Cosmic Boy, Phantom Girl, Invisible Kid (Jacques), Earth-Man, Shadow Lass, and Element Lad. Wildfire, Tellus, and (presumably) Dawnstar are at Medicus One. Sun Boy and Quislet seem to be off together on some adventure. Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, and Tyroc are presumably still guarding the U.P. Council. (Jo and Troy's symbols are largely obscured by Tinya's head. At first I thought Tyroc's symbol was Bouncing Boy's, but then I realized that Tyroc's symbol is now the lines-and-circles doohickey from the front of his uniform.) Cosmic Boy's speech balloon obscures at least one symbol, probably Mon-El. And Sensor Girl seems to be on a mission with the One Ring. No, wait, that must be Gates. Not appearing on the Board: Colossal Boy and Dream Girl (fighting Durlans three pages earlier), Brainy and Cham (off to Durla),  Ayla and Vi (off to Imsk), Chameleon Girl (last seen at dinner with Gim and his mother), and Polar Boy. Yera and Brek are probably both off-duty, (unless Yera has gone underground and is infiltrating the Durlans), but I don't know why the others don't appear on the Board.

Interlac translations: On page 9, "Gate 5." On pages 25-26, drawers in Brainy's lab are maked with alhpanumeric codes like 87-C and such. Page 29, Mon-El is "elected."

From drawer 87-C Phantom Girl produces "Brainy's old cancellite formula." Cancellite is a spray that neutralizes Durlans' shape-shifting powers. It would have been the perfect weapon, but ultimately it isn't used...Element Lad saves the day.

In the Hall of Heroes, there's a statue of a chubby guy with a mask and cape. My first thought was "Wow, Reflecto has really let himself go," but then I realized that I had no idea who this guy is/was. Anyone? Bueller, Bueller?

Election Stats:

Votes: Mon-El (7); Brainiac 5 (6); Polar Boy (3); Earth-Man and Sun Boy (2 each); Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Gates (1 each). Dawnstar registered no vote because she is in a coma.

If Dawnstar had voted for Brainy, there would have been a tie. I think Dawnstar has better judgment than to vote for Brainy, but I thought the same thing about Imra and she voted for Brainy. Anyway, if Briany wants to contest the election, he may have a valid point. In fact, he may have more than one: see the next point.

There were  25 candidates and 25 voters -- but they weren't identical. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl voted but were not candidates...they are on a leave of absence, but are you going to tell them they can't vote? Chameleon Girl and Mon-El didn't vote and were not registered on the tally board. Okay, Mon-El is theoretically on some sort of detached duty...but then wouldn't he have been ineligible to win? And what about Yera? She vanished from the Monitor Board and from the vote tallies. Yep, something's up with her. Like I said, probably infiltrating the Durlans.

Dream Girl voted for Sun Boy, who lost. Hmmm...wouldn't she already know who was going to win? More evidence, perhaps, that Dream Girl is not displaying any predictive ability. Yep, something's up with her. Like I said, probably a Durlan.

Brainy and Polar Boy both voted for themselves. This used to be somewhat of a Legion taboo, but I think I remember that Brek voted for himself last time he ran, also...and if Brainy reasoned that he was the best candidate, no mere taboo would keep him from voting for himself.

Mon-El has been Leader at least twice before: for a half-term that began in Action #392, and a for a full term beginning in Superboy #190. There have been at least two three-term Leaders before: Element Lad and Cosmic Boy. (I say "at least" because we don't know for sure who served (if anyone) between Jeckie's term at the end of the Magic Wars and Cosmic Boy's term at the beginning of Superman and the LSH.) However, both Mon and Jan served incomplete terms: Mon's half-term, and Jan's takeover when Lightning Lad resigned the position in LSH (v.2) #287. So Cosmic Boy remains the champion, having served at least three full terms.


When we first met Brande's personal secretary in Adventure #516 (2010/09), his name was spelled "Pheebes." Here it's "Pheebs" without the third e.

Pheeb(e)s speaks of Brande's desire to bring Durla "back into the United Planets" -- but as far as I know, Durla was never actually in the U.P. to begin with. Unless it was a U.P. protectorate or something.

Dr. Gym'll is shown with four arms. Historically, he has had three...but this isn't the first time we've seen a fourth arm. I suggest that Gym'll's people have a retractable fourth arm that emerges when needed.

Up until now, symbols on the Monitor Board have been in alphabetical order (within teams). Now they're all over the place.

FINAL THOUGHTS: With Mon-El winning the election, it's going to be a fun year. I can't wait!


SUPERMAN/BATMAN #79 (2010/02)
"World's Finest Part One"


Mon-El, Phantom Girl

CUTE BOYS: Mon-El, of course. Robin. And then there's Robin the Toy Wonder...there's a certain charm to a robot that looks (somewhat) like Robin...I'll bet I could think of a way to make him shut up, nudge nudge wink wink.

This takes place in the 853rd century of DC's One Million. But the Legion cameos came as a complete surprise; they come as the Lord of Time is traveling backwards through "tesseract space," which seems to be the Phantom Zone. He passes Phantom Girl (in her pigtails and bell-bottoms) and Mon-El (looking all butch) as well as Zod, Ursa, and Non. I was hoping for a glimpse of Chris Kent as well, but alas, no.


HOUSEKEEPING: The Retro Legion has been around long enough now that I've started collecting custom icons for them. I'll continue using the regular icons for the teen Legion and for dead Legionnaires.


Week of 15 December 2010

Sorry this is late. I did not see any Legion content in DC Comics this week.

In other comics news, apparently Brightest Day is still going on...which means I'm saving a lot of money by not buying the endless tie-in titles.

In the new Superboy comic, the devilishy cute and unspeakably brilliant Simon Valentine (right) continues his romantic pursuit of Conner...who remains oblivious to the adorable young genius. Seems to me that a nice, sweet romance with another boy is just what Conner needs right now.

Simon looks a little like Jimmy Olsen, and who could possibly object to a little Simon/Jimmy/Conner hot action?

Ah. well, Simon will probably turn out to be (a) related to Luthor, (b) evil, (c) an alien, (d) a girl, (e) hopelessly heterosexual, or possibly all of the above. But seriously, I would really respect the creative team if Simon turns out to be gay, have a crush on Conner, AND be so utterly useful that Conner has to keep him around. And finally, after Damian Wayne is a few years older and less of a twit, Simon can get over Conner and live happily ever after with Damian....


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Week of 8 December 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

DCU HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2010 #1 (2010/02)


Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Element Lad, Gates, Invisible Kid (Jacques), Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Polar Boy, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Sun Boy, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, Wildfire

CUTE BOYS: Brek, Brin, Dirk, Garth, Gim, Jacques, Jan, Jo, Rokk...and don't miss shirtless Anthro in the first story in this comic

Oh Holiday, the UP-wide day of rest and relaxation, there's no rest for the Legion. Science Police Control sends several groups of Legionnaires on emergency missions that turn out to be innocent situations. Brainiac 5 leads them to S.P. Control, which is an artificial intelligence that's been operating continuously for decades. Its false alarms were a cry for help -- help which Brainy supplies by turning off the machine and allowing it to reboot, clearing out decades of accumulated errors.

Control reboots, and says that this was the longest break it's had in centuries. now it feels refreshed enough to face another thousand years. Nevertheless, Brainy says that he will build an annual one second rest into the AI's operating protocol.

All available Legionnaires show up (courtesy of Gates) to answer the alarm of a break-in at S.P. Control. Dawnstar says that it looks like they will be spending Holiday with friends and family after all.


Holiday: According to Element Lad, the U.P. "combined all of the cultural, ethnic, and seasonal festivals of olden days into this one day...a day where citizens could peacefully celebrate with their friends."

