Friday, December 19, 2014

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #14

Reviewer: Anj
Super-power: super-happiness that Calorie Queen gets some screen time

For those who are new to my reviews of the 'Five Year Later' Legion, one of the things that I have tried to point out as I move through the issues are some of the creative risks that the team of Keith Giffen, Tom & Mary Bierbaum, and Al Gordon made in this re-imagining of the mythos.

Many of these creative risks have been applauded by me. The nine panel grid, the brighter shine of the Legion in contrast to a darker universe, the mature take on many of these characters, the rewrite and rewrite of the universe, and the flashback issues all worked for me as I embraced this particular Legion.

In Legion of Super-Heroes #12, the Legion was finally back together. The first year's plot of Roxxas and the Earthgov and the unification of the team all came to a very emotional conclusion. In Legion of Super-Heroes #13, the table was set for new plots. Starfinger is scheming to kill someone in a children's medical center. Jo is still trying to get home from a Khundian/Dominator galaxy. Laurel is fighting the Khunds on the galaxy line. And Glorith finally decides to take over the universe, finally eliminating the Time Trapper and embracing her role in the current timeline. That was a lot to chew on ... and I was ready. The set-up was sweet. But now was the time to plow forward.

So what does the creative team do in Legion of Super-Heroes #14? What direction did they go now that the team is back together and subplots are brewing?

They do another Matter-Eater Lad humor issue!

Now the creative team does know to infuse the comedy with Legion goodness. And it is funny.

But it is a bold decision to once again pause in the main story arcs to put in a humor issue. At the time, I wanted this book to careen down the track, to show me everything and fast. These pauses ... a creative decision I would not have made.  Bold!

And, as before, the creative team decides to sift through the history of the Legion and find a little known character to showcase. We have seen Eltro Gand and Glorith highlighted. Here it is Prince Evillo! It once again shows that this creative team, even though they are softly rebooting the Legion, are respectful of its history and its fans' love of history.

Here, Evillo is set up as a powerful tyrant of a Hellish world of Tartarus. But he is also a loving Dad! Even though he rules with an iron fist, he cannot refuse his daughters' every whim. That, in and of itself, is amusing.
We also see that he has somehow bewitched the powerful Saturn Queen. Here we see her prancing around in Evillo panties (that symbol was on his tunic in his first appearance), begging him to pay attention to her. That is not at all like the strong-willed powerful villain I have seen before. The fact that he thought she would be a 'challenge' implies he has had many other wives. And it also implies that maybe he has some sort of power to mesmerize or seduce women like this.

Evillo's daughters want to meet a Legionnaire. So he has the transport carrying Matter-Eater Lad, Polar Boy, and Calorie Queen brought to Tartarus.

Tenzil is, of course, the focus of the humor in this issue. Despite Evillo being demonic and a super-villain, and despite people disappearing when Evillo grows horns, Tenzil thinks his Bismoll diplomat status will protect him. Polar Boy knows that is insane ... but we are talking about Tenzil here.

And Giffen and the crew again throw in some Legion history. Evillo's lackeys ... the Devil's Dozen ... has never reached 12 members. It is more the Devil's half-dozen.

As a bonus, we do get some Taryn Loy! Calorie Queen!

And the daughters ... Styx and Mephista ... are giddy that Matter Eater Lad is there. Giddy!
What would they do if Evillo brought Ultra Boy?

Meanwhile Tenzil corners Saturn Queen and asks her if she needs to be saved.

He knows this subservient Queen is not the same Saturn Queen that he knows.

But I wonder ... she seems in control of herself here ... perhaps even mocking Tenzil's rescue efforts. Could she be faking all of this? The Five Year Later universe is a harsh one. Could she be 'hiding out', leading a cushy life on Tartarus, and faking being controlled?

Regardless, I did think it was noble and heroic of Tenzil to offer to bust her out. He would help a villain escape a bad place.

This conversation is interrupted by screams ...

It seems Evillo tried to get handsy with Calorie Queen and she wasn't going to have any part of that. She slugs him with her super-strength and lets loose with a volley of insults that makes me happy. I love me some Calorie Queen!

Unfortunately, a 'woman with spirit' seems to inflame Evillo even more. While Taryn can handle herself, Tenzil arrives to 'rescue' her. But somewhere along the way, he changed into his costume!

When Calorie Queen calls Tenzil on it, he responds "Hey I'm a Legionnaire. When trouble strikes, we put on costumes." Hilarious.

But Tenzil being so bold to stand up to Evillo doesn't sit well with the villain. He sprouts his horns and banishes Matter Eater Lad to 'The Realm of Darkness'.

Okay, so maybe I wasn't thrilled that we got a humor issue at this point. But at least it is funny! This made me chuckle.

This is the place where all the people Evillo has banished languish. They are placed in cuffs which can punish them. They are put to work, blowing into giant accordians and protecting evil candles. It is ludicrous. And Tenzil's 'matter of fact' acceptance is silly.

One thing I found fascinating was that Giffen decided to break the 9 panel rule himself in the pages in this Hell. After a year of the grid, these pages stand out as different ... even odd. By mixing things up like that we definitely have a sense that this is a whole new landscape.

The whole issue isn't just Tenzil's adventure. We do get a little Legion stuff too.

We see Jo sneak onto a Dominator ship while on the Khundian planet and try to figure out where he is.
And lastly we see a gift from Garth to Rokk. It isn't pretty ... but here is the new Legion Headquarters. It is on a salvage planetoid so there is lots of technology to scavenge. And it isn't bright and shiny and loud. It isn't a target. The Legion is just forming.
I do like the conversation between Rokk and Cham. Cham, of course, of the megabuck Brande family, the guy who overspent on costumes, doesn't think this sends the right image. But Rokk knows they just need a place of their own and away from innocents.

This is the perfect Legion headquarters for the dingy 5YL universe.

Meanwhile, Tenzil runs into Sugyn ... one of Evillo's Devil's Dozen who has been banished. Tenzil eats their punishment cuffs and decides they can break out. All they need to do is blow out the giant candle, the 'candle that must never ever-ever-ever be blown out'.

This whole thing is ludicrous.
But it works! When Sugyn blows out the candle, the entirety of the realm is transported back to Tartarus.

With Tenzil in the realm of darkness, Evillo leans on Polar Boy to be a mentor to Styx and Mephista. But I love the gelding comment.
But just then, the candle is blown out, and the realm empties. All the rotting corpses return to roost, including Evillo's prior 11 wives. It is horrifying. And hysterical.

Look at that last panel. Saturn Queen is now fully dressed, with an arrogant look, and she welcomes Brek to the family. Could she have been faking being in Evillo's thrall all this time?

It all ends well.

Tenzil's 'death' led Bismoll to pick a replacement for him in Congress. Who better than Calorie Queen herself? She has seemed eminently more qualified than Tenzil the entire time. Hurray for her!

And Tenzil? Well, he may as well join the Legion! Kono already exists as a comedic element in the team. Do we really need another 'funny' Legionnaire? We shall see.

I will admit that when the issue came out I questioned the pause in the progression of the team. Now, knowing that the next issue is one away in the long box, I can appreciate it more. It is funny. And it once again shows some of the interesting creative decisions the team made.

A humor issue? Breaking from the 9 panel grid in the Hell scenes? And, happily, some Taryn Loy!


1 comment:

  1. Hey, Styx and Stilletta didn't care about Tenzil, they were gaga over Polar Boy!