Sunday, May 19, 2013

LSH 1994 Reread, part two

(Covering Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 # 65-67 and Legionnaires# 21-24, 1995)

Major developments:

*Brande's competitor McCauley has formed a superhero team of his own. Live Wire finds a place there, along with the new characters Evolvo Lad, Inferno, Karate Kid, Spider Girl, and Ultra Boy, who we met in the previous issue and who introduced Live Wire to the others. McCauley's micromanagement in the field is undermining the group's effectiveness.
*The UP has asked the Legion to repair the power grid of a super-secure prison facility on an asteroid inside the sun of the planet Wakeet. The magnetic tunnel that allows travel to the prison and back broke down some years ago. Brainiac 5's people, the Coluans, agreed to build a new magnetic tunnel-bridge, but a criminal gang has just been waiting for the bridge to go up so that they can send cruisers in to free all the prisoners. The Legion, on site to make the repairs, and the Work Force, who had been tracking the criminals, are trapped on the surface with the prisoners.
*It's love at first sight when Jo and Tinya notice each other for the first time. Unfortunately, he's kind of dating Spider Girl.
*Three new heroes are drafted: Andromeda of the planet Daxam, Shrinking Violet of Imsk, and Kinetix of Aleph. Leviathan instantly starts crushing on Kinetix, and Brainy on Andromeda.
*Andromeda struggles to befriend the others, as, like many Daxamites, she was raised with xenophobic beliefs. She is off-duty with some of the others who witness a xeno-attack on an alien. She corners the perps, but recognizes a white triangle symbol worn by one and lets them "escape."
*This will come back to haunt her: just days later, one of Triad's three bodies is badly beaten and hospitalized by other members of this white triangle gang.
*In space, a group of Legionnaires is tracking Tangleweb (see Reread One), but the alien surprises them and captures Cos and Spark. They trail him back to what appears to be his home planet...

I am really, really liking these comics! They have aged incredibly well. Unburdened by continuity or tie-ins - so far - they just tell a really good story of adventure and melodrama in a fun, science fiction setting and they tell it really well.

Maybe this is just me trying to find a connection to hang an opinion on and make these things worth doing, but the conventional wisdom, for years, has been that Starman by James Robinson and Tony Harris had been by far the best thing, if not the only good thing, to come out of DC's 1994 Zero Hour crossover / revamp. And this isn't to knock Starman at all, because, apart from some occasionally clunky dialogue, it is a truly fantastic comic, and one that I repurchased in those amazing hardcover omnibus editions, but that comic really lives and breathes from the continuity of the comics of that time. It's a book that relishes its place in history, with the latest in a long line of heroes to use that name, and it is about family and generations and titles. For all of its triumphs, Starman is a book that probably means more to readers with a fond memory or two of all the rest of DC Comics' line of superhero books.

This Legion does not seem to care. It is off doing its own thing. I think that when it does begin interacting with DC continuity and history, it will have its first fumbles.

I really like how the creators are aware of what the original iteration of the Legion did, and how it is so confidently able to foil expectations. There's the early rumblings of a love triangle between Rokk, Garth, and Imra. (Rokk and Imra are wearing clunky "Virtual Reality" helmets, like a lot of speculative fiction written in the mid-1990s thought that we'd use in "the future." It's kind of charming.) When the team gets three new members, we're all set to see Gim Allon get a crush on Shrinking Violet, because that's what Colossal Boy did in the original iteration. But no, he looks right past her and sees the brand new character Kinetix and gets a goofy grin.

Andromeda is the really interesting character this time, though. See, a few years previously, the original iteration of the Legion had suffered from Superman's editorial office having a hissy fit about other comics using the Superman Family, and so the Legion team dealt with their tantrum by having a history-altering time-whatsit rewrite everybody's backstory and replace Supergirl, the longtime supporting player and reserve member, with a Daxamite super-blonde with the same power set. Andromeda had proven popular with the fans of the Legion between 1990-93, and while I have only faded memories of the character, I remember her as being a smiling and upbeat, friendly person, much like the old, popular Girl of Steel.

This time around, Andromeda completely confounds expectations because she's a surly bigot who's slowly learning to get used to other humanoids. She completely screws over her teammates on Earth by letting some criminals go after she recognizes the white triangle that one of them wears, and she could have ended the threat of Tangleweb immediately with a punch to its face, only she refuses to touch any other sentient, finding the concept of other races or species' skin revolting. This character has a long, long way to go. I'm forcing myself to wait in between batches of seven, and I'm really impatient to start the next ones.

(As with Reread part one, the stories are written by Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, and Tom McCraw, with terrific artwork spearheaded by Lee Moder and Jeffrey Moy. Fantastic stuff across the board.)

No comments: