Jun 8, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes: Forgotten Juggernauts, Part 10

Legion of Super-Heroes – Forgotten Juggernauts
Part 10 – The Pulse-Pounding Conclusion!
Back Issue Ben
Ben Smith

The Legion of Super-Heroes is one of my favorite teams in all of comics. I’ve been writing about the Legion of Super-Heroes for several weeks. You should read my stuff, and then you should buy and read Legion of Super-Heroes comics. (On a serious note, I’m covering basically what happens, and a few of my favorite moments. What makes most comics great is the characterization and personalities of the characters in it, and you can only get that when you buy and read the full stories for yourselves.) Now, they are fighting against the Legion of Super-Villains. The Legion of Super-Villains is just like the Legion of Super-Heroes, only evil. Every time the evil Legion is around, a good Legionnaire dies. Someone is going to die.

Let’s find out who.

Legion of Super-Heroes #13
Writer: Paul Levitz; Artists: Yildiray Cinar and Jonathan Glapion; Editor: Brian Cunningham

The battle on Colu continues, and the Legionnaires are losing. Element Lad, one of the most powerful members on the scene (kind of a heroic Molecule Man, who everyone should know I adore) struggles to hold off Immortus.

Timber Wolf snaps Earth-Man out of Saturn Queen’s mind control, but they cannot wake up Brainiac 5 (and get the necessary codes he recently created as deputy leader to call in the reinforcements they need). Neidrigh may have lost any telepathic power he pulled from Saturn Queen, but he does borrow Brainy’s brain power to crack his codes and send out the call for help.

Saturn Queen bitch-slaps Questor around for his apparent failure to locate the hidden world of the wise. She calls upon the mysterious Blue Flame to lead them the rest of the way. He can help them finish their task, but only if Saturn Queen brings him her tracker (Hunter).

The cavalry arrives on Colu (and Quislet gets some moments to shine). Quislet is weird.

Shadow Lass, Polar Boy, and Quislet tag-team Sun Killer. Hunter sneaks up behind Timber Wolf and knocks him unconscious, and then relays a message from Saturn Queen to Earth-Man. Help them during the final conflict, and Earth is his to rule.

Tellus arrives to undo the damage done to Brainiac 5’s mind, in which Gates brags about how his brain is incapable of being scrambled (foreshadowing?) due to its unique biological positioning.

Brainy retraces Questor’s information search to determine they are searching for a world of the wise. Gates has heard legends of such a place, which calls an image into his mind that Tellus gleans, an image of Professor Harmonia Li.

Mon-El does what he can to multi-task the ongoing conflict while split between two consciousnesses. Wildfire and Ultra Boy come swooping in from space, to put the hurt on Immortus. (Finally Wildfire gets to do something besides getting his suit destroyed.)

Suddenly, Zymyr teleports in to remove Lightning Lord, Sun Killer, and Hunter from the battle.

Back at headquarters, Dream Girl asks Professor Li why she would have a vision of her and Star Boy holding hands in space with incredible energies surrounding them. She hypothesizes that because the energy being drained from Star Boy is what connects him to the many dimensions of the universe, it’s that same energy they will both need to possibly sacrifice themselves, and save the universe. (Is Star Boy the Legionnaire that will die?)

An appropriate amount of stakes here. Saturn Queen’s full army doesn’t get any face time, with the book sticking to the already introduced major players, but the scope of the threat is still properly conveyed. Everyone should be worried about their favorite Legionnaire getting a statue in the hall of fallen heroes.

Legion of Super-Heroes #14
Writer: Paul Levitz; Artists: Fernando Dagnino and Raul Fernandez; Editor: Brian Cunningham

Dream Girl tries to prevent Harmonia Li from stopping the energy drain on Star Boy, but Li pushes her aside. It’s better that one man be sacrificed (to fix her mistake at the Time Institute) and save the universe, than for everyone to suffer. Mon-El bursts in demanding explanations.

The fight between Ultra Boy, Wildfire, and Immortus continues. Wildfire gets his suit destroyed (dammit!) but Ultra Boy fights on.

He gets some help in the form of the refugee Titans, who use their telepathic powers to attack the only humanity Immortus has left, his brain.

Good callback to the Titans, that’s called tying everything together.

Saturn Queen has brought forth Hunter to complete the finals steps to find the world of the wise, but the Blue Flame requires a death to give him the necessary power boost to do so. Akka volunteers, misunderstanding that it’s not Hunter’s death that is required.

The power flows into Hunter, and the Blue Flame departs to take care of the tracker currently on his trail.

“…and all who come too close to the flame… must burn,” is a badass line.

