Feb 9, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes: Forgotten Juggernauts, Part 2

Legion of Super-Heroes – Forgotten Juggernauts
Part 2 – Boot, and Then Boot Again
Back Issue Ben
Ben Smith

Last week, I made one of my patented bad decisions, to share with you my love for the Legion of Super-Heroes in a multipart detailed exploration. I decided the best place to start was where I originally started with the franchise back in the brisk fall air of August 2008, with the Mark Waid “Threeboot” version from 2005. It took me 2452 words to say that I really liked the first two issues, and that I think Brainiac 5 is swell. Hopefully this week I can get through at least double that, or murder may eventually become my only release from the pressure of weekly unpaid comic book writing. (Sponsors, feel free to email us!)

(As a side note, I didn’t realize until I embarked upon this venture that one of the editors on this series was Stephen Wacker, my favorite editor at Marvel until he left for animation last year. I feel like I should slap myself for having a favorite editor, but I feel justified in it by his sarcasm and expert trolling of “fans.”)

Legion of Super-Heroes #3
Writer: Mark Waid; Penciler: Barry Kitson; Inker: Art Thibert; Editors: Harvey Richards, Stephen Wacker

A spotlight on Triplicate Girl this issue. While on a date with Element Lad, she recounts her “origin” tale of waking up on her home planet of Cargg, with no memory of who she was or her past, and as the only apparent resident of the planet. As a defense reflex against wild animals, she instinctively split herself into three identical copies of herself. From three came six, then nine, and so on. She could also remerge, retaining the memories of every duplicate of herself when doing so.

Meanwhile, troubling things are happening on outer rim planets with no apparent political advantages. With the information of an upcoming intergalactic conflict learned from Dream Girl’s precognitive vision, Brainiac 5 wants to investigate the curious happenings further. But Cosmic Boy insists he leave it to Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, who are on the scene. (Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl were the founding members of the Legion in the original continuity, and are established as the same in this version.)

Outside, in the crowd of Legion supporters, Triplicate Girl and Sun Boy are playing a game of secret identity, appropriating what was basically Clark Kent’s schtick to disguise himself from being Superman. Turns out she’s now on a date with him, and she finishes her origin story with how she discovered and joined the Legion.

Even later, Triplicate Girl is again on a date, this time with Ultra Boy. This one ends up with them doing some heavy making out back at headquarters, when they’re interrupted by the other two parts of Triplicate Girl, still on their respective dates with Element Lad and Sun Boy. The boys all storm off to the bar, as she merges to combine all the information she learned. We quickly discover her true goal wasn’t just harmless fun with the boys, but information gathering. She fears that the Legion is far too fragmented in ideology and purpose.

Cosmic Boy, the one who sent her on this information gathering mission, now has to balance an apparently undisciplined team, to go along with Brainy slowly seeding an internal coup for leadership, and an impending galactic war.

I’m enjoying the subtle changes Waid made to some of the characters in this rebooted version of the team. Like, Colossal Boy being from a planet of giants, but he can shrink down to the size of everyone else. Or Atom Girl, otherwise known as Shrinking Violet in original continuity, who can shrink down to microscopic size, being a bit of a myth among most members of the team. Most don’t believe she really exists, and maybe she doesn’t. I didn’t know these were changes at the time, but now I do, because reading.

Legion of Super-Heroes #4
Writers: Mark Waid, Barry Kitson; Penciler: Leonard Kirk; Inker: Mick Gray; Editors: Harvey Richards, Stephen Wacker

Sun Boy’s parents are visiting the team, one of the few adults shown to be supporters of the teenagers and what they’re doing. But to Sun Boy, they seem to be more interested in everyone else than they are of him.

They are suddenly interrupted by the Science Police, who come bursting through the wall to arrest the team, based on trumped up charges that the Legion flight rings are sabotaging the constant genetic surveillance system known as the Public Service. Cosmic Boy has no idea why the S.P. are suddenly so determined to come after them, but Brainy reveals it might be because newest member Invisible Kid is the son of the head of the Northam Science Police, much to Cosmic Boy’s shock.

While the rest of the Legion fight off Science Police, Cosmic Boy demands to know why Invisible Kid withheld this information from him, and if he’s part of some S.P. trick. Invisible Kid explains how his parents were more interested in his considerable scientific achievements, than they were in him as a person. Instead of allowing his father to steal the invisibility formula he developed, to give to the Science Police, he injected it into himself and lied about it not being a viable formula. His dad effectively disowned him, but Brainy took notice and invited him to join the Legion.

Cosmic Boy, still angry, sends out a message to all Legionnaires to cease resisting arrest and immediately convene at Science Police headquarters. He leaves it up to Invisible Kid to figure out a way to get the team out of this mess.

While the Legion still fights the Science Police in front of their headquarters, Invisible Kid has a heart to heart with his dad inside. Not willing to leave the team and come back home, he offers a vial of his own blood, so that the S.P. can reverse engineer the formula for themselves, as a compromise. It’s good enough to get his dad to cancel the arrest order.

Unknown to them, Invisible Kid encoded a monitoring virus in his blood sample, giving Brainy hidden access to every database in the United Planets systemworks. This was enough for Cos to allow him to remain on the team, however with a temporary sabbatical to stay with Sun Boy’s parents, while the other team members cool off about him putting them in danger.

A backup story (penciled by Dave Gibbons) explains how Phantom Girl is actually from a different dimension called Bgztl, and her phasing power allows her to travel between the two dimensions. Unless she’s fully in one dimension or the other, she’s visible in both, which can create some perplexing sights for the residents of the opposite dimension than the one she’s focused on.

