CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Garth, M'Tobo, Rokk, Admiral Wynn, Assorted U.P. troops and S.P. officers (special award for Brainy Garth, and Rokk lookin' so innocent and young, especially Garth and Rokk on page 8 -- woof!)
Once again into the breach, dear friends....
You think you know the Legion's origin? Of course you do. Everyone does. So that's why Paul Levitz chose to tell a different story, where the foundation of the Leigon is just one of many threads woven together into a beautiful tapestry whose pattern will become clear over the next five issues.
It's the 31st century, and for three peaceful centuries the United Planets has bound together a collection of worlds ranging from former Earth colonies to long-established worlds like Colu. Now there's trouble: a U.P. starcruiser happens upon the world Anotrom, which has been left a ruin by an attack from foes unknown. The only remnant of the attackers is broken pieces of their alien technology scattered about Anotrom.
When a bit of that energy-absorbing tech explodes and kills a U.P. mechanic, the U.P. appeals to the geniuses of Colu. Unexpectedly, the Coluans offer their smartest child to solve the mystery: Querl Dox, aka Brainiac 5.
Meanwhile, we meet the real protagonists of this story: The U.P.'s Security Directorate, a secretive, officially non-existent agency that seems to have eyes and ears all over the Galaxy. The Directors are three: Anisa, a Naltorian with the power to see the future; Zarl, a Coluan; and our narrator, Mycroft, an aged Human. The Directorate is worried about the strange tech and some other minor matters, but Anisa receives a powerful presentiment concerning an event unfolding at that moment at Earthport.
Yes, it's the moemnt when Imra Ardeen, Rokk Krinn, and Garth Ranzz foil the attempted assassination of R.J. Brande. Anisa opines that this event will "determine the fate of many worlds."
Over the next little while (days, weeks, maybe months?) events begin to spin out of the Directorate's control. Brande, whose money has bought him many politicians on the U.P. Council, tells Mycroft to keep hands off the Legion, to just observe. Near Anotrom, a space wormhole opens, while Brainiac 5 begins his investigation. There's also mention of the U.P. launching an experimental cruiser from Nullport.
Briny meets Tinya Wazzo (soon to be Phantom Girl), who tells him that she's come through the wormhole from Bgtzl to warn of a terrible danger that will soon confront the U.P.
On Earth, Luornu Durgo responds to the Legion's growing fame, and is accepted as a member. Zarl ponders that he thought it would take longer for the "handful of survivors" on Cargg to restore contact with Earth. We are left with the feeling that the Legion is a wild card in the Directorate's carefully planned universe.
Story, art, narration, background -- wow, this was a superior Legion comic. There's so much going on here, but just stand back and admire how skillfully Levitz packed so much information, seemingly effortlessly, into these 20 pages.
This is going to be a fun ride.
BITS OF LEGIONNAIRE BUSINESS:
Anotrom. Some folks seem to think that Anatrom is the planet Trom, home of Element Lad. Uh, yeah. By that reasoning, Neptune is a bit of music, Hungary is a suburb of Chicago, and England is a gland.
Admiral Allon is, of course, Wynn Allon, the father of Gim Allon, soon-to-be Legionnaire Colossal Boy.
Poor Lieutenant Boffin. In British slang, "boffin" is a term for scientist. Wikipedia has more information here.
The Coluans seem awfully eager to get Querl Dox off Colu and into a dangerous situation. From what we know of Brainy's past, his relations with his own people, and his propensity for exploding valuable laboratories, this isn't a surprise.
The Security Directorate raises echoes of the French Revolution & the Reign of Terror, Soviet Russia, and the Foundation Trilogy. Quite a trick for a three-word phrase, eh?
Mycroft. (No, it's not "Myecroft.") Of course, Mycroft was the name of Sherlock Holmes' brother, whom some say was smarter than Holmes. It was also the name of the all-powerful, planet-controlling computer intelligence in Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. What the two Mycrofts have in common is that they both preferred to work behind the scenes.
Anisa is an Arabic name that means "pleasant companion." The name also recalls the herb anise, which Pliny the Elder recommended as a cure for insomnia. Not a bad name for someone from Naltor, the planet on which everyone sees the future in their dreams.
Zarl. I can only find two Zarls with any relation to the Legion. Zarl Hendricks was Dirk Morgna's co-worker and cute boyfriend, who died in a radiation accident that was the fault of Dr. Regulus. Zarl Vorne was an Atlantean baby who was rocketed to the asteroid Juno when Atlantis was destroyed; he gained super-powers and had a heroic career as Power Boy. Zarl Vorne and Superboy had a brief but passionate affair in Superboy #52 (1956/10), but Kal had to leave Juno because his physical presence weakened Zarl.
The Science Police Chief that Mycroft speaks to is not named. An S.P. Chief who appeared in many early Legion stories seems to be the same one who was later identified as Zoltorus. I'm tentatively calling this guy Zoltorus, but I'm willing to be argued out of that.
We see Luornu meeting each of the Founders separately, then merging into one body when they get together. This comes directly from the first Legion Origin story in Superboy #147 (1968/06).
So here's the big unanswered question. Is this a distinct alternate Legion?
There are several reasons we might consider the Legion depicted here to be a distinct version:
1. Costumes. The Legion's costumes are definitely not the classic ones. However, that could easily be artistic license.
2. Brainy. In the classic Legion, we first became aware of Brainy through his work with the Time Institute. But nothing says Brainy couldn't have been on Anotrom first.
3. Tinya. It was never stated that Tinya came through a wormhole from Bgtzl to warn the U.P. of danger. Then again, it was never stated that she didn't. (Yes, there was a Secret Origins story in which Tinya first traveled from Bgtzl to Earth aboard a trans-dimensional ship, using her own powers to make the shift...but that was written by Tom & Mary Bierbaum and I consider it part of the Glorithverse Legion.)
In short, there's nothing (yet) that's totally inconsistent with the Classic Legion. Any differences (so far) can be ascribed to artistic license or Chronicler's Error.
In the 26th century, three psi-gifted teenagers find themselves on the same flight to Earth. Thrown together by chance, the kids use their remarkable abilities to foil an assassination attempt against Colleen Artveldt, the galaxy's richest person. In response, Artveldt announces that she wants them to be founding members of a new organization, a corps of similarly-talented youths to be called the PsiScouts.
Find out more.