Friday, July 10, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #42

Recap: The two Legions are still located on Earth, helping the "planet" stabilize. Meanwhile, an armored renegade has been seen kidnapping Legionnaires like Saturn Girl. Who is it? And who are they targeting?

Before I begin my review of Legion of Super-Heroes #42, I have to apologize.

You see, by the time LSH #42 had come out, there had been three annuals in the 5YL universe. And I haven't covered any of them  here. It is pretty sad to admit that I have missed these stories especially because they are relatively crucial in the re-establishment of much of the Legion mythos after the Mordru/Glorith reboot from early in the title.

And that is going to become painfully apparent as I review this issue which is basically a sequel to the first annual. I suppose at some point, I'll need to review them completely. But I am going to bullet review Annual #1 in hopes of catching everyone up.

Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1 was the Bierbaums way of rewriting many important Legion stories into a tapestry that helped stabilize the new storyline. Ultra Boy plays a key part, battling Glorith throughout the story. In many ways, this was the Bierbaums reimagining the Mon-El/Time Trapper relationship in the older continuity. The Bierbaums also recreate the "conspiracy" storyline where Legionnaires team up to avenge the death of Superboy at the hand of the Time Trapper. Now it is the same group battling Glorith for her destruction of Daxam.

I promise you that at some point I will review that Annual. But it is a dense, dense read, a tome of Legion continuity rewritten into a new timeline. I fear that review might kill me because reviewing it will be like drinking the ocean.

Lastly, with Terra Mosaic, the fallout, and the Legionnaires now gone, I think the Bierbaums realize it was time to wrap up some lingering plot lines. We'll see resolutions to a bunch of them done is short order over the next few issues.

Enough of the prelude. On to this story, written by Tom & Mary Bierbaum and Tom McCraw with art by Stuart Immonen. One thing I liked about this issue is it went backwards to the 9 page panel!
We start out at the home of Chuck and Luorno Taine.

Luorno, who is now a singular being, is plagued my nightmares of her other bodies dying. We see her body be vaporized. And we see her visions become disturbing with Bouncing Boy turning into a demonic figure.

She awakens with a startle only to see someone... someone impossible.

So to continue the recap, Luornu's first body died in early Legion adventures at the hands of Computo. Her second body died in the Baxter series, killed by the Time Trapper. In the 5YL universe that second body is instead killed by Glorith.

But who is this person who could capture Saturn Girl and now Luornu?
While this kidnapping story ends up dominating the issue, the Bierbaums and McCraw do give us a great little side scene. The Legion is still in a sort of membership drive and last issue we saw the Subs being wooed.

Here, we see the Legion playing poker with the Subs, a sort of "night off" from heroing. While Stone Boy's poker face is a great gag, seeing Ayla in the visor was a big win. But more importantly, seeing these Legionnaires having some fun after the draining year they have had was appreciated

Meanwhile in the medical center, Laurel Gand has finally recovered from the beating she took at the hand of BION. Amazingly, Brainy has the inactive BION robot sitting in the headquarters! And he won't destroy it because it houses the Computo matrix!! Yeah... because leaving these things lying around never ends badly!

Unfortunately, this scene with Brainy and Laurel ends too soon. I love seeing them interact. The nanny that takes care of Lauryn Gand calls frantic. Someone is in the house!

Without blinking, Laurel streaks to her home.

Brainy is no fool though. He wonders if there is a connection between those gone missing, including Luornu. He grabs Cham to share his theory. It is the conspirators who fought Glorith.

Luckily, Cham has an idea.

Meanwhile, the armored kidnapper shows up and brawls with Laurel. While it is fantastically choreographed and drawn, I am a bit sick of seeing Laurel get dispatched. When was the last time she won a fight?

I do love the way Immonen draws her, especially the Gwen Stacy headband!

And then the next conspirator gets kidnapped. It's Brainy.

And he is brought before the mastermind behind the whole plot, Glorith. (Of course, this was revealed on the cover.)

Like in the earliest 5YL books, the presence of a splash page is way more impactful. And the composition of this page is great, a low angle, playing up Brainy's point of view, Glorith lounging on a throne, and the capture Legionnaires strung up behind her.

It turns out that Glorith, who had been flung to the ends of time, has returned at the cost of much of her power. And she wants revenge!

And then ... the bombshell!

The armored lackey of Glorith is one of Luornu's duplicates!!!!! Insanity!

Now that is an absolute brilliant twist, completely unexpected!
It turns out that when Luornu was "killed" by Glorith in the Annual, she was actually de-aged back to just a zygote of cells. She was then saved and re-aged by Glorith to be her vengeful slave.

It was torture as Luornu was killed, reformed, and killed over and over until she fell into line as Glorith's weapon. And since Luornu knew all the Espionage Squad's tricks, she was able to capture the Legionnaires relatively easily.

Ahh ... but the Legion isn't so easily tricked. Realizing what was happening, Cham posed as Brainiac 5! That's how you out-espionage someone who knows all your espionage tricks! 

Shocked at the switch, Cham blips in Brainiac 5 (who appears naked, a running gag in this comic). Cham also has Shrinking Violet in his pocket. And he is able to free the captured Legionnaires as well!

There is a crazy skirmish but while weakened, Glorith is still incredibly powerful. This isn't going to be an easy fight.

It ends with a whimper not a bang.

Brainy had imbued the surviving Luorno with an inherent force field power akin to his belt (something done way back in the Baxter series after the conspiracy story as well). He wanted her last body to be safe given that he had in many ways been responsible for the deaths of both her other bodies.

The armored Luornu tells the main Luornu to use her powers not as defensive weapon but as an offensive one. Luornu concentrates her power onto Glorith, trapping the sorceress. The power it would take for Glorith to break the shield would cripple her.

Glorith basically dismisses the team. She will still be out there but the Legionnaires are free.

While I like the second Luornu turning the tables of Glorith and becoming a hero again, this ending was a bit abrupt. Of course, this was a story that was basically wrapped up in one issue. From an efficiency viewpoint, this was wrapped up quickly and in a way that makes sense.

Just like that, Bouncing Boy is again married to two women!

So this was a nice little side adventure, revisiting the power of the Annual (again apologies for not reviewing it yet), and giving the Legionnaires a much needed victory. I am always impressed at the depth of Legion history the Bierbaums are able to put into this book, adding a layer for long time fans while keeping it simple enough for new readers to grasp.

And, let's face it, this was the first issue focusing on the older Legion, the stars of this book. It had been a while since we saw these characters dominate their own book.

But let me damn with faint praise. This is a fine, fun, Legion book. But this feels like a "plain old" comic book unlike the first year of this series which was just a dense, artistic, expressive read.


  1. I might agree with your 'plain old' statement if not for the stunning Stuart Immonen art. I think the string of issues between the earth getting blowed up and 'Legion on the Run' is a little underrated - it's got some really good stuff story-wise and certainly sports some of the best artwork in the team's history.

    Really looking forward to your take!

  2. This is one lovely little issue. I think it was one of those cray-cray months were they made the title biweekly, in this case for the launch of Legionnaires.

    The Chuck "luckiest man in the world" panel makes the issue. I always loved the Tayne-Durgos.