Feb 16, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes: Forgotten Juggernauts, Part 3

Legion of Super-Heroes – Forgotten Juggernauts
Part 3 – The Death
Ben Smith

I love the Legion of Super-Heroes. I decided to share that love, like I’m turning tricks for a dollar down in the red light district, only I don’t get a dollar and you don’t have to get a prescription for antibiotics. Either way, it was a bad decision, and I wish I had access to a time bubble so I could go back and tell myself not to do it. (Actually, if I had access to a time machine, I’m going back and buying a stack of Action Comics #1 off the newsstand, and burying them in a sturdy airtight metal box that only I will be able to discover when I return to the present. Also, I’m making sure Duy is never born, Super Friends style.)

Embarrassing confessions aside, let’s get this ball rolling.

Legion of Super-Heroes #7
Writer: Mark Waid; Penciler: Barry Kitson; Inker: Art Thibert and James Pascoe; Editors: Harvey Richards, Stephen Wacker

Brainiac 5 is working on constructing a new galactic economic theory, when Invisible Kid triggers a hidden coded message that Brainy sent to himself that says “Colu is next.”

Brainy is on fire with his condescending insults in this issue, “you gathering of carbon.”

Later, Brainiac is on his way to Colu with a small team consisting of Light Lass, Saturn Girl, and Chameleon. Back at headquarters, Cosmic Boy tries to convince the United Planets of the danger to Colu, and Triplicate Girl talks to Sun Boy about his desire to leave the team.

Brainy and the others arrive on Colu, which appears to be deserted when they first reach planetside. Instead, the Coluan’s developed miniaturization technology to help support their large population, and Brainy shrinks them all down to the appropriate size. They head first to the central router, where they find everybody inside in a state of catatonia.

They’re suffering from some unknown form of viral corruption that leaves them a drooling mess. Further investigation of the planet finds residents burning food over a roaring fire and fighting in the streets, all atypical behavior for a Coluan. In the process of searching for Colu’s foremost researcher, Brainy takes time to explain why he is so dismissive of Light Lass, with the ultimate in backhanded compliments.

They find the researcher, but she has been infected as well (and from all indications is Brainy’s mother). Brainy loses his cool at what is being done to his people, removing everything that makes them who they are.

A throng of mindless Coluans descend upon them in the lab (a scene right out of a zombie movie, with Brainy freaking out, he’s clearly rattled).

They escape and find a clear part of the city to regroup. As they talk, Chameleon’s antennae involuntarily detect an organic lifeform nearby. Light Lass lets loose with her gravity powers, eventually forcing the hidden culprit to reveal himself.

Brainy grabs him, and once he looks him in the face, he remembers him as Lemnos. The same enemy that is behind everything, and recently visited Brainy in his lab to brag about it. It was that meeting that prompted Brainiac 5 to send the hidden message to himself, before Lemnos could use his powers to make him forget.

While Lemnos brags about how he’ll make them all forget again anyway, back at Legion headquarters Phantom Girl leads a mysterious person in shadow, inside a mysterious locked room.

Brainy is determined not to forget this time, and believes Lemnos will be too busy keeping himself from floating into the atmosphere to use his mind-wiping powers on them. Brainiac 5 was right, Lemnos escapes, but this time Brainy remembers everything. Meanwhile, back at headquarters, Cosmic Boy has finished breaking in to Brainiac 5’s lab, along with Phantom Girl, Triplicate Girl, Lightning Lad, and Invisible Kid.

As you already know, I love perpetually annoyed Brainiac 5, and his insults were in rare form in this comic. I want to be his friend, even though I know he’ll probably just be really mean to me. I don’t care, I love a good insult amongst friends. It’s like That 70’s Show only with superpowered aliens.

Legion of Super-Heroes #8
Writer: Mark Waid; Penciler: Kevin Sharpe; Inker: Prentis Rollins; Editors: Harvey Richards, Stephen Wacker

Colossal Boy and Element Lad help thwart a couple of aliens from killing a ship of Legion wannabes they scammed out of money for transport.

At Legion headquarters, Brainiac 5 knew his lab had been broken into as soon as he returned, no matter how much Cosmic Boy tried to cover it up. Cosmic Boy uses his powers to pass through the lab’s force field that Brainy put up, to explain that he was tired of Brainy keeping secrets.From this point on, he expects total communication between all Legionnaires at all times.

