Friday, March 13, 2015
5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #26
Recap: The Earth is in ruins from an ill-advised Dominator 'Triple Strike', destroying the moon and the Earth's power spheres. With the Underground trying to take back control of Earth, the Dominators institute martial law, shedding their 'behind the scenes' rule and being up front with their domination. Most of all, the Dominion wants their version of the Legion of Super-Heroes back, the SW6 clones. And to get them, the Dominators release B.I.O.N., an Amazo-like robot with the mind of Computo and the powers of an entire Legion.
5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #25 focused almost exclusively on the SW6 Legionnaires as they discovered how different the world is now and having them team up with the Underground.
5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #26 pushes those Legionnaires onto the back burner. Between the Quiet Darkness and last issue, it has been some time since we have caught up with the main team. In particular, the team back in the HQ has been relegated to a couple of pages here and there.
While the SW6 Legionnaires are new and fun, my love of this book was born from its approach to Rokk, Vi, Cham, and the other 'original' Legionnaires. And the addition of Laurel Gand was the greatest new wrinkle to the rewritten timeline, which should come as no surprise for those who know me. Frankly, as I have been rereading these last several issues ... and enjoying them ... I kept thinking to myself 'when am I going to see the rest of the team?' This is the double edged sword of a team with a big cast like the Legion. Eventually, some of the characters will be pushed the the back burners.
Writers Keith Giffen and Tom & Mary Bierbaum have been doing a great job of pacing in this book so far. So they must have also felt that need to get back to the main characters. This issue is all Laurel Gand and the Underground. And after the subtle nature of the Quiet Darkness, this is a thematic change of pace, an all-out super-powered brawl!
The art is provided by new regular artist Jason Pearson. There is something organic and lush to his art, a bit of a departure to the Giffen/Gordon work earlier in the series. But it also reminded me a smidge of Giffen's earliest Legion work, back in the Great Darkness era. I think his work shines.
Enough intro ... onto the issue!
In his search for the SW6 Legionnaires, BION has sensed Laurel Gand's genetic signal. Unfortunately, he has confused the adult Laurel with the clone. He is determined to bring her back to "her" chamber.
It is clear from the beginning that Laurel is going to be outgunned here. Even she cannot defeat a whole Legion.
There are a few things to follow throughout this battle that make it interesting. For one, I love Laurel's determination and guts in this fight. She just isn't going to lie down and she isn't going to run ... at least initially. Here, despite being tossed around a bit, she is full of bravado.
But more importantly, BION's interactions are fascinating. He starts out purely robotic. But as the fight continues, he becomes more emotional, more humanized. There is a sense of malevolence, consistent with his Computo foundation. It is also ironic that his face and chest symbols are Earth-like maps. He doesn't truly fight for Earth.
The fight tears its way through town. And Laurel becomes more and more furious. It has been a while since anyone has challenged her in this way.
Suddenly, in the middle of the fight, Laurel realizes that this donnybrook is endangering the city's population. She needs to leave the city to minimize the chance of casualties. Despite her ire, she has the sense to get away.
If only David Goyer and Zach Snyder knew about this simple concept before they made Man of Steel!
We slowly start to see the sadistic nature of BION begin to show. Laurel is really taking a beating. But she keeps fighting. And then the chilling line that BION will bring her back to the chamber alive no matter what. But he will inflict tremendous pain if she forces his hand.
Something else to note here is Pearson's art as he tries to mirror some of Giffen's style. Sure, we are in the 9 panel grid. But here we see BION's face covered in shadow, a classic Giffen art choice.
Meanwhile, in a major operation, the Underground has taken control of all the Dominator chambers! The Underground squad is a mix of the Substitutes as well as Universo's Grinn and his mercenaries.
The SW6 Legionnaires wanted to be part of the strategy but Universo keeps them on the sidelines. That opening caption box is Universo's voice stating he will control the chambers' contents. He might be siding with the underground, but it is clear that Universo is still a villain.
In a beautiful plot move, the Underground is able to take control quickly because Chlorophyll Kid can manipulate the Dominator's plant base technology. He is not only able to get the rebels into the area but also keep the Dominators out. Who would believe it? The most important mission member is Chlorophyll Kid!!!
Elsewhere, Laurel is losing the fight against BION, actually opting to unleash all her heat vision against him. While she knows it might be fatal, this is now self-defense. But BION is triple invulnerable - Lar, Laurel, and Jo's powers all are in him. The blast barely singes him.
For the first time, we see fear in Laurel's eyes. And look at how battered she is!
And BION's evolution continues. Look at the smile. And the battle is 'strangely stimulating'?
This whole battle is suddenly scary.
Realizing she is going to lose, Laurel opts to run. She blasts BION in the eyes with heat vision and while he is temporarily blinded, she heads into space.
We get a sense of BION's programming here. He has rules to follow. One is to stay on Earth. The other is to get his prey. Laurel leaving the planet is a conflict. BION decides to follow Laurel. I wonder if that shows just how much he has come to crave battle.
In space, Laurel takes one moment to catch her breath and reset a broken bone. She needs to return to headquarters to report and heal.
This is such a great moment for a Supergirl/Laurel fan like me. Laurel knows that if BION is after her, he is after all the Legion. Her first thoughts are for Brainy! There is something still there.
Laurel may not think she is being followed. But BION has Invisible Kid's powers, Phantom Girl's powers, Daxamite powers. He can follow unseen! He trails her to Talus. Uh oh ...
I usually try to confine myself to 3 panel scans. But nothing shows how different the factions of the Underground are than this sequence.
Universo's men kill an unarmed Dominator lab technician who happened to still be on site. To the mercenaries, this is a justified kill in a war. To the Subs, it is a war crime.
Here is where I reflect on the 5YL universe and the Legion's place in it. Even the Subs have that sense of ethics, that sense of morality, to know that this is wrong. But the reality of this new universe is that shooting an unarmed lab tech is considered justified. Even in this horrible world, despite the terrible things the Dominators have done, you don't have to compromise your soul. The Legion maintains that high ground.
The Dominators decide that the best thing to do is to hit the self-destruct on the chambers the Underground has taken, sacrificing the area but killing their enemies. Unfortunately, the Dominion discover that all the labs and chambers are linked with ancient technology. If they destroy that one lab, all their labs will self-destruct. They would lose all their assets! It is too much for them to bear.
And in a wonderful little nod, we see the 20th Century LEGION symbol in those labs. Who else would rig up such a failsafe defense to blow up everything? Who else but Vril Dox??
The action on Earth is ramping up! The Underground. The SW6 Legionnaires. The Dominator death squads! Things are going to be shaken up dramatically.
And BION is on his way to the Legion headquarters. If Roxxas could nearly eliminate the Legion, what will BION be able to do!
This issue felt like an excellent opening salvo for the next year of stories, a time where the landscape of the 5YL universe will be changed!
Great stuff by the creative team.