It also ends up in her not giving enough attention to her insecure boyfriend, or to Karate Kid, who is interested in getting to know her better. Torn between two realities, and ultimately, leaving her all alone.

Legion of Super-Heroes #5
Writer: Mark Waid; Penciler: Barry Kitson; Inker: Art Thibert; Editors: Harvey Richards, Stephen Wacker

A General from the Science Police argues with the United Planets council about the Legion’s continued interference. The U.P. shares the Legion’s vision of interplanetary alliance towards a greater good, and consider them a valuable tool towards their goals. The S.P. consider them an anti-establishment movement, and a detriment to their goals to keep the peace through discipline and order. The General then accuses the council of being apologists, since many of them are actually the parents of the Legionnaires themselves.

Meanwhile, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl continue their investigation into the mysterious happenings on the Rimworlds on the edge of the universe. They run into Brin Londo (Timber Wolf from original continuity) while he was in the process of saving someone. Brainy had defied Cosmic Boy’s order to not send in reinforcements, by asking Brin to go help as a favor, since Brin is not a member of the Legion.

Shadow Lass and Ultra Boy are on patrol, when Ultra Boy loses control over his powers, which has apparently been happening as of late. Back on the Rimworlds, Lightning Lad is telling the residents stories to keep them calm, while Brin and Saturn Girl attempt again to contact Brainy, but transmissions in and out continue to be blocked. Suddenly, they are under attack by a mysterious group of decidedly evil characters.

The leader identifies himself as Elysion, and his team as Terror Firma. Saturn Girl uses her telepathy to hold their attackers at bay, until Elysion takes one of the residents hostage. He brags that they are only the advance force, and that they can’t even imagine what’s to come.

Elysion kills his hostage, forcing Lightning Lad to cease fighting and surrender. The villain reveals that they didn’t seize control of this planet because it was in their path, or for any other reason than because they could. But Lightning Lad was only faking his surrender to get close enough to unleash the full force of his electric powers, forcing the villains to retreat. Before their transmatter gate can close fully, Brin follows them through it.

Now able to contact Cosmic Boy and Brainy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad relay their new information. Because of the conflict, two more potential U.P. worlds turned down membership in the intergalactic council. Cosmic Boy and Brainy agree that though the worlds may think turning down membership will make them appear neutral in the eyes of the aggressors, it will more likely make them the easiest targets.

Elsewhere, the mysterious head of this chaotic movement praises Elysion and his team for successfully getting the Science Police, United Planets, and the Legion riled up. Brin eavesdrops on the encounter from a hiding spot overlooking the scene.

Legion of Super-Heroes #6
Writer: Mark Waid; Penciler: Barry Kitson; Inker: Art Thibert; Editors: Harvey Richards, Stephen Wacker

Cosmic Boy takes Star Boy on a trip to secure additional funding for their operating budget from a benefactor from Orando, a medieval world of mystics, and the richest planet in the universe. They bribe their way past a pair of guards by giving them comic books (they appear to be Silver Age) and meet with Princess Projectra (another favorite of mine from the original continuity). She periodically gives them the money to operate, and Cosmic Boy tries to find ways to convince her she’s a part of the team without her actually being a part of the team. (Kitson draws a sexy woman, I’ll tell you that much.)

In Brainy’s lab, Brainiac 5 tries to uncover more information about the mysterious Terror Firma, who combined have the ability to terraform entire planets, while being annoyed by Dream Girl’s precog powers. She flirts with him, angering him even further.

In a secluded area of a now icy Australia, Karate Kid tries to teach Ultra Boy to gain better control over his increasingly erratic powers by improving his focus.

While Cosmic Boy tries to convince Projectra that she’s a valuable member of the team, she receives an urgent communication from her father. Orando is under heavy attack from a mysterious group of genocidal invaders. Cosmic Boy calls the team to intervene, but Brainy informs him that they can’t transmatter in due to the extreme devastation. The team combines their abilities to circumvent the EM field preventing them from transporting into the conflict, but it’s too late. Orando is completely gone.

Brainy contemplates the ramifications of the galaxy losing its economic core, while Cosmic Boy attempts to console his teammate, Princess Projectra.

In an epilogue, Brainiac 5 frustratingly tries to decipher the identity of the mysterious leader of this universal destabilizing movement. Surprisingly, the mysterious villain contacts him directly, and introduces himself as Praetor Lemnos. A name Brainy suddenly and surprisingly recognizes as an immensely rich arms dealer, and shadow mover in galactic politics. Turns out, Lemnos has the ability to psionically alter memory functions in other people, and can alter any recording device to remove any evidence of his presence. Meaning that unless you’re talking to him directly, any memory of him quickly fades away as fast as it takes him to leave. This has allowed him to accumulate his immense fortune, influence politics, and apparently even manipulate the United Planets into aiding the Legion more than they might have otherwise. He actually agrees with the Legion’s rebellion against oppressive order and that is has paralyzed societal progress. But unlike the Legion, he intends to achieve his goals through war. First he removed Orando from the equation, and next is Brainy’s home planet of Colu. When all is said and done, he wants to actually be remembered, remembered as the savior of civilization. As he fades away, so does Brainy’s knowledge of him, leaving him to once again wonder the identity of this mysterious villain causing them so much trouble.

Well, shit just got real. The stakes are only going to get that much higher, and eventually it all culminates with Cosmic Boy pulling one of the all-time badass moves in comic book history.

Come back next week for more Threeboot Legion!

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