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.



Prof. Lemaris Lang said...

Regarding the Legacies story. At least KG didn't try to kill Karate Kid.

Vote for Tinya.


kenaustin said...

re:the little grey critter and the two floating fish

The grey guy is named Urk. He was named in the Great Darkness Saga trade that had the annotations to the big Giffen poster. I believe the fish were named Flotsam & Jetsam, but for the life of me I can't remember if that was official or not.


Shadow Kid said...

Tas and Tinya were depicted as besties throughout the Levitz-Giffen run, often gossiping together in the background about how dense Brin & Blok were, or double dating with Lar & Jo.

Meerkatdon said...

Prof. Lang: Yes, there's that. With the new one, are we up to 3 living Karate Kids now? (Among the three major Legions, I mean.)

Ken: Thanks! I had a vague recollection that Urk might have actually been named somewhere, and that's where. As for Flotsam & Jetsam, those names are as good as any others.

It's interesting, really, how few un-named characters there are in the Legion mythos (other than miscellaneous walk-on, cannon fodder, and spear carriers).

Shadow Kid: Okay, that does sound familiar. I guess I never thought of Tinya as Shady's "best friend" because I always thought of Mon-El as her best friend. But with that relationship on the rocks, yeah.

And given that Mon_El and Ultra Boy were the big muscle of the period, it's natural that their better halves had time to stand around and gossip while the boys were bashing things to pieces.

Rob said...

Think my fave part of the Legion backup story was Projectra dreaming about the new Karate Kid while hugging his blood-stained vest. Kinda creepy yet evocative. I really hope that he's not related to the dead Val tho.