This is the first we've heard of Holiday. In the past, individual Legionnaires celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah, and other "cultural, ethnic, and seasonal festivals." In addition, we've seen the Legion celebrating Klordny.

"Holiday" is one of those ideas that sounds okay when you first encounter it, but gets more problematical the more you think about it. Were all the cultures, ethnicities, and religions of the 31st century happy to subsume their own holidays into Holiday? What about the Earth xenophobes...would they happily accept the U.P.'s imposition of this new Holiday? Or would they fight back?

Plus...are we to believe that everything in the U.P. shuts down for a day? That's certainly the implication: every place the Legion goes is deserted -- presumably everyone is home celebrating. But what about emergency services? Medical emergencies? Law enforcement? Power, water, food? One of the reasons that Christmas and Hanukkah work in today's world is that those who don't celebrate stay on duty in essential posts. If everybody has the same day off, who shows up for work?

Still, it was a nice story.

Control: When Chameleon Boy was in the 21st century during the Brainiac storyline, he masqueraded as a Science Police officer known as "Control." Did he bring that term back with him? And did the S.P.'s keep it for the next thousand years?

Brainy describes the Control AI as "a cloud of nano-mist particles." That's a nice term. I give Brainy an A+ for technobabble.


R.E.B.E.L.S. 23 (2010/02)
"To Be a R.E.B.E.L. conclusion"


Adam Strange, Amon Hakk, Captain Comet, Lobo, Lyrl Dox, Starfire, Vril Dox, Wildstar, Xylon, Astrild Stormdaughter, Smite, Starro

CUTE BOYS: Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Lyrl Dox, Vril Dox

The interminable feud between L.E.G.I.O.N. and the Green Lanterns concludes amid Psion and Citadellian mischief and attempted double-crossing by the Doxes. But really, the more interesting development is the return of Starro (along with his boy-toy Smite and his dyke friend Astrild).

If they can't bring in any real Legionnaires, I guess Starro and his posse are the next best hope for making this comic fun again. (Time out for musing on how quickly and easily the Legion would wipe the floor with Starro & company.)



Sunday, December 05, 2010

Week of 1 December 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

ADVENTURE 521 (2011/02)
"The Summons of the Ring"


Chemical King (memorial statue), Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Earth-Man, Element Lad, Ferr Lad (memorial statue), Invisible Kid (Jacques), Invisible Kid (Lyle), Karate Kid (Val) (memorial statue), Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Polar Boy, Quislet, Shadow Lass, Sun Boy, Tellus, Tyroc, Wildfire, Dyogene

CUTE BOYS: Brek, Dirk, Gim, Jacques, Jan, Lar, Rokk

Dyogene shows up at Legion HQ in order to examine the Legionnaires to choose a new Green Lantern. Meanwhile, a team deals with the aftermath of an earthquake in east-central Africa. Dawnstar and Wildfire determine that the quake was caused by something emerging from Olduvai Gorge. The mysterious thing speeds off into space, blasting Drake and Dawny when they try to follow. Mon-El accepts a power ring from Dyogene dons a cool Green Lantern suit, and flies off into next issue.


Shady is (deservedly, IMHO) pissed that Dyogene passed her over for the power ring.

Symbols on the mission monitor board show the following groups:

  • Element Lad, Invisible Kid, Sun Boy, Tellus
  • Timber Wolf, Tyroc, Ultra Boy (still guarding the U.P. Council?)
  • Dawnstar, Wildfire (in space, blasted by a thing)
  • Brianiac 5, Chameleon Boy (on Naltor with Dr. Li)
  • Earth-Man (blank symbol), Shadow Lass (outside HQ)
  • Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl (on leave)
  • Lightning Lass, Shrinking Violet (gone to Imsk)

Not appearing on the board, but present, are Colossal Boy, Dream Girl, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Polar Boy, and Quislet.

Mon-El says to Dyogene, "I...I'm not what you think..." Huh? I'm guessing that we'll come back to this at some point.

Wildfire's containment suit now contains an emergency beacon that triggers in case of system failure. A wise addition, considering how often Drake's suit gets blasted open.

The contrast between Sodam Yat and Mon-El is an interesting one. Both have survived the past thousand years: Mon in the Phantom Zone, Sodam Yat preserved by the power of the Ring. Sodam seems to be broken and despairing; Mon-El is powerful and a symbol of hope. Both are potentially the most powerful beings in the universe.


Element Lad stops a fire by turning the oxygen in the air to xenon, then back to oxygen before trapped students can choke. I suspect that there would be enough heat left for the fires to start back up when oxygen was restored -- but I'm wiling to give Jan this one.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Week of 27 November 2010

I did not see any Legion content in DC comics this week. I did have a great dinner that would have satisfied Matter-Eater Lad, and I went to a magnificent con that was like a great big Legion meeting (without the super-powers).


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Week of 17 November 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

"The Shifting Shape of Revenge"


Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Earth-Man, Mon-El, Polar Boy, Shadow Lass, Sun Boy, Timber Wolf, Tyroc, Ultra Boy, Durlans, Durlan masquerading as S.P. Chief Zendak

CUTE BOYS: Brek, Brin, Dirk, Jo, Lar, Rokk, Troy, several S.P. officers

Durlan assassins kill one of the U.P. councilors from Winath, but the Legion exposes the Durlans and prevents them from killing the councilor's twin. They take one of the Durlans into custody. Sun Boy, Polar Boy, and Dream Girl talk about the Leader election. Mon-El, who's been sulking in his quarters, confronts Earth-Man about Shadow Lass, and gets the better of the interaction. When Earth-Man returns, Shady comforts him but they are interrupted by the sudden appearance of Dyogene.


Looks like Shadow Lass might be the next Legionnaire offered the Green Lantern ring. Well finally, that little green larva is showing some taste! Shady would make an excellent Green Lantern. (Although...first Rond Vidar, now Shady...what is it with the Green Lanterns and people who've been in love with Brainiac 5?)

Tyroc has been working on his sonic powers, and he uses them in several interesting ways. The most imaginative is using ultrasound to conduct a quick autopsy of the murdered councilor. The dynamic art, by Cinar and Faucher, just makes Tyroc's powers even more striking. In addition, Levitz is refining Tyroc's personality...we get a glimpse of Troy's detective side, which we've never seen before. In the past, Tyroc has been as one-dimensional as Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker -- angry, resentful, combative. He deserves to be more than a single-note symphony.

Not that Paul Levitz needs any help from me, but I suggest getting Troy Stewart a boyfriend, right away. I think Jacques would be a good choice, and not just because they're both black; gentle Jacques and fiery Tyroc would complement each other well. Alternatively, Tenzil would make a good companion to Troy; they'd both get a lot out of the relationship.

With the way "Zendak" is acting hostile toward the Legion, you'd think someone would suspect that it's not him. Very out of character.

Speaking of our-of-character...I don't believe Shady in love with Earth-Man, nor Mon and Shady broken up. I think it's all an act, a feint, a plot on Mon & Shady's part...possibly engineered by Brainy. We still don't know what Mon and Brek were doing on Daxam. Time will tell.

Polar Boy has a new arm, and it's not a robot one. I presume that Dr. Gym'll was able to regrow it, possibly with some variation of the Zan Orbal technique.

Dream Girl freaks out when Sun Boy almost touches her hair. This also seems a bit out of character. In the past, Dreamy's primary cosmetic concern has been with her fingernails, not her hair. With all these Durlans floating about, and with Paul Levitz at the reins, one must always be alert to the possibility that the Legion has been infiltrated. Could Dream Girl be a Durlan? Another clue, or a red herring? How does Levitz do it?

Having Timber Wolf sniff out the Durlan incense was a masterful use of his "enhanced senses." Any fool can use super-vision (sorry, Jo), but how often do you see a hero using super-smell? (And while we're at it, did anybody else think the scene of Brin rasslin' with Brin was kinda hot? Imagine the posibilities....

