Friday, July 3, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #41

Recap: The Earth was destroyed and then rebuilt as a flotilla of floating cities. More importantly, it has TWO Legion of Super-heroes, the older ones who have lived throughout and the recently revived, younger, brighter SW6 Legionnaires. These cities aren't big enough for the two of them. It is time for the teams to take stock of their members and to move forward in this new Earth and new political landscape of the galaxy.

If Legion of Super-Heroes #41 came out in today's market it would be a #0 issue, or maybe it would be the dreaded #40.1. The title had a major upheaval when the Dominators' control was eliminated from Earth and the planet was subsequently destroyed. It also had a major creative upheaval as well. Gone is Keith Giffen. Gone are some of the quirkier stylistic points the title had. And the elephant in the room isthe presence of two full squads of Legionnaires. The title was still trying to find its footing. It was in the midst of getting settled into this new reality. And this issue was the turning point.

You can see that we are heading somewhere new just by the cover. These are the SW6 Legionnaires, sporting new costumes, and mirroring the classic Legion covers seen in Adventure Comics #300 and Legion of Super-Heroes #301. This isn't the powerless Rokk or mother Laurel or dead Dirk. Are these characters going to take over the book?

For me, this pause was needed. The Terra Mosaic arc and subsequent "The End" was a gut-wrenching tragedy. It wouldn't feel right for things to be "back to normal" the next month. We need a sort of pause, a way to see the characters dealing with these events and then moving forward. By this point, we knew a Legionnaires book, starring the SW6ers was around the corner, so this was a way to see them off.

The art is split by Stuart Immonen and Chris Sprouse. Immonen handles the older Legion portions and brings an organic feel to the book. Sprouse was a newcomer at this point and brings a vitality and brightness to the proceedings that is a perfect style for these kid Legionnaires.
The Earth is still in relative disarray. It needs a strong leader. And it is clear that Jacques Foccart, while he might have the skills to be president, doesn't want the job. It is one thing to organize the underground to fight the Dominators. It is another to deal with bureaucracy.

After listening to him grumble about the pressures of being President for a couple of issues, Jacques finally follows his heart. He abdicates the Presidency. Just like that, Invisible Kid is back in the Legion. And Tyroc is suddenly the President of New Earth!

I have tried to wrap my head around this decision by Jacques. It feels a little early for him to abandon the post especially given the already unstable nature of things. But I suppose people need to do what's right for themselves.

But then again, Universo is out there too. Is it selfish, is it safe to leave office now?
The Science Police are trying to get settled as well.

One major change is that Sean, formerly Schvaughn, is now in charge. Looking back at this book for its time, this was probably considered progressive. Given that Jan talks about how rough it is to be alone, and seems awkward around Sean. I wonder if the Bierbaums were starting to toy with the idea of a gay relationship. For the early 90s, this was pretty forward thinking for a comic book.

I wonder if, in today's world, Schvaughn/Sean would be written as a trans character instead.
With two Legions around, with Terra Mosaic having the characters spread thin and sometimes not seen, it is time for the Bierbaums to take stock. Just who are the stars of this book? Who has survived this arc and are still in the Legion?

There is a baker's dozen of Legionnaires. With Cham resigning, Dawnstar injured, and Mysa on Sorcerer's World, there are only 13 active members. That is hardly a legion. Especially given the relative dearth of power on the team.

That means it is time for a good old-fashioned membership drive.
One thing that I have loved about this book is that the Bierbaums (and Giffen) took the time to make sure there were small character moments that just add to the complexity of the characters or the universe they reside in. It is these flourishes that make the 5YL book such a rich experience.

So here we see just how strange it must be to have the SW6 Legionnaires around. The "original" Lyle Norg died at the hands of Validus long ago. His parents must have grieved. But here we see Lyle meet his parents. They are much older than he is used to. They are thrilled to see their boy alive again.

As a creator, you could easily skip this moment. But it shows just how invested in this universe the Bierbaums are. Of course the SW6ers would want to meet up with family and friends. We should see that.
One group who stood out as heroes in the Terra Mosaic story were the Subs. No longer the laughing stocks of the United Planets, the Subs were well trained, battle tested soldiers. Of course they would have earned an invite to the "adult table".

