Monday, January 02, 2012

Week of 21 December 2011

"Not What They Seem"

Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Chemical Kid, Cosmic Boy, Dragonwing, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Glorith, Harmonia, Invisible Kid (Jacques), Lightning Lass, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Polar Boy, Sensor Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Ultra Boy, Dominators, Res-Vir

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Brek, Dirk, Hadru, Jacques, Jan, Jo, Lar, Rokk

With coaching from Element Lad, Chemical Kid defeats Res-Vir. Between Cham, Mon-El, and the rest of the Legionnaires, the Dominators are sent back to the Dominion with their tails between their legs. (The mystery of why they wanted the Legion to follow them back remains unanswered.)

The team on Daxam discovers a lab working with what appears to be Kryptonite, apparently a tiny sample from a meteorite that Res-Vir collected before he disappeared.

Meanwhile at Legion HQ, Brainy continues to ponder the mystery behind the great power of Glorith's magical shields. Dream Girl visits and gives him the clue he needs: Glorith's shield displaces energy through time.

Finally, Shady welcomes Mon-El back and says it's good to see him acting like himself after such a long time. He replies, "You have no idea how long, idea."


It looks like things have come to a happy ending, but I'm guessing we're only at about the midpoint of this story arc. Several things are still unexplained:

  1. Res-Vir's serum, presumably provided by the Dominators, doesn't use Kryptonite but some other strange ingredient.
  2. The Dominators wanted to draw the Legion into the Dominion, where presumably some greater threat is awaiting them.
  3. Mon's enigmatic comment to well as her sudden friendliness toward him...begs explanation.
Meanwhile, here are not one but two absolutely stunning examples of good writing and good art working together.

First, Chemical Kid. Last issue we saw him start to realize that he was out of his depth. This issue, Element Lad coaches him into regaining his confidence and growing up a bit. Look at his face in the opening sequence. You see him go from total panic to tentative confidence to...humility. Look at how Jan encourages him while pushing him into the fray. Look at how Mon-El and Ultra Boy wait out of sight, keeping their eyes on things so they could swoop down in the nick of time. Look at how Mon-El, the Legion Leader, praises him -- both overtly and with the suggestion that lowly Chemical Kid could be on his level.

And finally, look at Hadru's response: "N-no, sir." Where's the brash, overconfident kid? Where's the juvenile delinquent? Where did this sudden respect come from?

The Legion, that's where. The older Legionnaires put Hadru into a situation where he had two alternatives: fail, or grow and succeed. And he rose to the occasion. (Don't you think Element Lad could have turned air into a foot-thick prison of intertron to keep Res-Vir at bay? Don't you think Lar and Jo couldn't have knocked him unconscious again? But no...they gave Hadru his opportunity.)

I think I'm starting to like Hadru Jamik...something I never thought I'd say.

The second stunning bit is the scene with Brainy and Dreamy in the lab.

This is Paul Levitz knowing his characters. Nura and Brainy have a lot of respect for one another, a lot of history together, and are good friends. At the same time, there's always been this tension between them; Nura's powers confound Brainy. Nevertheless, Brainy admits that Nura has a brain that is a worthy companion to his own.

Look, again, at the faces. Brainy, confused and resentful at this whole magic thing. Nura open and friendly, having an intellectual discussion with her friend. Then Brainy's eureka moment, followed by Nura's slightly annoyed expression.

Now think about what's actually going on here. Nura Nal dreams the future. Consider the implications.

Nura knew that she was going to be in Brainy's lab, and knew what both of them were going to say. She knew that she needed to go to the lab and give him the tidbit he needed to solve Glorith's shield.

Once you know that, it brings a whole new level of meaning to the conversation...and particularly to Nura's last remark. "Sigh...always lovely chatting, Brainy -- you listen so attentively..." She knew she was going to say that. She knew everything that both of them were going to say, and yet she had to go through it all, because that's how Dream Girl's life goes.

Like I said, stunning.


No comments: