Tuesday, January 15, 2013

LSH Reread, part eleven

(Covering Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 3 # 24-29, Annual # 2, 1986)

Major developments:

*Suspicion over Sensor Girl's identity, and how the Empress had approached her, sets just about everybody on the team into arguments against each other.
*Quislet, probably out to cause trouble in the first place, finds Dream Girl out dancing with somebody who isn't her longtime boyfriend Thom.
*The Emerald Empress and the Persuader recruit criminals named Flare and Caress to join their new Fatal Five. Writer Paul Levitz plays up the possibility that Sensor Girl is the fifth member, but it surprisingly turns out to be Mentalla, a character whose membership bid was declined and who briefly joined the Legion Academy before vanishing.
*Sensor Girl turns out to be Projectra. Well, I was surprised as heck anyway. She concluded that her home planet of Orando's disasters were not due to the tradition vs. technology gap, but her own poor decisions, and... comic book hocus-pocus explanations, augmented powers, returned to our dimension, redemption, that sorta thing.
*Mentalla betrays the Fatal Five. The Empress kills her, and the heroes win out.
*The rulers of the Sorceror's World awaken Mordru, depower him, and give him the mind of a child so that he may have a second chance.
*Speaking of "mind of a child," Darkseid... for some reason... relents and un-curses Garth and Imra, and returns Validus to his correct point in time and form, as their baby, Graym's twin. This has got to be the least satisfying curse ever.
*Star Boy's home planet of Xanthu asks him to return home and help look for Atmos, the only other superhero from their planet, who has vanished. Science Police Chief Zendak adds that quite a few heroes and police officers, system-wide, are missing. Atmos can't be found; the Xanthu tribune asks Star Boy to stay. He abruptly resigns from the LSH and doesn't even bother telling Dream Girl. Their relationship has been falling apart for years anyway, but the speed at which she propositions Element Lad is still surprising.
*A new gangster called Starfinger shows up with a surprisingly large criminal extortion business, and, also, the silliest costume in space.

Paul Levitz, more than once in the 1980s, admitted in the letters column that he was not the best at creating villains, but even with that caveat, the unbelievably ridiculous Starfinger is a mess. He'll improve later on, but his first appearance - as a "Kingpin of Space" - is idiotic. It's impossible to believe anybody who so quickly kills his reliable operatives over imagined slights could ever build up such a large criminal empire. His outlandish and bizarre appearance doesn't help. Greg LaRocque has been improving massively on art chores during this period, and he's found quite a knack for drawing Dream Girl as sinfully curvy, but his design skills are still a little behind the curve. We only catch glimpses of the missing hero Atmos in issue # 28; when we meet him properly in the next batch, it'll look as though the artist forgot to draw parts of him.

Much more entertaining is the resolution to the Sensor Girl story. Levitz has obviously been having a ball leaving one obscure clue after another for several months as to her identity. The smackdown with the new Fatal Five is really entertaining, with our five heroes - Sensor Girl, Dream Girl, Colossal Boy, Tellus, and Polar Boy - really looking like they're not getting out of this one alive. Mentalla's betrayal seems like something straight out of an earlier, shallower, time, but her double-agent turn goes over really well. When she's killed, it's a real surprise.

While the main story in the comic is exciting and incredibly fun, especially Brainiac 5's latest turn as team detective, thinking on a higher plane than everyone else, the annual is a complete disaster. The only good thing about it is that Keith Giffen returns to provide artwork for the opening and closing segments. This gives it some artistic continuity with "The Great Darkness Saga" and the earlier "The Curse."

Sadly, Darkseid's big, evil curse turns out to be a completely damp and dull disappointment. Only a year after we learned that Validus was the twisted and weird monster formed, by his black Apokolips science-magic, from Garth and Imra's missing child, the big baddie... sort of changes his mind, kills his servant Ol-Vir instead, and returns Validus to humanoid childhood. I guess it explains why Validus was weird and uncontrollable - he was only ever about eight months old - but the baffling way Darkseid returns him to normality is crushingly dumb. Even Imra is confused and unhappy about it. A big BAH to that. Now let's see what Universo has been doing.

1 comment:

Arion said...

In my opinion Starfinger has always been one of the most ridiculous Legion villains ever. Still, I'd like to reread these issues.