Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Week of 28 April 2010

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

ACTION #889 (6/10)
"Captain Atom: Finale"

ROLL CALL: Mon-El (image), Mordru
CUTE BOYS: Mon-El, Zatara (and don't miss Chris Kent being all darkly enigmatic in the first story)

The Captain Atom storyline comes to a conclusion with Mirabai dead and guest star Mordru happy (or as happy as he ever gets).


SUPERMAN #699 (6/10)
"Last Stand on New Krypton Part Eight: Irony in Ire"

ROLL CALL:Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Quislet, Sensor Girl, Star Boy/Starman, Tellus, also Superboy (Conner), Supergirl
CUTE BOYS: Conner, Jan, Kandorian Soldier, Mon, Tenzil

The Penultimate chapter, and boy is that a relief.

All right, everybody take a deep breath. Here's what happens: Superman and Zod fight Brainiac's troops and then Brainiac himself. Superman goes in search of Kandor. Meanwhile, the Legionnaires go in search of Mo-El and the other bottled cities. Brainy and Supergirl go to meet Superman at Kandor.

Mon-El, unconscious and with a tube down his throat (oh baby!) slips into a nine-panl-grid and remembers his captivity under General Lane and the conversation with Conner where Mon asked him to repair Mon's spaceship. Various mysteries are re-stated (like how Lane knew details about Daxamite physiology, why the gorilla was fascinated with Mon's genitals, and why Mon wanted a rocket). None of these mysteries are answered, of course.

Mon awakens, he and the Legionnaires defeat Brainiac's bad guys. Meanwhile, Supes gives Kandor to Supergirl and sends her with Brainy to take the city to safety and re-enlarge it. Conner, trapped in the bottle, goes along.

Mon and the Legionnaires find the bottled cities. They tell Mon that they are leaving with the cities, and that Mon must come with them. (They keep calling the bottled cities "worlds," which they so aren't.) Brainy enlarges Kandor, Conner comes flying out to greet him and Supergirl. Brainiac beats up on Zod until Supes shows up. Meanwhile, Luthor sets down the bottled city he stole and uses his iPod to start it enlarging. (With Kandor, the bottle is actually a force field; with this city, the bottle is obviously glass. Weird.)

Mon displays his legendary loyalty by agreeing to desert Superman and run off with the Legionnaires. You can tell that he's impressed by the cute boys, and thinking of the erotic possibilities of a guy who can change into anything at all. He so thoroughly turns his back on Supes that he asks Jeckie to change his costume to eliminate the "S" shield, going back to his classic look. (Huh? Since when does Jeckie have the ability to transform physical objects?)

The bottled city continues enlarging, and bursts through Brainiac's ship from the inside.


"Last Stand on New Krypton Part Nine: This is the Way the World Ends"

ROLL CALL:Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Quislet, Sensor Girl, Star Boy/Starman, Tellus, also Superboy (Conner), Supergirl
CUTE BOYS: Conner, Jan, Mon, Tenzil

Gah, the end at last! Except...not really.

Let's see...Brainiac's ship comes crashing down, and all the rats are leaving the ship. Mon -- who agreed last issue to desert Kal with the Legionnaires, announces that he's not going to desert Kal. But Kal tells him "Your place...your with the Legion. Go." So he goes. The Legionnaires and Mon go flying away, and all the remaining bottled cities come flying after tham. (Who's doing that? Tellus with his telekinesis? Starman creating a gravity wave that carries them? Matter-Eater Lad with his previously-unsuspected ability to make bottled cities fly?) Mon & the Legion fly into space, out of the story entirely, and presumably into the next issue of Adventure. Or something.

Superman, Supergirl, Conner, and a bunch of Kandorians take ten...whole...pages to bring Brainiac's ship down in the middle of Kandor. Brainy stops the enlarging city, shrinks it, and pops it into a bottle where, presumably, it sits to this day. Hooray, Kandor is saved and an innocent city is returned to hellish captivity!

