Friday, December 12, 2014

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #13

Reviewer: Anj
Super-power: super-confusion, wondering how the Time Trapper is still around

I have been reading comics for a long time now and the Legion has been a basic constant in my comic book passion. It isn't hyperbole when I say that the 5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #12 is one of my favorite issues ever. In this darker universe, despite all the tragedy and despair, the Legion remained the Legion. And they seemed to shine brighter than ever, maybe in comparison to the bleaker, blacker surroundings. I was giddy ... dizzy ... from the last issue (hopefully my review of that issue was clear on that fact).

So where do you go from that height? What would the creative team of Keith Giffen, Tom and Mary Bierbaum, and Al Gordon do to follow that up?

Well ... it turns out the best thing to do is to keep the plots moving forward. So we see more of the reunited Legion team on Winath. We catch up with the displaced Jo. We find out what Laurel Gand has been doing since she clearly wasn't on Winath during the Roxxas attack. We learn more about Kent Shakespeare.

And, after many months, we see the other side of the time re-write of 5YL Legion #5. We finally meet again, for the first time, Glorith. On top of that, we also see ... again ... The Time Trapper! Didn't he die?

Overall, I felt like this issue was a sort of a stabilizing issue. Last issue was unbelievably high drama. This issue was something of a pause, a way to steady the ship and showcase all the subplots which have been brewing. This worked for me. This book is a dense experience, a heavy and satisfying literary meal. This was a way to sit and let everything settle in a bit.


Now I have talked about this book being something of a creative treasure. There have been bold artistic choices. There have been interesting plots. The pace of the book with humor issues and flashback issues has been fascinating.

Here, I thought this cover was a bit of a flashback to simpler times in comics. It reminded me of covers like this one on Fantastic Four #183, a way to try to grab the buyer's eyes, showcasing just how much they will get out of 22 pages of fun.


Last issue, we met Kent Shakespeare. Shakespeare was one of the new characters introduced when the timeline was re-written and re-re-written.

An ex-Legionnaire, he is acting as a medic in a children's hospital, the site where Garridan Ranzz is being taken care of. And here, he is battling The Persuader, who was sent to the hospital on a hit.
For me, Kent somehow fills in the Superboy void suddenly apparent in the new universe. The name Kent, the glasses, the 'golly gee' personality, the strength/stamina/healing, his commitment to a 'never ending battle' ... it all makes him a decent stand-in for Clark Kent.

And this might be the first time that I looked at Giffen's art and said 'he is channeling Kirby'. Nowadays, he is almost completely Kirby-esque.


While the battle threatens to destroy the underwater facility, the patients watch.

One of them is Ivy, a patient who clearly has a close relationship with Kent. She is worried for him, scared. She clearly cares.

But the panel that strikes me is the last one. Here is Garridan (dressed in a retro Colossal Boy uniform) talking about how Legionnaires are 'real real hard to kill'. If only it were true. Over the first year we have seen Legionnaires die. We have seen others come within a whisker of death. And it is this mortality that makes it even more impressive that they do what they do.
The fight ends in a humorous way. The Persuader makes a hole in the wall, flooding the facility. Realizing that force fields will shut the hole, Shakespeare shoves the Persuader head first into the hole. The resulting closure traps him like a plug.

By the way, the bearded SciPo officer is none other than Gim Allon, Colossal Boy himself. One more Legionnaire accounted for.
So who sent The Persuader?

Mano sent him there! And who had Mano send him there?

A very Kingpin-esque Starfinger! That just looks like Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin.)
And just like that we have a couple of classic Legion villains back in the universe.

What we don't learn is who the Persuader was gunning for. Hmmm ....

Colossal Boy, Kent Shakespeare, Starfinger, Mano. The Legion universe is growing in the 5YL period. We are moving beyond the initial characters that have starred in the book so far. And it is the breadth of the Legion mythos that its fans love.

As for Jo, he is still flummoxed by the world he is on. Somehow, on this world, Khunds are not only co-existing with Dominators, they seem to be subservient to them. Those races are usually like cats and dogs ...

What's worse is that the Dominators mow down the Khunds who had taken Jo in. It isn't pretty, cooked Khundian ribs smoking in that foreground of the second panel.

But where is this place? And is where the right question?