Later, Sun Boy visits with Cosmic Boy, and declares he is quitting the team. Cosmic Boy declines his resignation. They argue, and Cosmic Boy loses his cool. He can’t lose his second in command with Brainy trying to undermine his leadership, and he launches into a tirade in which he criticizes most of his teammates.

Unfortunately for him, Brainiac 5 was broadcasting everything he said to everyone in the Legion, ensuring “total communication between all Legionnaires at all times.”

Cosmic Boy tears off through the building to Brainy’s lab, but this time he can’t break through the force field. Ultra Boy attacks him from behind, not appreciating his “jerkwit” evaluation.

A fight breaks out amongst the Legion, with Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Star Boy, and Triplicate Girl showing their allegiance to Cosmic Boy. The rest either side with Brainy or are stuck in the middle.

Brainy is glad that the Legionnaires are divided, if it means that some of the team will succeed following him, instead of failing following Cosmic Boy.

The chaos is interrupted by an urgent message from the United Planets. Cosmic Boy’s home planet of Braal has seceded from the United Planets. All residents must return in six hours, before they close their borders for good, leaving everyone outside in permanent exile.

Brainiac 5 really is a dick, but I love him anyway. He’s the opposite of Superman. You know, interesting.

Legion of Super-Heroes #9
Plot: Mark Waid and Barry Kitson; Dialogue: Mark Waid; Penciler: Georges Jeanty; Inker: Art Thibert; Editors: Harvey Richards, Stephen Wacker

Outside Legion headquarters, the Legion’s loyal followers are upset and argue about the recent infighting amongst the team. Invisible Kid tries to calm down one of the fights, but is accused of playing both sides, and telling Brainiac 5 about Cosmic Boy breaking into his lab.

Invisible Kid flies off to explain to Cosmic Boy that it wasn’t him, but it’s too late, Cos has already left for Braal. Cosmic Boy is at the Central Port, talking to his brother back home while waiting on his transport.

At United Planets headquarters, Saturn Girl meets with her mother to try and convince her of the threat posed by Lemnos, but the U.P.’s hands are tied, with all the planets seceding as their focus. But Saturn Girl has been telepathing data back to Lightning Lad and Triplicate Girl, who are analyzing that information to determine the world’s most in need of protecting.

Invisible Kid pops in to offer his theory, but they also dismiss him as the one that ignited the division in the team by snitching on Cosmic Boy. Chameleon tries to quell hostilities by pretending to apologize as Ultra Boy, but Ultra Boy catches him, causing another fight, and the team is more divisive than ever.

Brainiac 5 is on Planet Helegyn, the United Planets main source of liquid inertron, which is being attacked by Terra Firma. Brainy calls in a hand-picked team of Legionnaires to try and stop them.

Invisible Kid tries to follow them through the transmatter gate, but is pushed back for being a backstabber. He runs off, having suddenly deduced that three worlds can save the universe, but only if there is a Legion to show them how.

Cosmic Boy watches the fight transmission while at the port, with Brainy’s field inexperience on full display for all to see. He turns around and is shocked to see all the former Legion supporters on their way back to their homes, abandoning the cause.

Cosmic Boy tries to give them an impassioned speech to rally them, but it is too little, too late for some. Dejected, he moves toward the gate toward home, but Invisible Kid switches the coordinates, and Cosmic Boy arrives on Helegyn.

Invisible Kid says they can’t do this without him. Cosmic Boy agrees, and flies into action.

A backup by Waid and Kitson offers up the first illustrated letters page I can ever remember.

It’s a good time, with Waid poking fun at some of the continuity problems that arise out of a full reboot.

Classic Legion, which I would discover much later, was much more of a big, happy family than this version. It’s an interesting way to contrast against the earlier interpretations, and fits in well with Brainiac 5’s increased Quicksilverian level of bitchiness. Of course he would assume he is the better choice to lead. Also, if you’re enjoying Brainy in this series, and you’ve never read R.E.B.E.L.S. featuring Brainiac 2, you should definitely pick up that series as well. It is highly recommended, even if you aren’t enjoying this. Everyone should buy and read everything I love!