Supes was gored by the wreckage of Brainiac's ship, with pointy pieces of metal sticking through his guts and blood everywhere. Brainy summons Conner to open one of Supes' veins (because there's nothing nearby sharp enough to pierce Superman's skin, not even those sharp pieces of metal Superman's skin) and donate blood. Then Brainy uses "synthesized yellow sun" to power up Superman and heal him.

Meanwhile, Brainiac snaps Luthor's neck and is confronted by Zod. Zod, the master tactician who takes no chances in protecting his people, uses a red sun gun to take away his own super-powers so that he can face Brainiac one-on-one. (Brianiac's ability to hit the invulnerable Supes hard enough to raise bruises of course means that an unpowered Zod would be Kandorian jam at the first punch, but things like super-strength and invulnerability seem to come and go as convenient for the writer.) Against all odds and common sense, Zod brings Brainiac to his knees, but Superman intervenes before Zod can execute Brainiac.

As Supes and Brainiac are arguing, Brainiac 5 steps forward and teleports away with Brainiac. We next see Brainy in a time sphere with Brainiac tied up behind him.

Zod is acclaimed by the Kandorians as their savior. It turns out that Luthor was really a robot, surprise! The real Luthor is still on Earth with General Lane. And the War of the Supermen begins soon.

BITS OF LEGIONNAIRE BUSINESS: Brainy's "synthetic yellow sun" is probably based on R.J. Brande's star-making technology. (Incidentally, in the panel immediately after Brainy flashes Supes, look at the expressions on their faces...and at Superman's trousers. You can almost hear Brainy thinking "Is that a yellow sun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?")


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Today's Shopping Trip

Today I was at the comic stores, and I picked up a couple of things. None of them are new, but they're definitely of interest.

First, I found a Heroclix figure of Bouncing Boy. Some Heroclix leave a little to be desired, but this one is great. Here he is on the dashboard:

(click to enlarge)


Next, I found Superman #214 (2/1969), "The Ghosts That Haunted Superman." In the story, Superman is haunted by ghosts of three of his deceased foes: Zha-Vam, Metallo, and the Composite Superman. In case you don't remember, the Composite Superman had all the powers of the Legionnaires, even though he'd never been to the 30th century. Here he menaces Superman with Element Lad's powers:

(click to enlarge)

On the next page, he uses Star Boy's powers.

But that's not the end of the Legion interest. The "ghosts," you see, are not really supernatural entitites; they are Nador, an alien kid with amazing powers including shape-shifting and levitation. Nador wanted to join "an exclusive interplanetary club" called the Omega Commandos. He demonstrated his powers to the members, but they laughed at him because he was so funny-looking. Then they sent him to Earth to prank Superman; if he succeeded, then he would be accepted into the club.

Nador's tryout looks eerily similar to Legion tryouts:

(click to enlarge)

The story ends happily: Superman accompanies Nador to the Omega Commandos' headquarters. By getting Superman to come to see them, Nador earned enormous cred and the Commandos accepted him as part of their fruity little club. There's even a Legion-worthy moral: Superman thinks to himself, "I think these youths have learned that it's not what a person looks like that's important, but what he is! And that's a moral everyone should remember!"

Interplanetary youth club, super-powers, intitiation stunts involving Kal-El, underdog triumphs, moral lessons learned -- sure sounds like a Legion story to me!


The last thing I found has no Legion connection at all, but is definitely of interest. I got World's Finest #195 (8/1970), which reprints a Congo Bill story originally published in Action #247 (12/1958): "The Riddle of the Super-Zoo." This story features Congo Bill's young boyfriend, Janu the Jungle Boy, who was apparently introduced in Action #191 (4/1954). (Janu was referred to as Bill's "ward" or "adopted son" -- and I'm sure he was, by the Law of the Jungle. Wink wink, nudge nudge.) Janu definitely falls into the cute boys category:

Unfortunately, it seems Janu did not come to a good end. According to Wikipedia, in a 1994 miniseries Janu became corrupt, betrayed Congo Bill, and took over his identity. Bill fought Janu to the death. Why is it always the pretty ones?