CHRONICLER'S ERROR?: This story is identified as happening in "Metropolis, 3010" -- the cover date of the comic is 2011. As regular readers know, I have no objection to identifying the Legion's time with a specific long as it stays consistent. We'll see....

Tyroc's homeworld is once again identified as Marzal. Used to be, Marzal was an island, not a world. OTOH, this isn't the first time for this particular "error." Perhaps there's more here than meets the eye. Maybe we can hope for a "spotlight on Tyroc" issue sometime in the future -- especially if Tyroc wins the post of Leader (or even Deputy).


"Inquiring Minds"

Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, High Seer Beren, Dr. Harmonia Li

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Cham (looking exceptionally cuddly this time around)

Brainy destroys a time sphere he's trying to repair. He and Cham go to Naltor, where Beren has a vision of Cham being attacked by his fellow Legionnaires. Brainy visits the enigmatic Dr. Li, and reiterates the mysteries about her: She escaped from the destruction of Titan without harm and without being quesitoned; she gets sent to Naltor and is embraced by the planet's ruler; she was offered (and refused) a Green Lantern ring; and she's much older than any data file admits. When Brainy confronts her, she says "I am who I say I am." She reveals that she is originally from Earth. Then she announces that she's returning to Earth to cooperate with Brainy, saying "I understand you've recently come into an inheritance from my old friend Mister Brande."


Beren has a vision of Cham being attacked by his fellow Legionnaires. My guess is that he's actually seeing the Legionnaires attack another Durlan who has taken Cham's form.

Dr. Li plays a yangquin, which is a type of hammer dulcimer from central Asia. In a previous issue we were told that Tibet (in central Asia) is off-limits to tourism. Betcha this has something to do with Harmonia Li and her "work exploring time." We know that she taught Circadia Senius; she also calls R.J. Brande "my old friend." 

Say "DC Comics," "Tibet," and "time anomaly" together, and what springs to mind? Nanda Parbat, the Shangri-La of the DC Universe -- a hidden Tibetan city involved with all sorts of magical goings-on, were time passes differently than in the rest of the world. Deadman is involved with the place, Batman apparently trained there for a while, and a goddess named Rama Kushna rules the place. I'm guessing that Dr. Li has something to do with Nanda Parbat.

Naltor earns a substantial amount by leasing their people out to the rest of the U.P. as starpilots. This is the kind of brilliant attention to detail that makes the Legion good science fiction.

Brainy says "It's been a rough time." He says "It took months for the Legion to get to Colu to implement my plan, and then it was good 'politics' to allow Superman to get all the credit. And in the ensuing compromise, Earthgov makes us take that thuggish Earth-Man." He's talking about the events of the Superman and the LSH series, which happened two and a half years ago, but only recently in the Legion's timeline.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Week of 10 November 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

R.E.B.E.L.S. #22 (2011/01)
"To Be A R.E.B.E.L. Part 2"


Adam Strange, Amon Hakk, Bounder, Captain Comet, Ciji, Lobo, Starfire, Tribulus, Vril Dox, Wildstar, Xylon

CUTE BOYS: Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Final Fantasy XIV Guy on Back Cover

The R.E.B.E.L.S. meet, with Dox, to protest Dox's publicity campaign against the Green Lantern Corps. Meanwhile, Starfire and rookie Green Lantern Gorius Karkum go to the Psion hoemworld, where Starfire finds out that the Psions routinely imprison their women and use them as breeding stock. They fight a bunch of Psions. Starfire returns home, where she convinces Dox to break off L.E.G.I.O.N.'s contract with the Psions. The Psions, meanwhile, are breeding something really nasty.

Frankly, this comic has become rather lackluster since the battle with Starro finished up. I've come up with a number of ways to improve it, which I offer freely:

1. More Legion content and references. R.E.B.E.L.S. is a Legion spinoff, and it should have a closer connection to the Legion universe. Maybe some R.E.B.E.L.S. could go to the 31st century, or some Legionnaires could come back to visit, or something similar.

2. What's up with Tribulus? He's a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a big head that shoots lightning. Let's see more of him, his background, and his connection (if any) to Validus.

3. More romance, kissing, etc. Catpain Comet and Adam Strange would be a good start. Lyrl Dox needs to find a good-looking boyfriend to get naked with. Ciji should turn into a hot guy much more often than she does (which is pretty much never). There have got to be lots of other super-powered cute boys elsewhere in the universe who would love to be part of R.E.B.E.L.S. And the hot Final Fantasy XIV guy on the back cover looks lonely....

4. Follow up on some of the other L.E.G.I.O.N.naires. What are Garryn Bek and Mrij'n up to nowadays? How about Lydea Mallor? Telepath? What's up with Davroth Catto? Where's Zena Moonstruk been keeping herself? Wouldn't Borb Borbb be useful to have around?

5. Keep resisting the temptation to add gorillas, giant or otherwise. It never helps.

6. Did I mention that we need some Legion guests? Particularly some of the cuter boys?


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Week of 3 November 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

ADVENTURE #520 (2011/01)
'Tragedy: The Death of Lightning Lad"


Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid (Lyle), Lightning Lad (died), Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Phantom irl, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, Triplicate Girl, Ultra Boy, S.P. Lieutenant Zendak

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Chuck, Dirk, Garth, Gim, Jo, Kal, Mon, Rokk, Tenzil, Thom, cute boy in crowd over Chuck's left shoulder on page 1 (anyone else think he looks a little like Tenzil's sexy little bro Renkil?)

This story tells the immediate aftermath of Lightning Lad's death: his funeral, the Legion mopping up Zaryan's gang, and Saturn Girl's anguish as she must decide whether or not to resign. In flashbacks we witness the events that led to Garth's death, including Imra's election as Leader, as told 216 issues ago in Adventure #320. The story ends with Imra vowing that the Legion will find a way to reverse the freeze ray and restore Garth to life.


Notice that Superboy and Supergirl are both present at the same time. Last week, in Supergirl Annual #2, Brainy said that "Superboy cannot come to future while [Spergirl's] here. One potential threat to the space/time continuum at a time." That didn't last too long, did it? It looks as if Paul Levitz has decided to ignore last week's chronicler's error. I think we can tacitly assume that Supergirl's Legion career unfolded pretty much the same way it did the first time around.

Legion Roster: The roster of Legionnaires is pretty much identical to that presented Adventure #304, with two exceptions. Phantom Girl and Star Boy were absent from Adventure #304, even though both were certainly Legionnaires at the time. In fact, Phantom Girl didn't start appearing regularly until Adventure #316; and after his first appearance in Adventure #282, Thom didn't show up again until Adventure #310. This can only have been an oversight by the original creative teams. Levitz correctly shows both of them in action during this period.

Saturn Girl glosses over the events of Adventure #304 in a quick bit of narration: "...we needed to elect a new Leader for the first time since the Legion's founding. So I cheated, and planted the thought in everyone's head that I was [Rokk's] natural successor...use[d] my authority as Leader to ground the others. Use[d] one of Brainiac 5's experimental substances to borrow their powers long enough to stop Zaryan." No mention of spectrium medallions with her picture on them, but I think we can forgive that. Still, I'd love to have one of those medallions....

Funeral Attendees: In Adventure #304, only 10 people were shown attending Garth's funeral: Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Mon-El, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, and...Lori Lemaris(!) It's hard to believe that Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, Matter-Eater Lad, Triplicate Girl, and Ultra Boy all refused to go to the funeral, or were on a mission at the time. In this story, all are present except for Lori Lemaris. I think the difference is easily explained: in Adventure #304 the funeral got 3 panels, where here it gets a full double-page spread. And Lori Lemaris was probably washing her hair.