Harmonia Li leads Mon-El, Dream Girl, and Star Boy on a quest to find her former home, the immortal world of the wise. Dream Girl gets a traumatic premonition of herself attending a funeral, where someone consoles her that at least Star Boy’s power won the battle. (Is it Star Boy that dies?)

Saturn Queen and her Legion finally arrive at the world of the wise, Utopia. They are greeted by Master Kong, who asks what wisdom they seek. But they have not come in search of wisdom, but to destroy it.

The Legionnaires finally end the conflict on Colu, but the damage has been done, and 712 lives have been lost. The Titanian high seer informs them of the images taken from the mind of Immortus, of the three immortal worlds that bring balance to the universe, and Saturn Queen’s plans to destroy them. One-half of Mon-El arrives with Professor Li, Dream Girl, and Star Boy in tow.

The other half of Mon-El, and Dyogene, cross paths with Dawnstar, still on the trail of the Blue Flame, but the trail ends at a dimensional barrier she cannot see or cross.
Fortunately, the other Mon-El arrives with all the backup they’ll need to travel the rest of the way.

I love it when all the threads come together to knit a glorious sweater. A sweater from the future that auto-dries when it gets wet, like in Back to the Future 2. Doc Brown and Marty would have totally stopped Saturn Queen by going back in time and stealing the Sports Almanac from the Time Institute, or something. I want pizza.

Legion of Super-Heroes #15
Writer: Paul Levitz; Artists: Yildiray Cinar and Jonathan Glapion; Editor: Brian Cunningham

Professor Li and Star Boy join hands, to focus his multiversal energies and take them to Li’s former home, Utopia. The pathway between dimensions is successfully opened, and Dawnstar leads the Legionnaires through.

They arrive to find the Legion of Super-Villains ransacking the planet, and they burst into action. Lightning Lass finds herself at the mercy of her older brother…

…before Ultra Boy saves her with a timely stomping.

The adversary that Dawnstar was tracking is not on Utopia, but she can feel his power everywhere. She goes to the one most touched by his power, Saturn Queen, to try and stop her before she can summon him again.

She snatches Saturn Queen before she can react, and flies her high into the air, but the powerful telepath once again uses her power to take over Dawnstar’s mind. Tellus flies in and tries to counteract her, and fails, but Gates arrives (unique brain and all) to teleport them both to safety. Saturn Queen returns to summoning the Blue Flame.

Sun Boy faces off with Sun Killer, and after a tip from Timber Wolf, overloads him with solar energy and defeats him once and for all (for now).

Hunter, riding a space gorilla, uses his newly augmented power to send a space worm after Tyroc, but Tyroc gets the best of him in the end. Tyroc, for those that don’t know, was your stereotypical angry black man with an afro in his original comic appearances in the ‘70s. He never gained much traction as a Legionnaire, until now. I like what Levitz did with him in this series.

The battle rages on, Legion versus Legion.

Saturn Queen finishes summoning the Blue Flame, and he arrives on Utopia. He commands her to finish the job, so they can move on to Oa, but she asks for more help from him. He tells she needs no further assistance from him, that all she needs to do is touch the mind of Earth-Man, and make him hers.

If you couldn’t tell, this series is going to begin and end with Earth-Man as a prominent figure. That’s what we call one of those complete character arcs. I also wanted to mention that even though the Legion has a large roster of great female characters, only one made it into the box set of action figures released by Matty Collector around the time this series was coming out. Thirteen toys and only Saturn Girl made the cut. That has nothing to do with anything, other than I’m still bitter that Matter Eater Lad got an action figure over Dawnstar. Anyway, will Star Boy be the one to die?

Legion of Super-Heroes #16
Writer: Paul Levitz; Artists: Daniel HDR and Marc Deering; Editor: Brian Cunningham

In retrospect, it’s pretty disappointing that Yildiray Cinar didn’t get to pencil the conclusion to this series. HDR is okay and all, but Cinar was the superior penciler and the primary artist on the entire series. But you know, it was really important they got it out on time back then, so that when you read it again years later, like I’m doing now, that it’s a completely different guy on the key final issue. Priorities.

Saturn Queen approaches Earth-Man, preparing to take over his mind yet again. On Oa, Sodam Yat finally acts, sending his ring and his power across the universe to Earth-Man.

The Legionnaires (good side) begin to turn the tide of the battle. Dyogene faces the Blue Flame. The adversary finally explains who and what he is. (I don’t feel like writing it out myself, read the word balloons.)

Saturn Queen is surprised to find that Earth-Man is resisting her control, thanks to the help of his “friends” in the Legion.

