Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Give Me A Needle And I Could Make It Work"

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #54


February 1994

I've made it no secret that I'm a fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes. My absolute favorite incarnation has to the Giffen/Bierbaums era also known as the "Five Years Later" Legion. After they blew up the Earth, the Bierbaums left the writing chores up to colorist Tom McCraw and there seemed to be a struggle to find a direction for the Legion. The idea struck someone to put the team through some major challenges and put them on the run.

SYNOPSIS:

The Legion has just defeated Glorith, but at significant cost. Celeste Rockfish has apparently been aged to the point of death, Brainiac 5 has been advanced to a point where his body is riddled with age. Devlyn O'Ryan and Mysa have been reduced in age to teens, and Kent Shakespeare is a child. Jo is raving mad because he's learned that his lost love Tinya is still alive, displaced somewhere in time by Glorith. When Celeste's body vanishes, replaced by a green energy body. Brainiac 5 suggests that the team goes to Quarantine for tests on their changed bodies.

On Quarantine, we learn that for the most part the changes made by Glorith are not harmful, although Devlin and Celeste have trouble adjusting to their new forms. Celeste's new form is the result of her body merging with the Green Lantern energy years ago, and now that Glorith has destroyed her body, that energy is no longer restricted by spending most of its power just to keep Celeste alive. Brainiac 5 is now dependent upon an exoskeleton to remain mobile, but he needs to return for his files at the Legion HQ on Talus. They leave Devlin and Kent behind. Jo wants to go back in time and look for Tinya, Wildfire wants to leave as well for his own personal reasons, and while Rokk and Brainy can't convince them otherwise, they do welcome Spider-Girl to the team, as appreciation for her help.

Rokk's wife and child have been brought to Winath by Garth Ranzz signalling some troubles the Legion is having with the Science Police. When the team get to Talus, they find it guarded by the SP's and the newly enlisted Subs waiting to arrest the Legion for conspiracy against the United Planets. In the battle that follows, they find themselves captured, being taken off guard by the Subs and their new members.

Former Earth President and Legion member Jacques Froccart protests the Legion's innocence despite holos showing the Legion aiding the Khunds. Using his invisibility he discovers that Universo is behind the charges in a plot to take over New Earth. He assists the Legion in escaping while he works to clear the Legion of the charges.  The Legion escape with the help of Loomis, who has operated as their mechanic on Talus, although Violet seems to be taking charge and giving orders during the escape.

After being safely away from Webers World, Rokk argues with Vi and gives leadership over to her. She decides to use one of Jo's hideouts on Rimbor as a base. Vi orders everyone to come up with new uniforms and identities, using what they have on hand.

After arriving on Rimbor, Laurel and Mysa fence unneeded supplies to gain credits, but are getting the short end of negotiations until Mysa uses a little sex appeal to get a better deal. As the Legion finish off their new costumes, Spider-Girl returns hurt badly  and informing them that she and Jo have been attacked.



REVIEW:

This was one of those transitional issues of the Legion that took the team in a different direction. With only minimal exception, this has been done to boost sales. Usually it doesn't work.  I'm unapologetic in my love for Giffen's "five years later" Legion, and I find this new direction just a punishment.

Tom McCraw does an adequate job of writing the Legion, and he keeps the voices pretty much the same, with the exception of Mysa and Rokk. Rokk gets explained in later issues, but Mysa never does. The concept of the Legion being framed as traitors is not a new one, and I sigh at the lack of originality in it. Universo's motivation doesn't make sense in that he was practically the hero that masterminded Earth's liberation. If  his desire was to take control of New Earth, he had every opportunity to do so. The new uniforms we see in the story are slight, but the cover does feature them prominently, in a nod to the cover of Giant-Size X-Men #1.

Which transitions me to the art. Stuart Immonen is, in my opinion one of the best comic book artists around today. His style in these early days was very naturalistic, with an excellent use of black in his composition. The colors are adequate for the time, albeit a bit flat and some cutting to denote shading would have helped Immonen's artwork immeasurably. The costume designs are for the most part, forgettable. Wildfire's looks like a bad flame job that you give a car. Laurel's actually reminds me of the cape that Laurel Kent used to use to cover up with around the dorms at Legion academy way back in LOSH #304. it lacks something to make it stand out as Laurel, though. I really like Timber Wolf's outfit, as he really doesn't require a whole lot to discern his personality and identity. Brainiac 5 is the other standout for me, since Brainy has always been rooted to wearing coveralls instead of a formal costume. I can completely do without Ayla and Vi's costumes, though. I do question the logic behind Violet's choice. If the point is to conceal their identities, why isn't she wearing a disguise?



NOTES:
This issue has not been collected to the best of my knowledge. Do not be surprised if you can pick up a copy of this in a bargain bin as most fans completely write off this version of the Legion, as DC practically has.

FINAL RATING: 6.0 (out of a possible 10)

Without Stuart Immonen's art, this would score much lower. If I were reviewing this book as it was a half year later, it would most certainly be almost as low as that Spider-Woman issue I reviewed.

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