Mysteriously Absent are R.J. Brande (who is, at least, mentioned) and Garth's parents & sister. One assumes that the Ranzz family couldn't get passage from Winath to Earth in time for the festivities.

The black armbands with a lightning bolt are a fine touch.

I feel like I've seen Imra's orange vest and green tights outfit before (as opposed to the orange underwear with green jacket and leggings outfit that she wears on Titan). At first I thought it was what she was wearing in the first "Origin of the LSH" story in Superboy #147, but no. Anyone recognize it?

The image of a giant ghostly Garth hovering over Titan on the last page echoes a panel in Adventure #304, as aliens mourn Lightning Lad. I'm impressed by this attention to detail.

As in Adventure #304, Lightning Lad's coffin is placed under perpetual lightning bolts. In the original story the lightning was symbolic; Levitz makes the electrical discharge serve the duty of protecting his cells from deterioration, paving the way for Garth's eventual reanimtion. That's the way it's done.


Saturn Girl's ID bubble gives her name as "Imra Ardeen-Ranzz," which is technically incorrect: it's only with Garth's death that she even realizes she loves him. As always, I am inclined to be lenient with this one.

Invisible Kid's bubble identifies him as "Jacques Foccart," and this time I'm going to allow complaining. This Invisible Kid is Lyle Norg. Yes, I know it's confusing to have two different Invisible Kids in comics that are published in the same month. But still...uh, guys? Some better proofreading, maybe?

Now it's the 30th century. Last issue (which preceded this story, chronologically) it was the 31st. Hey, DC: I have two compromises to offer you. Compromise #1 (which has no chance in hell of happening): stick to a fixed chronology for the Legion. Start off with "The year 2992" or whatever, and keep track of your dates. Compromise #2: Can you say "About a thousand years from now"?


SUPERBOY #1 (2011/01)
"Coming Soon..."


Superboy (Kal-El), Superboy (Conner)

CUTE BOYS: Conner, Kal, Conner's boy-toy Simon Valentine

Even though the Legion has had an intimate connection with the Superboy comic since the very beginning, I don't intend to include Conner's new title here unless there is actual Legion content.

In this issue, the "Coming Soon..." feature shows "Superboy Meets Superboy?!" and pictures Kal and Conner shaking hands while a big orange planet circled by debris hangs in the sky behind them. Here's the thing: in current continuity, Superboy (Kal) is pretty much only seen in connection with the Legion. So on the strength of his appearance, I'm counting this as a Legion appearance.


"A Moment in Time"


Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Lightning Lad, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Star Boy, Ultra Boy, Wildfire, Jim Lee, Paul Levitz

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Dirk, Garth, Jo, Mon, Thom (but I liked him better before the beard), Jim Lee

Paul Levitz actually wrote this story just before he took up the reins of the Legion again. It's set in the Modern (1970s) period of the Legion.

Saturn Girl, Ultra Boy, and Wildfire return to Headquarters after (barely) breaking out of "the Time Trapper's pocket universe." Jo describes the pocket universe as a crazy existence where "we were everywhere at once -- no limits -- as though it was a story, and we could change anything we wanted." He describes seeing Mon-El crash-land in the 20th century, the Kents serving him breakfast, and reading Saturn Girl's mind and experiencing her jealousy of Dream Girl.

Meanwhile, Dream Girl, Saturn Girl, and Brainiac 5 are sitting near the Miracle Machine, when Brainy is pulled out of time and lands in the offices of DC Comics on Earth-Prime in roughly the present day. He confronts Jim Lee and Paul Levitz (Lee says "It's even more fun drawing you than reading about you when I was a kid.") Lee (who as the artist can alter Brainy's reality) plays a trick or two, then send Brainy back home. We are left with Paul Levitz scratching his head (while clutching a book of "Untold History of the DC Universe") and Jim Lee grinning.

It's a cute little story, probably completely out of continuity, except...that mention of "the Time Trapper's pocket universe." Longtime readers will remember that the pocket universe (or, at least, a pocket universe) was the immediate post-John-Byrne retcon designed to preserve Superboy's place in Legion history. As with most retcons of the period, this one got more and more complicated as reset followed reset -- the pocket universe got involved with Supergirl/Matrix, and the SW6 Legion, and Glorith, and who knows what else, until Zero Hour came along and wiped everything out.

Problem is, the pocket universe was a pretty important part of the Legion's continuity. Not only did it produce a really great story (the death of Superboy), but it also led to the Conspiracy storyline and the big attack against the Time Trapper that revealed Rond Vidar as a Green Lantern. While the original rationale for the pocket universe is no longer necessary (may John Byrne rot in peace forever), removing it from Legion continuity would be difficult.

I'm glad to see Levitz establish that there was/is a pocket universe, and I'm eager to see what he's going to do with it in coming stories.


"Cosmic Boy"

This is a hand-painted lead figurine of Cosmic Boy, accompanied by a 14-page magazine all about Cos and the Legion in their various manifestations through the decades. The figurine is exquisite, and the magazine is pretty good. Definitely worth having.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Week of 27 October 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

"Supergirl & the Legion of Super-Heroes"


Brianiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Sun Boy, Supergirl, Triplicate Girl, Satan Girl

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Dirk, Garth, Gim, Rokk, assorted Metropolis citizens

A flaming satellite falls toward 30th century Metropolis. It's stopped by Supergirl and the Legion. We learn that the cause was one of Brainy's experiments, exposing an ancient Brocian statue to "chronon energy." The satellite blows up.

Flashback to Supergirl's arrival in the 30th century, a few months ago. She was flying along in a spaceship which malfunctioned, sending her to the 30th century (why not?) The Legionnaires begged her to stay, so she did.

Back to the main story, where Supergirl visits the Superman Museum and finds that "during one of the greatest battles in history, she was killed stopping the worst threat the Earth had ever known." She freaks out.

But wait, Brainy summons her for urgent help. Seems that his chronon energy has drawn an ancient Brocian evil goddess named Satan Girl, and she's out to enslave the Earth. Working together, Supergirl and Brainy defeat her and free the Legion from her nefarious influence.

The Legionnaires take Supergirl back to the 21st century, where Saturn Girl gives her a hypnotic treatment, similar to the one she gave Superboy, so that she won't remember details of what she learned in the future.

I was a little disappointed in this story. I was expecting a Levitz-like story that would fit the current Supergirl into Retro Legion continuity without too many alterations from Classic continuity, answering all sorts of knotty questions. Instead, we didn't really learn anything that we didn't know already.

Instead of being a constant (if irregular) presence in the early Legion, Supergirl visits the Legion for a few months. Instead of meeting and interacting with her cousin Superboy, she is told that the two of them can't be in the future at the same time.

I was rather hoping that they would establish that Supergirl was fated to die in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, in the past but at a later time in her own personal timeline. Well, they left the nature of her death unrevealed, but at least they didn't say anything that contradicts my theory.

All in all, it was a rather straightforward story that made some nods to classic continuity, but it just wasn't up to the high standard that Paul Levitz has set in his Adventure revisits of Legion history. I'd have preferred it if Satan Girl had somehow been an evil doppleganger of Supergirl. I'd have preferred it if they'd made more of an attempt to integrate some of the old stories. I'd have preferred it if they'd had the boy Cartar play more of a part, rather than dropping him after he got the Satan Girl plague.

Maybe Kara was actually visiting yet another alternate future, instead of the Retro Legion we know.

Oh, well. Mediocre Legion is better than no Legion at all.


Supergirl says that this 30th century "wasn't the 30th century I'd visited before, either." I believe she's speaking of the 31st century of the Earth-Prime Legion.

