Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #14

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #14 (Sept, 1985)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "Unto The New Generation"
writer: Paul Levitz
artist: Steve Lightle
inker: Larry Mahlstedt
letterer: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Steve Lightle & Larry Mahlstedt (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
The entire membership of the Legion of Super-Heroes, with featured appearances by Element Lad, Wildfire, Colossal Boy, Timber Wolf, Sun Boy, Ultra Boy, Brainiac 5, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Phantom Girl, Blok, White Witch, Shrinking Violet, and Star Boy

Guests: 
Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy; RJ Brande; Dev-Em;
those applicants who become new Legionnaires: Magnetic Kid, Tellus, Polar Boy, Quislet, Sensor Girl; those applicants who do not join: Power Boy, Comet Queen, Energy Boy, Mentalla

Opponents: 
On-Tiir (clone)



Synopsis: 
On Earth, the Legion's open enrollment campaign is in full swing. The Legion has managed to whittle the number of applicants down to a manageable dozen of semi-finalists. Power Boy demonstrates his strength by lifting and pressing an enlarged Colossal Boy. Timber Wolf checks his reflexes by tripping him, and he responds well, but he still doesn't get enough votes to move on to the final round.

Comet Queen then demonstrates her powers: smoking people out, hiding in smoke, and gases to put people to sleep. She makes it to the next round, and Element Lad clears the room of her fumes. Mentalla demonstrates her ability to "control" someone's mind by taking control of Ultra Boy. She moves on to the next round.
Element Lad decides to send the semi-finalists Comet Queen, Magnetic Kid, and Tellus on a rescue mission to San Angelesopolis, escorted by Brainiac 5 and Mon-El. The city is being flooded because drainage support walls have collapsed. Brainiac 5 orders Magnetic Kid to hold the base of the peninsula together while Mon-El lifts and repairs it. Magnetic Kid isn't confident, but Brainiac 5 tells him that he has calculated the tolerances and knows that the Kid can do it. Tellus offers to use his telekinesis to help, but then he recognizes a thought of sabotage somewhere in the area, so he goes to investigate. Comet Queen meanwhile helps rescue the innocent bystanders.

Back at Legion HQ, the applicant Energy Boy is showing off his nuclu-globe when Polar Boy interrupts with a demonstration of his freezing powers. He tells them that he has disbanded the Legion of Substitute Heroes. He then asks them to re-extend their invitation for him to join and to waive the under 18 age rule for new members so he can actually sign up.

Elsewhere in Metropolis, the founders are discussing their retirement with RJ Brande. They also talk of the new Legionnaires. Lightning Lad says that he considers Lightning Lass his replacement, Cosmic Boy hopes that his brother Magnetic Kid will replace him, and Saturn Girl shares a secret.

Back on the West Coast, Tellus is having trouble flying with a flight ring. Magnetic Kid tries to help him while Comet Queen shows off. From the air they see the coast-line buckling again, and rush to investigate. They meet up with Dev-Em, who is investigating a possible link to the Dark Circle on behalf of his agency, the Counter-Intelligence Corps. He is rude to Comet Queen and Tellus, which angers Mon-El. They track down Ontiir, who blasts them as he causes a tidal wave to strike the area. Dev-Em, Magnetic Kid, and Mon-El head out to stop the wave as Ontiir knocks out all the others except Brainiac 5. Suddenly, a small flying vessel arrives.
The debut of Quislet
The Legionnaires monitoring the action research him (it?) and find that he is called Quislet. He (it) is an explorer from a micro-dimension whose species, gender, and morphology indeterminate. He (it) can take control of inanimate objects, but the object disintegrates after a set amount of time. He (it) takes over Ontiir's flying platform and uses it to capture him. He (it) then asks to join the Legion.


Back at Legion HQ, the entire Legion votes on Polar Boy, Magnetic Kid, and Quislet. However, they can't decide between Mentalla, Comet Queen, and Tellus.
The entire membership of the Legion of Super-Heroes
Saturn Girl arrives and asks for a favor: in the same way that she asked the Legion to trust her when she brought in Element Lad as Mystery Lad, she asks the Legion to vote on an unknown heroine named Sensor Girl who "has the best of reasons to deserve Legion membership." The Legionnaires trust her, voting Sensor Girl and Tellus in, bringing the total of new members to five.