Congo Bill went on to serve (as Congorilla) in the Justice League with Mon-El. But Bill's transformation into Congorilla didn't happen until Action #248, the issue following the one in which this story appeared. I wonder how young Janu reacted when his companion of many years became a giant ape?


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Week of 21 April 2010

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

"Devil in the Details"
ROLL CALL: No Legionnaires
CUTE BOYS: Sebastian Faust, Starman (Mikaal)

Don't bother with this one: Apparently, Mon-El is no longer in the Justice League. No explanation is given. To be fair, they don't have to explain anything; it's not like readers are going to be saying "What happened to Mon-El?" During his entire tenure in the JLA, Mon-El did virtually nothing; it took a pretty keen-eyed reader to notice that he was there at all.

Don't feel bad for Mon: he has escaped the clutches of one pretty inept writer.

Interestingly, three pages of Justice Society of America seem to have crept into the middle of this issue. It makes about as much sense as the rest of the story.


R.E.B.E.L.S. #15 (6/10)
"What Happens in Vega..."
ROLL CALL: Adam Strange, Amon Haak, Captain Comet, Ciji, Starfire, Strata (mentioned but not pictured), Tribulus, Vril Dox, Wildstar, Xylon
CUTE BOYS: Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Two of the Tamaranian pirates ain't bad-looking, really

Despero tries to execute Starro but mucks in up (Vril Dox would've succeeded). Starfire, jilted by Dick Grayson, mopes around the Vega system. Meanwhile, Dox realizes that L.E.G.I.O.N. needs a new base, since Maltus is too crowded with Dox-haters. He surveys the now-dead planet Rann, and figures out how to resurrect it and move it to the Vega system (because, presumably, he won't find any enemies there?)

BITS OF L.E.G.I.O.N.NAIRE BUSINESS: Although Starfire has no interaction with L.E.G.I.O.N. in this issue, on the cover she is wearing a L.E.G.I.O.N. symbol, so I'm including her in the roll call.

SUPERGIRL #52 (6/10)
"Last Stand of New Krypton Part Seven: Distractions"

ROLL CALL: Brainiac 5,  Quislet, also: Superboy (Conner), Supergirl
CUTE BOYS: Brainiac 5 (although he needs a haircut again), Conner, Assorted Kandorians

Most of the issue involves Brainy and Supergirl as they attempt to disable Brainiac's force field. But the real story is this Supergirl's place in the history of the DC universe, specifically in relation to the Legion(s).

Here's what we knew (or thought we knew) going into this issue:

1. This version of Sueprgirl/Kara spent some time in the 31st century of the Earth-Prime universe, where she was a member of the Earth-Prime Legion. She returned to the present without any memory of her adventures in the future.

2. In the current (Retro) Legion, where the Legion's history largely parallels that of the Classic Legion, Supergirl was an on-again, off-again member. She and Brainiac 5 had romantic feelings for one another. When Supergirl died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Brainy took it hard and has grieved ever since.

3. The current version of Supergirl has not (a) been a member of the Retro Legion or (b) died (or even participated) in the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Ever since Legion of 3 Worlds, fans have been waiting to see how Supergirl fits into the history of the Retro Legion.

So here's what we learned during this issue:

1. In the Retro Legion, just as in the Classic Legion, Superboy and Supergirl were given a post-hypnotic suggestion to forget certain details of their visits to the future. Brainy suggests that Supergirl might have already visited the Legion (and met him) but has no memory of this. There is a promise that this will be explained in Supergirl Annual #2, due out this Fall.

2. Near the end of the issue, Brainy thinks, "Someday she'll come to the future and meet the younger me. We'll fall in love." This suggests that Supergirl has not yet visited the Legion.

So there we are. Two possible explanations of Supergirl's place in the Retro Legion. Supposedly all ambiguity will be resolved this Fall. And you know what, I can live with that. In fact, it's kinda neet: it's now established that this Supergirl's first meeting with this Brainiac 5 was right now, during the Last Stand of New Krypton. (Whereas this Brainiac 5's first meeting with this Supergirl will presumably be in Supergirl Annual #2. Time travel is like that.)

Still unexplained: How this Supergirl relates to the Crisis on Infinite Earths. In current continuity, the Crisis happened in this Supergirl's past. The Supergirl who died in the Crisis was Linda Lee Danvers, whereas this Supergirl is Linda Lang.

Retro-Brainy never said that Supergirl (Linda Lang) died in the Crisis, only that she died. Given the complexities of time travel, it's possible that Linda Lang died at the fine old age of 536, and that would still give Brainy plenty of opportunity to mourn. But that doesn't seem likely: I think it's plain that Brainy's grief is for the lost potential, for the future that he will never have with Supergirl. Essentially, the emotional impact almost demands that Supergirl died young.

So forget the Crisis. Instead, I would like to suggest that in current continuity, Supergirl will die while on a mission with Brainy. It doesn't have to be a Legion mission; it could be another crossover event. In any case, if Brainy is actually there when Kara/Linda Lang dies, that would fully explain the depth and finality of his grief.  [Come to think of it, that explains Brainy's grief even better than in the Classic Legion: it never really made sense for Brainy to be so upset over a death that was historic fact to him.]

BITS OF LEGIONNAIRE BUSINESS: One of the many full-page advertisements in this issue shows Yildiray Cinar's stunning cover for the upcoming Legion of Super-Heroes #1. A beefy, brawny hand bears both a Green Lantern Ring and a Legion Flight Ring. There's been a lot of speculation about whose hand this is. Here's my guess: It's Myg's apprentice from Lythyl, last seen in L3W. Everybody thought he would be the next Karate Kid; I'm guessing that he will also be the next Green Lantern.

We'll know next month....
"The Big Noise Part 4: The Final Solution"

The Durlan from the past is defeated and left for dead, although a tentacle survives, so he'll be back. The Legion connection is only tangential.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Week of 14 April 2010

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

ADVENTURE #10/513 (6/10)
"Last Stand of New Krypton Part Six: Divided, Conquerable"
ROLL CALL: Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Quislet, Starman/Star Boy (also: Superboy [Conner])

CUTE BOYS:  Conner, Jan, Mon-El, Tenzil (and don't miss mostly-naked Az-Rel in bondage in the second story)

This issue comes with two covers. The variant one is the only place where Sensor Girl is pictured this time around.

Quislet rescues Superman from falling to his death. Meanwhile, Starman, Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, and Matter-Eater Lad dash off to find the bottle cities, leaving Conner to be ambushed by Luthor. Conner winds up in the re-bottled Kandor. Meanwhile, Mon-El is sedated and hallucinating. General Zod and his crack suicide team break out of Kandor to attack Brainiac.

BITS OF LEGIONNAIRE BUSINESS: After being transported to Kandor and losing his Kryptonian powers, Conner uses his Legion flight ring to fly. He thinks, "...Never used it to actually fly before. It tingles a little while it works...never knew."

Of course, Conner's flight ring is from Earth-247; we don't know if flight rings tingle in current continuity. (Come to think of it, XS and Gates also have Earth-247 flight rings - are they automatically compatible with current ones? And what about the Earth-Prime Legion - is their equipment also compatibile?)

When out of his ship, Quislet looks like purplish energy with a Legion flight ring.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Separated at Birth?

Just noticed the significance of this exchange from Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #2 (6/10)

    TELLUS: I--I thought I could employ my telepathy in tandem with that of the Lanothians to unite the Kryptonians against Brainiac as one -- but the minds of your people are inaccessible, Kal-El. Even with our combined telepathic might, we cannot affect their thoughts now. 
    SUPERMAN; Something's keeping you out of their minds? 
    JECKIE: What could be doing that? Something Brainiac's created--? 
    TELLUS: Yes. Brainiac's created the only thing that could completely override rational thought. Fear. Abject fear.
I never realized before that Brainiac is a Republican politician.