In classic Legion continuity, Supergirl and Brainiac 5 joined the Legion at the same time. Prior to that, Supergirl applied for membership (digging up a number of historic artifacts, including King Arthur's sword), but was rejected because Red Kryptonite had made her too old. When she and Brainy joined, Brainy gave her a force shield belt which protected her from a Green Kryptonite meteor, which she smashed to pieces.

The blue vaporlike creature at the bottom of page 18 is the Negative Man; in classic continuity Supergirl fought him in Action 287 (1962/04) "Supergirl's Greatest Challenge."

In classic continuity, Satan Girl was a Red-Kryptonite induced evil twin of Supergirl.

While criticizing Cosmic Boy's leadership skills, Sun Boy says "If he can't stand the heat, maybe we should vote in someone who can." The fact that a Leader election is on his mind shows that this story takes place in the same time frame as current stories in Adventure.

Interlac translations: 
On the Daily Planet globe: "daily planet" (the p is backwards)
On the falling satellite: "Time Institute"
On viewscreen inside the satellite: "DANGER"
In Brainy's telescope: "subject kryptonian...Subect [sic] Supergirl...Scanning"
Above the museum door: "Superman museum"
On Brainy's cellphone: "READY"

Lyle: Halfway through the story, Invisible He isn't seen again.

Gim: When Colossal Boy is enlarged, the lettering in his word balloons is huge. It's a nice effect.


The teenage Legion is explicitly stated to be in the 30th (not 31st) century. This sort of thing is going to keep happening.

Colossal Boy is missing his yellow shoulder-thingies.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week of 20 October 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

DCU: LEGACIES #6 (2010/12)


Cosmic Boy (standard cover only), Sun Boy (standard cover only), Supergirl (standard cover only), Ultra Boy

Aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earth and Legends. The only Legion appearances are cameos.

This issue came with two covers. The variant cover is a Legion-specific one, because DC knows that they can always milk the dependable Legion fans for extra bucks.


DCU: LEGACIES #6 (2010/12)
"Snapshot: Revision!"


Brainiac 5, Brainiac 5 (animated), Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Earth-Man, Gates, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Sensor Girl, Shadow Lass, Star Boy (Earth-Prime), Superboy/Clark Kent, Supergirl, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, Wildfire, Proty, Mano, Tharok, Validus

CUTE BOYS: Are you kidding? With Keith Giffen drawing them? Giffen makes everyone look repulsive.

A not-in-continuity tale in which multiple versions of the Leigon appear to young Clark Kent, all asking him to join them. They bicker with one another until Clark finally tells them to get back to him when they can agree on what the Legion means.

This story reeks of Giffen. (I know he didn't write it, but his fingerprints are all over it.) I don't mind a humorous story, but this story isn't so much funny as it is mocking. Legionnaires of various eras and universes come together in the presence of someone they consider the greatest hero of all time, and all they do is snark and bicker at one another, leaving Clark (and the reader) disgusted. Not only does the Legion get no respect; in this story, they don't deserve respect. (And Keith Giffen has made it adequately clear over the years that he feels no respect for the Legion.)

At least the art is better than Giffen's work on the Legion in the past. It is actually possible to distinguish one character from another. With the exception of Superman, no one has their features utterly obscured by shadows. The panels are all laid out in precise (and boring) grids, but at least they aren't all nine-panel grids. Three pages are a six-panel grid, one nine-panel, one an astonishing twelve panels. The first two pages are inverted mirror-images based on the six-panel grid: one large two-column panel, one short two-column panel, and two square one-column panels. The one remaining page is based on the nine-panel grid: three panels along the top, one large panel filling the rest of the page, and...mirabile dictu! inset single panel that doesn't follow a grid.

So you see, an artist can grow and develop with time.

(I am reminded of a review I once read of a new John Updike book. The reviewer was sincerely ecstatic about what a wonderful, refreshingly new thing Updike had done, something so innovative that it would change the shape of literature forever. This wasn't Updike's usual book about a white male English professor suffering a midlife, this one featured a white male History professor suffering a midlife crisis. How innovative!)

I see that some fans are interpreting this story as a slap at the Legion's fabled difficulty for new readers, its large cast of characters and convoluted chronology. (And who had a big hand in convoluting that continuity, Mr. Giffen?) I invite those fans to pretend that they are new readers and pick up one of the Batman books (how many Robins are we up to now?) , or the endless Blackest Night/Brightest Day series (I cut my teeth on Legion continuity, et I bailed out of that train wreck because I couldn't understand what was going on). Or don't stick with DC: open an X-Men book or an issue of Spider-Man and try to imagine how lost a new reader would feel. Yet all of these are immensely popular.

For that matter, new readers seem to be flocking to the Leigon nowadays, despite the convoluted continuity.

It all comes down to the writer. In the hands of a good writer (i.e. Paul Levitz), the Legion's enormous cast and convoluted continuity become strengths. In the hands of a mediocre writer, they are an annoyance. And in the hands of bad writers (say, one whose initials are K.G. or T. & M. B.), they are a barrier to new and established readers alike.


Okay, this is going to get complicated. As near as I can tell, here's where all the Leigonnaires came from:

  • Brainiac 5: There are two: One from the Classic Legion, Postmodern (1980s) period; the other from the animated Superman epidose "New Kids in Town."
  • Chameleon Boy: Classic Legion, Classic (1960s) period
  • Cosmic Boy: Two: Classic Legion, Classic (1960s) period; Classic Legion, Modern (1970s) period
  • Dawnstar: Retro Legion, Adult period
  • Earth-Man: Retro Legion (hologram)
  • Gates: Difficult to tell, but I'd guess Retro Legion, Adult period
  • Light Lass: Classic Legion, Postmodern (1980s) period
  • Lightning Lad: Classic Legion, Classic (1960s) period
  • Saturn Girl: Two: Classic Legion, Classic (1960s) period; Retro Legion, Adult period
  • Sensor Girl: Classic Legion, Postmodern (1980s) period
  • Shadow Lass: Classic Legion, Postmodern (1980s) period
  • Star Boy: Earth-Prime Legion
  • Supergirl: Arrives with Postmodern Light Lass, but is dressed in Classic (1960s) costume
  • Timber Wolf: Classic Legion, Postmodern (1980s) period
  • Ultra Boy: Difficult to tell, but probably Classic Legion, Postmodern (1980s) period
  • Wildfire: Two: Retro Legion, Adult period; Classic Legion, Modern (1970s) or Postmodern (1980s) period




Brainiac 5, Chameleon Girl, Colossal Boy, Earth-Man, Lightning Lass, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, Marte Allon

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Brin, Gim, Jo, Titanian Refugee kid in back seat, Xenophobic attacker

This issue has two covers; the variant one features Brainy and fits together with the last few variant covers to make a big panorama.

At the resquest of Marte Allon, member of the Earthgov Council, a Legion team prevents some Titanian refugees from visiting their ancestors' graves in the Himalayas. Tinya explains that the Tibetan plateau has been a closed zone for generations.

Gim and Yera go to dinner with Marte to find that Earth-Man has been pardoned. She encourages them to keep Earth-Man in the Legion and keep an eye on him, explaining that if he was locked up he would be a martyr, but this way he is a symbol of Earth's redemption.

Tinya and Shady make up after a tiff over Tinya finding Tasmia in bed with Earth-Man. Tasmia explains that her warrior side was attracted to Earth-Man's strength, and opines that his repentance is real. I don't buy either her attraction or his repentance.

As the last of the Titanian refugees leaves Arizona, a cute xenophobic boy attacks. Earth-Man tosses him aside, saying "What a waste."  I presume that he means it was a waste for him to sleep with Tasmia, when he could have been doing the nasty with this adorable kid. We learn from Brainy that Earth-Man's flight ring contains a "morality-enhancing feature" that may be behind his conversion.