Commentary: 
I remember the first time I ever saw this cover. Before opening up the book and reading the story, I tried to guess who in fact *would* be the five new members. Just from body language I guessed Sensor Girl, Polar Boy, and Tellus would be joining. I didn't realize that Quislet and the "Hulk" were the same, but I didn't figure the Legion would add a green Blok. And I didn't think the little Quislet would join; I guess I didn't notice he (it) appears twice. If I had I probably would have realized that meant he was in.
The story is a nice change of pace adventure, showing how the Legion evaluates their applicants. It really is like a Beauty Pageant or a Talent Show, isn't it? Instead of non-stop action there are some great character bits with the various Legionnaires. For example, the group with White Witch talk Legion history while discussing strengths and weaknesses of applicants. You really get a sense of the Legionnaires' personalities in these moments. It's great to see Brainiac 5 and Mon-El take three of the finalists with them on their rescue mission; they naturally fall into "teacher" and "big brother" roles, so that makes sense. Star Boy's and Brainiac 5's heart-felt endorsements of Polar Boy and Magnetic Kid are also nice little moments. And of course, Saturn Girl walks in and asks the 19 members to vote in a total stranger based solely on her endorsement....and they do it.
And the applicants! Magnetic Kid is the shy, naive little brother who is trying to follow in his big brother's footsteps. He is kind and thoughtful to his fellow applicant, Tellus, who returns the favor. They seem to look out for each other. Tellus, of course, is going to be the literal "fish out of water" character, trying to get used to all of the oddities of the 30th Century. Comet Queen is the ditzy "Valley Girl," who isn't even smart enough to realize her comet gases are choking the Legionnaires. Dev-Em is the arrogant "jock" type who doesn't need anybody's help; it's nice to see that he and Mon-El actually don't get along. And Quislet is enthusiasm personified (in a way), promising to make stories "fun" again.
The art is, of course, stupendous. Steve Lightle and Larry Mahlstedt must have know this issue would be read and re-read for years to come, because they get everything right. From all of the fun Interlac signs that pepper the story to the color-coded magnetic and telekinesis rays to the holograms of the Legionnaires, there is not a wrong note in the whole proceedings.


Science Police Notes:  
  • Although the cover heralds five new members, and Element Lad in the last scene considers the last six finalists as if they needed to whittle one down, nowhere in the story does it explain why the Legionnaires decided they had to add five members. 
  • Colossal Boy returns to his Dave Cockrum-designed blue and red uniform in this issue. 
  • Mentalla's real name is given as Delya Castil. 
  • "Gidget's Surf Shop" and "Marianne's" restaurant are written in Interlac. Gidget was a surfer girl in the early Sixties, and Marianne is artist Steve Lightle's wife's name. 
  • According to Steve Lightle, Mentalla's costume was based off of the original Saturn Girl uniform from Adventure Comics #247, and her "look" was based off of his wife.  
  • Shadow Lass refers to Tellus as being a "Xerian." However, his planet is later established as being named Hykraius. 
  • Energy Boy is from the planet Ventura. He never re-appeared.  
  • When Polar Boy appears he projects his cold power in a very specific, controlled way. This is a direct reference to his initial attempt to join, when his un-controlled power accidentally froze the entire Legion hall.
  • Besides the named applicants, there is also a red-skinned catwoman, a pair of Skreeaks, a boy in a pink and blue leotard, and an armless frog alien who made it to the semi-final rounds but who were not voted in. 
  • Dev-Em re-appears wearing his purple and orange uniform, not the green, blue, and white uniform he had recently received in Tales of the Legion #325. This is his last appearance in the Baxter series. 
  • Duo Damsel is shown commenting on Sensor Girl, "I sure never thought we'd see a masked Legionnaire" even though she had personally worked with the masked Ferro Lad. She meant, of course, a Legionnaire who hid her real identity behind a mask. 
  • The list of Active Members on the last page does not list Star Boy, who should appear on the list between Ultra Boy and Shrinking Violet. With the addition of the five new members there are now 24 active members. 
Status: 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

Milestone: 
Five new members join the Legion in this story: Magnetic Kid, Polar Boy, Quislet, Sensor Girl, and Tellus.

2 comments:

  1. Just a great issue that showcases why Legion is such a great book and property.

    Who is Sensor Girl?? The mystery began here. And I love that team votes her in just because Imra says to. Major respect for Imra!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yep, I love love love this era in general and this issue in particular. :-)

    ReplyDelete