Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tales Of the Legion of Super-Heroes #316

Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #316 (Oct, 1984)
title: "Meanwhile..."
writer/plotter: Paul Levitz
plotter: Keith Giffen
penciller: Terry Shoemaker

inker: Karl Kesel
letterer: Adam Kubert
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Terry Shoemaker & Larry Mahlstedt (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, Invisible Kid, Wildfire, Dawnstar, Mon-El

Legion of Substitute Heroes: Polar Boy, Night Girl, Stone Boy
Legion Academy Students: Magnetic Kid, Laurel Kent, Comet Queen
unnamed smugglers at Metropolis Spaceport 

On Earth, Cosmic Boy, Night Girl, Polar Boy, and Stone Boy stop a smuggling gang at Metropolis Spaceport. However, the boss behind the operations traps them in a booby-trapped ship and blasts them off into space.

On Medicus One, Lightning Lad escorts his wife and newborn son home.

On Earth at Legion HQ, Invisible Kid is replaced on monitory duty by Bouncing Boy. Then he visits Lyle Norg and together they disappear, back to where the second Invisible Kid had originally met the first Invisible Kid
In space, Cosmic Boy and his friends realize that the ship cannot be controlled. It is rocketing quickly away from Earth. He sends out an emergency signal and then they abandon ship. Polar Boy holds the bits of metal together as Cosmic Boy sends out magnetic waves. Bouncing Boy sends out the Legion Academy students, including Cosmic Boy's younger brother, Magnetic Kid, who "answers" his brother's waves with his own, pulling them back towards Earth.

Outside Orando, Wildfire feels "all goose-pimply" even though he has no body inside his suit to get pimples. A moment later, he disappears.

This is another fun story! Any story that includes the Legion of Substitute Heroes is going to lead with its heart, and this one is no different. Stone Boy makes an effective wall for Night Girl to toss the bad guys at, and Polar Boy's freezing powers help save the day. It's nice also to see Bouncing Boy and the Academy students. Even though most of the Legionnaires are off planet, you get the feeling that Earth is still well protected. 
However, the Invisible Kid part of the story is annoying in the extreme. Bouncing Boy professes to be Lyle Norg's friend, but nothing is shown about him trying to spend time with the guy or help him out of his funk. Also, there is no mention of anybody doing any physical check-up on the previously dead man, either. Maybe if somebody had looked at him they would have realized that he wasn't really Lyle Norg at all! Well, luckily this story will end next issue.

Terry Shoemaker is doing a great job on the art. The backgrounds are interesting without being distracting, and the characters all look like they are supposed to. Karl Kesel does a great job with shadows and pulse lines (see the panel above), too. I'm really enjoying their work on this book. 

title: "The Path Not Taken"
plotter: Paul Levitz
dialogue: Mindy Newell
penciller: George Tuska

inker: Karl Kesel
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger

Mission Monitor Board:  
White Witch, Blok, cameos of Bouncing Boy, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Brainiac Five, Invisible Kid, Star Boy, Light Lass

Evillo, Mordru 

White Witch continues her story from last issue with Blok, who apologizes for making her cry (because she remembered being transformed into The Hag by Mordru). She did not know at the time that it was Mordru's magic, though. She meets Prince Evillo and he drafts her into his Devil's Dozen. Why or how Evillo came to be on Sorcerers' World is never explained. Dream Girl has a dream about Mysa and how to restore her, so she goes off to rescue her. Blok believes the story ends there, and walks away. However, Mysa continues to contemplate her destiny alone, balancing her powers and her responsibilities as a Legionnaire. She remembers how she had returned to the Sorcerers' World, studying hard to master her abilities. She was ready to officially join The Masters of the Sorcerers' World when Darkseid's minions attacked, and she was drawn into that conflict. Finally she realizes that she didn't have to prove herself. Recalling her history, she realizes (again?) that her choice to become a Legionnaire was the right one.

I am not a big fan of these types of "introspection" stories, mostly because the internal dialogues that are the base of them are just one person's rationalization of doing something one way instead of another. Really, what did we learn here that we didn't know already? Maybe we learned that White Witch is an over-thinker who is constantly criticizing herself and her place in the world. Well, we learned that in the first part of this origin story two issues ago, didn't we? We may have learned specific parts of her history, I guess. And we finally learn why she doesn't look like "the White Witch" from the Jim Shooter-era Legion. Other than that.... I really do not understand why Blok gets up and walks away, either, as Mysa's comment, "I have to find my real destiny" can not in any real sense be considered a "good-bye, my story is over." Silly Blok.

George Tuska does another capable job, especially with those scenes of Mysa and her sister, Dream Girl. The four or five panels where Mysa's red-hair slowly shifts to white and her "antenna" eyes begin to become more pronounced is especially well done. It's a scene that requires a subtle touch, and he and Karl Kesel do a great job on it. Less well-done are his versions of the Legionnaires, especially Element Lad and Brainiac Five. I would not recognize them without their uniforms and correct coloring.

I am not a fan of White Witch's personality, which I believe is inherently re-active instead of pro-active. It does take all kinds, however. And since this story makes it very unlikely that we will ever have to see another "Am I worthy!? I'm so conflicted!" story with her, that's a win.

Science Police Notes:  
  • This story is placed chronologically after Legion (v3) #3 because of the cameo appearance of Night Girl on the Legion HQ monitor board in that issue; she and Cosmic Boy are front and center in this issue, implying their "night out" started in that story. 
  • Likewise, Wildfire is a participant in the battle of Orando, also in Legion (v3) #3, so the scene in this story where he disappears must occur after the events in that issue. 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.


  1. I think the whole Return of Lyle Norg story got kind of lost between the V3/Tales launch and Giffen leaving the book. Can you imagine how snarled the Legion would have been if Paul was as bad at ending stories as Chris Claremont?

    1. It's such a great idea....how would his old friends react to his 'return'? But as far as I could tell, no other Legionnaire bothered him while he was at the HQ, not even Saturn Girl or Brainy, to try to figure out if he was legit or not. Cool idea, BADLY handled. :-(