Thursday, August 8, 2013

LSH 1994 reread, part ten

Covering Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 # 93-95 and Legionnaires# 49-52, 1997)

Major developments:

*In the 20th Century, Andrew Nolan's brother Douglas, incarcerated in a home for mutants that is run by a corrupt thug, dies trying to escape. The LSH offers Andrew, as Ferro, a place on their team.
*Brainiac 5 starts a fight with the Metal Men after he mistakenly assumes that they are robots and attempts to use their "responsometer" computers in his time travel experiments, but they are actually (in this continuity) human intelligences in robotic form.
*Cos and Imra announce their engagement.
*In the 30th Century, the United Planets forms a gigantic task force of superheroes to attack Mordru, who is hunting for the Emerald Eye. The Eye and Mordru battle, and the hero Atom'x of Xanthu thinks he can blast them both away and rescue Violet, but Mordru murders him and drains all of his energy. Violet and the Eye merge into one being, Veye, and proposes to become Mordru's consort.
*Mysa and Kinetix abduct the Eye and the heroes attack in force. Vi is freed from the Eye, which vanishes into space, Mordru goes dormant and is sealed away as he had been before, and Mysa is revealed to be his daughter, de-aged to her early twenties. Another of the allied heroes, Blast-Off, is killed, and the Legion's Magno loses his powers. Vi ends up with additional ones: the Eye quasi-granted one of her wishes while she was helplessly in its power, and she can now grow to giant size as Gim Allon could.
*Monstress from the planet Xanthu joins the team.
*The creative team is as before: Tom McCraw, Tom Peyer, and Roger Stern writing, Lee Moder and Jeffrey Moy as principal artists. Mike Collins pencils LSH # 93. Issue # 94 features a whole pile of substitute artists, each contributing one or two pages. Among the names that I recognize from their other work that I have enjoyed, Phil Jimenez, Walt Simonson, and Val Semekis

Let's get the worst out of the way: these Metal Men stink. In 1994, DC had upgraded and rebooted a lot of older series. Some, like Legion and the James Robinson-Tony Harris Starman, came out bright and shiny and wonderful. Then there was the Dan Jurgens Metal Men miniseries, which killed off Gold, put Doc Magnus in an armored suit, and revealed that they were amnesiac humans all along. I loved the 1970s Metal Men as a kid. They'd always show up as oddball guest stars in things like The Brave & The Bold, and those big Showcase omnibus editions show that their original 1960s-1970s appearances were incredibly fun comics. This revamp is awful, and the Legion's continued association with the 20th Century DC Universe is really, really getting old as dirt at this point.

Happily, despite the feeling of fatigue and malaise that the last seven issues prompted, this is a mostly better run of comics, thanks in part to the really remarkable battle with Mordru, which is staged brilliantly, and also the decision to slow the narrative down for two issues afterward to deal with the ramifications of what happens next. I'm not kidding about the brilliant staging of the battle in issue 50. It's a textbook example of how to build up to a big superhero fight and make it matter. The outcome is in doubt all the way through, and there's just no way to guess how it's going to finish. It is also drawn beautifully. This Jeffrey Moy - if you don't like his work on Legion, you've just got no hope in the world.

I was honestly reminded of the big, mean smackdown in issue # 50 of Levitz's big run, when four of the heroes make a suicide run against the Time Trapper. This one has consequences, and while this doesn't have its antecedent's apocalyptic shock - there are, after all, far more heroes this time out - there are fatalities and long-lasting (if not permanent) injuries and big changes to the normal run of things.

Okay, so admittedly, the fatalities are members of the C-list cast, and the most grievous injury is to somebody equally on the periphery, and the Legionnaire most injured - Magno is depowered - is one of the newest three, whose power set duplicates Cosmic Boy's, but this is a book that has clearly shown that nobody is safe, and that if even Gim Allon can die in battle, then anybody can.

Heck, they're already threatening to have Cos and Imra get married!!

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