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!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Read the Legion...

Everyone is all a-twitter about the announcement that Keith Giffen is returning to work with Paul Levitz on the upcoming Legion of Super-Heroes Annual.

As far as I'm cocnerned, Keith Giffen has ruined just about everything he's touched for the past two decades. I really dislike what his art has become, and I believe his storytelling skills are definitely sub-par.

Yes, the Annual will sell tremendously, because of all the fanboys who will buy it for Giffen's name. And perhaps Levitz will be able to keep a firm lid on Giffen's excesses, so it might be a passable story. And perhaps they'll have the sense to team Giffen with a competent artist or two, so readers will have some chance of telling which character is which.

In fact, I think the best way to make sure that this is a good comic is to restrict Giffen's contribution to a few preliminary conferences and the appearance of his name on the cover. The more DC can prevent Giffen from having anything substantial to do with this comic, the better story it will be.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and we'll get to witness the return of the nine-panel grid, murky pictures, obscure storytelling, ultra-violent psychopaths, and maybe even the long-awaited reveal of the (retconned) decades-old marriage of Kid Quantum and Laurel Gand.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week of 15 September 2010

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

DCU LEGACIES #5 (2010/11)


Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5 (cover only), Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Lightning Lad, Mon-El, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Supergirl, Ultra Boy, Wildfire

This series on the history of the DC Universe revisits Crisis on Infinite Earths, with cameo appearances from many Legionnaires.


Also,  although there is no Legion connection, how can you pass up this week's Tiny Titans #32 (2010/11)? It features a new student at Sidekick High. Three words alone should convince anyone to take a look at this comic: Lunch...Lady...Darkseid.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Week of 8 September 2010

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

ADVENTURE #518 (2010/11)
"Whispers of Doom"


Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Superboy, Ultra Boy, High Seer Beren, Nura Nal, Zaryan

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Dirk, Garth, Jo, Kal, Rokk, maybe one or two of the Naltorians

This issue picks up a while after the last one left off. The Legion has added some more members (including Superboy), and Zaryan has grown more powerful. A team consisting of Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Sn Boy, and Ultra Boy is chasing Zaryan's forces, trying to track down the big guy himself. Their quest takes them to Naltor, where they manage to repel Zaryan's troops but one ship of bad buys slips away.

Meanwhile on Naltor, the High Seer's apprentice Nura Nal (who will become Dream Girl) has a vision in which an unidentified Legionnaire dies in combat with Zaryan. High Seer Beren decides to dispatch a confidential message capsule to Legion headquarters bearing news of the vision.

Back on Earth, Phantom Girl tells Superboy that she's been investigating the source of strange voices that some Leigonnaires have been hearing in the clubhouse, a source that they're calling a "ghost." Superboy visits the Superman Museum, where he sees a display that tells him Superman died at the hands of Doomsday. He also hears the voice of the "ghost" urging him to go home.

Brainy insists that Superboy has to go back to his own time ("We have to synchronize these trips carefully...we can't upset time itself.") Phantom Girl mentions that the Legion has decided to elect a new Leader. Then the time bubble vanishes, and the "ghost" says, " least you'll be safe."

I'm struck by the masterful job Paul Levitz is doing in setting up the events of Adventure #304. In that story, Saturn Girl witnessed the arrival of a capsule bearing a message from "The Trylop Council of Planet Mernl." The message read: "Our computer-machine predicts a Leigonnaire member will die soon while using his, or her, power to battle an invasion of Earth by 'Zaryan the Conqueror'! Our Our machine can't reveal which Legionnaire will die!"

Saturn Girl destroyed the capsule, then telepathically influenced the other Legionnaires to unanimously vote her in as Leader. We learn of Zaryan the Conqueror, "An interplanetary criminal from the planet Brok. Once Zaryan offered the Legion a fabulous bribe not to oppose him," but the Legion rejected the bribe.

Saturn Girl went on to put the Legionnaires through a series of tests, which she used to disqualify each of them for duty. Unbeknownst to them, she had also stolen all of their powers. When Zaryan attacked, she set out alone to face him, determined that she would be the Legionnaire to die. Lightning Lad went after her and foiled her plan, getting struck by Zaryan's weapon instead.

With his dying breaths, Lightning Lad explained that Mon-El (from the Phantom Zone) had witnessed everything, and warned him of Saturn Girl's plot so he could foil it.

See how it all fits together, 204 issues later: Zaryan offers his bribe, which Saturn Girl rejects. Naltor (not the Trylop Council of Planet Mernl) sends a message capsule to Earth, warning that a Legionnaire will die in combat with Zaryan. And the whispers of a mysterious ghost are heard; a ghost who tells Superboy to go home and seems relieved that Kal, at least, is safe. Isn't it obvious that the "ghost" is really Mon-El?

And notice the theme of fated death. Superboy sees that Doomsday will kill him in his own personal future; Nura Nal sees that a Legionnaire will soon die.


Wasn't Zaryan a Khund? In the post-Levitz years, Zaryan the Conqueror was retconned as a Khund. I'm going to consider that part of the Glorithverse Legion.


BOOSTER GOLD #36 (2010/11)
"This Man...This Chipmunk"


Vril Dox

CUTE BOYS: Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Rip Hunter, Vril Dox

Booster Gold winds up on the Starlag during Invasion, along with Blue Beetle (who has been turned into a chipmunk; don't ask). They encounter Vril Dox before the escape that led to the formation of L.E.G.I.O.N.

Fortunately, Booster Gold no longer seems tied in with Brightest Day. (Has anyone else sworn off buying any Brightest Day tie-ins? Life is too short to waste any of it.) Unfortunately, Keith Giffen is still writing for the comic.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Week of 1 September 2010

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

R.E.B.E.L.S. #20 (2010/11)
"Sons of Brianiac Part 3: Brain-Drain"


Lobo, Lyrl Dox, Pulsar Stargrave, Vril Dox

CUTE GUYS: Lyrl Dox, Vril Dox

Lobo keeps Pulsar Stargrave busy while the Doxes attack Brianiac. Vril defeats Brainiac by infusing the bad guy with all the dark, terrible emotions that Vril has kept bottled up within himself. In the end, Brainiac and Pulsar Stargrave flee with Colu's data-core.