Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #323

Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #323 (May, 1985)
a review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "Look Homeward, Legionnaires"
writer: Mindy Newell
plot assist: Paul Levitz
layouts: Dan Jurgens
finishes: Karl Kesel
letterer: Bob Lappan
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Dan Jurgens & Karl Kesel (initialed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Dawnstar, Brainiac 5, Wildfire

Guest Star(s):  
Dev-Em, SP officers Shvaughn Erin and Gigi Cusimano

xenophobia, love at first sightedness, bacteria in the garden of Kol, the Dark Circle
We get a full page introduction telling us that there is a plague on the planet, with some people blaming the religious Core because it has sided with off-world "monsters."

We then jump right in to Dawnstar and Brainiac 5 overjoyed to see each other, each fearing the other had died. Jhodan, the Core priest, is angry at Brainy for making the moves on his monster, yelling at him in English. Brainiac 5, being Brainy, understands him and yells back at him. This confuses Dawnstar and all of the readers to no end. Spliff speaks in the third-person, which proves he is a schizophrenic (or a megalomaniac). Dawnstar wants to learn the language so she can converse with Jhodan before she decides to stay or go. While she is ordering herself a copy of a Rosetta Stone, it is Brainiac 5's turn to be confused. Spliff picks up the computer reel that Brainy pilfered last issue, and Spliff is not amused. Spliff demands it be returned to the temple.
At the Kol Temple, novitiate Ina is back after leaving Jhodan with his monster. The Reverend Mother assigns her to another priest named Rand. Ina is sick with the fever, an earthquake occurs because Kol is unhappy, and the Reverend Mother prays. She does not, however, break out into a chorus of "Climb Every Mountain."

In Dark Circle space, SP officer Cusimano relieves SP officer Erin on liaison duty for Dev-Em.

Brainiac 5, Spliff, and Jhodan argue theology, because, you know, you can't have enough of that in a comic-book. Brainy maintains that the computer reel he picked up last issue is man-made, while Spliff and Jhodan insist it was made by their god, Kol. Dawnstar supports Jhodan's faith, even though it was responsible for her almost being Dawnstar-kabob last issue.
The villagers are scared and strike out at...wherever it is they are. Spliff's house? Spliff doesn't tell us. After travelling so much last issue it seems unlikely that they are back at Spliff's house. Spliff is confused. A tornado strikes the village where they are resting, and Spliff insists they return to the temple. Were they ever at the temple? Brainiac 5 was at the temple, because he's a church-robber, but the others weren't there....were they? Jhodan has been trying to get there for two issues now but has never quite made it. Instead the four of them strike out, finding various groups of people where the children are sick with a fever, but not finding the temple. Brainiac 5 believes that the Legionnaires brought some sort of virus with them when they crash-landed. Finally Rand and his priestly guards find them and attack, there is another earthquake, and the Legionnaires and Spliff are captured.

On the Dark Circle home-world, Dev-Em's disguise has been pierced. He tries to escape, but is captured and brought to the Dark Circle itself.
At the temple, Reverend Mother, Rand, and Jhodan argue theology, because, you know, you can't have enough of that in a comic-book. Rand is beginning to think that the off-worlders are not monsters after all. He is excused so that the Reverend Mother and Jhodan can meet privately. And by that I mean, we don't even get to hear what they talk about. The next thing anybody knows, he frees Brainiac 5, Dawnstar, and Spliff. He tells the Legionnaires to get off the planet, giving (?) Brainiac 5 the computer reel and telling Dawnstar he has exiled her from his mind and his heart.

For Epilogue One, Brainiac 5 talks to newly elected Earth President Desai about the planet, which has never even gotten a name. President Desai tells Brainy that the unnamed planet has been inoculated, curing them of the virus the Legionnaires brought with them. Brainiac 5 wants to follow up on the connection to 23th Century Earth. Brainy believes that there is a powerful and terribly dangerous force of nature there waiting for them because....well....call it a hunch.

For Epilogue Two, Dawnstar "after a month" without seeing Wildfire, doesn't know what to do. She thinks she was in love with Jhodan, and wants to go back because she "needs" him. This makes Wildfire, and most of Legion fandom, sad.

This is probably the worst single-issue Legion story for the entire decade of the Eighties. If you're not willing to concede that, then I claim it as the worst Legion story that Paul Levitz had anything to do with. How's that? Don't get me wrong, it's got a great premise: technology vs faith. Unfortunately, it goes absolutely nowhere. Is Kol attacking the people? Are the Legionnaires responsible for the fever that is killing so many of the people? (From what little I know about communicable diseases, this atleast seems unlikely.) How do Legionnaires manage to get off the planet? Most importantly, why does Dawnstar think that she is in love with a man she can't even talk to? It is interesting to note 20+ years later that this story was never ever referenced again in Legion annals. So let's all just forget about it, shall we?

Science Police Notes:  
  • The cover scene where the people appear to be praying to Dawnstar never happens in the story. 
  • The continuity of this story is confused. Science Police Officers Erin and Cusimano are both featured in this story, although they are currently on Earth in the current LSH (v3) series. 
  • The appearance of Earth President Desai here means that the epilogue, at least, occurs after his election, which was shown in LSH (v3) #10
  • This is the fewest number of Legionnaires to be featured in one story since the Legion stopped being a back-up in the pages of Superboy
This issue has not yet been reprinted. And I doubt it ever will be.

1 comment:

  1. I actually liked this story at the time, and became increasingly impatient for them to do some kind of follow-up over the next few years.

    I'll take this over any one of the four parts of the Omen and Prophet story for your challenge.