Brainiac, Karl Rove, separated at Birth?


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Week of 7 April 2010

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

THE BOYS #41 (4/10)
"The Innocents Part Two"
ROLL CALL: Auntie Sis, Black Hole (not-Matter-Eater-Lad), Bobby Badoing (not-Bouncing-Boy), Kid Camo (not-Chameleon-Boy), Klanker (not-Ferro-Lad), Ladyfold, Malchemical (not-Metamorpho), Stool Shadow (not-Phantom-Girl)
CUTE BOYS: Black Hole, Kid Camo, Malchemical ain't bad-looking even though he's evil

Okay, Superduper is somewhat like the Subs, not the Legion. But there's still something wholesome and noble about them, which means they don't fit into the Boys universe. Which is what I suspect the whole story is about....


"Last Stand of New Krypton Part Five: Bottles and Battles"
ROLL CALL:Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Quislet, Sensor Girl, Star Boy/Starman, Tellus - also, Superboy (Conner), Supergirl
CUTE BOYS: Conner, Jan, Mon, Tenzil, Tiny Kandorians

Brainy's here, and he gets everyone through Brainiac's force field ("my ancestor's pitiful force field technology"). The Lanothians are no help at all. But hooray, that bothersome Kandor is back in the bottle. I say, put the stopper in and lock it up in the Fortress for a while.

BITS OF LEGIONNAIRE BUSINESS: Notice how Mon-El's hair has grown out quite a bit since last week. It looks good.

Jeckie drops the Sensor Girl mask. It actually makes the whole costume work's kinda a blend of Sensor Girl and Princess Projectra.

Original Thinking on the Legion's Origin Story

Today, while browsing the back-issue boxes at Twilite Zone, I found Secret Origins #6 (2/1974) and decided to rescue it. Well, not only does this comic reprint the Legion origin story from Superboy #147, but it also has a text page, written by E. Nelson Bridwell, that gives some information about that story.

Here's what it says:


The Legion origin story was first published in Giant Superboy #47 (G-47) - May-June, 1968. When we began to get material together for an all-Legion issue, we discovered that thre had never actually ben an origin dreamed up for that organization. So I got busy and wrote one.

There have been some drastic changes in the origin stories of the individual heroes, though, in the first Legion tale, which appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (April, 1958). Saturn Girl said, "The scientists of Saturn, who are experts in telepathy, taught me how to read minds and also cast my mental commands anywhere." Cosmic Boy thought, "Special serums gave me magnetic eyes of super-power." And Lightning Boy (not called Lightning Lad in the story) revealed, "My hands are like the positive and negative poles of a battery. Each time I clap them together, a super-lightning flash leaps forth."

In Superman #147 (August, 1961) (do you get the feeling that there are a lot of 47's connected with the Legion?), the adult Legion and the Legion of Super-Villains were introduced. In this one, Lightning Lord said that he and his brother, Lightning Man (formerly Lightning Lad), had gained their power while exploring some woods on the planet Korbal. A lightning monster had blasted them, transferring some of its power into them. By this time, Lightning Man was no long [sic] clapping his hands to get lightning, but Cosmic Man was still using his magnetic eyes.

He was using his hands, though, in Giant Superman Annual #4 (1961), when a special feature on the origins of the Legionnaires was published. Lightning Lad's origin was the one given in Superman: "Lightning Lad gained mastery of lightning when a blast from a lightning monster on the planet Korbal freakishly electrified his body." As for the others, "Cosmic Boy possesses the power of super-magnetism, which he inherited from his parents on the planet Braal. Evolution has given Braalians the power to magnetically battle metal monsters who roam their world." And "Saturn Girl comes from Saturn, where all people can perform amazing mental feats."

