Thursday, August 1, 2013

LSH 1994 Reread, part nine

Covering Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 # 89-92 and Legionnaires# 46-48, 1997)

Major developments:

*In the 20th Century, Cos and Imra's relationship has really got under Ayla's skin and she tries to quit the team. Imra is really heavy-handed with her and gives her such a telepathic "scream" that it is heard miles away by the comatose and institutionalized supervillain Dr. Psycho, waking him.
*Rokk is injured and comatose after the fight. All of the Legionnaires briefly meet up in the "timestream" in another attempt to get the stranded team home. As it fails and they drift apart, Triad joins the others, hoping to meet up with Superboy again.
*The heroes don't return to 1997, but 1958, briefly and amnesiac in a short episode that pays tribute to the classic LSH artist Curt Swan, who passed away in 1996.
*In the 30th Century, Dreamer Nura Nal has a premonition of something attacking Kinetix from behind an underground artifact.
*Chameleon and Sensor form a close friendship as the team's two non-humanoids, each wanted by their home planets to come back and fulfill spiritual obligations to their respective populations.
*The sorceror Mordru, who had been released from centuries of confinement, draws attention to himself as his power grows and he murders a handful of civilians across the galaxy while hunting down his ancient artifacts. The Legion gives him a solid thumping, but he is far more powerful than they were told and he continues his quest for the Emerald Eye. Meanwhile, Mysa and her new acolyte, Dragonmage, abduct Kinetix as part of their plan to oppose him.
*The creative team is as before: Tom McCraw, Tom Peyer, and Roger Stern writing, Lee Moder and Jeffrey Moy as principal artists. Philip Moy co-pencils Legionnaires # 46 with Jeffrey.

Right in the middle of this mess - and that's exactly what LSH has careened into, a mess - there's one of the best single issues of the series. It's just a simple and quiet story with Sensor and Cham enjoying some time together. There's a minor disaster that prompts them to spring into action and help people, giving the comic a little melodrama and adventure, but otherwise it's a really perfect and beautifully drawn piece that lets everybody catch their breath.

Unfortunately, it highlights what's wrong with this 30th Century. Everything is moving incredibly fast. I'm suddenly reminded that one of the reasons that the celebrated 1980s Paul Levitz run was so successful is because he spent so much time on character moments, with the world-ending threats spaced far out between them. Here, we've had so little time to breathe that everything feels weighed down. Good grief, now we have Mordru to deal with? And Mysa is back to bore everybody? Event fatigue, man. We just needed some issues where everybody goes out on dates and catches some bank robbers.

In the 20th Century, there's almost a story like this. Ayla gets fed up with the rest of the team, and is very upset that Cos and Imra have started dating. This starts out all right, but I'm very troubled that they use their powers to try and force her back to the other heroes, especially Imra using her telepathy to jump into Ayla's head with a psychic scream. This is all very out of character and very unpleasant to read.

And the rest of the 20th Century stuff is no better. Reading the whole story requires searching countless back issue boxes for titles like Impulse and Showcase, and what we do get in LSH is rushed and unsatisfying. I'm starting to get very bored of this project, which is very odd, because DC, in the spring of 1997, was producing lots of terrific books. Grant Morrison's JLA debuted then, as did a really good take (well, for its first couple of years) on Supergirl by Peter David and Gary Frank. Garth Ennis and John McRea were scoring with Hitman. How'd this stumble so badly?

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