Friday, February 13, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #22

The Quiet Darkness, the thematic sequel to The Great Darkness Saga, continued in Legion of Super-heroes #22. And while the this is a fine second chapter to an interesting character study on Darkseid, it is the last few pages, which continued to set up the future of this book, which really dropped a bombshell on me. I have to admit when I read this issue off the stand way back when, the revelation on the last page was shocking ... especially given how much this '5 Years Later' run shook the foundations of the Legion. Basically, anything was possible here.

The creative team of Al Gordon, Keith Giffen, and Tom & Mary Bierbaum are all present, with Gordon writing the Quiet Darkness portion of the issue. But the part of the issue covering the rest of the Legion is is drawn by Jason Pearson, his first appearance on the book. Pearson becomes the book's main artist once Giffen leaves.

I really like this cover. The point of view is odd and therefore engaging. There is a nice dissonance between the Wanted:Alive poster and ships shooting at the targets. You need to know the two kids trying to drag Furball up to the roof are the two in the poster, something of a leap if you aren't reading the book.

Last issue we learned that Darkseid has been interested in this young girl, Aria. She and her brother Coda, who is dying in a lab, have a connection that intrigues Darkseid. She is on the run, trying to stay one step ahead the bounty hunters trying to bring her home. Aria's father, a scientist, has been experimenting on his children.

Luckily, Aria and her friend Lori ran into Furball. He is now protecting them as they wander the mean streets of Zuun.

Here we learn that somehow that connection between Aria and Coda is severed. Where they always had been able to sense each other and communicate, Aria can't feel him anymore.

Realizing that regular bounty hunters won't be able to bring Aria in, Darkseid sends out a new hunter, Lobo! Now how Lobo is still alive after 1000 years is a mystery, unless his Czarnian regenerative powers keep him immortal somehow.

But even 1000 years in the future, Lobo is still the Main Man. Through the issue see him slaughtering anyone he thinks can give him information. First, the poor gang of bounty hunters who tried to capture Aria. Later, it is the Science Police officers who had Brainiac 5 briefly in custody. We are talking carnage ... torn limbs, decapitation, blood splatters. Even here we see him having a conversation with the head of one of the gang.

This Lobo is insane. No quiet darkness here. Instead it is loud and bright red.

With Furball roaming the streets and Brainiac 5 also on the run, the Legion reserves are heading to Zuun to help. Ultra Boy, Kent Shakespeare, and Celeste Rockfish are all in a Legion cruiser speeding to the planet.

It is clear that Darkseid is manipulating the area, having technology glitch and short all over the planet. This isn't going to be an easy trip.

But remember way back in Legion #12 when Celeste manifested what seemed to be Green Lantern powers? All we have seen is Brainy telling her she is dangerous. We have seen her quarantined. But what are these powers?

I like the savvy Jo here. He isn't sure what Celeste can do. But he knows something dangerous can always be useful in a scrap.

Back in the lab, Aria's father and Darkseid confer about what is happening. With Aria and Coda separated, Coda is dying. It is only in a stasis medical tube that Coda is kept alive.

Finally, we hear just a little bit about what is going on here. The father talks about the Gemini Matrix. Given that Gemini are twins, it is clear this is what this Aria/Coda experiment is about.

More importantly, Darkseid mentions that their father, Frances, has tried to sabotage this experiment. Whatever his reason for beginning this, Frances doesn't want it to continue. He is an unwilling partner here, something we didn't recognize last issue.

But what is the Gemini Matrix? And why is Darkseid interested?

The outcome of the experiment might be out of the hands of Darkseid and Frances. Coda reaches out to Aria in a dream. There he appears as a decaying corpse. He is going to let himself die. He knows Darkseid needs both of them alive to complete the Gemini Matrix experiments. And so if he is out of the picture, she will be safe.

Some nice art choices here. I like the lack of borders on the panels making it like a dream state. Aria's hand as empty space in the middle panel is nice, contrasting her and Coda. And anything that breaks up the rigid 9 panel grid always carries weight and this last panel shattering and breaking its limitations is powerful.

Brainy finally is able to hook up with Furball and meets Aria and Lori. After a little conversation, Brainy learns that Aria's father is Frances Campbell. And that knowledge leads to some exposition.

Frances is an 'eccentric'. He believed in a myth called the Gemini Matrix and pursued it so voraciously that he ostracized himself from the scientific community. So this isn't a simple science experiment ... it is mystical too.

The plot thickens. And this makes a bit more sense now to have Darkseid involved.

As I have said in the past, one of the strengths of this book is the insertion of small character moments in the bigger arcs. I thought this was cute. Aria says that Brainiac 5 is her second favorite Legionnaire. Timber Wolf is her favorite.

Brainy reveals that Furball ... who she has dubbed Frisky ... is Brin Londo. In a wonderful moment, she gives him a kiss hoping that her kiss will be like one from a Fairy Tale princess, curing Brin from this metamorphosis.

Of course it doesn't work.

The Quiet Darkness is only part of what is happening in the Legion universe though. Remember, Earth is in shambles after the Dominator Triple Strike. The mysterious contents of the SW6 chambers are still out there. And the Legion is mostly off-world trying to figure out what to do next.

Cham isn't happy about this new Legion and their lack of action. Part of that seems to be a lack of protocol. There isn't an exhaustive constitution in this new world. There aren't code names or costumes. There aren't rules. And Cham thinks that is holding this new team back.

Rokk thinks otherwise. It is the good people that make up the Legion that made them powerful. In fact, maybe it was the rigid structure of the old Legion that helped bring it down. The team can be just as impactive without the rules. You can see why Rokk is the leader here, optimizing what he thinks the team can do.

That said, it is odd that this team is chilling out in their HQ while Earth is in chaos.

These back pages allow the team to catch up with the other team members. Last issue we saw Mysa have a vision of the Gemworld.

Here Kono sneaks into Mysa's room and sees the Witch's message log. There are basically 3 dozen unanswered messages from Dream Girl to Mysa. It seems the Nal sisters aren't talking.

Again, this is a small moment but so wonderful in fleshing out these characters. Nura and Mysa were never really close. Here we learn about a harsh rift between them.

And then the bombshell.

Mon-El, investigating a Dark Circle base, uncovers some information about those Dominator SW6 chambers. They were part of 'Operation Doppelganger', a plan to clone a Legion! And this was years ago. We know that only because we see that Ferro Lad is one of the Legionnaires whose cells were stolen.

There is a doppelganger Legion.

And then Mon-El asks the big question.

What if it is our Legion? What if the characters we have been reading all these years are clones of the real Legionnaires, replaced at some point.

Who are the real Legionnaires?

That is a lot to mull over .... interesting!!

This isn't a new idea necessarily. From Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #206, we learn of the Legionnaire Cell Bank, a collection of cells primed for cloning.

There are definitely a ton of Legion continuity in this series, from Eltro Gand to Cell Banks to all the smaller ones I'm probably not even aware of!

The back matter in the series always fascinates me as sometimes it impacts the current story and sometimes it is a hint of things to come.

So a long piece on Benn Pares and Spider Girl, two classic Legion villains who haven't even been seen in this book, makes me think it won't be long before one or both of them show up here. Pares was the villain in one of the first comic books I ever read!

Thanks for sticking with me in these reviews! I love this book!

1 comment:

  1. Mind boggling revelations indeed, I remember reading it when it came out as well.

    And Pearson was love at first sight for me.