(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comic.)
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES ANNUAL 1 (2011/02)
"Here Eye Am"
Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Gates, Lightning Lass, Sensor Girl, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Emerald Empress (Falyce), Emerald Eye, Falyce, Duke Pharos
CUTE BOYS: Dirk (Rokk is also in this story, but doesn't look particularly cute)
Since Jeckie's departure, Orando has fallen on hard times -- or, rather, pretty normal times for a planet on a medieval level. About a year ago a girl named Alyce was running from a cruel Duke when she stumbled into some ancient, cursed ruins and awakened the Emerald Eye. She becomes the new Emerald Empress.
Flash forward to now: The Empress has plucked a passing starship from space and crashed it on Orando. Inside are Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet. Some time later, Ayla and Vi awaken as prisoners; they fight their way to the Empress' throne room, where they find her completely insane on power. She shows them that the Eye is transforming Orando into a weird-looking garden. The Empress reveals that she's wearing a Legion flight ring and decides to use it to summon more Legionnaires.
Back at Legion Headquarters, the distress signal arrives. Jeckie says that she's just sensed a wave of energy from Orando, as if a curtain was drawn back to reveal that everything she'd sensed about Orando in the last few months has been an illusion. She tells Cosmic Boy where they're going, then orders Gates to teleport her and Sun Boy directly to Orando.
They arrive to find Ayla and Vi bound, and the fight begins. (Meanwhile, back on Earth, Rokk seeks reinforcements but Dream Girl says she saw that they were going to be too late.) Much fighting ensues on Orando; the others distract the Empress while Vi shrinks down small enough to slip in between the molecules of the Eye.
Inside the Eye, Vi finds a weird, impossible landscape that resembles the new form of Orando. She hallucinates the history of the Eye. She enlarges, shattering the Eye from within and breaking the spell that held Falyce.
Later, Ayla and Vi make ready to return with Gates and the others, but Jeckie chooses to stay behind o Orando to repair the damage. In the last panel, some kind of weird green energy appear around Vi's left eye, and the caption says "The End?"
A pretty good story, and Keith Giffen's art isn't as bad as it used to be -- although he does make people look pretty grotesque. Instead of the nine-panel grid, he now bases his pages on a six-panel grid; fortunately he does vary it a little by merging 2 or 4 panels, and there's an occasional full page.
BITS OF LEGIONNAIRE BUSINESS:
Dream Girl's prediction is nonsense. She says "I just woke up -- and saw that we're going to be too late." How so? No one else goes to Orando; at the end, Vi makes a point of saying that Gates is taking them home. Who was too late? Too late for what? Remember, Nura's predictions always come true. Is this another hint that the woman we think is Dream Girl really isn't?
Sun Boy is playing a VR game that seems to be set in World War II. Gates enters the game, where he is depicted as wearing an army uniform and helmet.
The Monitor Boards are now mobile displays that chase the Leader around.
Lightning Lass's monitor symbol has changed: it's now a classic female symbol with a crossbar made of lightning.
The nobleman at the beginning is called Duke Pharos. In the past, Jeckie had a nasty relative named Pharoxx; is this guy the same person?
There are two reference features in this Annual: Legion History, the Board Game and Interlac A to Z. The first is the most interesting, as it lays out the general history of the Retro Legion and allows us to judge how well it fits with the Classic Legion. There are several notable entries.
° Supergirl joined after Superboy. This fits with what was established in the recent Supergirl Annual.
° Garridan Ranzz was Validus. Since we recently saw him alive and well, he obviously got better. But we also saw Validus in action in L3W. The mystery has yet to be explained.
° "Superboy killed in battle with Time Trapper?? Error in historical records -- try not to think about it." The Conspiracy to kill the Trapper still happened. Personally, I'm glad to see this remain part of continuity; the Death of Superboy series was a great story.
° Mon-El was still beaten badly by the Time Trapper, and Shady still married him. That was so touching, I'm glad it's remained in continuity.
° "The Mystery Years! Lose a turn trying to figure out what happened."
° The last entry is "Shadow Lass divorces Mon-El, shacks up with Earth-Man."
This clears up the question of how much of the Second Levitz Era remains part of continuity: al of it, through the Magic Wars. The Mystery Years stand between the Magic Wars and the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes series.
The Interlac A to Z feature is fun. The most interesting bit, to me, is V is for Validus: "This monster killed the first Invisible Kid. It's believed to be a twin son of Lighting Lad and Saturn Girl, evolved into a twisted creature by Darkseid."
With The Validus/Garridan connection mentioned twice, I would not be surprised to see the matter addressed in the near future.
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