Legion of Super-Heroes #10
Writer: Mark Waid; Penciler: Barry Kitson; Inker: Drew Geraci; Editors: Harvey Richards, Stephen Wacker

The Legionnaires return from Helegyn with Terra Firma leader Elysion as a captive. Dream Girl screams at him to tell them their plans, and to tell her why she can’t see past one hour into the future. (That’s never a good sign.)

Outside, Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 address the crowd of Legion supporters as a united front. They have to stop Lemnos before the United Planets rounds up every underager in a military draft to fight an unwinnable war.

Inside, the field team explains to the others how they captured Elysion on Helegyn, by tricking him into following them to the polar side of the planet. Before they can start interrogating him, Projectra arrives and demands Elysion tell them what happened to Brin Londo, who had been tracking them. Elysion is wearing Brin’s coat, suggesting the worst.

Saturn Girl reads his mind, blowing past his mental defenses and getting all the information they need, or so she believes.

Karate Kid pulls Invisible Kid aside, to once again lecture him about telling Brainiac 5 about the lab break-in. Invisible Kid denies it again, suggesting that maybe Shrinking Violet/Atom Girl told on them. Karate Kid informs him that Atom Girl’s not real, she’s just a prank they pull on new Legionnaires. (That can’t possibly be important information for later.)

Invisible Kid escorts Elysion to the cells, and Cosmic Boy brings everyone up to date on Lemnos and his plan to force the universe out of its inertial malaise.

Without Dream Girl’s precognitive powers to warn them, Brainiac 5 sets up alerts to warn them of any of the large scale threats that could cause the kind of distortion that could negate her powers. (Brainiac 5 is definitely softening up to Dream Girl.)

Triplicate Girl (really Invisible Kid) has identified three worlds that are key to their resistance movement, so Cosmic Boy splits up the team into three groups to cover each world.

Dream Girl is brought to tears by Brainiac 5’s attempts to make her feel better.

In Otherspace, Lemnos launches his master plan. Elysion brags to Invisible Kid from his cell about being a strategist, and how he would know better than to leave Earth protected by only a skeleton crew of Legionnaires.

Outside in the plaza, sleeper agents activate hidden bombs strapped to their chests.

The Legion supporters panic as explosions ring out all around them. A sleeper agent makes her way inside to free Elysion with another suicide bomb.

Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl rush to find out what’s going on, and run right into Invisible Kid, who informs them that Elysion has escaped. They attempt to contact Cosmic Boy for help, but Elysion has already disabled the transmitter.

Overmatched, they retreat outside, where the Science Police has responded to the scene of complete bedlam. Elysion looks down on the chaos they have wrought from above.

The three Legionnaires try to save who they can. Brainy asks Dream Girl what she can see before her powers hit the wall. She responds that about ninety seconds from now, Brainy says something humorous and then everything goes blank.

Elysion uses his earth manipulation powers to ignite mass destruction. Brainiac 5 has an open path to Elysion, but Dream Girl demands he save Invisible Kid instead. Brainy saves him from the falling debris, but Invisible Kid may have fractured his humerus (Dream Girl’s vision).

In that moment, Elysion’s attack takes its toll, and Legion headquarters collapses in a giant pile of rubble. Invisible Kid and Brainiac desperately search the wreckage for Dream Girl.

They find her, but it’s too late.

Dream Girl has fallen, their headquarters is destroyed, and the team is divided between three worlds with no means of communication. From all appearances, the Legion has lost.

Cinematic is often used as a pejorative in comic circles, but anytime a book can portray a scene so beautifully that it unfolds like a movie in my mind, I consider it a special and rare moment. It doesn’t happen that often. The end of this comic was intense, and presents the kind of master plan scenario that is believable in its execution, unlike anything that happened in The Dark Knight movie that people like to praise for its complexity. Anyway, hateful tangent aside, the suicide bombers was a chilling touch, and is sure to resonate more with a veteran such as myself. Also, you should all know by now how much of a sucker I am for a tragic death scene, and Dream Girl’s unfolded perfectly here. It’s not a trick, or a hoax, or a misdirect, Dream Girl is dead, my friends.

That’s as good a place as any to leave you hanging. Will the Legion bounce back to save the day? Come back next week to find out!

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