In Adventure #308 (May, 1963), after Lightning Lad was killed in action (he was later revived), his sister, Lightning Lass, impersonated him. Two versions of his origin were given. In one, he was in a space-flier that ran out of power, forcing him to land on Krobal. He tried to get the lightning monsters to shoot their bolts at it to recharge it, but instead, they aimed at him, from all sides. This neutralized the bolts, charging the youth with lightning power greater than theirs. (Absurdly, he was already wearing his lightning insignia in this origin.) Toward the end of this story, the scene was repeated, but with the addition of his sister. Not only was the early account by Lightning Lord ignored, but he himself was completely omitted!

I had added R.J. Brande in a story I wrote for Adventure #350. I did my best to tie together all the loose ends in writing the origin reprinted in this issue.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Week of 31 March 2010

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

ADVENTURE #9/512 (5/01)
"Superman Last Stand of New Krypton Part Four: Namesake"
ROLL CALL: Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Girl, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Duplicate Damsel (?), Gates, Gates, Invisible Kid (Jacques), Lightning Lass, Night Girl, Phantom Girl, Polar Boy, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, Wildfire, XS
ROLL CALL (L.E.G.I.O.N.): Lyrl Dox, Vril Dox
CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Chuck, Brek, Dirk, Gim, Jo, Lyrl (shirtless, but still needs a haircut), Rokk

NOTE: There are two covers: both of them have Legionnaires prominently featured.

Amid more exposition regarding the four previous Brainiacs, and a red wave of universal destruction approaching Earth, Briany works to pierce the time barrier and go back to the 21st century. All of the Legionnaires help him, each in their own way. At the end of the story, he vanishes into time, muttering "Long Live the Legion."

BITS OF LEGIONNAIRE BUSINESS: Notice how Lydda and Rokk are holding hands; it's good to see that their romance is back on again. I was worried; during L3W it seemed as if they were on the outs. It's nice to see Rokk happy, although one of the boys could probably make him happier.

I don't recognize those two indistinct figures sitting to the left of Gates. I suppose they could be Duplicate Damsel and Lightning Lad, who are otherwise absent from this story. Also unaccounted for: Blok and White Witch, who are probably still on the Sorcerer's World; Dream Girl and Tyroc, who are still among the missing; and adult Mon-El, whose presence in this storyline would be too confusing for the novice readers they're trying to bring aboard.

ADDED LATER: Brainy mentions that the original Brainiac may have "traveled through time to the 31st century to plague us now as Pulsar Stargrave." This is a reference to the villain who first appeared in SUPERBOY & THE LSH #233, and did indeed claim to be the original Brainiac. It's a nice nod to continuity.

Incidentally, this time around the original Brainiac does not seem to be an android any longer. They haven't said so explicitly, but it's implied -- and fits in with Geoff Johns' penchant for going back to the early versions of characters. (When he first appeared, several months after the Legion's debut, Brainiac was an alien but definitely flesh-and-blood. When our own beloved Brainiac 5 first appeared, he introduced himself as the great-great grandson of Brainiac. It was only later that they retconned the whole "Brainiac adopted a Coluan boy" dodge.


ADVENTURE #512/9 (5/01)
"Superman Last Stand of New Krypton: Unify"
ROLL CALL: Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Quislet, Sensor Girl, Star Boy/Starman, Tellus (also Superboy [Conner], Supergirl)
CUTE BOYS: Conner, Jan, Kryptonian Laborer, Tenzil

None of the Legionnaires does much, except Quislet Tellus [what was I thinking?] -- who uses Supergirl's knowledge of Kryptonian society and his telepathic powers to unify some of the quarreling Kryptonians. Then they all dash off to save the bottled cities aboard Brainiac's ship.


"Rise and Fall: All Along the Watchtower"
CUTE BOYS: Mon-El, Starman (Mikaal), Young Aquaman, Young Green Arrow

Know what Mon-El says in this issue? Nothing. Know what Mon-El does in this issue? Nothing. Know why Mon-El is in this issue? So that Legion fans will buy it, maybe?

There are two covers for this issue, too. Both of them features Mon-El. I'm not spending $25 for the alternate one. Even Get-A-Life Boy's insane completism has a limit....

(I'll pick it up later from the back-issue bins.)