The Blue Flame interrupts the proceedings to taunt the ageless mortal whose curiosity destroyed Titan and summoned him forth, Professor Li. Earth-Man attempts to use the adversary’s own power against him, but fails.

Dyogene and Mon-El arrive to protect Neidrigh. Earth-Man tells them to stop protecting him, and use the power of the Green Lantern to connect him to everyone. For together, “we are Legion.”

Augmented by the green light of willpower, Earth-Man absorbs the power of each and every Legionnaire…

… and uses it to destroy the Blue Flame.

Brainy uses the moment to get some well-deserved payback on Saturn Queen, but the battle was not without its costs. Earth-Man sacrificed himself to save them all. (It still counts as a Legionnaire dying!)

A grief-stricken Shadow Lass picks up his lifeless body and flies off. With the danger over, Mon-El returns the lantern ring to Dyogene, who will remain on Utopia to help with rebuilding their world, and hopefully rebuild the lantern corps as well.

Brainy asks if Harmonia Li will stay as well, but she has learned there is more to life than eternal contemplation. Perhaps she will see how she fits in with the Legion. (Despite no powers. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but one of the rules for Legion membership is that you can’t have any powers that are the same as any current member. Hence, Lightning Lass was not allowed to be a member for a long time because she has the same powers as her brother. Which is why she briefly gained different powers over gravity, and joined the team as Light Lass. I love their weirdly specific membership rules.)

In the closing narrative captions, a reforming Rock of Eternity confirms that as long as there are beings of good will, faith will always take shape again. While on Utopia, wisdom comes in the process of rebuilding, one stone at a time. An inconsolable Shadow Lass cries over the body of Earth-Man, but willpower comes in the strength to carry on.

“Truly, with faith, wisdom, and will… there will always be strength to go on.”

This brought about the end of my favorite Legion of Super-Heroes series. Incidentally, it was the only one I got every issue of month to month as they were being released. As much as I liked Waid’s Threeboot version, and it was my introduction to the comics Legion after all, I can’t help but love and appreciate this return to the original continuity of the team. There’s something about the history of these characters, something which you really only see in comic books, that is so much more appealing to me than a fresh start. Ironic, as this would mark the point where the New 52 took over DC comics. I can’t help but feel like Levitz had to rush to end this story before September and the big company-wide relaunch. I can’t remember if he followed up on the mysterious hand reaching out of the wreckage of the Rock of Eternity in the New 52 or not. I know I read the New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes series, but I can’t say I remember much beyond it being weirdly disappointing. Despite Levitz and Portela on creative duties, and the continuity of the characters remaining unchanged, something was just missing. Not surprisingly, it would get cancelled after 23 issues, even with Giffen returning for some issues near the end of its run.

This marks the end of my coverage on the modern day Legion of Super-Heroes. Perhaps I will dip back into some classic runs of the Legion in future weeks. There is plenty to choose from. The Zero Hour version of the team, post Legion Lost (a young Coipel on art). The treasury sized comic featuring the marriage of Lighting Lad and Saturn Girl. The “Baxter Era” of the ‘80s. The “5 Years Later” series (well, probably not that one). Maybe I can show Duy why he’s dead wrong about the Great Darkness Saga. Only time will tell what the future holds.

Ha, see what I did there?


suna said...

Akka is so sexy!!!

Todd said...

Levitz, when in doubt, repeats himself. The last major conflict with the LSV resulted in the death of Karate Kid. This story pales in comparison to that epic. The action sequences are poor. Recall that Mekt accidentally reignited Ayla's lightning powers. Now she is nearly at his mercy. I know he supposedly had his powers increased but still. The fact that Ultra Boy comes in an saves her is pretty pathetic. In fact, few of the females get to stand out. Dawnstar, at her speeds, should have smashed Saturn Queen into the ground. Instead we get poor writing. I feel like Levitz was tapped out in writing these grand sagas. The whole Earth-Man character arc never rang quite true. We should have been sad to see him die, and I think many readers were just relieved he was gone. You see, Levitz missed out doing internal conflict, instead focusing on interpersonal conflict. I feel like Volume 7 needed a "focus on Shadow Lass" issue. We never got to see her deal with her grief and her issues with Mon-El. Instead, she just moped for most of v7. Tyroc and Quislet were welcome additions back into the fold, except we saw Levitz sidelining most of the more powerful female members: Night Girl, Chameleon Girl and Sensor Girl. I feel like Levitz spent too much on nostalgia and not trying to move the characters forward. The reason he left back in the late 80s was he felt like he had run out of steam, though Giffen inspired another year out of him. This time, Levitz didn't have a co-plotter/artist who helped. I think that is what is truly missing.

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