Meanwhile, Kent is thrilled to hear the Legion is reforming and leaves the medical unit to rejoin the team. Unfortunately, that angers Ivy. And she acts the way a young kid would and should. She lashes out saying she wishes Shakespeare would die on his first mission.
This should be a joyous moment for Shakespeare but this has soured it a bit. It shows how much he cares for the patients and for Ivy in particular.

Could that middle panel mean he is having a moment of reflection? Wondering if he should head back? Perfect art to show what the character is feeling.

And the words of the last panel work too. The irony of the flight attendant's words cuts deep.


We also get to see Laurel Gand in combat. She certainly is an enemy of the Khunds as we see her smash her way through ships and troops.
What I like about this sequence is how it explains why she wasn't on Winath when Roxxas struck. She was tending to her daughter Lauren. It also shows how she has some feelings of regret. The team was harmed ... supposedly some killed ... because she wasn't there.

I do love how she is spoken about in mythic terms by the Khunds. She is bigger than life.


The character moments in this book have been incredible as we see the Legion slowly getting back together. It has given us moments when members meet up again after some time. I loved the Cos and Garth hug last issue as two founders see each other again at last.

But this moment stands out as my favorite of this issue. Vi and Rokk fought on opposite sides of the Imsk/Braal war. And Vi was part of the Venado Bay battle, the melee where Imsk launched a power dampening weapon which annihilated Braalian forces and Rokk lost his powers.
These two have been wanting to meet, but dreading this reunion, for some time. How do you face your friend ... your leader ... after being part of that fight? Throughout this book we have seen the strength of Rokk and Vi. We have seen them stand up to superiors and super-villains to do what was right.

Seeing the two of them choke out these words, to see the tears stream ... powerful. There is understanding, forgiveness, and acknowledgement of what Venado Bay was.

It is scenes like this that make this book. Mature, touching, riveting.


And then, after that scene, we get this curveball.
We knew Glorith set herself up as the replacement of the Time Trapper after issue #5. Here we finally meet her. Set up on planet Baaldur as Queen, we see her living lavishly in a palace. That is until she is awakened by a dream and faces her former self.

Somehow ... SOMEHOW ... the Time Trapper still exists!!! Wasn't he killed in issue #4??

And yet, here he is. He is just a glimmer of his prior self, dying, sitting on the scraps of his pocket universe. He is begging Glorith to save him. He asks her to revive him, let him join her, and rule the universe together. And he somehow brings up the events of the pocket universe and the need for them to happen as a reason to spare him.

Now I was pretty pleased with how issues #4 and 5 rewrote everything. So this survival of the Trapper dulled those events, just a little.


And then, after showing us that he survived, the creative team immediately kills him off. Glorith reduces him to a wisp of energy and eats him!

We saw her being seductive and sensual in her appearance in issue #5. We see that aspect of her exists. She is much more physical than the Trapper.

Still, bringing back the Trapper and then killing him off (again) within 2 pages seemed like a 'why bother' moment.


The Trapper does seem to be an impetus for Glorith to finally conquer the universe. Maybe that is why Giffen and the Bierbaum's bothered bringing him back. It allowed them to show us Glorith and her motivations.

But this page, with this scab colored backdrop, slowly fading away, is reminiscent of the endings of the Trapper issues. This isn't a universe rewrite, it is closing the door once and for all on this 'pocket universe'.
So this issue did a good job of setting things up after last issue's revelations. But more importantly, with Roxxas behind us, we get to see (as the cover mentions) The State of the Universe. We start to see how things have truly changed since the Glorith rewrite. Kent Shakespeare exists. Laurel Gand exists. Glorith is a universal power. Things are different.


There was a bonus in this issue ... a poster of the new team!
When this issue came out, I was a broke student. I still bought two copies so I could hang this above my desk. I loved the true uniforms and wanted to have one of those jackets. But I also liked the personal touches: Rokk's trench coat, Jo wearing it over his shoulders, Ayla wearing it and maybe only it, Jan and Mysa not wearing it at all. I loved Tenzil looking like he wants to eat Celeste. And Brainy looking down at his chart rather than the camera. And Laurel towering over everyone in a heroic pose.

And is that Ivy there??? Hmmm ....

So this issue didn't have the emotional punch of last. It continued to be of the highest quality, as the creative team began to go deeper into the new Legion universe, showing us glimpses of what to come.

2 comments:

  1. OMG, the Vi-Rokk moment... here come the waterworks.

    BTW, I have the poster at home. Framed.

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  2. Oh, we'll see the pocket universe one last time, but not for a few years.

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