Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #17

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #17 (Dec, 1985)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "A New Beginning"
writer: Paul Levitz
artist: Greg LaRocque
inker: Larry Mahlstedt
letterer: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Greg LaRocque & Larry Mahlstedt (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Dream Girl, Star Boy, Sun Boy. Lighting Lass, Timber Wolf, Quislet, Blok, Invisible Kid, Brainiac 5, Sensor Girl, Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, Tellus; flashbacks of Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad

Guests: 
RJ Brande, SP officer Shvaughn Erin

Opponents: 
Leland McCauley, his hired assassin Charon

Synopsis: 
On Earth at the McCauley estate, the gazillionaire's staff is reporting to him regarding their investigation of RJ Brande. McCauley believes that Brande is specifically thwarting McCauley's endeavors, so he wants Brande taken care of. His staff reminds him that the first time someone tried to kill Brande, Brande turned around and funded the Legion of Super-Heroes. McCauley wants to kill Brande, and use the Legion to do it.


Later, at Legion HQDream Girl awakens from a dream where she sees Brande about to be murdered. She looks for Element Lad and Brainiac 5 (as Leader and Deputy Leader) but because neither are available, she leads a group of Legionnaires to Brande's asteroid herself.

In the Legion Science Lab, Brainiac 5 is experimenting on Invisible Kid to try to help him control his unwanted powers of teleportation. Sensor Girl tells him to investigate Element 271 and how it is mixing adversely with Invisible Kid's adrenaline glands. Brainiac 5 is again curious about who Sensor Girl is and how she knows things that she knows.
On Brande's asteroid, the Legionnaires offer him protection, but he doesn't want them around. "Sanders" the butler reveals himself to be McCauley's hired assassin, Charon. He is wearing a power siphon to steal the Legion's abilities. He steals Sun Boy's solar power and attacks the others. The Legion takes him out, but not before he jams Brande's security system, making the entire asteroid attack their location. Quislet takes out the missiles by "popping" into them and causing them to explode before contact. He then takes over the computer, shutting everything down. Brande is royally angry, and threatens Charon while the Legion turns away. Charon confesses that McCauley hired him.

At Science Police HQ, Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, and Tellus verify that the four SP officers who were involved in the Techno Park attack have had their minds erased. Their only shared duty had been while they were all on Takron-Galtos, the prison planet. Chameleon Boy believes the mystery has something to do with someone there.

The Legion arrives at McCauley's estate, returning Charon to him because Brande refuses to file charges. McCauley just laughs, intent on trying against Brande again some other time. To him, it is all about the money.

On the way back to Brande's asteroid, Dream Girl is concerned that her power did not work. Suddenly, Brande communicates that he has decided to give up his current life-style and go out into space for new challenges. Dream Girl realizes that her dream was right, after all, in a way.

Commentary: 
For all the hype of "a new beginning" on the cover there isn't really anything particularly new or starting in this issue. There is a quick encapsulated "origin" of the Legion told during McCauley's staff meeting, and there is a profile section of all the new Legionnaires at the end. So maybe DC was thinking this was a good "jumping on" point for new readers? I wonder if it worked.

As for the story itself, it's a disappointment. Dream Girl's appeal has always been her stead-fast belief in her own abilities. If she says she saw RJ Brande being murdered, then that is what she saw. How in the world do you explain that she saw some sort of metaphysical or emotional "end" of the character because he decides to chuck his current life and head out into the far reaches of space? That's a cop-out, in my opinion. At the time I was absolutely underwhelmed by this conclusion. I wonder now, did RJ Brande ever return? I don't recall that he ever did. Perhaps DC (or Paul Levitz in particular?) thought he was an unneeded supporting character, and decided to get rid of him? He didn't even get to say good-bye to his son, Chameleon Boy.

There are a few nice moments in the story. Dream Girl's casual dismissal of Blok's...denseness?....was amusing. She orders Blok to stay at HQ on monitor duty, and orders Timber Wolf to join her team; very much in-character, I thought. Star Boy, likewise, was a supporting character; he is definitely not the "lead" in *that* relationship. Although he did seem to be even more dense this issue than usual, not knowing how to turn off his powers and not knowing what Quislet could do. I think this was because it was the first time he had ever actually seen Quislet going into action, but it was written a bit like Star Boy was ignorant of what his fellow Legionnaire could do!

One last comment: on page 20 there is a very odd comment by McCauley to the Legionnaires. They walk into his room, and as they approach him he says, in effect, "Are you here to avenge....?" before he catches himself. The Legionnaires ignore him, but I always wondered what he was going to say. Was McCauley responsible for the death of somebody that I don't remember? Dream Girl is mis-colored as McCauley, but the quote has to be his. Very confusing.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Although Polar Boy appears on the cover, he is not in the story whatsoever. 
  • While looking for other members, Dream Girl sees a friendly game of volleyball (?) between Ultra Boy & Phantom Girl versus Shrinking Violet and....Colossal Boy
  • Star Boy is shown to be something of a lovable dunce in this story. He doesn't follow Dream Girl's logic early in the story, he can't turn his power off during the battle with Charon, and he doesn't know what Quislet can do during the missile attack. Near the end, he tries to tell Dream Girl not to worry that her power isn't working (i.e. that her vision did not come true). 
  • At the conclusion of this story there are five Profile Pages featuring the full Legion membership, with art by Greg LaRocque and Mike DeCarlo. Look for these to be featured as this weekend's ART post! 
Status: 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

4 comments:

  1. In regard to the McCauley starts to ask "Are you here to avenge..." I had assumed back when I first read the book that he was going to finish that sentence with "...RJ Brande" At this point in the story, he did not know his assassin had failed.

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    1. You know, I bet you're right! It never occurred to me, but your idea makes perfect sense. Thank you for reading, and commenting.

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  2. I don't understand Dream Girl's reasoning behind her vision either. During the Darkness Saga, she saw the Legion lose against Darkseid's forces on Sorcerer's World, which they didn't. Also, if her visions always ended up coming true, then what is the point of trying to alter or prevent the events from happening? I'd always assumed see just saw what was the most probable future at the time, much like Destiny in X-Men did.

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  3. I don't understand Dream Girl's reasoning behind her vision either. During the Darkness Saga, she saw the Legion lose against Darkseid's forces on Sorcerer's World, which they didn't. Also, if her visions always ended up coming true, then what is the point of trying to alter or prevent the events from happening? I'd always assumed see just saw what was the most probable future at the time, much like Destiny in X-Men did.

    ReplyDelete