Friday, January 4, 2013

LSH Reread, part ten

(Covering Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 3 # 17-23, 1985-1986)

Major developments:

*One of RJ Brande's business rivals, the jealous Leland McAuley, attempts to have Brande killed. The Legion foils the attempt, but Brande not only doesn't press charges, he laughs it off and tells the team he's going off on one of his oddball voyages of discovery again.
*The Crisis on Infinite Earths that's happening in the 20th Century starts screwing with the Legion's memories and history. A huge team apparently travels back in time to fight the Anti-Monitor, and the long-forgotten supporting character Kid Psycho is killed, but nobody can remember this after sending his remains to rest at Shamballa.
*Trying to figure out what the heck happened in the 20th Century, Brainiac 5 and the scientists at the Time Institute unwittingly release the old villain Infinite Man from his strange prison between times and universes.
*The Controller who had been growing a Sun-Eater back in #7-8 abducts the Legionnaires who had destroyed it to finish the task for which he had been growing it: destroy an artificial war-world called Tyrraz.
*Invisible Kid has his dangerous and unpredictable "teleportation" side effect power nullified.
*Brainiac 5 convinces himself that Sensor Girl is, somehow, his old flame Supergirl. The Emerald Empress, who arranges a prison break to headhunt some new blood for the Fatal Five, offers Sensor Girl a place in her team. In a calmly emphatic "no," Sensor Girl somehow shuts down the Emerald Eye of Ekron, which nobody's seen happen before.
*Gigi confirms that she's heard that Sun Boy and Salu are an item. Salu is still very hot-tempered when it comes to Durlans, prompting Cham to ask her to be a little more sensitive.
*Shady confides to Tinya that the serum that protects Mon-El from lead poisoning is becoming much less effective, requiring more frequent dosing. Mon-El nearly dies two issues later before Brainy finds a permanent immunity.
*In Really-Long-Game subplot news, the team's old enemy Universo is masquerading as Earth's vice president Vid-Gupta.
*Greg Larocque becomes the regular penciler. He's pretty good, but he's no Steve Lightle.

Well, if anybody was wondering where fandom got the idea that Salu and Ayla would end up the team's first lesbian couple, it's in this run of comics. There are more shared glances and heavy discussions about friendship than in a whole season of Rizzoli & Isles. Nothing's confirmed and nothing's formally stated - in fact, Salu's being seen in public with Sun Boy a whole lot, putting the team's resident playboy in the quite unexpected position of being her beard, I suppose - but the subtext is impossible to ignore.

And this is one of the reasons that fans love this era of comics, because the characterization is so very good. Salu is not the same "Shrinking Violet" that she was before she was abducted by the Imskian terrorists. She's cynical, she's mean, and she's really quick to jump in fists first. Of course, the standards of the day didn't allow Paul Levitz to be very overt with much of anything, but there's just enough here, particularly in her question, “I changed my whole life, Ayla. What about you?”, to launch a hundred fanfics.

Interestingly, I have never actually read an interview with Levitz where he was asked about his intentions here, but it's evident that some subsequent writers chose to follow in his footprints, regardless of whether he intended this to be text or subtext. I think that some of the later continuities and reboots kept them as a couple and some didn't, but gay fandom has claimed them regardless of what later writers and editors might have had in mind with "NEW" Violet/Atom Girl or "NEW" Ayla. When Levitz returned to LSH in 2010 and rebuilt something close to this original continuity, he resumed their relationship, and might have even finally made them an official-in-canon couple, although I don't recall whether he made it a centerpoint of any of his stories. (I dropped the book when "The New 52" launched, so I'm not sure what happened after that.)

In previous editions of this Reread, I'd explained that I dropped the book when it split in two and started Volume Three. Issue 21 was the first time I'd looked at the Legion for a very long time; I found this as a back issue in April 1987, a year after it was published, at a convention called, I think, PhoenixCon. That was a remarkable weekend; I went to the con with $40 and came home with more than $100 since sixteen year-old me spent the evenings mixing drinks and tending bar at the consuite. I remain amazed that I got away with the stuff that I did at that age. Anyway, I spent all of one dollar in the dealer's room. I had given up on LSH for the X-Men, and gave up on the X-Men for 2000 AD, and I've stuck with it ever since. I could only find three issues of those crummy Files Magazines about Doctor Who by John Peel - remember those awful things? - in a four-for-a-dollar bin, and picked up this one lone issue of LSH to make up the dollar. I read it, I liked it, but I didn't come back to it. Not for a long time.


Jim Purcell said...

Ayla and Salu are most definitely an official 'item' at the moment.

I think it was Giffin and his 5-years latter era that really make their relationship out and official (with lots of naked wandering through the forests of Winath). Its rather cool that after throwing that entire period out of current cannon he kept their relationship developments.

Arion said...

Bar tender at such a tender age... love that anecdote. I'm a long time Legion fan but I've skipped entire eras. Not too long ago I bought The Great Darkness Saga and I really enjoyed that.

Dummy Blog said...

I'm really enjoying these recaps, fwiw. I got a stack of old Legion issues from just before the debut of the split (Legion Baxter series and TOL spinner rack books), but reading your recaps is so much more wonderful than the actual books. (Though this installment really makes me want to read the actual issues.)


valerie21601 said...

Keith Giffen is coming back to LSH and doing the art and being Levitz muse.

Levitz credits Giffen for inspiring him to go down paths he hadn't considered before.