Jo and Tinya start making out in the monitor room, but are interrupted by Ayla and Vi departing for the upcoming Annual Imsk for the holidays. Vi says she is going to get Ayla "back in condition." Euphemisms, always euphemisms.

Finally, Brainy is a work on his lifelong project to eliminate cockroaches, when Earth-man pays him a visit. The now-pardoned Earth-Man hands back his enhanced flight ring and demands one without mind-control features. He also says that while he is convinced that he has to work with offworlders, that doesn't mean he likes them...and he particularly dislikes Brainy. Twit.


Colossal Boy's father, Wynn Allon, is nowhere in evidence, nor is he mentioned. Since he was a high military officer with the Science Police (possibly an Admiral?), it's possible that he's away...or has he died? Dunno.

Shadow Lass and Phantom Girl, Shady says that Tinya will always be her best friend. I can't say I particularly noticed any special friendship between the two before, but it makes sense -- their powers could be said to have some similarities. In any case, it explains why Tinya was accustomed to bursting into Shady's room without knocking.

 Hmmm...if that's so, then one imagines that Tinya might have walked in on Shady and Mon in bed before this. Did Shady and Mon only do it in his room? Or is there more going on? Are the two couples (Mon/Shady and Tinya/Jo) better friends than we ever suspected? What a thought! Maybe those Jo/Mon fantasies weren't so far off the mark after all.

Incidentally, Shady is shown misting some potted cacti. We know that Talok VIII had vast desert areas; are these cacti a reminder of home? Nice touch.

What's up with Tibet? The ancestors of the Titanians (or at least this one Titanian family) were Tibertan. And Tibet has been a closed area for generations. Mark my words, this will reappear.




Cosmic Boy, Duplicate Damsel, Lightning Lad, Magnetic Kid, Saturn Girl, Sensor Girl, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy; Computo, Gigi Cusimano, Ewa Krinn; Durlan (as Zendak)
Legion Academy: Chemical Kid, Comet Queen, Crystal Kid, Dragonwing, Gravity Kid, Karate Kid (unknown), Lamprey, Mandalla, Nightwind, Power Boy, Variable Lad, Visi-Lad, Westerner
Memorial Statues: Chemical King, Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid (Lyle), Karate Kid (Myg), Karate Kid (Val), Kid Psycho, Mentalla, Proty I, Reflecto, Triplicate Girl

CUTE BOYS: Brin, Chemical Kid, Garth, Gravity Kid, Jed Rikane (in bed with his shirt off, ooo baby!), Jo, the new Karate Kid, Pol, Rokk

Wow, what a story!

Cosmic Boy, who has been feeling the burden of leadership for a long time now, visits the Legion Academy to inspect the new class...and there's are some new trainees I'd certainly like to inspect closer. Chemical Kid, for one, preferably with Gravity Kid (and Jed Rikane for dessert). There are also some familiar faces that are good to see. And Comet Queen is back, hooray! (Does anyone else really, really want to see a Quislet/Comet Queen team-up?)

Ahem. The kids go on a mission, accompanied by Cos and Luornu (many of her). This gives them a chance to show off their powers and establish some mutual antagonisms. It's rumored that Adventure Comics will soon host a Legion Academy spinoff feature, so I assume we'll be seeing more of these kids in action.

An adorable curly-haired boy in Karate Kid outfit turns up, surveys the Academy, and then walks away -- all to mystical narration by Jeckie.

Back at HG, Garth and Imra take a leave of absence in order to bond with the boys. (I wish Cos would take leave to "bond with the boys" at the Academy, wink wink nudge nudge...) Timber Wolf shows up with news that the Science Police are waiting to see Cosmic Boy -- Cos finally decides to get the Leader Election process underway.

In the Hall of Dead Heroes, Gigi bears news that someone is trying to assassinate the United Planets Council, and asks the Legion's help. With her is the Durlan who is masquerading as Chief Zendak.

This story is jam-packed with plot developments, yet still it manages to give a window into Cosmic Boy's conflicted psyche. He blames himself for his mother's death and for Pol's death. He knows the price that other Legionnaires have paid (look at all the statues in the Hall)...and he is uneasy about involving any new kids in the Legion. At the same time, he knows that the Legion is important and the work they do is crucial, and he is duty-bound to keep going. Seeing the new recruits in action gives him hope, but his long experience with the Legion gives him equal cause to fear the future.

And all in fifteen pages!


Magnetic Kid's death is still part of Legion history. Since the Retro Legion showed up, there's been great speculation about just how much of the Classic Legion's history is shared with the Retro Legion. Geoff Johns talked about the Crisis on Infinite Earths as the departure point; yet at the same time, Sensor Girl and Quislet and Tellus were members (they joined after Crisis), and Superman made reference to the Magic Wars (which happened at the end of Levitz's previous run).

Now Paul Levitz gives us his answer: Pol died toward the end of the Magic Wars, so we can assume that the whole of Levitz's previous run is part of the Retro Legion's history.

So is it fair to call the Retro Legion a distinct alternate version, or should we just consider it the Classic Legion continued?

Whenever you're trying to analyze an alternate version of the Leigon, you want to pay special attention to Lar Gand. He's involved in most versions of the Legion, and the particulars of his own personal history can give you powerful clues about the Legion you're considering.

In the Classic Legion, Lar Gand was a traveler from Daxam who landed on pre-explosion Krypton. Encouraged by Jor-El, he went to Earth...but fell into suspended animation and arrived more than a decade later. He briefly befriended Kal-El/Superboy, who named him "Mon-E;." He took on the identity of Bob Cobb, Clark Kent's cousin. Succumbing to lead poisoning after a few days, Lar was put into the Phantom Zone by Kal_El, to be released only a thousand years later by the Legion. He went on to have a glorious Legion career as Mon-El.

Now let's look at the Retro Leigon's Lar Gand. A traveler from Daxam, he landed on Earth and briefly befriended a young Clark Kent, who named him "Mon-El." Succumbing to lead poisoning in a few hours, he was placed in the Phantom Zone by Kal-El. In Superman's time, he escaped the Phantom Zone just before it ceased to exist. With the aid of an anti-lead serum provided by the Legion Espionage Squad, he had an illustrious 21st century career as Mon-El. He pinch-hit for Superman for a year when Supes went off to live on New Krypton; he seeded various worlds with cities stolen by Brainiac, laying the foundations for the United Planets. He was then returned to the Phantom Zone, to be released a little less than a thousand years later by the Leigon. He went on to have a glorious Legion career as Mon-El.

Two different Lar Gands, two different histories, two different careers. Q.E.D. E.M.D.W. The Retro Legion is a distinct alternate Legion, albeit one whose history hews very, very closely to the Classic Legion's.

The biggest differences between Classic and Retro Legions involve Superboy and Supergirl. We can expect some of the Supergirl issues to be addressed in next week's Supergirl Annual. The Superboy issues -- revolving around the Pocket Universe, the death of Superboy, and the Conspiracy against the Time Trapper -- are not yet resolved...but I have faith that Paul Levitz will address them sooner or later.

It's worth noting that the Hall of Dead Heroes no longer has statues of Superboy or Supergirl (unless one or both are conveniently outside the frame).

At the Academy are three creatures who have been around for a long time: the little grey critter and the two floating fish. As far as I know, none of them have been given an official name or an official status. It's assumed that they are trainees, but they might just as well be teachers, pets, neutral observers, sexual playmates, or vermin.

Karate Kid. Ever since Val appeared in the Lightning Saga, people have been wondering how he came back from the dead. Now Jeckie gives us as much of an explanation as (I fear) we're ever going to get: "It can't be Val, not again...and yet, it was last time...pulled from some parallel world...or from my dreams?" We know that Jeckie's Sensor Girl powers are able to affect reality itself -- was the Karate Kid in Lightning Saga/Countdown a result of those powers? Was he Projectra's ultimate illusion, a dream given life?

I am reminded of the Earth-247 Legion's Saturn Girl, who during Legion Lost created a real-seeming thought projection of Apparition.

And what about this new Karate Kid? Is he yet another version of Val, brought into being by Sensor Girl's reality-bending powers and the force of Projectra's love? Or is he Myg's unnamed apprentice from Lythyl, briefly mentioned in Legion of 3 Worlds?

Here are the appropriate panels from L3W and LSH #6:

Same guy, or not? Answer cloudy...try again later.

Comet Queen's enthusiastic greeting for Cosmic Boy stems from the time they spent together as the second Legion of Substitute Heroes in Legion of Super-Heroes Annual 3 (1987).

Chemical Kid has the same powers as Condo Arlik, Chemical King. He also hails from the same planet, Phlon. Thing is, Condo was a mutant...he was the only one on Phlon with those powers. Is Hadru Jamik (Chemical Kid) a result of the same mutation? Or is there more to his story? I guess we'll find out eventually.

The much more important question, though, is what else he has in common with Condo. It's been pretty well established, without being said in so many words, that Condo was gay and that he and Lyle Norg were lovers. Is Hadru Jamik gay? Is he going to be getting it on with any Legionnaires? Jacques? Brainy?  (I assume that he's already getting it on with Jed, Gravity Kid, and anybody else he can at the Academy.)

Those ID bubbles don't seem so useless and distracting when they appear on the new trainees, do they? Geez, people, can't you get it through your heads that they are an aid for new readers and those who aren't familiar with the intricacies of Legion continuity. (Come on, now, y'all wish they'd had one on Mandalla, don't you? Took you a while to figure out who she was, eh?) We wouldn't be calling them "the little grey critter"and "those two floating fish" if they'd had ID bubbles way back when, would we?


The Interlac at the end of the story is translated as "Legion Leader Election...Activate." It actually says "legion leader electio activate"

Duplicate Damsel is identified as "Duplicate Girl" in her ID bubble. I suspect an error in translation software.




Matter-Eater Lad, Polar Boy, Sun Boy

Matter-Eater Lad invites readers to vote for Legion Leader in the first open-to-readers Legion election since Paul Levitz left last time.


Open-to-readers Legion elections are an old tradition dating back the the Jim Shooter days of Adventure Comics in the 1960s. Long before readers called in to seal Jason Todd's fate, Legion creators were allowing fans to determine the identity of the Leader.

Voting will remain open until November 10, 2010 at Go there and vote for your choice and help determine who will lead the Legion next.

Me, I'm supporting the Legion Asbtract's campaign for Phantom Girl. I'd like to see Quislet, Tellus, or Gates as Legion Leader, but Tinya has never been Leader and she's certainly due her turn.

I have only one request: please don't vote for Cosmic Boy. Poor Rokk has had a hard time of it, and he deserves a rest.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Week of 13 October 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comic.)

ADVENTURE #519 (2010/12)
"Playing Hooky II"


Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid (Lyle), Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Superboy, Zaryan

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Garth, Lyle, Rokk, Kal, Several Smallville Barn-Raising Boys, and a special mention of the Legion boys in Smallville drag...especially Brainy with his ball cap, so adorable that you just want to give him a big hug.

Two storylines this issue. First Cham, Lyle, and Vi go after one of Zaryan's supply ships -- the first mission for the Legion Espionage Squad. Although Zaryan uses his untried and imperfect freeze ray against them, the Espionage Squad manages to escape unharmed.

Meanwhile, Brainy takes Garth, Imra, and Rokk back to spend time in Smallville with Superboy. He tells them that it's imperative that they spend the next 14.4 hours in Smallville. The Legionnaires get a taste of natural weather, take part in an old-fashioned barn-raising, and meet Ma and Pa Kent. That night, one of Brainiac's probes arrives, having homed in on Kal's Kryptonian spaceship. With Brainy's help they destroy the probe, so it won't lead Brainiac to Earth (at least, not until Kal is grown up into Superman.)

A clever, enchanting story that both moves the Zaryan storyline ahead, and also sheds light on Superboy's place in Retro Legion continuity.


Zaryan commands is men to use a freeze ray on the Legionnaires. It misfires. Once perfected, this freeze ray will kill Lightning Lad.

The List. Brainy has a list of things to do in Superboy's time: Experience natural weather, Help a barn raising, Meet the Kents, and Save the world. This harkens back to the original "Playing Hooky" story in Adventure 12/515, which itself recalled Conner's list of things Superman did back in Adventure #1/504.


Saturn Girl's identification bubble gives her name as "Imra Ardeen-Ranzz." This is an anachronism -- at this time, she was just Imra Ardeen. This is going to be a recurring error. I don't know who adds the text to those bubbles -- the Letterer, maybe? -- but whoever it is, we can't expect them to be a hardcore Legion fan, or to be able to tell at a glance when Saturn Girl is "Ardeen" and when she's "Ardeen-Ranzz." We should just be happy that they're identifying the two Invisible Kids correctly.

Besides...we all know that due to various wars, disasters, and mischances of time across a thousand years, records of the 31st century are uncertain at best. :)

How Old Are They? Lyle and Vi look like they're in their mid-teens; Imra looks like maybe 15-16, Garth and Rokk maybe a little younger; When Brainy's green he looks to be 14-15, but when he's caucasian he looks positively prepubescent; Kal hovers around 12-13...except on the cover, where they all look older.

I don't see this as a problem. It's all artistic license. Even if the artists were given explicit ages for the various Legionnaires, it's pretty hard to draw teenagers at exact ages. (Take a look back at John Forte's Legion...or even Curt Swan's). I think what we should take away from this is that the Legionnaires were "very young" at this time.

Besides, we already know that ages are deceptive in the 31st century. If the Legionnaires are considered "boys" and "girls" in their 20s and 30s, then why couldn't they have looked 12 when they were in their mid-teens?

And Kryptonians...ell, they just age weirdly.


SMALLVILLE Season 10 Episode 4


Brainiac 5, Clark/Kal-El

CUTE BOYS: Clark, Oliver

Clark and Lois go to a Smallville High reunion. Brainiac 5 takes Clark on a series of time-trips in order to reveal secrets of his past and build confidence in his future.

It's interesting to have this episode air during the same week as Adventure 519, in which Brainy comes to Clark's time -- and which also involves the relationship between Brainy and his infamous ancestor.


In an earlier episode, three Legionnaires helped Clark defeat the original Brainiac. They took his essence into the 31st century with them. Brainiac 5 is the reincarnation of the original Brainiac (played by the same actor).

Brainiac 5 explains that he is the one who invented the Legion flight ring and their time-travel technology.



Last month I announced a contest, with the lucky winners to receive either the Legionnaires 3 miniseries or the Cosmic Boy miniseries. I've waded through all both answers, and here are the results:

The Legionnaires 3 series goes to Prof. Lemaris Lang. The Cosmic Boy series goes to Rob. To claim your prize, email me at donsakers at gmail dot com and tell me your mailing address. I'll get the comics in the mail in the next few days.

Thanks for playing!


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Week of 6 October 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comic.)

R.E.B.E.L.S. #21 (2010/12)
"To Be A R.E.B.E.L. Part 1"


CUTE BOYS: Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Lyrl Dox, Vril Dox

Dox pits L.E.G.I.O.N. against the Green Lantern Corps in a contest for customers, declaring them all to be R.E.B.E.L.S. According to Lobo, that stands for Regular Everyday Bastiches Endin' Lantern Supremacy. Much of the issue consists of a pointless battle between Lobo and an Okaaran Green Lantern. Lyrl looks a lot better with his hair tied back, but in the only good shot of Adam Strange and Captain Comet, both of them are unfortunately fully clothed. (Hey, Adam Strange, is that a holster, or are you just glad to see us?)