But as crazy as it sounds, the Subs don't jump at the chance. They are pretty comfortable in their own skins now. They want to figure out their own next step. And they seem pretty entrenched in helping rebuild New Earth.

I have to say, I was pretty stoked at the characterization of the Subs in Terra Mosaic. I would have loved to read more of their adventures. I would not have minded if they joined. I would have loved a mini-series of their own.

But I was pretty sad to see Sade go away. She was something of a loose cannon. But she shined in her moments.
As I said, these last couple of issues are something of a "check in" issues, resetting the status quo.

Dawnstar, freed from the Bounty spirit, is in the medical center. There are no tubes, no meds, no IV bags. She looks physically healed from the bloody battle with Sade.

But she seems withdrawn, almost catatonic. She isn't mentally healed. What toll did that possession take on her?
And then we finally get an answer about the origins of the two Legions... sort of. Which are the clones? Which are the "real" Legionnaires?

The answer seems apparent when Duo Damsel concentrates and produces a third body. Clearly she must be a clone since she can triplicate again. But maybe the Dominators were able to heal the original Duo Damsel through unknown sciences.

It seems there is no definitive answer here... although my gut tells me the SW6ers are the clones.

But they are newcomers to this universe and this world. It is time for them to reestablish themselves as a group unto themselves.

With some guidance from Chameleon Boy, the group begins to rebuild the original Legion Headquarters, the classic "upside down rocket" building.

I love this panel, especially the perspective. I love that there is a crowd there to watch. This New Earth needs optimism, needs a symbol of rebirth and good will. What could be a bigger symbol than the Legion clubhouse. It once again shows just how powerful the concept of the Legion is in this crazy landscape.

Chameleon Boy decides to follow in his father's footsteps. He'll be the mentor for a new Legion. Of course, it would be hard to keep Cham behind a desk. He'll be part of the team.

And, in what is a brilliant move, he decides that the team needs to both honor their Legion past but break from it. There will be new codenames, new costumes, and new members.

Laurel Gand will now be Andromeda, and will sport something a bit more daring than the pleated skirt and Mon-El-esque classic costume.

These are beautiful designs. and I love the old school Legion belt buckle.

And then, if you are going to go for optimism and old school Legion symbology and chills, why not give us a big shot of the Legion round table.

We really haven't seen anything like this in this book before. The older Legion may have had "uniforms", but there weren't codenames. Their headquarters was a glorified trash heap.

This is all the grandeur of the Legion.

I'll admit it, I got some chills.
And what could be better than a shot of the clubhouse, and a shot of the new costumes, and a shot of the new table?!

Well what about a good old-fashioned splash page of the new team leaping into action! Just dynamic and clean stuff by Sprouse here.

I suppose that the Legionnaires book which springs from this book was a way to maybe recapture the bright gleaming optimism the Legion was best known for. Maybe it was a way that DC tried to calm some of the angrier Legion fans that hadn't embraced the 5YL direction.

As far as I know, no one on this blog is covering the Legionnaires book. I know I bought the first year or so before dropping it. It didn't seem to have the gravitas of the main book.

And as for the main book, with Terra Mosaic in the rear view mirror and the Legionnaires on their own and the subs staying put, it was time for the main team to grab the reins of their book again. The new norm has been set. Now it's time move forward!


  1. Although I continued reading both books (and I agree with you on the lack of gravitas of the spinoff), I did not recall this issue.
    The Jacques/Tyroc this was handled in a fun way (and hello foreshadowing of the african-earthling president!), as was the awkwardness of Jan and Sean. I like how it's maintained that for all his newfound openness and leadership, Jan has always been a loner at heart.

  2. And oh, how great were those Legionnaires costumes, recalling the classic uniforms uniqueness and yet being actual "uniforms" with the same theme and design elements.

  3. Thanks for your comments!

    I also like those uniforms, new and classic at the same time!