The story continues next issue; hopefully there will be more content and significantly more male nudity.


Friday, October 01, 2010

Week of 29 September 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comic.)

"Passageway Part 3"


Brainiac 5

CUTE BOYS: Booster Gold, Brainy, Matthew Ryder, Rip Hunter, Young Rip

As the story opens, Booster Gold and his son, young Rip Hunter (it's a long story) are visiting Brainiac 5 in the 31st century. Booster apparently borrowed the Miracle Machine, and has now returned it. Young Rip flies around with a Legion flight ring, while Brainy upgrades Skeets with 31st century technology. When Rip asks if he can keep the ring, Brainy says "We've only ever allowed one to be used by a non-authorized Legionnaire. That's our limit." The "non-authorized Legionnaire," of course, is Booster himself.

It's apparent that Booster and young Rip are frequent visitors; Brainy says "My lab is always open to the Carter family."

The rest of the story has nothing to do with the Legion.


ALSO (supposedly) OUT THIS WEEK:


Collects ADVENTURE COMICS #369-380, ACTION COMICS #378-387, 389-392 and SUPERBOY #172, 173, 176, 183, 184, 188, 190 and 191.

This was supposed to be released this week, but I couldn't find it. Amazon says it's not due out until October 5; I guess it's possible that it was delayed a week.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Week of 22 September 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

"A Choice of Destinies"


Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Earth-Man, Gates, Lighting Lad (cover only), Lightning Lass (cover only), Phantom Girl, Quislet, Saturn Girl (cover only), Sensor Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Tellus, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, High Seer Beren, Circadia Senius, Doctor Li, S.P. Chief Zendak, Durlans

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Brin, Dirk (looking exceptionally adorable), Gim, Jo (cute green shorts on the last page), Rokk

Two covers again this time around. The regular one, by the magnificent Yildiray Cinar,  is a stunning group action shot of a bunch of Legionnaires; it would make a great poster or cover of a trade paperback.  The alternate one, by Jim Lee, is a beautiful picture of Timber Wolf and links up with last month's Mon-El cover.

A Legion team goes to the Painted Desert refugee camp to rescue Titanian refugees from a starliner that crashed in their camp. An army of Human supremacists called the Earth Force appears to attack the Legionnaires. The Earth Force nearly has the team defeated, when Earth-Man shows up (followed in short order by a second team of Leigonnaires). In the end the Earth Force is defeated and S.P.s take them into custody.

Earth-Man, professing a change of heart, leads the Legion and the S.P.s to his erstwhile comrades, telling the supremacists that they are not his kind.

Meanwhile on Naltor, Dyogene appears and offers a power ring, not to Nura, but to Doctor Li...who angrily refuses it, talking trash about the Guardians. (Guess she's pissed because she broke their law and got the Time Institute -- not to mention Titan -- blown up.)

Meanwhile meanwhile, Brainy (with the help of his old friend and teacher Circadia Senius) repairs the time bubble that was damaged in Saturn Girl's recent trip. Circadia Senius talks about his favorite student, the first humanoid he could really relate to: Professor Harmonia Li. Seems that Doctor Li has "been studying time theory for so many decades, so obsessively -- she was determined to master it."

Meanwhile meanwhile meanwhile, Chief Zendak (looking very distinguished, might I add) arrives at S.P. Headquarters for a conference. He doesn't make it, though -- he is killed by those Durlans we saw a few issues back. One of them takes Zendak's appearance and identity, for nefarious reasons of vengeance.

And finally, Tinya walks in on Shadow Lass and Earth-Man in the sack together. Tinya is not happy. (Old joke: Shady says, "No, my dear, I am surprised. You are merely astonished." No, not really.)


When Dyogene shows up on Naltor, Nura says "I saw myself with you." Dyogene answers, "This ring calls to one brave, strong, and gifted as you are...and yet not." Way back in the Universo Project storyline (Legion of Super-Heroes #32-35, March-June 1987), it was established that Nura's willpower is extremely strong (same with Brainy, Cham, and well as Atmos, Xera of Manna 5, the Silver Sword, Gas Girl, and Energax, among others). Since willpower is what makes green power rings go, it's not surprising that Nura would be considered as a possible Green Lantern.

Harmonia Li is an ambiguous figure. She's been cast as a tragic hero as well as someone suffering under a huge load of guilt...yet at the same time, she pushed the whole "look at the beginning of the universe" thing, and the others who've done that are usually villains: Krona, Sinestro, even Vidar/Universo. On the other hand, Pariah also did the same, and he was a good guy.

One suspects that Doctor Li will become a bad guy of some sort, perhaps a major one. Knowing Paul Levitz, one also suspects that Doctor Li is not all she seems; that perhaps she is a known villain in disguise. Luckily she has dark hair, so we can hope she's not Glorith (shudder). She might be the Time Trapper...everyone is, sooner or later. But with the announcement that the upcoming Legion Annual will feature a new Emerald Empress, I wouldn't be surprised to see Harmonia Li find an Emerald Eye somewhere, and take on a new identity.

Come to think of it, the Emerald Eye is a sort of evil counterpart to a green power ring. Both use green energy, both depend on their owner's willpower to manifest green energy constructs, both have virtually infinite potential limited only by the will of their owners. You Read It Here First.

(Either that, or Doctor Li is Darkseid. Think about it...have you ever seen the two of them together?)

Earth-Man's former comrades, the Human supremacists, are a really multicultural group. I see a Native American, East Asians (including an Avatar Aang lookalike), a South Asian, an African, men and women both. This is a really fine touch -- it shows how anybody can become a bigot, no matter what their ethnic background...while at the same time it brings us 21st century readers face-to-face (literally) with some of our own prejudices. This is the kind of things that an illustrated medium like comics can do so tremendously well.

On another level, notice how diversity and uniformity are portrayed in this series. In this issue, the Earth Force members are all in uniform and look identical; the bad Durlans all take on the same form (and even transform themselves into identical-looking birds). The Legion, on the other hand, are made up of a lot of different body types in colorful, individualized uniforms.

I'm not saying this holds up in all cases. As mentioned above, the evil supremacists are a pretty diverse-looking group, and the S.P.s (presumably on the side of good) run around in identical faceless uniforms. But it's still an interesting visual statement.


Dyogene names Doctor Li "the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814." Do we know for sure that Naltor is in Sector 2814? And in last issue, Sodam Yat told Dyogene that "The Corps is fated to be reborn on Earth, among humanity on the mother world of that species." Now, if Sodam Yat told you to go birth the Corps on Earth, would you go scurrying off to Naltor? Me neither.

One possible explanation is that Doctor Li is an Earth-person, even if she's temporarily on Naltor, and Dyogene was going for the next available Earth-person candidate no matter where she was. Another explanation is that Dyogene has a really, really bad sense of direction, and thought he was on Earth the whole time.



Cosmic Comix was having a 50%-off sale on miniseries. I rescued one copy each of the Legionnaires 3 (1986) and Cosmic Boy (1986-7) miniseries. Both are four-issue series.

I already have both, so I'm going to give these away. In order to spread the wealth, the prizes will go to two different people. Here's how you can win one:

The Legionnaires 3 miniseries will go to the person with the most creative answer to this question: Who will Doctor Li turn out to be? Put your answers in comments to this post.

The Cosmic Boy miniseries will go to the person with the most creative answer to this quesiton: Who will Dyogene choose next as the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814? Put your answers in comments to this post.

Points will be awarded for cleverness, absurdity, originality, and total lack of plausibility. Extra points to those who can work a naked Mon-El into their answers.

I will make my final decision on Wednesday, October 13, and announce it in the post for that date.

Good luck!